Welcome back to another week of Staff Picks! This week, our staff took a path down the criminal side of movies by giving their favorite mobster films. Feel free and share your favorites as well in the comments below! Also, if you like to submit Staff Pick topic ideas for the future, e-mail me at DRockRenegade@gmail.com or tweet me @DRockDot.
Here is Renegade Cinema’s favorite Mobster Flicks…
The Godfather Part II
Shawn S. Lealos
The Godfather, Part 2 – This movie was miles above the first movie, which was a masterpiece in its own right. Honestly, the way that Coppola showed the rise to power of Vito and Michael and contrasted them was brilliant. Vito was all about rising to power and becoming a powerful figure in the mob scene, while Michael was all about his rise to power, which for his character, was a downfall from hero to villain. It was just brilliant. Add the the fact that this movie was the pinnacle in acting with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino proving they were the greatest actors working at that time, plus amazing cinematography, fantastic music and a MUCH tighter story than the sprawling first film in the series, and it isn’t just the best film in the Godfather series, but the mobster movie that all others have to be judged against. By the end when Michael finally sells his soul and gives up his own brother, the movie became a masterpiece of storytelling.
GOODFELLAS. Martin Scorsese’s film about mafioso’s is a testament to a near perfect film. Everything in it is brilliant down to Ray Liota’s narration. A couple years back I read a book called “The Way of The Wiseguy” written by Joseph D. Pistone, who was actually the real Donnie Brasco. The book entails the way wiseguy’s act and how they live their lives. At one point in the book Pistone talks about mafioso’s and how they reacted to mob films. They laugh at the Godfather (despite it being a brilliant work of art) and how they make them seem all romantic and “drug free”. They go to say that the closest film to how mobsters actually act is Goodfellas. Goodfellas: Mafia approved.
I second Brandon’s choice of GOODFELLAS. While I just rewatched THE GODFATHER – and I hold it in contention as the greatest film ever made – Scorsese’s 1990 Best Picture nominee is tighter, nimbler, and more ferociously entertaining than any mob film before or since. Scorsese and his other “film brat” cohorts of the 1970s proved themselves to be the godfathers (pun intended) of the gangster film, but the formula was perfected in GOODFELLAS. It’s HUGELY entertaining, and equal parts hilarious, tragic, and suspenseful. Lining up one of the best casts of all time, quick on its feet and seeringly visceral in its execution, GOODFELLAS has my pick.
Sandy Cilla Stachowiak
Goodfellas is my pick too, hands down…seen it so many times I think I could play Henry.
I’m going with Goodfellas this week. A great movie with an all around perfect cast. Ray Liotta remains underappreciated in his lead role here and Lorraine Braco…well, we all know what she’s capable of from an acting standpoint given her television mob ties. And Joe Pesci got his much deserved supporting Oscar for a role that is just as scintillating as his turn in Casino which would come 5 years later. I like Pesci’s performance as Nicky Santoro better in Casino, I think, but I like Goodfellas more as an overall movie, so it gets the nod.
Goodfellas no doubt! That’s one of my favorite movies period. It’s a perfectly mixed manhattan of tension. I don’t think I can say much about it that hasn’t already been said, but that movie is amazing. Casting A+ so many pantheon performances. Plus it was one of the movies my dad would always rent when we lived next to a Blockbuster in DC so it’s got hardcore sentimental value.
I think anyone who doesn’t pick Goodfellas should be kicked out of RC. Although, that said…
CASINO – There aren’t many 3 hour films I can watch a few times weekly and not get sick of it, but Casino is one of them. A fantastic cast of characters playing out an incredible story that’s backed with an awesome soundtrack. I also prefer Pesci in this film, as he’s even more insane, and funnier. Not to mention you get The Ace Rothstein Dancers!
Man, this is a tough one. I love a good mob movie, and there’s so many to choose from. “The Godfather” is one of the towering achievements of American cinema. It’s so operatic, so intelligent, so excellently performed and constructed that it’s reached nearly universal approval, which it completely deserves. People underestimate how big a keystone it is to modern culture. Its sequel, “The Godfather: Part II” isn’t so much a sequel in my eyes as truly the second half of one massive masterpiece. In itself, “Part II” manages to balance both cynicism and romanticism with the contrasting narratives of both Don Vito Corleone and his son, Michael. Where Vito was able to maintain his strict moral code and sense of honor despite being an underworld kingpin, Michael was not, growing more and more paranoid and amoral in his actions. On the other hand, “Goodfellas” took the more gritty and cynical approach, showing us how the “men of honor,” were truly just a bunch of violent thugs who would stab their friends in the back if they had to. Scorsese may have fictionalized some of their lives, but he came much closer to achieving actuality than the others. Between these three films, I’ll admit that I like “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas” more than “Part II,” though I can’t explain why. As far as who wins between Godfather and Goodfellas, I oscillate back and forth, but I’ll most often say The Godfather.
I’m not sure if “The Departed” is technically a mafia movie, but it is undoubtedly one of the best crime movies I’ve ever seen. If Goodfellas, Casino, and Mean Streets wasn’t already enough to make Scorsese the master of mafia films in contemporary cinema, The Departed cemented the fact that this director knew how to make crime and suspense meld in a way that not even Coppola could conquer.
The Departed is arguably one of the most suspenseful and intense crime movies to date thanks to the phenomenal A-list cast, masterful direction, and well constructed script. These elements all work together to create an experience that left me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who would be the first to crack. It’s one of the genre’s finest moments and its one that I’ll never pass up on when it’s on TV.
John “D-Rock” Dotson
I consider The Godfather as one of the single best mobster films ever made. However, if I had to choose between The Departed or The Godfather to watch on television, I’m most likely going with Martin Scorsese’s movie. It’s just completely riveting from the moment Dropkick Murphy’s, Shipping Up To Boston hits the credits; All the way to the pulse-pounding conclusion, which can only be described as, “holy sh*t!” Not to mention this is one of my all-time favorite performances from Leonardo Dicaprio. Every moment with him on screen as an undercover policeman made me feel like I was going to have an anxiety attack. Especially, when Jack Nicholson flares his nostrils at him and says, “I smell a rat.”