Restored in wonderful 4K, Martin Scorsese’s American masterpiece now stands as even more of monument. Surely one of the great films of all time and certainly of the 1990s, the history of American pop culture unfolds through its story of Henry Hill and his journey through crime.
What strikes me on my umpteenth viewing – but only the second on the big screen since I first caught it in 1990 at the now disappeared cinema in Hampstead’s Pond Street – is how each scene bleeds into another either through blood or sound. Scorsese’s soundtrack literally, famously, traces the action and comments on it – from crooners like Jack Jones and Tony Bennett to girl groups like The Crystals and The Marvelettes to rock from The Rolling Stones or 70s stalwarts like Nilsson’s Jump into the Fire and Derek and the Dominos’s Layla.
It’s the sort of film which one watches with wonder at just how good it is, from the camera moves to the script, to the just-so mix of funny violence (“funny how?, I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?”) and the fluidity of the narration and the noses, the hair, the camel coats, the women’s make-up, the interior decor, even the fucking meatball recipes.
It’s part of the BFI’s Scorsese season down on the SouthBank, but it’s also touring around the country, snaking into a cinema near you, probably via the back entrance and through the kitchens. The movies, American cinema, really doesn’t get any better than GoodFellas.