Author Topic: Goodfellas  (Read 5842 times)

oldkid

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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2016, 10:46:26 AM »
And that's basically the issue I have. 

verbals, and everyone, we are all "offended" by something that happens in a movie at times.  We should be.  Archie Bunker is a character we should be offended at because he spouts off views that are constantly racist or homophobic or sexist or whatever.  That's his character.  All in the Family works because there is some balance, some challenge, some other characters to display how offensive he is.  But if it were just Archie, or a group of Archies, talking about their views of what is wrong with society for two hours, I'd turn it off.  No matter how well directed it is, no matter the skill in other aspects, my soul can't bear such attack.

This is what happened with me in Goodfellas.  Not that a character can't be offensive, but that they all were throughout the extent of the film.  There was no break.  The final bit is simply the crowning evil.  Their motivations just don't make sense to me, in the long term, in a group.  So it's a film that doesn't work for me.
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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2016, 12:39:43 PM »
Yet what is that is racist or sexist or homophobic in gangsters robbing from an airport and then murdering each other.

I think it's appropriate that the phrase is "take offence". Offence is there but one chooses whether one "takes" offence. So it's a personal choice. I can certainly accept that you take offence at the film and that you associate that offence with your personal reaction to the movie. It sounds like others can see the offence and choose not to take the offence on offer and consequently like the film. All of these choices are personal.

As I say the offence is there to be taken from Faulkner and from Fitzgerald who crosses the line into racism and homophobia. So it's Interesting to consider why offence may not be taken ie why I can keep reading. The context of the attitudes of a past age can help objectify offensive behaviour. The quality of the general tone can also help. These are intellectual works and in examining a subject an author may want to put offensive subjects under a harsh light.

I am ambivalent to Goodfellas. I feel meh about it. I find Scorcese unflinching exploration of violence better executed in Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. I understand that these are objective examinations of a subject. That he deserves a subjective reading because he isn't glorifying the subject.

My conclusion is that by understanding the context or the intellectual intent of the piece of art, one should take an objective view; and since offence can be taken or left alone, the objective attitude requires that one can decide not to take offence. So perhaps another element to consider is whether violence or sex or race discrimination or homophobia is being glorified in a piece of work. If so I can very much see that one can be personally insulted by the intent to tittilate using exploitative methods. That doesn't mean I'll take offence even at the most exploitative film. It still a personal option. 

Again, I don't question a personal opinion. The interest for me is how the point can be generalised. Art should be allowed the power of exploration of any subject including the horribly uncomfortable ones. As a part of a process of understanding. Understanding violence is a crucial process for art to undertake.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2016, 12:52:34 PM »
LukeH, you might be interested in the plethora of Goodfellas reviews that were written here as part of our 1990s US Bracket. Links to those review are here.

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chardy999

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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2016, 01:15:01 PM »
What about ambition?

Henry Hill has that in spades and then loses it. That is a nice dichotomy. Does it mean anything that this person is good or bad, likeable or unlikeable, moral or immoral (or amoral)? These things can exist mutually exclusively. Where does offence come from when you consider an emotion/desire?
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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2016, 02:03:15 PM »
If all mafia movies were offensive to me I'd look at myself for the fault, sure. But there are great mafia movies (The Godfather Part 1, Miller's Crossing, Gangs of New York, and the original Scarface spring to mind) even if most follow Goodfellas into being terrible and asking us to follow these jerkholes into their short-sighted jerkery.

I don't need to like my protagonist, but I need to understand where they are coming from and why a movie is doing what it is doing with them. Goodfellas lacks this in that I don't understand why they are doing such dumb things in such a dumb way for dumb reasons, or why the movie wants me to care about any of this. Is the point that they're dumb? If so, that's a lesson much better learned from any of the examples of good mafia movies I listed above.
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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2016, 02:29:51 PM »
I don't need to like my protagonist, but I need to understand where they are coming from and why a movie is doing what it is doing with them. Goodfellas lacks this in that I don't understand why they are doing such dumb things in such a dumb way for dumb reasons, or why the movie wants me to care about any of this. Is the point that they're dumb? If so, that's a lesson much better learned from any of the examples of good mafia movies I listed above.

Eric Bogosian said about drugs, "you're having such a good time you don't realize what a bad time you're having." That's the allure of being a gangster Scorsese captures so well. The entire first half to two-thirds of the film, these guys are the kings of the city. They get away with anything and everything with little to no consequence. Scorsese captures the euphoria of having a wife night followed by a night with your latest girlfriend as a regular part of your life. Of endless banquets of food and money and clothes and cars. And unlike drugs, which is a solitary addiction, this entire group is all on the same high at the same time.

Then when things get tough and everyone has to try to kick the habit, they go down different roads. Some try to keep the good times coming. Others get paranoid that the slightest appearance of gangster intoxication is going to get them in trouble by association. They become a pack of addicts desperately turning on each other to survive because they no longer know how to live a "normal" life.

I find that fascinating, and I think Scorsese does a master's job of getting the audience drunk on the indulgence, bringing in undercurrents of bad times ahead, and finally dropping the floor away to observe how everyone reacts. Henry Hill is accepted by 'the cool kids', before long he becomes one and ultimately he's forced to realize that you can't live forever being cool.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 12:39:11 PM by 1SO »

chardy999

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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2016, 03:00:34 PM »
I don't need to like my protagonist, but I need to understand where they are coming from and why a movie is doing what it is doing with them. Goodfellas lacks this in that I don't understand why they are doing such dumb things in such a dumb way for dumb reasons, or why the movie wants me to care about any of this. Is the point that they're dumb? If so, that's a lesson much better learned from any of the examples of good mafia movies I listed above.

Eric Bogosian said about drugs, "you're having such a good time you don't realize what a bad time you're having." That's the allure of being a gangster Scorsese captures so well. The entire first half to two-thirds of the film, these guys are the kings of the city. They get away with anything and everything with little to no consequence. Scorsese captures the euphoria of having a wife night followed by a night with your latest girlfriend as a regular part of your life. Of endless banquets of food and money and clothes and cars. And unlike drugs, which is a solitary addiction, this entire group is all on the same high at the same time.

Then when things get tough and everyone has to try to kick the habit, they go down different roads. Some try to keep the good times coming. Others get paranoid that the slightest appearance of gangster intoxication is going to get in trouble by association. They become a pack of addicts desperately turning on each other to survive because they no longer know how to live a "normal" life.

I find that fascinating, and I think Scorsese does a master's job of getting the audience drunk on the indulgence, bringing in undercurrents of bad times ahead, and finally dropping the floor away to observe how everyone reacts. Henry Hill is accepted by 'the cool kids', before long he becomes one and ultimately he's forced to realize that you can't live forever being cool.

This is some of your best, 1SO!  :)
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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2016, 03:18:57 PM »
I don't need to like my protagonist, but I need to understand where they are coming from and why a movie is doing what it is doing with them. Goodfellas lacks this in that I don't understand why they are doing such dumb things in such a dumb way for dumb reasons, or why the movie wants me to care about any of this. Is the point that they're dumb? If so, that's a lesson much better learned from any of the examples of good mafia movies I listed above.

Eric Bogosian said about drugs, "you're having such a good time you don't realize what a bad time you're having." That's the allure of being a gangster Scorsese captures so well. The entire first half to two-thirds of the film, these guys are the kings of the city. They get away with anything and everything with little to no consequence. Scorsese captures the euphoria of having a wife night followed by a night with your latest girlfriend as a regular part of your life. Of endless banquets of food and money and clothes and cars. And unlike drugs, which is a solitary addiction, this entire group is all on the same high at the same time.

Then when things get tough and everyone has to try to kick the habit, they go down different roads. Some try to keep the good times coming. Others get paranoid that the slightest appearance of gangster intoxication is going to get in trouble by association. They become a pack of addicts desperately turning on each other to survive because they no longer know how to live a "normal" life.

I find that fascinating, and I think Scorsese does a master's job of getting the audience drunk on the indulgence, bringing in undercurrents of bad times ahead, and finally dropping the floor away to observe how everyone reacts. Henry Hill is accepted by 'the cool kids', before long he becomes one and ultimately he's forced to realize that you can't live forever being cool.

Yes! All of this if you're talking about the PTA remake that is Boogie Nights. I feel all of this there, but the all-too-familiar milieu of Goodfellas gives me a major case of been there done that. Maybe Goodfellas does the whole allure of the Mafia thing most, but the other examples I cited are way way way more interesting to me.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 04:34:26 PM by Junior »
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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2016, 04:16:20 PM »
I never asked, but which did you watch first, Goodfellas or Biggie(?) Nights? I ask because obviously Scorsese did it first, but you might have watched it in reverse. Either way, it makes it harder to argue who did it best. I do like connecting it to my addiction analogy. Are there people getting hurt in Boogie Nights? Yes, but it's more indirect because the porn lifestyle creates a moral void that sucks everyone in, while being a gangster requires you to make the immoral choice. (This reminds me of the scene in BN where Bill Macy flips out because his wife is in the driveway... well, I'm drifting off but it's a hilarious scene.)


The point being, PTA creates a distance. Porn life is appealing to some... like these people over here. When Henry Hill says that he always wanted to be a gangster, I understand why he idolizes them. When Mark Whalberg decides to go into porn there's a feeling of finding acceptance into this new family, but his decision is more "sure, why not?" That's not as interesting to me.

Of the 4 examples you give, the last 3 are about desperate people trapped in desperate situations taking desperate measures. They kill to survive and never find happiness in it. Godfather is my favorite movie of all time, though Goodfellas is in my Top 10. They're a matched set on the same subject, like Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Two different but equally interesting trips along the same highway. The Godfather is a symphony. Goodfellas is industrial jazz.


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Re: Goodfellas
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2016, 04:56:52 PM »
I really don't know for sure, but I'd lead towards that I saw Goodfellas first. Boogie (dammit, phone) Nights does have that slight distancing, and I think the wider character pool gives a broader display of the kinds of people embroiled in the porn world. I guess I can just understand the draw of the porn industry in that it is not immediately obvious that you might die when you go into it like you very likely will in the mafia world. It then becomes a surprise when the 80s happen and not an inevitable outcome of the initial decision.
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