January 1, 2010

Let Me Give You a Present You Can't Refuse

It was a very Godfather Christmas at our house. J-Pup received the Godfather trilogy and two annotated books about the making of the films. Not very Christmassy I know, but my husband and I try so hard to keep Junior away from gaming that we thought we’d try to turn him on to some other quality films.

The Godfather came out when I was 10 and when I first saw it a few years later, I thought it was dark, boring, unfathomable and gross. Fast-forward 37 years and I can see it for the great art it is. We watched The Godfather, part II and followed it up with Jeff Bridge’s Starman. While I loved Starman when it first came out, it’s not even on the same page as The Godfather films.

The first two Godfathers really stand the test of time. What’s great about well-made period-pieces is that you can’t tell if they were made in 1972 or 2002. I can’t see how Coppola could improve on them.

It’s still confusing; although not as much so. It’s still gross, but over the last 3 decades, I’ve become more or less inured to movie violence. The films are gorgeous to watch. Michael Corleone is so handsome. And chilling. Mario Puzo’s novel describes Michael Corleone as possessing “a cold chilling anger that was not externalized in any gesture or change in voice. It was a coldness that came off him like death.” Well done, Al. For that, I forgive you your current bad toupee.

Did you know The Godfather was Al Pacino’s second movie and the first Pacino movie ever released? Amazing. Much to my chagrin I learned that Brando was my age when he made the first film and therefore three years younger than my husband. I was happy to learn there was substantial make-up involved. And Fredo – the perennial milquetoast – he’s so good that I forget he’s acting. During his unfortunately short six-year film career John Cazale appeared in five movies, each of which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, The Conversation and The Deer Hunter. Try to add up the six-degrees of separation there!

Last night we watched The Godfather, part III for the first time. It was so bad. Michael Corleone was actually quite affable and I enjoyed every moment he was on the screen. I can even forgive Sophia Coppola’s and Diane Keaton’s bad delivery for the gorgeous scenes of Sicily. Andy Garcia’s Vincent was an inspired piece of casting even though he did look more like a hybrid of Michael and Kay than Sonny’s kid.

Anyway. Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters are in the wings for this weekend. Happy New Year!


Einbildungskraft said...

Didn't make it over here (to your blog) before new years, but new years day is good enough! I had a quiet one myself, Lily out and about, had a party invite but declined (a drive over the mountain etc)--Soooo, I watched "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", had no idea what it was about, and stayed eerily fascinated until the very end....
Happy new year, all the best Hazel, Beth

Poetikat said...

The killing of Fredo still gets to me. We had the trilogy on vhs and now have it on dvd and of course it's one of those collections of films that, if even a flash is caught as you are flipping channels, you're in for the long haul! Right?
The violence is graphic, but necessary. I am not completely innured to violence—I still hate it when it is gratuitous, but when it is high art, I can take it.
I think I may have to pull out the box-set and toss it on the player very soon.

secret, fragile skies said...

Woody is always perfect, Radio Days is a great film to bring in a New Year!

T. Clear said...

Do you know the scene where the cat jumps on Marlon Brando's desk? Apparently it just happened to be on the set -- an improv. cat! The scene turned out so well, they decided to keep it, cat and all.

We saw this last year on a big screen, and it was spectacular.

corine said...

I picked up the original novel as a book on tape and LOVED it. I drove in circles a lot that month, not wanting to stop listening. You and your men would love it.

willow said...

I gave WT the GF Trilogy for his birthday a few years back. We watched them back to back. Afterwards, I was starving for pasta.

Ima Wizer said...

LOVE, LOVE the picture you posted of "Michael Corleone" OH YUM!