After having recently consumed American film The Wolf of Wall Street — and with a view towards avoiding as long as possible anything resembling self-reflection, with all of its dire consequences — the author and his wife endeavored, even more recently, to revisit select titles from the Martin Scorsese corpus.
Of the films themselves, the author has little to say here. A relief for everyone, that. On a particular point of interest, however, there’s some cause to dwell momentarily, it would appear.
Crucial to this brief meditation is a passing familiarity with the contents of the video embedded below (which contents is full of explicit language, it should be noted).
This is a scene from 1990’s Goodfellas. What it features mostly is Joe Pesci’s character Tommy DeVito behaving in a manner that might be described charitably as “very unstable.” What it also features, though, is Ray Liotta — and, more specifically, Ray Liotta’s curious laughter.
“Blimey!” the author didn’t say or think after stumbling upon that laugh — because he’s not a cartoonish Englishman like recent addition to this site Craig Robinson. “Hm,” the author did remark, however — because that laugh produced a sensation within the author’s interior self. The kind of sensation, that is, which compels a man to remark “Hm.”
After some brief consideration of the matter, the reason for this stirring-within-the-breast revealed itself: that laugh exists elsewhere in the world. Some brief internet research revealed where, precisely: in other American film, 1989’s Field of Dreams.
Upon the return to his Iowa farm, Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella is acquainting Frank Whaley’s Archie Graham and James Earl Jones’s Terence Mann with the magic baseball diamond he’s constructed on his land. Soon, Ray Liotta’s Shoeless Joe Jackson appears. He notes that a number of other dead ballplayers have arrived. He says Ty Cobb wasn’t invited. He laughs like an evil hornet might, were hornets the same size as Ray Liotta and evil.
The relevant moment occurs at about the 1:17:17 mark:
With regard to Liotta’s laugh, there are myriad opinions. “Like an angel, it’s both terrifying and beautiful,” Rainer Maria Rilke has said. “Like the genitals of a woman, it’s beautiful,” Gustave Courbet has suggseted, “but also deeply terrifying.” To the observations of these Noted Luminaries, the author has little to add — except, that is, this brief consideration of Ray Liotta’s gruesome laugher.
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