GoodFellas ★★★★★

whenever I have one (1) glass of red wine I begin thinking in Henry Hill voice-over, "part of the seeming impossibility of The Sopranos is its constant appetite to subsume equal parts comedy (we love the people we love) and tragedy (American capitalism is tantamount to necessary crime) inside the same visual language of violence. this equalizing is made all the more obvious in the show's very intentional beginning in lurid, bowling shirt comedy in its early seasons before it wilts into annihilative and frankly bleak tragedy by the final season, with mid-journey departures into grand opera and absurdist slapdash along the way. it contains multitudes (it appetites itself) and the way it makes its meaning known is chiefly in Gandolfini's performance, which is not only attuned and careful but also broad and deeply felt in the body (it performs performing.) around Gandolfini are similar if more necessarily minor performances, especially in Sirico and Van Zandt and Imperioli, performances that never feel realistic and never feel falsely human. these are comic performances by comic actors, constantly in overdrive and basically Commedia dell'arte: these life-large types chew our world and as an audience, all we can do is watch the way 'reality' crinkles and scrunches under teeth. if so many actors today attempt to do what Gandolfini accomplishes, it seems like so few folks are attempting to do what Sirico and Van Zandt and Imperioli did here, which is to say live in the comedy and tragedy in equal measure, to portray violence without self-absorption. Liotta accomplishes, in Goodfellas, a miracle of this kind of performance, all false-laugh and real hackles, a soured Neil Simon narration that's never sentimental and never dismissive. and if Liotta never casually received the lauds his costars in this film were afforded, that's on the general audience at large that's always struggled to see how acting is an action, not an indulgence. what a virtuoso, and the final laugh too."

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