Director: Martin Scorsese
Year Released: 1990
Scorsese's classic mobster movie from the nineties - and what's arguably one of the best movies of that decade - charts former wise guy Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) humble beginnings as a gopher for the Mafia and his becoming fully indoctrinated into the lifestyle ... before he enters the Witness Protection Program. The direction is simply impeccable and the performances are absolutely magnificent - with both Liotta and Joe Pesci in iconic roles - and though I could quibble about the wall-to-wall music (which I found, on this, my umpteenth viewing, to be slightly irritating), it's like arguing there are too many brush strokes in a Van Gogh. What I still find so intriguing about this story is how Scorsese shows "the lifestyle" as being both positive and negative - when filmmakers make movies about drugs, they sometimes show them to be altogether awful and life-ruining, when it's clear some drugs - in moderation - can have a positive effect on some people. Likewise, the Mob Life for Hill had plenty of positives, and though the "crime doesn't pay" moral is tucked in there (when Hill sinks into cocaine abuse and paranoia and his crew start to die off or turn on him), it shows that yes, sometimes it does feel good to be a gangster.