Women Don’t Understand Goodfellas? Don’t Make Us Laugh


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I’ll be honest, I never intentionally read the NY Post if I can help it. But this morning I, like everyone else on the Internet, was made aware of the ridiculous proclamations that writer Kyle Smith made about how women will never understand Goodfellas. Something about it being a “male fantasy” BroRomCom like Entourage or whatever. Throw in the obligatory mention of the Rat Pack and a word like “floozies,” and the stage is perfectly set for some empty-suit, white-bread wannabe to puff up his chest while sharing some fan-fiction about him relating to a bunch of hyper-masculine wise-guys in a mob flick. I can practically hear the mispronounced Italian curse words from here.

I’ve seen Goodfellas so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s one of those movies, like The Godfather, that is practically mandatory viewing if your last name ends in a vowel. Sure there are many Italian-Americans that will be quick to lambast the negative stereotype that “all Italians must be in the Mafia” (to which we all say no, because every Italian’s been taught since childhood the correct reply is “there’s no such thing as the Mafia.” After all, nobody likes a rat).

wake up henry

But my favorite part about Goodfellas, and all Mafia movies, is the side-effect it has on non-Italians, specifically the guys. It’s amusing when someone, who is about as Italian as the slice of Papa John’s pizza they probably just ate, suddenly thinks they’re the premiere authority on Goodfellas. I suddenly feel like Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump when he explains to Woody Harrelson that he can listen to Jimi Hendrix, but he can’t hear it; sure you can watch Goodfellas, but you can’t see it.

I know I have the biological handicap of owning a pair of ovaries and all, but even I know that there’s nothing about Goodfellas that is remotely like Entourage. Of course, I don’t have bro-goggles, so that may be the problem as we’ve obviously seen two completely different movies. We can’t all be winners.

Smith claims that women don’t understand the movie because they don’t understand the supposedly exclusively male art of “ball-busting.” I’m not sure if it’s something in the diets of Italian children, maybe a secret ingredient in our grandmother’s sauce, or if it’s just part of our DNA that gives us this gift. But I can assure you, it’s one that is equally bestowed on both genders. Trust me.

If one is to reduce this movie to being simply about “ball-busting,” then let’s give credit where it’s due. A large percentage of the dialogue was improvised by the predominantly Italian-American cast, including the infamous “Do I amuse you?” rant by Joe Pesci. And Lorraine Bracco, who is the only female lead in the movie, went toe-to-toe with the male dominated cast with ease because she’s an Italian chick from Brooklyn; biting sarcasm with an attitude is practically the native language.

Goodfellas Lorraine Bracco

And I don’t mean to speak on behalf of all women here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that maybe the people we think are lowlifes are the guys who decide what we can and can’t “understand,” as if our tiny little brains are flooded with so much estrogen that we can’t possibly relate to anything other than boyfriend problems and shoes. By the way, as a female writer living in NYC, I’m not deluded enough to buy into Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional fairytale of $500 shoes and fabulous rent-controlled apartment, despite me being a silly girl and all.

Now don’t misunderstand, anyone can watch and enjoy Goodfellas. Clearly millions of people have and do. But if we’re going to be assigning ownership or staking claim as to who “understands it” best, I’m going to have to pull rank here. I’m pretty sure I meet the imaginary minimum vowel requirement in my name and I’m definitely sure I have the shady familial connections, and both of those requirements cancel out my unfortunate circumstances of being a “chick.”

P.S. Just because you have balls and watched Goodfellas doesn’t mean you can bust-balls. Get the f-ck outta here.

Cher Martinetti is a NYC-based writer who writes for IFC, Cracked, and Blastr. Follow her on Twitter where she’s occasionally funny by accident and/or tweeting about her dogs.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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