Goodfellas is perhaps the definitive version of an archetypal narrative: the rise and fall of a seductive criminal. In this case, that criminal is Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who falls in with neighborhood mobsters as a teen in 1955 and rises through the ranks until the law (and various betrayals among his crime family) catch up with him in 1980. (Director Martin Scorsese wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Pileggi, based on Pileggi’s 1985 nonfiction book Wiseguy). Despite the extensive voiceover (delivered not only by Liotta, but also by a riveting Lorraine Bracco as Henry’s fiery, complicit wife Karen), this isn’t a confessional. Henry never expresses regret, and in fact bemoans having to be a regular “schnook” when he goes into witness protection at the film’s end. The movie’s morality lies in its form. The frequent freeze frames, for instance, often clarify a moment of violence (shoving a mailman’s head into a pizza oven), draining it of its energy and allowing us a chance to regain our moral bearings. Even the “sexy” sequences are often incriminating; when an extended single take whisks us through a bar as Henry’s voiceover introduces us to each wiseguy guy by nickname—and they startlingly say “hello” directly to the camera—we become familiar with them in a way that implicates us in the awfulness to come. (To be fair, there’s nothing conflicted about the later single take that sails from outside the Copacabana nightclub, through the kitchen, to a premiere table that’s brought in for Henry and Karen. It’s just sexy.) With a simmering Robert De Niro and a sadistic Joe Pesci, who—and I cannot stress this enough—is not a funny guy.