Tag: Joe Pesci

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #4. Raging Bull (1980)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

Bull 1

“You’re very smart, Joey. You’re giving me a lot of answers, but you ain’t giving me the right answer. I’m gonna ask you again: did you or did you not?”

Ordinary People was the second ever review I posted here on Bored and Dangerous. That was around two and half years and 1,200 odd reviews ago. In that time, I’ve never missed an opportunity to shoehorn in a reference to the fact that the tele-movie, cheap emotional manipulations of Ordinary People somehow managed to win the Best Picture Oscar over Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. There have been reviews that had nothing to do with either movie or a single person involved with them, and I have found a way to bitch about Ordinary People and its Academy Award win. And now that I have just re-watched Raging Bull, that Oscar cock up pisses me off more than ever.

In the 60s, a fat, old, washed up Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) awkwardly rehearses corny jokes, bad puns and an overall terrible cabaret act backstage somewhere that you can just tell is low rent. Forcing the words through his mangled nose, this is obviously s man who has fallen from grace. Cut to the early 40s when LaMotta was lean, rock hard fit and taking on all comers in the ring as professional boxer, the Bronx Bull. Always at his side is trainer, manager, sparring partner and brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). At home, LaMotta is dismissive to his wife at best, abusive at worst. When the teenaged Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) catches his eye at the local pool, Jake has to have her. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #92. Goodfellas (1990)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
“You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Bored and Dangerous is usually all about movies I’ve watched of the first time. Sometimes I’ll cheat and re-watch something I haven’t seen in years and remember nothing about.   But as I make my way through the AFI 100, it’s inevitable that I’ll run across a few things I’ve seen multiple times. Some, maybe dozens of times. Not only is this one that definitely ranks in the “dozens” category, it’s a movie that only gets better with age. I would even go as far as to say it may be, in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. Screenplay, acting, direction, music, editing… Top to bottom, I love every single detail of Goodfellas.

It’s 1950s New York, and while his father works a thankless, low playing job, young Henry Hill (Christopher Serrone) is obsessed with the local gangsters in his neighbourhood. It’s not long before he’s taken under the wing of local street boss Paul Sicero (Paul Sorvino) and notorious street soldier and killer, Jimmy “the Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro). By the time he’s a young adult played by Ray Liotta, Henry is living the wise guy dream, taking and doing whatever he wants, along with Jimmy and fellow gangster wunderkind, Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Public Enemy (1931)

Before gangster movie jokes and parodies were all based on the horse in the bed scene from The Godfather or the Joe Pesci’s “What am I, like a clown to you” rant from Goodfellas, gangster movie jokes and parodies were all based on one man, James Cagney.  And to a large degree, most came from one James Cagney movie, The Public Enemy.

Cagney is Tom Powers, no good from childhood and destined for a life of crime.  His brother Mike, played by Donald Cook, is the opposite, a stand-up guy, a straight shooter, as honest as the day is long.  He even goes off to fight when World War I kicks off.  While he’s away, Tommy becomes a more successful, and more ruthless criminal, selling hooch during the gangster good years of prohibition.

Because this was made in the thirties, it was illegal to show a criminal character in even the slightest of good lights.  I guess the makers of The Public Enemy must have been pretty close to the line on this one, because the movie opens with a not so subtle disclaimer from Warner Brothers…  “It is the ambition of the authors of The Public Enemy to honestly depict an environment that exists today in a certain strata of American life, rather than glorify the hoodlum or criminal”.

Just in case their point wasn’t clear, The Public enemy comes with a prologue, too…  “The end of Tom Powers is the end of every hoodlum.  The Public Enemy is not a man, nor is it a character.  It is a problem that sooner or later we, the public, must solve”.  With those kinds of rules, making interesting movies must have been almost impossible back then.

The other major sign of the time in The Public Enemy is that it comes with the look and feel of a silent film.  It’s like they hadn’t quite figured out yet that sound meant they could tone down a few of the elements amplified in the silent days.  Big, broad, physical movements and facial expressions.  Long takes on over the top reaction shots.  Crazy makeup to accentuate every single feature on every single actor’s face.  This movie has it all.  But none of that makes it bad, or unenjoyable.  Mainly, thanks to Cagney.  He really is one of the most charismatic, easy to watch actors you’ll ever see.

Despite their complete lack of any sort of grasp on reality, old movies like this really do have a certain charm.  It’s almost like everyone involved was just so innocent, optimistic and hopeful.  Everything in the world of The Public Enemy is so overblown and exaggerated, it’s hard not to almost see it as kids playing dress ups and putting on a play in their lounge room.

The Public Enemy
Directed By – William A. Wellman
Written By – Kubec Glasmon

MOVIE REVIEW | Italianamerican (1974)

I’ll get this out of the way straight out of the gate.  In my opinion, Martin Scorsese is the greatest film maker working today.  Possibly of all time.  So I was predisposed to liking this.  Having said that, if you can watch Italianamerican and not have the shit charmed out of you, you may not have a soul.

I guess I’d have to call Italianamerican a documentary, but that makes it sound a lot more elaborate than what it actually is; Martin Scorsese having dinner with his parents, Charlie and Catey Scorsese, and encouraging them to tell stories about growing up in early twentieth century New York.

If you’ve ever seen Goodfellas (and if you haven’t, what’s your problem, jerk?  Stop reading this and go watch it right now), you know how adorable Scorsese’s mother is.  In a movie filled with murder, mobsters, drugs and guns, her one scene is one of the most memorable.  As the mother of Joe Pesci’s Tommy, she almost steals the movie.  Watching her in Italianamerica, I had to wonder if any of her lines in Goodfellas were even scripted, or if Scorsese just pointed a camera at her and let he do her thing.

Even more impressive than Catey Scorsese, is the fact that her husband Charlie somehow manages to not be completely lost in her shadow.  He holds his own and tells amazing stories about growing up in Hell’s Kitchen.  This dude grew up sharing a two room apartment with thirteen other people.  Not a two bedroom apartment, a two room apartment.

The Scorsese family should be on a billboard somewhere advertising the American immigrant experience.   Catey and Charlie are both children of Sicilian immigrant parents who arrived in America penniless.  Catey and Charlie managed to work themselves up to the middle class and were even able to send their son to film school.  In three generations, the Scorsese’s went from poverty stricken immigrants to rich and world renowned film maker.  They are the American dream.

Even at their most violent, excessive, flashy and gangster filled, Scorsese’s movies always come back to family.  He’s obsessed with the little things that influence people and make them who they are.  Italianamerican is an amazing look at the little things that made his parents who they are.  It’s also an amazing look at how their influence produced the greatest film maker working today.  Possibly of all time.

And as an added bonus, the end credits even include the recipe for Catey Scorsese’s amazing looking pasta sauce…
Singe an onion & a pinch of garlic in oil. Throw in a piece of veal, a piece of beef, some pork sausage & a lamb neck bone. Add a basil leaf. When the meat is brown, take it out, & put it on a plate. Put in a can of tomato paste & some water. Pass a can of packed whole tomatoes through a blender & pour it in. Let it boil. Add salt, pepper, & a pinch of sugar. Let it cook for a while. Throw the meat back in. Cook for 1 hour. Now make the meatballs. Put a slice of bread without crust, 2 eggs, & a drop of milk, into a bowl of ground veal & beef. Add salt, pepper, some cheese & a few spoons of sauce. Mix it with your hands. Roll them up, throw them in. Let it cook for another hour.

Directed By – Martin Scorsese
Written By – Lawrence D. Cohen, Mardik Martin