Reader's Choice – The July Feature

Trying to come up with new ideas, month after month, for features has been something that can be a bit frustrating. There are only so many “Quentin Tarantino Sucks” features one can run, and most of the good ideas we’ve had we’ve done already. So instead of doing something we’ve already done before, or worse do something that’s as clichéd and correct as bashing QT, we’ve decided that this month we opened it up to the readers with our “Reader’s Choice” selections.

Thanks to the wonderful men and women of our forums, we’ve come up with four films tabbed as “must see” and have tallied the PJ staff to see if that’s so.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Notable Cast Members: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio
Synopsis (Per A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow Marine recruits from their brutal basic training to the bloody street fighting set in 1968 Hue, Vietnam.

Our Take:

Michaelangelo McCullar, Popcorn Junkies Editor in Chief – This is really a weird flick. It’s basically two movies in one, and I think that keeps it from being the real classic it should have been. By the time the basic training half of the movie ends, we’re so emotionally wrung out that Vietnam seems almost anti-climactic. I mean, how scary can the Viet Cong really be after you’ve survived 13 weeks of Basic with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and Gomer Pyle?

Danny Cox, Popcorn Junkies News Editor – Here is a film that needs to be seen by any and everyone for the sole purpose that it is almost two whole films rolled into one. The second half takes the boys through the throngs of war as they enjoy some drinks and whore only to go into a raging gun battle later on. But it is that first half devoted to Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) that makes the film phenomenal. Following along in the daily footsteps of a first-class f*ck up just makes you run through every emotion you could ever feel. You’re going to laugh at the poor bastard. You’ll get angry with him. You’ll even feel indifference because you’re going to get so fed up with him but realize he’s trying his hardest. Then you’ll feel sorry for him man that “beat down by soap” scene rips my heart apart. And finally you’ll feel his revenge for him as you fear him. D’Onofrio makes this film and it should not go unseen by anyone ever!

Rob Sutton, DVD Lounge and Popcorn Junkies Staff Writer – I’m not sure that I’ve ever gotten into more heated discussions than I have about Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. I mean, I wish it weren’t so, but this film is such a mixed bag, with its first half being one of the greatest War films ever made, and the main source of the film’s power, and the second half always being a major disappointment. Unfortunately, even with such a great director behind it, what you end up with is simply a mediocre film.

This isn’t to say I can’t see what Kubrick was trying to do; you come in green with these characters and learn to love them, and then you see how Viet Nam takes their humanity away from them. The problem is, the second half of the movie is just as unconvincing as a combat film as the film’s first half is gripping The movie’s cinematography hasn’t aged in the way it’s needed to in order to still be exciting. There’s a lackluster pacing with the movie, and Matthew Modine’s Joker isn’t as memorable as he needs to be. Add to that the fact that Kubrick refused to leave England, which is obvious when watching the film. The UK setting is just not a convincing stand in for Viet Nam no matter how many palm trees are on screen. There’s just no comparison here with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now or really even with Kubrick’s own Paths of Glory.

Caroline Hagood, Popcorn Junkies and DVD Lounge Staff Writer – Somewhere among the Vietnamese whores, sadistic drill sergeants, and soldiers who know as little about their souls as they do about why they are fighting, there is Full Metal Jacket. From boot camp to patrol squad, the film explores the contours of the human degradation, dissolution, and destruction of the Vietnam War. In the first section of the film that takes place during recruit training, R. Lee Ermey is brutally good as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, a man bursting with a startling arsenal of creatively hateful homosexual jokes. (A former U.S. Marine Drill Instructor, Ermey was brought in to coach the actor they had originally chosen for the role, and was hired after yelling obscenities for fifteen minutes without flinching while being pelted with tennis balls.)

The demise of Private Pile (Vincent D’Onofrio) during boot camp is one of the most disturbing in movie history. He is a weak, troubled recruit whom the protagonist Private James T. “Joker” Davis (Matthew Modine) helps out at first. But after Hartman starts punishing the group for Pile’s infractions, they turn on him. When Joker participates instead of defending him, Private Pile is changed forever, and the traumatizing results are unforgettable. The most evocative war scene in the film (and perhaps of all time) involves a female sniper. The moment she reveals herself elicits the kind of horrified awe that would make any war-movie-maker envious. The scene’s demons, at once intoxicating and repulsive, reach out of the screen and possess the viewer.

The wonder of Kubrick is that he can assimilate disparate emotive elements while coolly maintaining his creepily cerebral style. He is one of the only directors who could integrate the holy (cinematographer Douglas Milsome’s spiritual undertones render even the barrack lights otherworldly), the hilarious (Hartman’s high jinks), and the horrific (the war’s obliteration of the spirit) into one film, let alone one scene. He combines a light soundtrack and moments that could be accompanied by a laugh track with the dehumanization and unintentional beauty of battle. The resulting paradoxical emotions echo the sensation of war. In this way, despite its episodic disjointedness, Full Metal Jacket is the magnum opus of the Vietnam War.

Mike Noyes, DVD Lounge and Popcorn Junkies Staff Writer – I’m a huge Kubrick fan and he can almost do no wrong. I’m not a huge Barry Lyndon fan. I know a lot of people who aren’t fond of Full Metal Jacket. I, however, am not one of them. I love this movie! From beginning to end this is a near perfect film. A lot of people say, “Oh I like the fist half better.”

Bugger all that! The whole film is great from boot camp to Vietnam; Stanley Kubrick has painted a view of the marines and war that has yet to be equaled. This is definitely a must see.

John Price, Popcorn Junkies Staff Writer – Many fans of Full Metal Jacket will clamor about how it is two movies in one. That would be exciting, if either was any good. Blame it on the fact that the film is directed by Stanley Kubrick, an individual who is less capable of human emotions than most robots. Everyone’s favorite misanthrope comes late to the party as he offers his take on the Vietnam War a good ten years after it would have been vogue to do so.

Considering the contempt Kubrick’s camera has for any subject it shoots, one would think Vietnam would be a perfect topic for him to cover. But it is hard to root for his characters as he refrains from infusing any humanity into them. Yet the performances are solid, in spite of Kubrick’s best efforts to derail them. Vincent D’Onofrio puts in a particularly memorable effort as the pathetic Private Pyle whose suffering is exacerbated by the gleefully sadistic Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Still, this small island of interest is lost in a sea of moody boredom and uncompassionate directing. Full Metal Jacket is intriguing as a piece of psychoanalysis, but it is hardly a must watch film.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz, Popcorn Junkies Reviews & Features Editor, DVD Lounge Staff Writer – If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s the lesser of the Vietnam trilogy of 1980s war movies, Full Metal Jacket might not stand out as much as it does. Considering it’s a mediocre war movie to begin with, being released at the same time as Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now makes it look even more like the weak sister as opposed to just being a mediocre war film all by itself. The film puts all of its interesting character development in its first act, leaving the second to be a collection of quotable lines and nothing more. If you want to see a great film, avoid this.

Steve Murray, DVD Lounge Staff Writer and former author of “A Look on the Bright Side” – It’s two, two, TWO movies in one! Luckily enough, both movies are plenty awesome. At the time of release, Full Metal Jacket suffered from too many Platoon comparisons (and then, Hamburger Hill got lost in there somewhere, to boot). But it is difficult to overstate Mr. Kubrick’s contribution to the Vietnam angst genre: Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Private Pyle, and the Vietnamese hooker’s call of “Me so horny! Me love you long time” will indeed live forever.

Director: Charles Crichton
Notable Cast: Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese
Synopsis (Per In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to double-cross each other for the loot.

Our Take:

McCullar – One of the funniest movies of all time. The juxtaposition between the proper, uber-starchy Brits and the callous, rude Americans made for 2 hours of belly laughs. Kevin Kline won a much-deserved Oscar as Otto, the violence-prone, room-temperature IQ wannabe hit man, but the entire cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis as a sexpot turned on by foreign languages and John Cleese as a sexually repressed barrister, all hit high notes. In the end, however, it’s Michael Palin’s stuttering animal lover who generates the biggest laughs. His escapades at trying to kill a potential witness and instead offing all her dogs are some of the funniest stuff ever committed to film.

Cox – Whose idea of a cruel joke was this? I knew I didn’t like the film, but I got a copy and watched it again anyway just to make sure my thoughts were accurate. They were. It is simply one of those films that everyone around me is laughing at, yet I fail to see the humor in it. No scratch that. I see the humor in it, but find it incredibly hard to find it amusing enough to even crack a smile at. The only redeeming quality the film has is Kevin Kline and his constant obsession with trying to get everyone to realize he isn’t stupid; when in fact he truly is. Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance bored me and I am upset to say that even John Cleese didn’t impress me. If memory serves, this is the only time that has ever happened. It just isn’t a film that screams “SEE ME!” at any point and not one I would recommend over many others ever!

Sutton – An absolute comedy riot, A Fish Called Wanda is the best Comedy to incorporate Monty Python alums since the group split up. John Cleese has his best performance ever as the movie’s straight man, Archie Leach, who falls for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Wanda Gershwitz. Curtis is unbelievably hot in this caper which pits good guy Archie against the insanely funny Kevin Kline as Otto, a complete lunatic and the world’s most arrogant thief. This is just one funny caper sequence after another, and also managed to have quite a bit of heart in it at film’s ende This is just a great film with a terrific cast doing top notch work.

Hagood – Mix one jewel heist and four offbeat thieves—Ken (Michael Palin), a stuttering animal-lover, Otto (Kevin Kline), a Nietzsche-quoting dimwit, Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), an insincere femme fatale, and George Thomason (Tom Georgeson—seriously), her plodding, caper-planning beau–with one bumbling, sexually-deprived attorney, Archie (John Cleese), and you have A Fish Called Wanda.

Scoring a rare 100 percent rating on the movie review website, “Rotten Tomatoes,” the film is regarded as one of the funniest of all time. Kevin Kline scored an Oscar for his portrayal of Otto, a pretentious wannabe-intellectual who is as hilarious as he is incorrect about his own intelligence. He has apparently attracted Wanda by way of his second rate Italian (she is desperately turned on by foreign languages). A typical erotic scene between them might include a sultry dose of armpit (his) and undergarment (hers) sniffing and murmurings of “Benito Mussolini” and “spaghetti,” between spread legs, culminating in a finale fraught with bizarre facial contortions. Kline’s character provides a valuable lesson on what happens when you give a fop a firearm.

Otto and Wanda cuckold George by pretending that Otto is Wanda’s brother instead of her lover. After pulling off the robbery, Wanda and Otto turn George in, but they still have to find where he hid the diamonds. This leaves two people for them to swindle: George’s attorney (the bashfully endearing Archie) and Ken. The spectacle of Ken’s being alternately romanced and terrorized by Wanda and Otto easily lands them in the weirdest criminal-couple hall of fame. But nothing is odder than Otto’s method of getting Ken to spill the beans: putting French fries in his nose and eating his fish one-by-one (advising him to avoid the green ones because they’re not ripe yet). Due to the inexhaustible nature of its absurdist tendencies, A Fish Called Wanda is a comedic triumph.

Noyes:Wanda certainly one of those films that people constantly rave about. I’d finally heard enough about how it was a crime that I’d never seen it so I rented it. What a boring waste of a film this is! I couldn’t believe people rave about it as much as they do. The only thing that made me laugh out loud during this film was Michael Palin killing that lady’s dogs all the time. Other than that I couldn’t find anything even remotely amusing about this overrated rubbish.

Price – It is a nice surprise to see that A Fish Called Wanda is still held in the esteem it deserves. The film has a ribald sense of humor that modern audiences are hardly ever treated to anymore. It is the rare comedy that is recognized by critics for being well-written and superiorly acted. Certainly it deserves the praise, but it serves as a reminder of what comedy could be and for that we should all weep at the efforts offered to us in this day and age.

At least we may rest comfortably with the knowledge that A Fish Called Wanda sets a near-impossible standard to attain. It is a heady blend of British and American comedic sensibilities that invites everyone to enjoy its more sadistic aspects. The film is a great way to introduce both sides of the pond to humor from the other side. And of course it would be criminal if I were to fail mentioning Kevin Kline’s inspired, Oscar-winning performance as Otto, a villain so over-the-top that one cannot help but love him. Ultimately, none of the four key players deserve too much sympathy which makes each one’s plight all the more hilarious.

Sawitz – Watching A Fish Called Wanda, there’s only one thought that can come to mind: John Cleese is the funniest human being ever. I grew up watching the Monty Python members, as Comedy Central ran Monty Python’s Flying Circus en masse in the days before people started watching it for bad standup comedy, and the movies that Cleese has been the brains behind have been brilliant. And it’s a tossup, but Monty Python and the Holy Grail and A Fish Called Wanda have to be 1a and 1b on the great comedies of all time list.

Murray – Out of the four, this is the one I disagree with the most. Make no mistake: the acting performances in this movie, from Jamie Lee Curtis to Kevin Kline to Micheal Palin to John Cleese are, without a doubt, top-notch. But there is nothing in this movie that you must see. There are no quotable lines that have permeated the pop culture realm, unlike so many other comedies like Blazing Saddles or Caddyshack, or (in the present blogosphere) Anchorman or any random Kevin Smith film. I love this movie – but I could have easily named a half dozen comedies before this one.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Notable Cast: Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi
Synopsis (Per After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

Our Take:

McCullar – Quentin’s introduction to the American filmgoing public is loud, profane, and violent, and it’s also criminally entertaining. The story of a heist gone ridiculously bad, QT eschews the normal conventions of crime films to create his own genre. We never see the actual robbery, only the bloody aftermath. And Michael Madsen’s psychotic Mr. Blonde is one of the great villains in movie history. You’ll never listen to a bubblegum song like “Stuck in the Middle With You” in quite the same way.

Cox – With names like Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, and Mr. Blonde why wouldn’t you want to see it? The perfect organized between total strangers only to have it loused up by some stool pigeon. In a way, Reservoir Dogs kinda paved the way some future films. Take a look at Unknown and tell me you don’t get kind of the same feel from it, only not nearly as nicely done of course. But with Dogs, you know exactly what you’re getting. No hidden little cutesy things or romantic love interests just some straight up gangster shit that will have you wondering the whole time and grasping at your ears due to the sheer brutality.

Sutton – I know I’m in the minority on this one, but to me Reservoir Dogs is the Quentin Tarantino film I enjoy the least. Yes, the film is undeniably cool, and has incredible dialogue, but to me the film is missing the humanity that would go into his later works that made them all masterpieces. The film is a terrific introduction to an amazing film maker’s work, but it falls short of the three magnum opuses that would follow it.

Still there’s some remarkable stuff going on here. Really, everyone in this cast gives his career defining role, from Michael Madsen’s quiet, Lee Marvin loving psychotic killer, to Harvey Keitel’s life long, but highly principled criminal. Tim Roth’s gut-wrenchingly painful performance is also memorable, but just doesn’t have the heart of Chow Yun Fat’s corresponding role in the Hong Kong classic, City on Fire.

This brings me to the main source of my disappointment with Reservoir Dogs. While a very good film, I think even with his clever editing and terrific dialogue, Tarantino is unable to improve on the film he’s remaking. Most people don’t even know that Reservoir Dogs is even a remake of City of Fire, and QT doesn’t even give credit to it in his film’s credits. Unlike, The Departed, which elevated the emotional impact of Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong film it remade, Reservoir Dogs shined up the surface, but wasn’t able to translate any of its raw human tragedy.

Hagood – As the directorial feature film debut of video clerk Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs is quite a film. For a director who admittedly steals from the greats, Tarantino has managed to create a niche of his own—the nonlinear, talky gangster flick.

Reservoir Dogs depicts the dealings before and after a heist that is never shown on camera. One of the postfactum revelations is that they have been set up. The different stages of the crime—from the bloody aftermath in a warehouse to the origin—are reconstructed in order to gradually unveil the rat.

Although there are iconic pulp gore action sequences, such as “Mr. Blonde” (Michael Madsen) cutting the ear off the kidnapped cop (Kirk Baltz), it is speech that is central to the film. What makes the men of Reservoir Dogs so darn smashing is their encyclopedic knowledge of marginalia and their consequent ability to spin a mean yarn.

The film opens on the tough guys arguing about the significance of “Like a Virgin” as the camera drifts around their faces. It’s certainly a cool movie in that it captures the effortless moxie of the gangster, which is such that they can discuss Madonna’s oeuvre without any aspersions being cast on their manhood.

The weight of words and their association with status can be seen in the flashback to the group of gangsters receiving their colorful pseudonyms—”Mr. Brown” (Quentin Tarantino himself) complains about the scatological nature of his name, while “Mr. Pink” (Steve Buscemi) is equally displeased with his effeminate moniker.

The film is essentially a series of off-colored anecdotes told to the tune of a first-rate 70’s score. Tarantino was inspired by (another movie on our voters’ must-see-list) Full Metal Jacket’s unlikely concoction of upbeat pop music and carnage. Because the film is unusually chatty for a “shoot em up”, it gets tedious in places. Seeing the exceptional acting team cooped up arguing gets old, especially when we know what Tarantino could accomplish outside the warehouse. Although Reservoir Dogs (in contrast to Tarantino’s more action-packed Pulp Fiction) sometimes strains under its dependence on telling rather than showing, what a story it tells.

Noyes: – Tarantino is certainly a director that people either love or hate. I have gotten in many an argument over his films. Tarantino is another director I’m a huge fan of. However I’m not so blind that I can’t see why others dislike him. Over the years his films have grown more and more derivative, always pulling from some genre he loves from blaxploitation (Jackie Brown) to Kung Fu flicks (Kill Bill). Now, I’m not going to say that Reservoir Dogs is completely original, but I’ll say it’s his most original. This is my favorite film of his and I think it’s the definitely example of Tarantino at his best. If you haven’t seen this for some reason, go out and rent it, hell, buy it right now!

Price – Quentin Tarantino will probably be remembered as one of the best directors of all time if for no other reason than giving us Pulp Fiction. But with each passing gonzo, pop culture-laced upgrade on his style, Tarantino moves further away from the simplistic movie techniques he flaunted so perfectly in Reservoir Dogs The film is arguably a modern classic in its own right, and a sensational film noir with a 1990s twist. The film oozes the sort of bad boy cool Tarantino has come to teach us that we have wanted all along.

From the initial scene in which a group of hitmen discusses the important topics (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and the merits of tipping, amongst others) until the final bloody shootout in an abandoned warehouse, Reservoir Dogs never takes it foot off the gas. The feat is all the more impressive when one considers there is hardly any true action in the film. They don’t make them like this anymore, as they say. But this is one case in which we wish they did. Reservoir Dogs is stripped down to the bone, and the gritty, raw feeling it creates is something that has rarely been recaptured; not even by Tarantino himself.

Sawitz – When it comes down to it, I’ve never really understood the phenomenon that is Tarantino. Has he made a number of great movies? Of course, as Reservoir Dogs is one of the great crime films of our era and Pulp Fiction is a classic, but Tarantino hasn’t done nearly enough films to merit the consideration he gets as one of the premier directors of the modern era. At the end of the day, he’s just George Lucas without the marketing acumen. But then again, at least Lucas was original. Tarantino just basically remade City on Fire and loaded it up with an excessive amount of profanity.

Murray – Well, kids – once upon a time, there was a director/screenwriter with a truly gifted ear for dialogue. He could write words that no one would even think twice about putting into a character’s voice, and he could talk about the most outrageous subjects in the most natural manner. As a bonus, this artist also loved film violence – in fact, he paid homage to some of the most over-the-top 70’s cliche films in whatever he did. And eventually, he got to make the pinnacle of his career, in his very first movie: Reservoir Dogs. However, the world was not ready for him. A few years later, he made another film, starring some bigger names, and the hipsters of the world, having been told by their friends that this guy actually was cool, fell over themselves praising him. And thus, Quentin Tarantino became known for Pulp Fiction. But, if you really cared about movies, you knew about this first little flick, well before the general public decided to fellate the second.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Notable Cast: Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta
Synopsis (Per Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

Our Take:

McCullar – The greatest gangster flick ever made. That’s all you need to know. And no, The Godfather is not a gangster flick. Scorsese’s masterpiece gave you the real view from the ground floor of how the modern Mafia worked, and how it ultimately fell. With career-defining performances from Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco, as well as another in a long line of incredible acting jobs by Robert DeNiro, Goodfellas was the best film of the 90s and one of the best films ever made.

Cox – I enjoyed the film and loved every one of the characters. The way it was presented in a narrative sense really attracted it to me even more because I’m a sucker for narrations as they make feel as though I’m watching an old black & white detective flick. I love the mob, old-time gangsters, feisty Italians, pistol-whipping, and most especially “Am I a clown? How am I funny to you?” But there was something about it that just made me kind of left wanting more. It was as if it was left undone and just like I had seen it all before. Don’t get me wrong for it truly is great, but unless I feel fulfilled when the credits roll, then I’m not totally happy. That is what makes me say that everyone should see Goodfellas, but if you don’t hell, there’s another gangster flick out there like it. Go snoop around.

Sutton – When it’s all said and done, if I had to take just one Scorsese movie, its going to be Goodfellas. The story of Henry Hill and his life in the New York mafia is a riveting masterpiece. While Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro are stellar as usual, the underrated Ray Liotta is absolutely phenomenal, carrying the screen the entire way and showing Hill’s progression from happy go lucky twenty-something to drugged out material witness.

What really sets this film apart from other Mafia pictures is just how real it feels, especially stacked up against the romantic vision of The Godfather. Goodfellas shows you the emotional and physical toll that this lifestyle costs, and it’s not a pretty sight. Near film’s end, all the characters are broken and we’re left with only pieces of the people we knew earlier. Couple all this with Scorsese amazing camera work and direction and you’ve got a bonafide masterpiece.

Hagood – Beginning with the much-quoted line from young gangster-in-training, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta):”As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster,” GoodFellas is a fetishized vision of the gangster life as seen through the eyes of an idolizing fan boy. To Hill, being a gangster is a way of evading anonymity—a fast track to respect, power, and glory that will allow him to be somebody in a town of nobodies.

The film traces Hill’s rise to glory and subsequent descent into drug-doing-and-dealing. As a red-nosed Hill speeds towards his inevitable doomsday on Sunday, May 11th, 1980, his actions grow more frenzied. The narrative becomes correspondingly frenetic, causing the viewer to feel similarly drugged-up and out of control.

Scorsese is as adept at capturing smoke-lit rooms where the eyes of his gangsters glow as he is at quantifying body counts. He is an artist when it comes to rolling out the corpses—whether it’s bloody dead couples in fancy cars, or bodies churning out of garbage trucks and hanging in meat freezers so frigid they take days to thaw for the funeral.

The film showcases some excellent acting, including Joe Pesci’s Oscar-winning performance as Tommy, the diminutive psychotic whose most dangerous quality is his cowardice.

Scorsese’s vision, as executed by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, results in splendid moments of cinema, from the celebrated three-minute tracking shot of the “Copacabana” to the most ingeniously crafted action snapshots since Truffaut’s Jules and Jim. This inspired use of stills superimposes contemplative moments on fast-paced and often violent sequences by pausing them momentarily for the viewer to ponder. Scorsese’s filmmaking has a razor-sharp precision that makes him unbeatable, and GoodFellas is Scorsese at his best.

Noyes – This is another film I’m not a big fan of and I’m quite aware that I’m alone on this. The first half the film is fine, but when the film reaches the 80’s and Ray Liotta is running around like a mad man the film just loses me. De Niro and Pesci are fantastic but you can get that almost anywhere. What it boils down to I think with this film is that Ray Liotta bugs me and pretty much any film staring him is going to lose points in my book. If you want a good Scorsese film rent Raging Bull, Casino, or The Departed. Now those are essential viewing.

Price – The popularity of Goodfellas escapes me. The gangster flick has been done better before (The Godfather), after (Donnie Brasco) and by Scorsese himself (Casino and The Departed). In fact, even its closest imitator (Blow) is superior. The popularity of Goodfellas implicates is the general acceptance of any mob movie no matter the quality. Supposedly, the film is an innovative redefinition of the genre. In truth it is an excuse for Scorsese to string together songs as the film jumps through decades at a fast clip.

Goodfellas highlights exactly how overrated Scorsese had become at that point. The best directors have a few duds from time to time, but it seems like more praise is heaped on Scorsese with each passing effort regardless of his films’ quality. Everyone else will likely point out how great these sort of soundtrack based movies are, but if you want to listen to great music, make a mix tape. If you must watch something with your music, find a Paul Thomas Anderson film. Anderson has a far more steady directorial hand in this film style. In fact Goodfellas would have been pretty great with him at the helm.

Sawitz – Before the days of prescription medication, mental health problems were solved one of two ways: psych wards and brain surgeries. For seizure disorders, they used to separate the hemispheres in what’s called brain bisection. They gave lobotomies to people with serious problems, often leaving them shells of their former selves. People with Down’s syndrome were placed in large hospitals for isolation from society. Why is this important? Because anyone who doesn’t think this film is one of the greatest films in American cinema probably has had a large portion of their brain either removed or tampered with. Only a fool or an idiot would think negatively about Goodfellas. No one in their right mind can watch this film and not be in awe of one of the great films of the last 50 years. It’s the only explanation, because it’s a magnificent film that represents the peak of the crime film and the zenith of America’s finest director.

Murray – The very embodiment of the modern mob movie, and a film that actually established clichés that you see in films to this very day (most famously, the tracking scene where Henry and Karen walk through the restaurant kitchen to their front row table). There is nothing about this movie that isn’t done perfectly: the voice-overs are spaced right, the casting is truly inspired (honestly, who saw Paul Sorvino as a mob boss before this film?), and all of the truly dramatic moments just NAIL IT: the opening scene, or when Tommy and Jimmy kill Billy Batts, or when Karen pulls a gun on Henry in bed, or when Henry pummels the rich kid across the street from Karen’s house. There is no chance that any of those scenes will not suck you right into the film, and not let you go.