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Everything Was For the Taking: 30 Years of Goodfellas and the “Layla” sequence

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As part of Goodfellas day over at The Ringer, I wrote about Martin Scorsese’s visionary employment of music in general and the “Layla” sequence in particular. Check it out if it sounds like your cup of cocaine!

Goodfellas, the 1990 gangster epic which turns 30 this week, is as persuasive a shorthand as any when discussing Scorsese’s particular genius. It’s a film which can credibly be described as taking the themes of The Godfather to their logical conclusion while inventing The Sopranos on the fly. Its deep dive into the ecosystem of the New York mafia in the 1960s and ’70s depicts an underworld becoming gradually more corrupted in rough lockstep with America itself.

Subsumed by excess, disloyalty, and runaway appetites, it mirrors the manner in which Nixon’s petty crimes yielded to the exploitative gambits of Reaganomics and finally metastasized into whatever one calls the hybrid-caste-system-cum-stock-market-fetish-cult we exist in currently.

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