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: Remakes That Beat the Originals  ( 13715 )
dave jenkins
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« #45 : July 25, 2009, 11:21:54 AM »

So why do I prefer Casino over Goodfellas?  I can't speak for Groggy but I think one reason is that I like Henry Hill too much.  To me the best work that Scorsese and DeNiro did was when they focused on unsympathetic, unlikeable characters like Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, and Ace Rothstein.  These are men that we (or at least me) have no feeling for and don't care when they fall from grace or go nuts.  It seems like we get closer to the sadness and desperation of the human condition this way, which is Scorsese's chief strength.  I spend too much of Goodfellas worrying about Henry and Karen Hill because I really care about them, and that makes Goodfellas more ordinary and less revealing.  I know this sounds strange but its the only thing that makes sense to me.   :D
Your argument would seem to make Goodfellas the best film, because part of the director's job is to make unsavory characters sympathetic.

My basic complaint about Scorsese's presentation of Henry Hill is that it falsifies the guy in real life. My dad, who was a Deputy U.S. Marshal for many years, met Hill, dealt with him when the Witness Security Program moved him to Seattle and gave him a new identity. So what did Hill immediately do with his new identity? He used it to start dealing drugs out of his new home. The guy was a complete and utter scumbag, and Scorsese does us a disservice by not holding him to account for his actions. Karen, apparently, was a piece of work as well: she was able to put up with Hill while the money was rolling in, but once that stopped she split. Much of Goodfellas works because the gangsters are not romanticized; Scorsese failed with Hill. Granted, the film was pretty much from his and Karen's POV, but it is possible to insert ironic distance at times to show that the director does not condone what his characters are doing. Scorsese just about endorses what Hill has done in the final court scene where Ray Liotta directly addresses the audience.



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« #46 : July 25, 2009, 12:08:35 PM »

Your argument would seem to make Goodfellas the best film, because part of the director's job is to make unsavory characters sympathetic.

My basic complaint about Scorsese's presentation of Henry Hill is that it falsifies the guy in real life. My dad, who was a Deputy U.S. Marshal for many years, met Hill, dealt with him when the Witness Security Program moved him to Seattle and gave him a new identity. So what did Hill immediately do with his new identity? He used it to start dealing drugs out of his new home. The guy was a complete and utter scumbag, and Scorsese does us a disservice by not holding him to account for his actions. Karen, apparently, was a piece of work as well: she was able to put up with Hill while the money was rolling in, but once that stopped she split. Much of Goodfellas works because the gangsters are not romanticized; Scorsese failed with Hill. Granted, the film was pretty much from his and Karen's POV, but it is possible to insert ironic distance at times to show that the director does not condone what his characters are doing. Scorsese just about endorses what Hill has done in the final court scene where Ray Liotta directly addresses the audience.

Thanks for sharing that, DJ.

My gripe with Goodfellas is the narration overkill during key, emotional sequences. The "Layla" piano exit scene should have been longer and the narration always kills the moment for me, which is brilliant. Let us take it in, geeze.

I've seen some TV special on Hill several years ago and the guy seemed like a dirtbag, certainly nothing like the real character. With that said, I don't hold the movie accountable for a false portrayal unless I feel it hurts the narrative. I am torn on whether Scorsese's vision of the maffia was responsible enough, but I simply like the movie too much to complain.



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« #47 : July 25, 2009, 12:21:02 PM »

I think that Hill comes across as just more sympathetic than the others because he's not a careless killer like De Niro and Pesci. That's all. Was he a cold-blooded killer in real life? I don't know, neither does Puleggi's book clarify this point. But how one can sympathize with a character like Liotta's is a mystery to me after we have seen him dealing drugs, consort with killers, help covering up homicides, be violent to the limit. Can you sympathize with Hannibal Lecter? Yes. I'm currently reading Hannibal and he's made to sympathize with by juxtapposing to him an even worse character. That's how popular culture proceeds. And those are its lmits.


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« #48 : July 25, 2009, 02:45:16 PM »

I think I liked Casino more because it was less sanitized, the characters more overtly obnoxious and realistic than Henry Hill's crew. Goodfellas makes being a gangster seem like fun - admittedly, because it was told from a very subjective point-of-view, but it doesn't sit well with me on the whole. Tommy is a psychopath but it's viewed more as a character flaw than his defining personality trait; Jimmy's a basically good guy who happens to occasionally kill people; Henry's worst problem from the film's POV is snorting too much coke. For me, there can be no question of sympathizing with the Casino protagonists - Nicky is just a nasty, womanizing, racist, greedy, egomaniac, sociopathic piece of shit unlike Tommy, a nice guy who occasionally blows a fuse, Ginger's a money-grubbing whore, Ace is the only remotely sympathetic protagonist and even he's more or less a selfish prick. Perhaps it's personal taste, but I preferred Casino's grittier portrayal of mob life to the "look-how-cool-we-are" atmosphere of Goodfellas. I don't think anyone would watch Casino and want to be a gangster; the opposite's the case for Goodfellas.



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« #49 : July 25, 2009, 04:38:45 PM »

I think I liked Casino more because it was less sanitized, the characters more overtly obnoxious and realistic than Henry Hill's crew. Goodfellas makes being a gangster seem like fun - admittedly, because it was told from a very subjective point-of-view, but it doesn't sit well with me on the whole. Tommy is a psychopath but it's viewed more as a character flaw than his defining personality trait; Jimmy's a basically good guy who happens to occasionally kill people; Henry's worst problem from the film's POV is snorting too much coke. For me, there can be no question of sympathizing with the Casino protagonists - Nicky is just a nasty, womanizing, racist, greedy, egomaniac, sociopathic piece of shit unlike Tommy, a nice guy who occasionally blows a fuse, Ginger's a money-grubbing whore, Ace is the only remotely sympathetic protagonist and even he's more or less a selfish prick. Perhaps it's personal taste, but I preferred Casino's grittier portrayal of mob life to the "look-how-cool-we-are" atmosphere of Goodfellas. I don't think anyone would watch Casino and want to be a gangster; the opposite's the case for Goodfellas.

While I think you may be overstating Jimmy and Tommy's likeable qualities, I can understand why you prefer Casino.



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« #50 : July 25, 2009, 05:56:43 PM »

Your argument would seem to make Goodfellas the best film, because part of the director's job is to make unsavory characters sympathetic.

As I said, Scorsese's strength as a director is to dispence with his characters' likability and focus on their raw, sometimes painful humanity.  The fact that I like Henry and Karen Hill makes Goodfellas just another mob movie rather than a dispassionate study of mankind, like Marty's best films.  Thanks though for sharing your dad's memories of the real Henry Hill.   O0

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« #51 : July 25, 2009, 06:02:02 PM »

I think I liked Casino more because it was less sanitized, the characters more overtly obnoxious and realistic than Henry Hill's crew. Goodfellas makes being a gangster seem like fun - admittedly, because it was told from a very subjective point-of-view, but it doesn't sit well with me on the whole.

Yet you approve of the young Vito scenes from Godfather 2?   ???

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« #52 : July 25, 2009, 06:29:39 PM »

I never said I didn't approve of Goodfellas, whatever that means. Personally I find the modern-day sections of GFII better than the Vito parts anyway.

Not to revive an old argument, but here's a difference between Vito and Michael: Vito never would have killed Fredo.



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« #53 : July 25, 2009, 06:48:16 PM »

I never said I didn't approve of Goodfellas, whatever that means. Personally I find the modern-day sections of GFII better than the Vito parts anyway.

Not to revive an old argument, but here's a difference between Vito and Michael: Vito never would have killed Fredo.

So you say.  Coppola's naive faith in that is what weakens GF2.  But yes, let's not go down that road again.

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« #54 : July 25, 2009, 07:58:42 PM »

I like the first two acts in Goodfellas very much.
Once Liotta starts seeing helicopters flying over head though I lose interest.
Something about that just rubs me the wrong way.

Casino is a bit of a sloppy mess. At times it's brilliant, while other times it drags.
If half an hour were cut it may be a better movie.

After recently re-watching Taxi Driver, I'm convinced it's the best thing Marty has ever made.




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« #55 : July 26, 2009, 01:12:58 AM »

I think I liked Casino more because it was less sanitized, the characters more overtly obnoxious and realistic than Henry Hill's crew. Goodfellas makes being a gangster seem like fun - admittedly, because it was told from a very subjective point-of-view, but it doesn't sit well with me on the whole. Tommy is a psychopath but it's viewed more as a character flaw than his defining personality trait; Jimmy's a basically good guy who happens to occasionally kill people; Henry's worst problem from the film's POV is snorting too much coke. For me, there can be no question of sympathizing with the Casino protagonists - Nicky is just a nasty, womanizing, racist, greedy, egomaniac, sociopathic piece of shit unlike Tommy, a nice guy who occasionally blows a fuse, Ginger's a money-grubbing whore, Ace is the only remotely sympathetic protagonist and even he's more or less a selfish prick. Perhaps it's personal taste, but I preferred Casino's grittier portrayal of mob life to the "look-how-cool-we-are" atmosphere of Goodfellas. I don't think anyone would watch Casino and want to be a gangster; the opposite's the case for Goodfellas.
Yet you could use that argumentation to back up the opposite opinion. In a way Casino is more moralizing than Goodfellas which "has more faith in the audience's intelligence". It's the best film to show why anybody would want to be a gangster. My late grandmom used tell us not to ever use drugs (when we were really young, like five), but it took me several years to understand why anybody would use them in the first place. Then it occurred to me: they make you feel good for a little while. Movies that portray gangsters as total scumbags with no virtues are like my grandmother: they just yack "this is no way to live, these are bad people!" but they never show you why anybody would choose such a risky path of life. Or if they do, there's an disapproving stamp on it from the get-go. Goodfellas actually makes you want to be a gangster (at least makes me want to be) for the first 2/3 of the movie. Of course, in the end Henry gets caught but even then the tone is somehow sad. He becomes a sheep like the rest of us, and you are somehow disappointed at him for that. The brilliance of Goodfellas IMO is that it makes you think like a gangster for a while and when you realize this, you are totally disturbed at yourself. 


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« #56 : July 26, 2009, 10:46:00 AM »

Your argument would seem to make Goodfellas the best film, because part of the director's job is to make unsavory characters sympathetic.

My basic complaint about Scorsese's presentation of Henry Hill is that it falsifies the guy in real life. My dad, who was a Deputy U.S. Marshal for many years, met Hill, dealt with him when the Witness Security Program moved him to Seattle and gave him a new identity. So what did Hill immediately do with his new identity? He used it to start dealing drugs out of his new home. The guy was a complete and utter scumbag, and Scorsese does us a disservice by not holding him to account for his actions. Karen, apparently, was a piece of work as well: she was able to put up with Hill while the money was rolling in, but once that stopped she split. Much of Goodfellas works because the gangsters are not romanticized; Scorsese failed with Hill. Granted, the film was pretty much from his and Karen's POV, but it is possible to insert ironic distance at times to show that the director does not condone what his characters are doing. Scorsese just about endorses what Hill has done in the final court scene where Ray Liotta directly addresses the audience.

Wait a minute, Scorsese showed what kind of man he was, but of the whole crazy bunch he was perhaps was the most likable, which doesn't automatically mean he was a good guy. After he testifies against Conway and Cicero the movie ends, and Karen indirectly said in one of her lines she was a piece of shit. There's little we can blame Scorsese here.

« : July 26, 2009, 10:49:48 AM Dust Devil »



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« #57 : July 26, 2009, 11:06:26 AM »

I think I liked Casino more because it was less sanitized, the characters more overtly obnoxious and realistic than Henry Hill's crew. Goodfellas makes being a gangster seem like fun - admittedly, because it was told from a very subjective point-of-view, but it doesn't sit well with me on the whole. Tommy is a psychopath but it's viewed more as a character flaw than his defining personality trait; Jimmy's a basically good guy who happens to occasionally kill people; Henry's worst problem from the film's POV is snorting too much coke. For me, there can be no question of sympathizing with the Casino protagonists - Nicky is just a nasty, womanizing, racist, greedy, egomaniac, sociopathic piece of shit unlike Tommy, a nice guy who occasionally blows a fuse, Ginger's a money-grubbing whore, Ace is the only remotely sympathetic protagonist and even he's more or less a selfish prick. Perhaps it's personal taste, but I preferred Casino's grittier portrayal of mob life to the "look-how-cool-we-are" atmosphere of Goodfellas. I don't think anyone would watch Casino and want to be a gangster; the opposite's the case for Goodfellas.

But that is what makes Goodfellas unique: Scorsese makes the spectator look at their lives through their own eyes! For them it was all like a joke; first they had to kill someone to make the gang and show they're reliable, then had to kill because they wanted to keep their positions, and then after a while (like Hill says) they were killing because it was the easiest way for doing business, in their minds they only had to cut somebody's throat to solve the problem. Even if at some point one of them would start having second thoughts thinking it's not good what they're doing, he's gonna end in hell after he dies or whatever, he'd get killed from people he did wrong to. Having looked from that prospective they'd soon realize there was no way out, kill or be killed, if you kill others you can maybe even enjoy yourself. Compunction over, ''Tommy call your mom to make us spaghetti alla marinara'', so we can eat properly after we kill that bastard who wouldn't pay us and move that rotting carcass from under your lawn.'', end of story.

« : July 26, 2009, 11:07:42 AM Dust Devil »



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« #58 : July 26, 2009, 11:09:29 AM »

I like the first two acts in Goodfellas very much.
Once Liotta starts seeing helicopters flying over head though I lose interest.
Something about that just rubs me the wrong way.

Casino is a bit of a sloppy mess. At times it's brilliant, while other times it drags.
If half an hour were cut it may be a better movie.

Yeah, I agree about Goodfellas, and Casino tries too hard for my taste.




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« #59 : February 24, 2013, 12:38:36 AM »

- A Fistful Of Dollars over Yojimbo
- 3:10 To Yuma (2007) over 3:10 To Yuma (1957)
- Cape Fear (1991) over Cape Fear (1962)
- The Thing (1982) over The Thing From Another World (1951)


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