So my husband has decided to give me a tour through the landscape of his favorite movies. He suggested I focus my rambling posts into movie reviews of his favorites. So a handshake agreement that I would tell him if the movie was so appalling I could not watch till the end, our journey has begun.
After a good 20 minute scroll through the alphabetized folders of movies on the TV screen, the first cinema of our adventure was selected.
I don’t know what our obsession with watching characters achieve the highest level of fame and wealth and luck in the most cut-throat way and then suddenly climax before facing the consequences. To watch one person or one family or one gang of mobsters become millionaires and then frantically scramble as the whole palace of cards comes tumbling down. Perhaps it is our own un-manifested dreams of success that soar with the glamour of wealth on the screen yet also are equally impressed by how shallow that wealth is. How dastardly schemes may enrich them but they are only fleeting before they are doomed to a fate worse than our own.
Or perhaps we only enjoy fast-paced movies full of intriguing old cars and glimpses into a world of yesteryear.
It’s hard to say but I shall end the philosophic rambles because philosophy for all its pleasures and pretenses really leads no where. I love a good gangster movie. The class, the cars, the clothes, the guns, the intricate webs of the world of crime and how the flies and the spiders alike come to be ensnared in them. And Goodfellas is a very good one.
The villains are fascinatingly cunning and vile in the most charismatic way. The main character, Henry, effortlessly transforms from a star-eyed child, into a dealer juggling lovers and a family, focused solely on surviving through whatever the moment required, from laughing at the right people’s jokes to hiding guns in his relative’s trash barrels.
DiNiro, as Jimmy, almost stole the show for me. His character also matures throughout the show from a young thief passing out hundreds like chewing gum into the mastermind behind the largest score in history. He drifts from naively overjoyed boy into a conniving ringleader who decides on the death of close comrades with only the lift of a eyebrow. Even as his fate is drawing near, he maintains brutal cool, even pulling out enormous grandma glasses to face down a perspective rat. Only the death of a fellow conspirator in the moment of his and by association their triumph does Jimmy crack. Weeping at the lost opportunity or yet another death, only he knows.
Perhaps the most cursed in this doomed circus is Henry’s own first love Karen. Taken for a roller coaster ride into the lap of luxury, she is quite whisked away into a lavish, cash-envelope-filled matrimony. Although an outsider, the closeness, almost familial feel of the mob entices her and results in cutting her off from the rest of the world. At first, it seems a dream. Wealth beyond worry. Two beautiful daughters. A doting husband who turns her on with his ruthless occupation. But the dream cracks all too quickly into a nightmare. The beautiful young belle turns into a fear-crazed woman who falls to the level of taking her two young daughters to confront their father’s prostitute. Her fight to escape is feeble. The same charms that wooed her into this world cannot be fully stripped away, even when she is struck and cheated on by her husband. The lure of wealth and a rouge daredevil bring her only poverty and separation.
In the end, *spoilers!!!* the “good guys” in the form of asshole cops storm the beaches and save the day. Leaving us with a vague impression of justice and sadness at the fate of the charismatic, glorious lifestyle of the gangsters.
Somehow, I don’t think this is why the hubby enjoys the movie. He is more interested in the long camera shots that lead us to the feeling that it is we who are walking the room and the witty short-liners peppered with curses. It is a lovely thrill ride and I regret that we must get off. But the spouse has ridden this particular ride “500 times” so I know I will probably take another spin sometime in the near future.
Now the man is stirring up the ingredients for tacos while I write this and seesawing between the next two options for our next viewing adventure. Another post/review will be coming shortly.