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Goodfellas

Year: 1990
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Nicholas Pileggi
Cast: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco
The definitive movie on life in the American mob, realised by the team that seem to have the inside track on the comings and goings, activities, allegiances and dangers of this most cinematic of institutions In Scorsese, De Niro and Pesci.

Based on the true story of Henry Hill (Liotta), a young boy growing up in the shadow of local mobsters and stepping into what he refers to as 'the life' with disturbing ease.

Following the life of Hill and his closest friends, associates and family throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, Scorsese manages both the documentary-like feel of realism while zeroing in on the fears and hopes of the characters in the most adept drama.

So many films nowadays manage the seamless blend of shocking violence and vicious humour but Scorsese predated all of them, as in the hit on Stacks and then Jimmy (Pesci) joking abut making the coffee to go.

It's really about what Oscar Wilde said about resisting anything except temptation. The money and women were too good to give up, and Hill falls back into them time and again. Even when his life is safe after he's ratted on the most dangerous men in America, he finds himself bored living in the suburbs, missing the life of a gangster.

It's also about how a structure in your life (both in your personal and professional life) based on so much violence, the fear and violence, and men who were above the law is going to fall apart. Eventually your wife will find out about your girlfriends. You will trip up on a job and go inside. Your best friend will be the one who carries out your hit, and in this game, you'll never die an old man safe in your bed. As Henry says, the guy coming to kill you isn't your worst enemy, he's your best friend with his hand out to shake yours and a knife behind his back.

Scorsese perfected the devices of using voiceovers to cram even more story into the narrative than would normally fit in the running time, and laid down the template he'd revisit in Casino, a virtual remake.

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