Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Sixteen

I can’t believe I went a little over a week without updating. I’m pretty sure the universe continued to march along (I haven’t checked to make sure), but lengthy periods between updates is inexcusable to me. The whole point of this blog was to update it as frequently as possible. Doing so will not suddenly drop fame and fortune into my life (although I continue to dream), but I still have it worked out in my head that this blog is still a means of promoting whatever I’m up to, or whatever I want to show people.

My discipline with doing that has been lackluster. You could say that for my entire creative output in most of 2011. My heart just hasn’t been anywhere the urgency to work. I keep at creative endeavors, because it’s the one of the only things that keeps me going. Running on fumes is better than having nothing to keep you going at all. I’ll take whatever enthusiasm I can get, and I’ll almost always hope more will come along soon. Take that away, and it’s more self-loathing and despair than even I’m comfortable with.

A little of those things can be fine, but too much will reveal itself as just that almost instantly, and it can be almost impossible to pull yourself out of that particular hole.

I haven’t done another movie challenge in almost a month. Shame on me. I like writing about movies, and I want to keep writing about movies. This blog needs more than movies, fiction and poetry, but those will always be the bulk of the content here. I’m eager to finish out this challenge business (screw you, OCD), and get on to writing about films under a different theme (or no theme at all).

And then my thoughts go back over to wanting to write something more substantial. The world out there is depressing me even more than usual (and I suppose it’s a blessing that I’m in a position of being able to look at the world in the way I do), and I keep stopping myself from saying anything about it. That’s just pure fear talking. I refuse to leave my creative comfort zones, and one of the reasons behind this blog is to do just that.

I also need to get back into submitting work. That’s completely fallen by the wayside lately. Ditto for that third draft of my second shot at a novel. These are at least a couple of the things that could actually mean something to my writing in the long run. I have to kick my ass a little more about keeping up with them.

I’m terminally dissatisfied with the direction I’ve allowed my life to take. Contrary to my constant bad mood there are actually things I can do to change that. Bad luck and bad decisions be dammed.

I’ll shut up now, and refer you to the actual review.

**********
30 Day Movie Challenge:

Day Sixteen: Favorite Book Adaptation

The Godfather (1972)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

I certainly didn’t know The Godfather films were a huge deal at age five. I just knew my parents (especially my mom) loved them. I saw references to certain scenes and characters (especially The Simpsons, which could quite possibly retell the entire first film from their jokes and references) all over the place. That didn’t mean anything to me either. The entire trilogy is just another one of those things that’s been hovering around my consciousness. One day, somewhere in my childhood they just became movies I had seen on countless occasions. I want to say I was five or six when I saw the first film. That has no choice but to be as good a guess as any.

It was definitely at a point where I was too young to fully understand it. I just liked the scope, violence and intensity of everything that went with it. This was true of the first film, slightly less true of the second film and not particularly true of the third chapter (although I’ve grown to appreciate it more, as I’ve gotten older).

I suppose the fact that I just remember The Godfather being part of my consciousness of movies and popular culture is a commentary on the film itself. The Godfather recently topped a list of movies that people have never seen, but claim to. I don’t really get why someone would lie about seeing a movie. Give up a couple nights of Dancing with the Stars, and just watch the damn thing. It occurred to me though that some people may really think, they’ve seen the movie before. Or have just seen, heard and read so much about it that it’s the same thing as having seen it.

It’s not. Finding the time for a movie this long (almost three hours) might not be easy, but it’s worth trying. I’m not so in love with the first Godfather that I can’t imagine someone not liking it. I just think it’s one of those films that everyone should see at least. Feel free to have whatever opinion you want to have at the end of it.

It’s hard to believe Paramount (which was going under at the time) wanted to set Mario Puzo’s 1969 hit novel in the present. There might still have been a good movie in there, but like anything as perfect in my mind as The Godfather is, I’d rather not imagine even one layer of this film being different. A story like this just couldn’t exist in the 1970’s. It wouldn’t even be close to being the same. At least a piece of what I love about The Godfather is its time and place. The history and culture described and created by Coppola and Puzo is part of the richness of the story and characters. Change that, and you have something else. It could wind up being better, but what’s the point in even wondering about it? I’m just glad the movie turned out as it did. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

This was an easy pick for favorite book adaptation. The secret was to not run through the list of possible candidates for all eternity. Because I probably could. There are hundreds of films I love taken from literary works. Broad categories like this one bring out the worst in my indecisiveness. Choice after choice would have kept popping into my head. The absurd mental battle royal would have never seen an end. Yet another instance where it was best to go with the first choice.

Paramount almost shut the movie down at one point. The shooting of this scene is supposedly what saved the film.
There’s not a lot I can say about this movie. Almost everyone is at least aware of it, and has an opinion whether or not they’ve actually seen the movie. I really wish I could remember, the first time I saw The Godfather. Being aware of the exact date doesn’t make much difference. It’s just been such a part of my life, the way all my favorite films are, for so long that it’d be nice to remember the specifics of seeing it the first time. A few (but certainly not all) of my best memories somehow involve the first time I saw a particular important movie. Recalling The Godfather isn’t a big deal, but I wouldn’t turn down having the whole image come back to me in a flash. Who knows what other memories would accompany it?

Dissecting this movie, going through the details of the Corleone family business and personal struggles strikes me as a monstrous waste of time. It’s one of those rare occasions, when I’m pretty sure I have nothing substantial to offer on the movie itself. All I can do is try to break down, why I love it so much. A thousand and one writers, documentarians, bloggers and more (including the overwhelming wealth of special features available on the DVD and Blu-ray) have broken the movie down in just as many ways. I can talk about the impact The Godfather has had on me, but anything further would just leave me with the notion that I’m just repeating what a bunch of other people said.

I try to avoid doing that as much as possible.

I also know it’s impossible to go more than a few months without watching it. I also know that if I happen to walk by a TV playing it, I’m going to stop, and sit down until it’s over. Some movies just get at you like that. They’re compelling, and astonishing no matter how many times you’ve seen them. I think it’s because my opinions on it changes constantly. I always love the movie, but with each viewing, it’s entirely possible that my opinion of a character or event will change from what it might have been the last time. I love that. Very, very few movies engage me on that level.

The character and eventual fate of Sonny Corleone (the all-time great performance by James Caan) is a good example. I like the character less and less. My sympathy doesn’t extend very far to his circumstances. I get that he’s supposed to be the cocky, hotheaded one, but that sometimes reaches irritating lengths with me. I like Diane Keaton for some weird reason, but her character, Kay bugs me a little more every time I see her. She seems completely incapable of a rational decision. She simply moves with whatever fate has planned for her, and then acts surprised when things take a less-than-favorable turn.

Those opinions have evolved over the years. Either or both of them could change entirely, the next time I watch it.

I also want to say that Duvall is probably my favorite actor in a movie in which everyone is brilliant. I’ll also say that my favorite scene is the hospital scene. The tension in that scene is familiar, but it’s the best kind of familiar there is with film.

Not a shred of dysfunction amongst them. Nope.

That’s usually how it works when you talk to someone about this movie. You discuss your favorite character, your favorite scene, and then you inevitably argue about the interpretation of one thing or another. I’m a geek, and that kind of thing can still appeal to me. Even if you don’t like the film (and I could count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who haven’t) it’s impossible not to at least appreciate something that’s capable of drawing that kind of reaction from people. It can also be fun to banter with someone who didn’t care for it. The best conversations I have with people about movies will always help to remind me, why I love movies in the first place.

My favorite thing to do involving The Godfather these days is to watch it with someone else. Like the movie itself, their reactions never get old.

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