Recent Rewatches: November 2016

Things were so chaotic in September and October that I didn’t really get a chance to write these posts, despite having a lot of rewatches. The months kept combining until the post became so unwieldy I decided to start over again in November. I didn’t really get to any noir rewatches unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the two I did have.

November 7: Goodfellas

Ah, Goodfellas. I was back in Boston at the beginning of November, which was really lucky because I got to catch Goodfellas at the Coolidge in 35 mm! It’s actually the second Scorsese film I’ve seen that way; I also caught Mean Streets there on film a few years ago. They programming guy said they hadn’t screened Goodfellas in a while, so I guess I got lucky. Seeing it on film was fantastic, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about the way film moves that is always to amazing to me, and of course, when it comes to screens the bigger the better.

The first time I saw Goodfellas was on AMC when I was sixteen, and I really was not a fan of it. I couldn’t figure out why it was so acclaimed because it just seemed like a really long movie with people doing immoral things. I had been lead to believe by a classmate of mine that it would be similar to The Godfather which I had just seen and recently fallen in love with, but to me Goodfellas wasn’t like The Godfather at all. Over the years, Goodfellas has only increased in my estimation and I’d like to think it’s because I understand it better, or can at least understand something in it that appeals to me. Goodfellas has a maturity and self-awareness in how it’s not afraid to depict the uncouthness of the its characters and still shamelessly aspire to them. In some ways, I feel like Goodfellas only wishes it was The Godfather (with how its characters want to be gangsters, not the filmmaking, I’m not gonna try and hold one over the other in that regard) and that’s really the whole point.

And you can see that in how the audience reacts to it. I’ve watched Goodfellas by myself, in a class full of film students, and now in a theater. Goodfellas, with its similarities to The Wolf of Wall Street, really had me flashing back to when I first saw that film. A good portion of the audience seemed to very much be on DiCapprio’s side, laughing at his actions no matter how horrible they became. There are some like-minded people in the audience of Goodfellas that night too, and even though they always give me a moment of pause I can’t help thinking they’re missing the point at bit. Joe Pesci beating people up is not the point of Goodfellas, to me, the discrepancy between Ray Liotta’s reactions as depicted visually (reported by Scorsese, the author of the film) and aurally (reported by voice over, authored by Henry Hill the character) are the point. I don’t think Goodfellas is a full-throated endorsement of terrible people, as those audience laughers will have you believe. It’s an acknowledgment of how uncomfortable it is to want it to be. While it might seem great to kill everyone that disagrees with you and steal anything that you want, it’s a lifestyle that can’t sustain itself.

"What's the matter Henry, you don't talk too much"

“What’s the matter Henry, you don’t talk too much”

I really had a great time with Goodfellas, and it leaves me really looking forward to Scorsese’s Silence next month!

November 25: The Gay Divorcee 

There’s not really a film I could choose that would be more different from Goodfellas than the charming Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodger’s musical The Gay Divorcee. I hadn’t seen the one in years, but caught it off TCM over Thanksgiving break. The plot is minimal and standard, but that doesn’t stop the cast from having a grand old time. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Next month on the blog you can expect the usual year-end stuff, the return of my X-Files recaps, and my final blindspot of the year. There will be some new releases, as of right now it’s just Moonlight but as more winter movies come to Hartford I’ll cover ’em. As for classics, I got some “new to me” Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, and Alfred Hitchcock lined up.

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