GoodFellas ★★★★

I can’t hear Layla without thinking of Goodfellas. I can’t think of Goodfellas without hearing Layla. Although I think I counted 43 separate songs used in the film, the piano coda from Layla dictates the style, sets the pace, it embodies the feeling.

I re-watched Goodfellas tonight to try to come to terms with why I love it, but dislike Wolf of Wall Street. Both are films about criminals. Both are films about rats. Both are films where the rat gets away relatively unscathed; rather just inconvenienced.

Goodfellas isn’t my favourite Scorsese, probably not even my second or third. It is, however, the closest to Wolf of Wall Street. Mean Streets is too simple hoodlum; Casino too criminally accomplished. No, the boy-next-door falls in with the thuggish good life is the closest comparison. While not my favourite, I still consider Goodfellas a Scorsese masterpiece. Wolf of Wall Street, I do not.

Goodfellas is fluid. From the first scenes of young Henry Hills accompanied by his expository voiceover the camera is moving. Always moving; always fluid. Ray Liota’s voice is like the Pied Pipers reed, telling of the good life and respect that will come if you follow. Everything is so simple, it so easy, it’s just all about family; all about respect.

Goodfellas is like a waltz. The entrance to the Copa scene; a visual spectacle that imparts exactly what it needs to do; it shows how Henry sweeps Karen off her feet. She went from ready to dagger him to melting in his arms with the aid of a 5 minute single shot steadycam romp.

Goodfellas turns on a dime. What do you mean I’m funny? Laughs, uncomfortable, fear, relief, laughs, break a fuckin’ bottle over some schlep who dare disrespect me shock and revulsion. On a dime.

Goodfellas has the montage. All is revealed. This is really what it’s all about. No loyalty, no camaraderie, just Eric Clapton sonically narrating the outcome.

The Wolf of Wall Street has 47 scenes of Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill doing lines off of hookers tits. The Wolf of Wall Street has Margot Robbie unintentionally spreading for the camera. The Wolf of Wall Street has the broadly comedic genius of Leo DiCaprio crawling like a salamander stoned out of his mind on barbiturates. Oh, in case that wasn’t enough, let’s rinse and repeat with Jonah Hill on the telephone.

Goodfellas has style. Goodfellas has class. Goodfellas has a vibe; it has Layla.

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