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Sleazy Characters on the Silver Screen

November 18, 1990

What are we to make of critics who expect us to trust their opinions when they get even simple details wrong? Mathews calls Ray Liotta's character in "GoodFellas" a "Mafia lieutenant"; a key plot point is that he can never be "made" a Mafioso.

Worse, Mathews calls Gabriel Byrne's Irish character in "Miller's Crossing" a "Mafia prince."

More disturbing is Mathews' checkbook criticism, which examines dollars made rather than artistic aims achieved. The films he discusses are attempts by serious artists to record the moral temper of our time. While Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers, et al., no doubt wish to turn a profit for their backers, to judge their films on that single basis is insulting and Philistine.

TONY MASTROGIORGIO

San Francisco

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