Martin Scorsese returns to the genre that made him a household name: crime dramas. The Irishman made its debut at the New York Film Festival and brings Scorsese and Pacino together for the first time to tell the tale of the man who allegedly killed Jimmy Hoffa. The film will hit streaming on November 27.
Scorsese’s filmography is full of human beings who make unthinkable choices. Some are well aware of the consequences, but push forward because that’s the system and it’s the life they’ve chosen (Casino). Some see the system as a game where everyone’s a crook and is in it to grab us much glory and money as possible (The Wolf of Wall Street). And sometimes, it’s literally the Messiah (The Last Temptation of Christ). Scorsese has this knack for choosing protagonists who are not always sympathetic, but are usually relatable. It drills down to the central dilemma: were you in the same situation, faced with the same consequences, would you choose differently? And as terrible as the choices sometimes are, doesn’t a particularly dark part of your soul admire the people who make the awful choices?
In Goodfellas, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) becomes a mafia wiseguy because, in his neighborhood, they’re the people you look up to. It’s a way to take care of your family and, in a perverse way, bring the community together. It’s also a path to an untouchable social club that few born into his financial status could even hope to aspire to… as exemplified by the most famous long take in cinema history.
As the realities of life in the mob takes its toll, though, the fairy tale world begins to fall apart piece by piece. Parts of the movie start to become hidden, such as when Lorraine Bracco goes to ask Robert De Niro for a favor. As the FBI closes in, the cinematography gets more jumpy and jittery to reflect the increased paranoia.
Yet at the end, Henry Hill is disappointed. “I get to live my life like an average schnook.”
What are we supposed to feel about this guy? Sympathy? Anger? He’s a man trapped in long gone glories that are exposed to be terrible crimes.
Today’s prompt: What is your favorite Scorsese movie? What Scorsese movie do you think is the most underrated?