“For many scenes, it seems that Mr. Connolly asked himself, ‘What would Martin Scorsese do?’ All his answers are wrong. His staging of shots is not even rudimentary. And when he tries for a slightly sophisticated effect, he whiffs. There’s a shallow-focus view of Gotti and his crew walking down the street near their social club. The background is impressionistically out of focus as intended, while the characters walking toward the camera are…well, they’re out of focus, too. Just less out of focus than the background.
“The use of period pop music on the soundtrack here is probably influenced by Mr. Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Except the choices are on-the-nose dull or out-and-out hilarious. The killing of ‘Big Paul’ Castellano, which occurred in December ’85, is accompanied by Elvis Presley’s ‘Silent Night.’ Mr. Connolly even throws in Isaac Hayes’s ‘Theme From Shaft.’ You don’t put the ‘Theme From Shaft’ in a movie that is not Shaft. Come on.”
Side comment: I really don’t like that comma in the sixth sentence of the first paragraph, the one between “focus” and “too.” It may be technically correct but it looks wrong, and that’s the bottom line. HE version: “The background is impressionistically out of focus as intended, while the characters walking toward the camera are…well, they’re out of focus too.”