Perfect Punk Cinema.
So much of the unprecedented, unparalleled miracle of this film was made clear to me, so many years and viewings later, by this quote from director and co-writer Martin Scorsese:
“it’s as if the whole picture would be out of control… you say, ‘I don’t care if there’s too much narration. Too many quick cuts?—That’s too bad.’ It’s that kind of really punk attitude we’re trying to show” […]
There’s punk in everything: the needle-drop music cues (including Stones, Ramones, Sex Pistols); the way the music cues are suddenly and jarringly applied (by the time we reach the final helicopter sequence, each track barely gets to its first chorus before it’s blasted out of the way by the next one); the editing (freeze frames, and L- and J- cuts extended so far that the sound from the next scene comes crashing in long before we get to it). It’s breakneck, exhilarating, rule-breaking film-making that has far less in common with the Godfather films than with the French New Wave and (to my eyes at least) David Lean‘s subtle, profound subversions in Lawrence Of Arabia.
Here’s Martin Scorcese charming and revealing story about his mother appearing in the film:
A Goodfellas featurette, streamed for the film’s anniversary: