Retro Recommendations: An offer you CAN’T refuse…

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Josiah L (Year 12) , Chief Contributor

OH! THERE HE IS! HOW YA DOIN?!  

I love all kinds of movies and TV shows, whether it be action, horror, drama, comedy…the whole works. However, mobster flicks have always tended to fascinate me; offering an insight into the world of organised crime, something we all know exists and lurks underneath society; but never see (only heard through whispers)…  

The mobster’s life appears to be one of glamour, riches, and power, but in reality, is a life of violence, narcissism, and grief! These mobster films and TV shows not only shed light on the functions of society’s underbelly but also serve as a great medium to challenge the morally complex nature of humanity.  

Forgive me for sounding like a concerned parent, but (for the sake of the website) I will advise you that the recommendations below are adult and do contain copious amounts of violence, sex, drugs, and language; I will note their age ratings, so you are all aware.  

 NOW! Chuck on your tank tops, whip out your cross necklaces and grab a bowl of spaghetti because it’s time to talk MAFIA! 

 

The Godfather (1972) – MA15+ 

You shouldn’t be surprised that The Godfather is first on this list as I’m sure you have all heard of it (I’d be incredibly shocked if you haven’t). This film is astoundingly iconic, constantly referenced and parodied throughout pop culture.

The Godfather films are praised as the pinnacle of all filmmaking, and there is good reason for it. Essentially, the trilogy details the lives of the Corleone crime family, from their days of authority to their demise. Although it may not be the most accurate portrayal of the mafia, the Godfather tells a fantastic story about family, betrayal, and the nature of power.  

The Godfather is filled to the brim with captivating drama which is supported by a haunting score, exemplary cinematography and lighting that captures the sinister but operatic tone of the film, and a superb list of characters; not to mention the standout performances by Al Pacino (as Michael Corleone) and Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone). If you haven’t already seen this masterpiece, then it’s strongly recommended! 

 

Goodfellas (1990) – R18+ 

Goodfellas is often compared to Godfather, with many saying it might be better. However, you can’t really compare these two movies (despite both being mobster films) as they are both brilliant, but simply different. One of my friends used a solid analogy to describe this difference, saying The Godfather is like “opera,” whereas Goodfellas is more like “jazz” … 

Goodfellas takes a more realistic approach to life in the mob, reflecting its gritty and brutal nature, which subtly hides under its prestigious and “cool” façade. The film follows Henry Hill as he becomes a respected member of the mafia, bathing in the riches and luxury of his mobster lifestyle (yet causes so much pain to others), only to meet an unfortunate downfall because of his own flaws and a series of poor decisions.  

Goodfellas’ energetic pace and punchy dialogue make it an incredibly entertaining watch, despite its disturbing story. Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco, all absolutely nail it in their memorable roles, and Martin Scorsese’s direction is impeccable (as always). I also have to say that Goodfellas has some of my favourite narration ever, that is cleverly written and so enthralling. Overall, Goodfellas is yet another killer film and a must-watch. 

The Sopranos (1999) – MA15+ 

To conclude this week’s retro recommendations is The Sopranos, a TV series that is unlike anything else out there. The Sopranos is without a doubt a classic (up there with Breaking Bad). I had a blast watching this show, it is so unique in its storytelling and unsettling in just how realistic it is. Of course, I am no mobster myself, so I can’t say that I understand what mob life is like, but the dialogue and the characters feel so authentic and relatable (to an extent).  

The Sopranos is about mob boss Tony Soprano, who struggles to deal with the pressure of balancing his family life with his criminal life, and as a result, begins experiencing panic attacks he decides to see a psychiatrist. The most engrossing aspect of this series is its dive into the psyche of a mobster, the psychiatry appointments are some of the best sequences in the whole show; the reason being is because it illustrates how Tony is human, yes, he is a bad guy who does a lot of messed up stuff, but he is still a human even under the “tough guy” image he puts on.  

Despite this violent, womanizing, hateful personality, you still connect with him because of this very reason. Initially, the series portrays the impossibility of separating family life from a criminal life, as one will corrupt the other. I’ve also got to shout out James Gandolfini (as Tony Soprano) for delivering one of the greatest performances in TV history. The Sopranos is a show that is highly confronting due to its extremely close examination of its characters, which adds to its outstanding storytelling and excellent filmmaking…you gotta watch it! 

 

Enjoy watching those films and remember, “NEVER RAT ON YOUR FRIENDS AND ALWAYS KEEP YOU MOUTH SHUT!”