GoodFellas (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece GoodFellas immortalizes the hilarious, horrifying life of actual gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), from his teen years on the streets of New York to his anonymous exile under the Witness Protection Program. The director's kinetic style is perfect for recounting Hill's ruthless rise to power in the 1950s as well as his drugged-out fall in the late 1970s; in fact, no one has ever rendered the mental dislocation of cocaine better than Scorsese. Scorsese uses period music perfectly, not just to summon a particular time but to set a precise mood. GoodFellas is at least as good as The Godfather without being in the least derivative of it. Joe Pesci's psycho improvisation of Mobster Tommy DeVito ignited Pesci as a star, Lorraine Bracco scores the performance of her life as Hill's love interest, and every supporting role, from Paul Sorvino to Robert De Niro, is a miracle.
Finally, GoodFellas gets a worthy DVD release, with the feature presented in a new anamorphic digital transfer, accompanied by two separate commentary tracks. (The first DVD release was a two-sided "flipper.") Scorsese, Pileggi, and other collaborators are present on a patchwork and partial track that's too disjointed to be really satisfying; fortunately on the second track, Henry Hill himself is joined by ex-FBI agent Edward McDonald to chat about their own memories of the events depicted in the movie. On the second disc there are four new documentaries that look back at the making of the picture, its effect on other filmmakers, Scorsese's creative process, and the true-life background to the film. A gold-plated essential item for every DVD collection. --Mark Walker