First thoughts on the Godfather I and II

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An ambitious pair of movies. The second one compliments the first seamlessly, particularly in the relationships between Michael and Kay, and Michael and Vito (both as children). Diane Keaton’s eyebrows were unnerving, but her performance was great. Pacino is so quiet, especially in the first film. I’m used to a Pacino who yells. I loved him, especially in the first film. I love how Robert DeNiro plays a young Vito in the second, and the parallels in the acting and character between Pacino and DeNiro. All of DeNiro’s best scenes in part two are when he isn’t speaking: standing aside helpless and broke while Fredo is sick as a baby; taking out the Don and disposing of the weapon and then taking a seat with his family during the festivities; holding baby Michael on the train back in Italy. Also, young DeNiro is a babe. No one told me this! Also, Brando’s quiet scenes are menacing and fantastic. Stroking the cat in the opening scene. Playing with Michael’s son in the garden and dying.

The costumes, especially in the flashbacks were stunning. The cast was excellent. Some unforgettable shots. I would have liked to see more of Mama’s interior life and thoughts, how she spends fifty years with this violent man, who nonetheless loves his family endlessly. Kay can’t hack it with this bunch, nor can Connie, really, so what makes Mama able to stand it?

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My recent film education…

I never saw many classic movies growing up. We were music nuts in my house, spending hours and hours on Dylan B-sides and bootlegs, but my parents and older brother never took it upon themselves to educate me in the classics when it came to movies. I could, however, write a phd thesis on Steven Seagal and Bruce Lee movies.

So with a lot of time on my hands, what with finishing school and being out of a job, and being unable (or unwilling) to write, I have been making up for lost time. Callum is a great guide in this whole thing.

It started with Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which I watched for the film studies class I was TAing. I don’t know how I managed to get picked to TA that class, seeing as my only previous film studies experience was in an undergraduate class on gender and German cinema from Weimar era to the 70s. Fritz Lang, I know. Fassbinder, I get. But when it comes to American movies, I hadn’t even seen a Hitchcock movie. Callum warned me on the way out the door to my class on NBNW that the movie really inspired one of my favourite movies. I was delighted when the movie started and I realized it was basically a slicker, slightly more elegant version of the Big Lebowski. Back when people wore super class clothes all the time. Loved it. When Eva Marie Saint says “I don’t particular like the book I’ve started” on the train, Cary Grant’s reaction is priceless.

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Then Callum realized I had never seen Rear Window or Psycho, and even better, I didn’t know the twist at the end of Psycho. He had the biggest grin while watching me watch Psycho. Didn’t think Psycho was great, although Anthony Perkins was fantastic. Rear Window, I liked a lot, especially Grace Kelly’s frigging wardrobe.

We saw Shadow of a Doubt at the TIFF theatre in Toronto, which also had a before and after film chat with Guillermo del Toro, which was beyond amazing. I loved Shadow of a Doubt. The snarky little sister who only takes her head out a book to make a witty comment was the absolute best part of the movie. Notorious was another favourite, which we watched recently.

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And so I recently read a biography on Pauline Kael, who somehow I had never heard of, and yet she was apparently one of the most famous critics in history. I KNOW, I WAS TOO BUSY WATCHING UNDER SIEGE 50 TIMES TO LEARN THIS STUFF. Her biography made me realize a whole other classic era of cinema that I’ve missed out on – late 60s and 70s American cinema. I’ve seen Serpico. And Taxi Driver. And Rocky 1 and 4. That’s about it. Haven’t seen any of the Godfathers, haven’t seen Chinatown, or Midnight Cowboy, or Bonnie and Clyde.

So I’ve made the trip to the Hamilton Public Library (which is amazing) and picked up the Godfather box set. I’ve heard the third ones sucks, but we start tonight with Part 1.

Send me a list of movies that I’m missing out on! I’ve seen a shitload of movies made since the early 90s, but very little before then.