Crime Central

To mark Martin Scorsese’s birthday this week I went in search of my DVD of Raging Bull. It was,of course,not to be found.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: November 19, 2011 12:21:23 am

Goodfellas

Double-Disc DVD

Reliance Home Video

Rs 599

To mark Martin Scorsese’s birthday this week I went in search of my DVD of Raging Bull. It was,of course,not to be found. My hand hovered along the shelf where his films are housed,and then paused at Goodfellas. I cannot recommend it enough,this masterly Scorsese,even though it doesn’t top my Marty list (Raging Bull and Taxi Driver share that honour). Because every viewing is riveting. Because it has a beginning I love. And because its lead-in to the meat of the film is so smooth but so sudden that it leaves blood in the mouth.

When Goodfellas came out,Ray Liotta,who plays the main protagonist,was not so well known. His getting the part took some doing (he read for it,and negotiations took time),but can you think of anyone else in that part? Or Robert De Niro,the guy Liotta looks up to,and Joe Pesci,the guy Liotta learns the ropes with,in theirs? Or even the smaller parts? These are actors who are “behaving”,not “acting”; this Scorsese injunction makes them and what they do gob-smackingly real. Each scene is a marvel of detailing: if you see a pot of pasta sauce bubbling on a stove in a Scorsese film,you can bet your bottom rupee that it will have each ingredient that goes into the making of an authentic,delicious primavera,not a thing less,not a thing more .

Goodfellas tells the story of a bunch of Italian-American mobsters who work at it for a living. These fellows are not living their life in high operatic style,like those in The Godfather movies. They are not sentimentalised or made more than they are. You can see the hero worship in the young Liotta’s eyes as he looks at the “made men”: never having to stand in line,shoes shined,sharp suits. But you see his fascination for what it is. These guys are no heroes. They steal. They beat up people. They kill. And when that happens,there’s no place to run. Or hide.

As a mob movie,Goodfellas is right up there,one of the best of the genre to come out of Hollywood. The double-disc DVD has special features with the lead actors talking of their experience while making the film,and working with the director. Now that I’m done with Goodfellas,yet another time,could the person who borrowed my Raging Bull copy return it,please?

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