Goodfellas, Avatar & Korra

Goodfellas – Martin Scorsese’s crime masterpiece is the best the genre has to offer. Ray Liotta stars as Henry Hill, a real-life throughout the 70s and 80s. The movie opens with Hill, Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), and James Conway (Robert De Niro) stabbing a man in the back of their trunk. You then hear Hill narrate that he had “always wanted to be a gangster.”

That moment sets the tone up for the film perfectly. This is not about a good man who gets sucked into a life of crime. This about someone who wanted to be a gangster and who enjoyed being a gangster. There may have been less glamourous parts, but he wanted this lifestyle and he enjoyed it.

At no point is Henry Hill a good person. He acts for himself and his own interests, and while you root for him in some sense, it is very clear what type of person you are dealing with. Goodfellas asks questions about what type of people get into this profession and what lengths people will go to protect their friends and ultimately themselves. 

Scorsese is a master at crafting a story about men in power struggles and what that reveals about them as people. The performances from the cast are great, but this is a movie about the writing and it shines. A must-watch that is now on Netflix. A-

I had a twitter thread recently about some shows and things I have been enjoying during the lockdown. Avatar: The Last Airbender (Avatar) and The Legend of Korra (Korra) were both high up on my list. Both are phenomenal in separate ways. Avatar is a kids’ show and can be a bit tough to get through for an adult. The Fire Nation starts out as a bogeyman and it can be exhausting with the dialogue being so kid-friendly. Once you get through the first half of the first season, the show becomes magical. The show matures greatly throughout its three seasons, and by the end is an epic tale of friendship and adventure. This is the type of television I wish I could have watched as a kid.

Korra is for young teens and adults, and the sequel to the series. Whereas Avatar is about defeating an enemy throughout the three seasons, Korra is four different stories about growth and change. Korra is much darker in tone, but still excellent. It also explores political themes in an interesting way and builds on the fantasy world created for Avatar in interesting ways.

Both shows are great examples of fantasy television. They offer great adventure and find time to explore deep themes within the characters. They are both terrific shows and ones that I recommend for anyone looking for enjoyment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay Safe everyone!

The Departed & Brett Kavanaugh

The Departed was added to my Netflix queue recently, and after finishing it for the first time I cannot say enough about it. Fast paced, smartly written, and hilarious one liners throughout. A story about two imposters or “rats”, one who is pretending to be a cop whilst spying for a criminal, and the other who is pretending to be a criminal spying for the cops. Their lives seem to circle but never quite touch, until they are met in an explosive finale. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg are absolute standouts, as well as Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. This is a movie full of complicated shades, so all I can say is go see it before I spoil something or say more. Scorsese is brilliant. 9.3/10

Our debate about judges takes place in the language of principle. We pretend to debate judicial philosophies, when we all know there was no philosophical objection to confirming Merrick Garland. We pretend to debate whether a given dilatory tactic is legitimate or not, when everyone on both sides of the argument knows they will adopt the other’s arguments the moment power changes hands. We strike principled poses about what the Constitution requires of the Senate or what the Senate’s precedents allow, because we don’t like acknowledging that the only real principle at issue in the Senate’s treatment of judicial confirmations boils down to power—who has it and who doesn’t at any given moment in time.

This quote is from a wonderful piece by Benjamin Wittes, regarding increasing partisanship and how that affects Brett Kavanaugh. I have tried to sound the alarm on extreme partisanship in the past, but this is simply much better than anything I could have written. I encourage you to read this and some of his other work, as he does a great job of breaking down numerous legal issues and gives terrific commentary on many of our legal issues of the day.