My Biggest Shame No Longer – The Godfather

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How have I not seen this sooner?

As part of my Cinema Shame challenge, this one has always been my biggest embarrassment. There was always the opportunity, and I turned it down time and time again. Maybe it was the understated but iconic cover art that always seemed to scream “I’m important!!” every time I saw it, or the annoying heaps and heaps of praise it has gotten, has always gotten, and will forever get… Or maybe I just presumed I’ve seen better, more recent, tighter mafia movies already. Whatever the case may be, it’s always been just outside my radar, an empty space where film knowledge should be.

From the opening scenes you immediately get thrown into calm before the storm. Even with the opening monologue and it’s horrific subject matter are quiet and understated. We visit a wedding reception that wouldn’t be out of place in the deepest parts of Italy. You can practically taste the freshly cured sausage on the plates.

As the film goes on and we are introduced to a wide variety of the worlds worst scum, you can’t help but empathize with these fully human characters. Coppola lets his script breathe, gaining more and more life with each beat. Despite the 3 hour running time, the film flies by, even in the more contemplative scenes.

Though I always knew it to be the case, it’s still fascinating to see how much of modern crime cinema (and more recently, television) has been influenced by this seminal masterpiece. The focus on character over plotting, the almost meditative pace interrupted by extreme instances of violence and cruelty, even the sprawling, ten year time line… It’s amazing how influential this film has been and will continue to be.

I’m glad I finally forced myself to see it. I’m glad the praise was not hyperbole. And I’m glad that it exists. The Godfather IS a masterpiece, clearly.

 

4 1/2 out of 5 Bullets

 

http://letterboxd.com/requieminadream/film/the-godfather/

Enter The Dragon drags on. – By @andrew_cybulska

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I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. THIS is the classic that people always talk about? This is the ultimate king-fu movie? Am I missing something? Am I out of touch? I appreciate hammy 70s films, I appreciate the slower pace of old-school martial arts films, and I appreciate this film for what it is… But at what point does the love for this film become hyperbole? At what point does it become a case of nostalgia?

Enter The Dragon takes quite a while to get going while showcasing that Bruce Lee died way too soon (he really is pretty remarkable throughout). The set up and all the back stories are as corny as they come, and I know this is blasphemy, but I felt even the first Mortal Kombat movie did the whole recruitment to a special Kung-Fu tourney on an island thing better. I’m sorry but there it is.

The fights on a whole are pretty great. The camerawork is very interesting and pulls you into the fight (literally with some first person shots.) The dialogue is incredibly, outrageously bad and I get the sense that the actors felt the same way. They did still seem to have fun though, and the final brawl in particular seemed like it was an exciting set to be on.

Overall it was a fine 70s Kung Fu movie… but I just don’t get ‘classic’ from it at all. If that makes me a blasphemer then SO BE IT.

2 1/2 stars out of 5

http://letterboxd.com/requieminadream/film/enter-the-dragon/

Sabrina (1954) – The Gold Standard for Romantic Comedy

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I got a chance to see this for the first time fully restored in 4K on the big screen next to my wife and friends, with delicious food (courtesy of the Alamo Drafthouse) and comfy seats. The whole experience just overwhelmed me with joy. I went in not knowing a thing about Sabrina beyond who starred in it, and I was rewarded for my ignorance. This film could, and should, be the standard-bearer for all romantic comedies. It contains equal parts whimsy, romance, cleverness, and even darkness (what modern day romantic comedy would have the guts to start the film with the lead actress attempt to commit suicide by asphyxiation?)

It’s no surprise this film has stood the test of time, and it will likely continue to be loved and cherished well into the future. Audrey Hepburn was a gift of an actress, and there is absolutely NO WAY *NOT* to fall in love with her as the eponymous Sabrina. Anyone who’s even remotely hesitant about that will easily be convinced as she’s driven back from the train station by David. The charm and delight is off the charts!

Bogart is predictably Bogart. A real class act and hypnotically cool in a way that no actor I can think of today (save for maybe Bill Murray) can be. That being said… he’s still pretty much playing Bogart.

What a pleasure from beginning to end. So far this whole Cinema Shame thing is working out well for me. Can’t wait for the next one!

@Andrew_Cybulska’s first film off the list… Dr. Strangelove!

Viewed at the Alamo Drafthouse for their Alamo 100 series, I even got a cool little pin with Dr. Strangelove’s face on it! It was projected in 4K, and my wife got a pizza while I got a burger. It was a perfect evening with a perfect movie. It really doesn’t get any better than classic cinema at the Drafthouse.

I don’t know what took me so long to see this film, but I’m glad I finally did. Take two parts hilarity, one part ‘straight from the headlines,’ and one part ‘snap-shot of a time and place in our history’ and that’s Dr. Strangelove. Yeah that’s a lot of varied parts but it’s that kind of film.

Endlessly watchable and constantly surprising, it’s a classic film with a modern mentality, with a subversive sense of humor that I’m sure must’ve been quite shocking for it’s time. I really enjoyed this and it gives me great hope for the rest of my CinemaShame list.

Shhh… Don’t tell anyone about @Andrew_Cybulska’s List of Shame

“Oh yeah… yeah that movie was great.”

LIAR. I am a BIG. FAT. LIAR. I don’t know that the movie is great, because I’ve never seen it. But how could I admit that to you? How could I possibly admit that to myself? Well enough lies. Enough with the ambiguous talking points based on what I’ve read from other critics. It’s time to make myself more knowledgable on the films that define modern and classic cinema, and it’s time to step out from the darkness into the light.

This is my list of shame…

January – Dr. Strangelove

February – Sabrina

March – Enter the Dragon (to celebrate The Raid 2 coming out)

April – The Godfather

May – The Godfather II

June – The Godfather III

July – Anchorman

August – Taxi Driver

September – Arsenic and Old Lace

October – Psycho

November – Miller’s Crossing

December – It’s a Wonderful Life

It begins this weekend with Dr. Strangelove.