Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Movies I Love: The Godfather

It's a staple of American popular culture. It's been quoted, parodied and spun off a video game. It usually ranks 2nd on the IMDB Top 250 and currently number 2 on the AFI Top 100. Every Thankgiving, AMC marathons the first two films back top back. It's a classic. Sure it is. But I want to dig deeper. Coming up to people and asking them why they love The Godfather and their only response being "It's a classic! It's The Godfather!" Which makes me wonder, do they really like it are do they feel obligated to because of all the aforementioned accolades that has been bestowed upon it?

The first time I ever heard of The Godfather, to my knowledge, was at my grandparent's house. I was in the back bedroom and looking for things to do. I came upon the Mario Puzo novel. I would scan through the novel and come to read major portions of the text. A viewing of the film cemented the idea of what a perfect movie can be. Or to be more succinct, a complete movie. It didn't tell any more story that it needed to. We would get all the backstory in II.

As a teenager, I became infatuated with the movie. I would watch it as many times as I could. Dissect it. Print out a timeline of the Corleone family and a Corleone family tree. Geneology was something I took interest back then which correlates to my love of history. The family sitting around the table. The traditions that was a part of their Sicilian heritage. It felt like opening a door and spying on a family of a completely different ethnicity from me. It was and still is captivating. The first words uttered are "I believe in America." Even though the family hails from Sicily, this story can be applied to America and power systems within. No surprise when it pops up as a favorite among politicians.

More than just that, this was a saga that allowed the viewer to go back even further. Right up to the point where news breaks of Paolo being gunned down during Antonio's funeral.

The Godfather was the first movie that I saw that really captured that feel of generational struggle. Steinbeck's East of Eden would give me this same love of generational struggle but in an entirely different way. Being that it was a saga about a family entrenched in the mafia underworld, it took on the notion of domestic family vs. the Corleone family circle.

I don't know how many movies I can say this about, but it a piece of art that seduces the viewer into paying attention to every detail. Carmine Coppola's score that adds a spell of grand tragedy to the saga we are witnessing. The Prince of Darkness Gordon Willis' photography and the warm yellow and brown hues. Clemenza explaining to Michael how to "cook for twenty guys one day", Sonny writing the time out on the cabinet, the horrific sound of Carlo's foot smashing through the car window as he is being garroted.

The quick zoom in Coppola does while this man is singing. No one talks about it and it has stuck with me from my first viewing.

"Sit down. Finish my dinner."

Michael putting his hands over his head right before he goes to kill Sollozzo, 

The horror of watching this scene play out 

This scene and its mastery of inevitable doom. It's been referenced dozens of times but never quite duplicated. As soon as the toll booth attendant drops that quarter, you know Sonny's fate is sealed.

It's a film that holds me in its grip each time I watch it, finally choosing to close the door on me, an outsider of its world.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2015: A Look Back


10. Beasts of No Nation (Fukanaga)

9. Mad Max: Fury Road (Miller)

8. Spotlight (McCarthy)

7. The Look of Silence (Oppenheimer)

6. Inside Out (Docter, Carmen)

5. The Lobster (Lanthimos)

4. Sicario (Villeneuve)

3. The Hateful Eight (Tarantino)

2. The Revenant (Innaritu)

1. Anomalisa (Kaufman)

Honorable Mention: Blackhat, Bone Tomahawk, Bridge of Spies, Carol, Ex Machina, Going  Clear, Phoenix, Room

The Green Inferno
Sinister 2

Favorite Male Performances:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass (The Revenant)
Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald (The Revenant)
Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro (Sicario)
Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix (The Hateful Eight)
Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron (Spotlight)
Idris Elba as Commandant (Beasts of No Nation)

Favorite Female Performances:
Brie Larson as Ma (Room)
Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird (Carol)
Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet (Carol)
Elisabeth Moss as Catherine (Queen of Earth)
Eric Rivas as Romina (Wild Tales)
Alicia Vikander as Eva (Ex Machina)

Favorite score: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

1. Fargo Season 2
2. The Leftovers Season 2
3. Making A Murderer and The Jinx (tie)
4. Narcos Season 1
5. Ray Donovan Season 3
6. The Knick Season 2
7. Better Call Saul Season 1
8. True Detective Season 2
9. Orange Is the New Black Season 3
10. Mad Men Season 7 Pt. 2

Favorite TV Moments of the year:
1. The Sioux Falls Massacre in Fargo
2. Frank's walk in True Detective
3. The ending of The Jinx
4. Ray's Confession in Ray Donovan
5. Peggy and Don dance to Sinatra's 'My Way' in Mad Men


1. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Steven Wilson- Hand Cannot Erase
3. Death Grips- The Powers That B
4. Chelsea Wolfe- Abyss
5. Lamb of God- VII: Sturm Und Drang
6. Between the Buried and Me- Coma Ecliptic
7. Native Construct- Quiet World
8. Leviathan- Scar Sighted
9. John Carpenter- Lost Themes
10. Ghost- Meliora
Honorable Mention: Faith No More- Sol Invictus, Iron Maiden- Book of Souls

Directors I've Discovered:
Roy Andersson
Robert Bresson
Don Hertzfeldt
Kim Ki-Duk
Masaki Kobayashi
Hirokazu Koreeda
Chris Marker
Kenji Mizoguchi
Gillo Pontecervo
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Paolo Sorrentino
Hiroshi Teshihagara
Edward Yang

Bands I've Discovered:
Aphex Twin
Foo Fighters
The Knife
Kendrick Lamar
Janelle Monae
Native Construct
The Police
Queens of the Stone Age
Chelsea Wolfe