This is Joe Pesci at his weaseliest, in a role which won him an Oscar ("Most Weasely"),endeared him to the American public and cleared the way for him to play weasels in other films such as "Casino," "The Super" and "My Cousin Vinny."
"Goodfellas" is about three friends, Henry (Ray Liotta), Jimmy (Robert DeNiro) and the weasely Tommy (Joe Pesci), who have various character defects that keep them forever in the middle of the mob class structure. Jimmy and Henry aren't 100% Italian, which makes them defective, and Tommy is a short, gun-happy lunatic, which makes him, as we mentioned before, a weasel.
The film opens with the episode that leads to Tommy's demise. Tommy has beaten the crap out of a "made" Italian mobster and thrown him in Henry's trunk. The three drive the guy out to the country, open the trunk and then Tommy stabs him like he's slicing a jello mold. America's premier film auteur, director Martin Scorsese, provides lots of loud, slurpy stabbing sound effects, which gives the movie that special something critics like to call "an edge." When a violent scene is so gory and disturbing that half the audience turns and pukes on the other half, that's a good sign that the movie is "edgy."
In addition to sound effects, Scorsese besieges us with unending, flowing camera shots that are supposedly the mark of innovative, artistic filmmaking. There's one while Henry introduces all his gangster buddies and another when Henry and his girl (Lorraine Bracco) walk in through the back entrance of a club. Of course, five-and-a-half hours into the movie, the long, flowing camera shots seem less like a form of art and more like a form of torture.
To spread the word about this Goodfellas review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.