I have this problem.
I can talk freely and openly about things I hate. I don’t know why, but it’s easier for me to outline my hatred on things. I suppose I was a born hater. If someone asks me why I hate something I can write for hours.
Ask me why I love something and I freeze up.
I think when I’m really into something I have too much trying to escape my head and it all bottlenecks around my mouth and fingers.
I ran into that problem trying to talk about Goodfellas here.
For those of you who know me, you know that Goodfellas is my favorite movie of all time. My love of film stems from seeing Goodfellas in the 9th grade. It changed my life and to this day no movie has ever hit me the same way.
You see, I can pinpoint the exact moment where it changed the way I look at movies. Up until that point I never thought about anything deeper than what I was watching. There’s a moment in Goodfellas that woke me up to cinematography, acting, and direction. I started thinking more about what I was seeing in movies. I started watching for things that I’d never looked for before.
If you’re reading this blog, I have to think that you’re familiar with the film. If not, it’s about a low level mafia gangster named Henry Hill and his life growing up in the mob. This had never really been done before in film. Movies like The Godfather showed what it was like to be at the top. They never focused on the soldiers and the money makers.
Anyway, about ¾ of the way through the movie, Robert DeNiro’s character starts getting greedy and paranoid about a heist he and his crew had pulled off. He starts killing off everyone that was involved. It begins with a couple of kids finding a gangster and his wife dead in a pink Cadillac. Suddenly the piano solo from the Derek and the Dominoes song “Layla” starts playing.
Suddenly we’re in this montage where we’re finding bodies all over, music still playing, and Henry Hill voicing over about how the term ‘goodfellas’ came to be. Watching it for the first time I got chills (and still do every single time I watch the film). It ends with one of the most sad, horrifying, and beautifully shot murders ever in any movie. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s out of nowhere and happens right as the music ends.
As I mentioned earlier, I’d never thought about what makes a film great before I saw that moment. Watching it, I realized that director Martin Scorsese (who always chooses the best soundtracks for his films) juxtaposed a wistful, melancholy piano solo to this murder montage on purpose. I realized that he filmed this surprising murder scene on purpose, and had framed the shot to make it look amazing.
I wanted more. I was hooked on film.
Oh, the rest of the film is incredible, but these ten minutes are legendary. I could talk for hours about how good Joe Pesci is in this. I could argue for YEARS (and have done so) about how this deserved the best picture Oscar over Dances With Wolves. I can quote the film, I can tell you trivia, and I can tell you behind the scenes stories. I’ve studied this movie for over twenty years. That’s why this is hard for me to write. I love it so much that I don’t think I could ever put it into words HOW much I love it. So, that scene… that scene for me symbolizes everything I love about Goodfellas.
I love Silence of the Lambs. I love The Little Mermaid. I love The Blues Brothers. And, I love Magnolia. But I’ll always love Goodfellas the most.
You always remember your first.