Friday, April 5, 2013

Goodfellas vs The Godfather

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As Americans we generally tend to cheer for the good guys. We love to see those who are fighting for what’s right win. This seems to hold true in all aspects except for movies involving the “mafia”. In these movies men whose ideas are the ones we are cheering for, these characters fight generally to make money and gain power, a major part of the American dream. These men’s American dreams seem to be a bit different than the rest of ours though, they do not believe in our government, and they have their own secret societies. Two of the most popular titles in this genre are the Godfather series and Goodfellas. These movies were made in the same era and are have similar themes but are different in many aspects.

The Godfather which was a major blockbuster was made in 17 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Marlon Brando and a young Al Pacino. This is probably one of the most intelligently made movies that fall into the mafia category. Pacino stars as Vito Corleone’s son who has just come home from the military and becomes involved in the “family business”. Unlike many of its contemporaries, it does not have much violence. The minimal violence that is in it is used to help move along the story, and not as a draw for the movie. It has been said that the violence in this movie is justified, meaning that there was a reason for it, part being retaliation for the killing of family members, or the family being double-crossed. In the Godfather, Al Pacino plays Michael Corleone, the son of Vito Corleone played by Marlon Brando, whose raspy voice is unforgettable in this role. In the opening scene it is Michael’s sister Connie’s wedding, and he has come with his girlfriend at the time, Kay, who is played by Diane Keaton. She has not been brought up in this life that he is part of and does not understand what is going on around her. She sees Luca Brasi rehearsing what he is going to say to the Don and is inquisitive about his actions. This is our first sign as the audience that she does not belong in this part of Michael’s life.

The scenery in a majority of the film is quite dark, with old sounding Italian music playing ominously in the background. A lot of the movie takes place within the family compound, due to that many of the characters are part of the Corleone family, meaning that there are not too many unnecessary and unimportant characters. Though, there is one part of the movie in which Michael must “hide-out” after he kills a police-officer, and he goes on the lam to Sicily. This portion of the movie has beautiful scenery in which they show the Italian country-side. Since there is a fairly small cast and this a long movie it goes quite in depth as far as the story line. Unlike many of the other “mob” movies made this film is generally categorized as a drama rather than an “action” movie due to the fact that it involves much more of a psychological aspect, rather than just mob guys killing each other off. Many men of today’s society tend to view this as one of if not the best movie made.

On the other hand, Goodfellas which was made a few years later than The Godfather tends to be more of a violent movie, with the characters delving into the seedy business of drugs. This is probably the second most popular “mafia movie” next to the Godfather. The reason I would tend to assume that it is falls short of the above mentioned is that it is less of an intelligent movie and relies more on violence to carry it. Ray Liotta stars in the movie, which was directed by Martin Scorsese who tends to make more violent films as it is. This was not Scorsese’s first time working with Robert De Niro, who is also in the movie playing Jimmy Conway; they worked together also on Raging Bull and Taxi Driver before they made this movie.

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From the opening scene in which Liotta, De Niro, and Joe Pesci are murdering a man in the trunk of a car the film continues to be violent and full of murder. This movie follows Henry Hill from childhood, where he first started working for the mobsters at the age of 1 to his untimely arrest on drug charges. Ray Liotta gives us the performance of a lifetime here going from an up and coming mobster to a cocaine dealer/user. When he first is talking about his childhood and the local mob guys on his block he tells the audience, “As far back as I can remember Ive always wanted to be a gangster”. De Niro as Jimmy Conway, a mobster who will never be a “made guy” due to his mother’s Irish heritage gives us an awe inspiring performance. Joe Pesci plays Tommy De Vito who is a gangster with a taste for blood; he is hot tempered and does not think twice before killing somebody.

Though this movie is usually categorized with the Godfather as one of the best movies ever made, it falls short due to several things. It lacks the intelligence that made the Godfather the film that it is, and tries to make up for it with the onslaught of violence in a much more gory fashion than we saw in the Godfather. The Godfather had a few scenes which involved murder, the most gruesome being one where a dead horse is laid in bed with a movie director who awakes to being covered in his prized possession’s blood. Besides that, there is one scene where Michael played by Al Pacino kills a police officer in a restaurant and we don’t see much blood. Other than these two scenes murder is mostly just mentioned without much visual, or you see the act occurring but not the end result which would be the dead body or the blood.

In Goodfellas, they commit many murders as well as many scenes with people being beaten up, just not to the point of death. In one scene, the guys are playing cards and a young man working in their social club tells Pesci’s character to go “Fck himself”. Following this, Pesci pulls out a gun and shoots the kid, for no other reason than he was disrespected. In another scene, the dead bodies of men who committed a heist with them are being found and you see one man hanging dead in a meat truck, while another is shot along with his wife and they are left in their car in the middle of a parking lot.

Besides just the violence, the drug use adds a different element to Goodfellas that we did not see in the Godfather. Though it is acknowledged as against the rules of the “mafia” in both movies, Hill takes it up while in Jail in Goodfellas. This element of drugs that we see in the Goodfellas is used to add to the downfall of Liotta’s character. He must sneak around behind the back of his boss to deal these drugs, and then becomes an addict himself. It is a sin punishable by death in their “society” to be caught dealing drugs. When Hill finally gets caught and arrested, he must go to Pauly, his boss, and apologize as well as ask for money to get himself back on his feet. After knowing each other for a majority of Henry’s life Pauly gives him ,000 dollars and tells him that he better not ever see his face again. Towards the end of the movie we see a much different Henry Hill than we saw at the beginning. He is very paranoid, running all over town, “coked up” and trying to figure out who is getting what, going even to the point of involving his children’s babysitter in his drug scheme. Visually as well he is different, looking quite pale and unkempt during this portion, it also looks like he has lost weight.

These are two of the most well respected and revered “mafia movies” that have been made. They are both popular for their own reasons; some respect the intelligence of the Godfather, while others enjoy the violence of Goodfellas. They are similar in many aspects, even though they have some major differences. In conclusion, they are both well made films which should be looked at in their own light. If the Godfather defined how we see the mafia, then Goodfellas gave us a refresher eighteen years later.



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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hedda gabler

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Hedda Gabler The Spoiled Brat

What can we say about someone who is a spoiled brat. We can say that a spoiled brat is someone that gets everything they wants and gets upset when they donít get what they want. It is a person who is extremely rude to the people they feel is beneath them. It is a person craving to get all the attention of other people, and gets jealous when other people get the attention they want. It is a person who wants control of everything and everything to be done their way. Hedda Gabler is this ìspoiled brat.î

Hedda is General Gablers daughter. Most likely, when she was growing up, she got everything she wanted and never appreciated any of it. She was ìdaddyís little girl.î She probably grew accustomed to a particular way of life in her fathers house which was her way, and for that she probably never prepared for the fact that someday things will change.

Right from the very beginning we see that most of the people who meet with Hedda Gabler are very afraid of her. From the start, the maid Bertha says that she is frightened that Madam may not find me suitableî (Ibsen 17) and that Hedda ìwants everything so.î (Ibsen 17) Bertha is very scared that sheís going to lose her job.

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Upon Heddas first appearance, she makes many snobbish remarks. First, she turns up her nose at Georges special handmade slippers. When Tesman asked Hedda to look at the slippers she replies, ìThanks, I wonít bother.î (Ibsen 1) Later she insults Aunt Jujus new hat, pretending to mistake it for the maids. She makes the comment that the maid should be fired for leaving ìher old hat lying on the chair.î (Ibsen 1) When Tesman asks Hedda to call his aunt Auntie Juju, Hedda straight out refuses saying that she ìwill try to call her Aunt Juliana. Thatís how far as Iíll go.î (Ibsen 1) Right from the start we can see that Hedda is not only rude but also very snobbish.

She seems to have married Tesman for very practical reasons. Most likely she was probably running out of money to live on her own and needed someone to support her. Tesman seems like a perfect match because he is a safe and respectable man. He is a man that does better for her reputation than for her emotional needs. She tells Judge Brack that the reason she married Tesman was that her ìtime was up. ... After all, George Tesman, well, I mean, heís a very respectable man.î (Ibsen 146)

However, Hedda seems to be repulsed by everything about George Tesman. She demands much more class than he has been able to provide her, for she was the beautiful, charming daughter of General Gabler and deserved nothing but the finest. She seems very upset at the fact that Tesman ìcouldnít possible afford a footman,î (Ibsen 14) or get her the ìthoroughbred horse (Tesman) promisedî (Ibsen 14) her. Also when the idea comes up of trading in Heddaís old piano for a new one, Hedda refuses and wants to have both of them, something Tesman cannot afford.

Also, Hedda seems to be very bortors in her life. It really depends on the way you look you look at her and her character. Many can say her attitude and behavior was most likely from the time period she lived in, when the standards for womenís behavior were different. Some may say that she was a strong and independent woman, but couldnít express herself the way she really wanted to because she was the generalís daughter.

But any way you really look at it, the bottom line is that Hedda was a spoiled brat. She got all the things she wanted, and she would of done everything possible just to get something, unless it will ruin her reputation. And with all that she did get, she wanted more and was willing to destroy the lives others for her person entertainment and satisfaction. However, in the end, she was ìdaddyís little girlî no more, and her suicide was the only way to control her own destiny because she could not control anyone elseís anymore. The ìspoiled bratî didnít get her way.

Ibsen, Henrik, Hedda Gabler, The Norton Anthology World Masterpieces, pages 16-181



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Monday, April 1, 2013

Harlem Reniasance

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Harlem renaissance writing and literature from the post Civil War period were both outlets for the feelings of suffering African Americans. These black Americans though persevering great hardships, wrote beautifully. The pain and agony that went into writing these works are what makes the literature so rich. From these two movements of writing came wonderful stories and poems with much culture and history inside.

One of the things that make Harlem renaissance and post-civil war writing so intriguing is the diction. Both literary periods had their own unique dialect. In the stories and novels that we have read from the post civil war period sometimes the broken English is not so easy to understand and often times in the Harlem literature some of the words seem like gibberish. Good examples of literature from the era containing a distinct dialect are any of Uncle Remus’ stories. Even though the audience may not always get the meaning of the different slang words used, this genre of literature gives readers a taste of the culture and separates Harlem Renaissance and post civil war writings.

The post Civil War literature is usually long or short stories written by slaves or ex-slaves about their fight and longing for freedom. Many of the stories are biographical and include gruesome images of the horrors of slavery and even how they escaped to freedom. “The Narratives of the Life of Frederick Douglass” is an interesting story that tells firsthand about the period. The literature from the Harlem Renaissance period is more poetic than that of post civil war. These stories or prose are about how African Americans still suffer from hardships due to prejudice. Langston Hughes is a well-known author whose poems exemplify the Harlem Renaissance Period. Both literary movements are inspired by the hardships of blacks but are in different time periods and circumstances. It is hard to imagine that institutions so awful as slavery and so terrible as prejudice could spur such wonderful literary movements. The post Civil war and Harlem Renaissance literature are both from times of American past that we would like to forget but contain some of the most powerful and influential writings in the world.



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