A Critic's Meta Review: 5/5
The Godfather (REVIEW)
Every once in a while you watch a movie that reminds you why you watch movies in the first place. Because, honestly, if you really think about it - watching movies is a huge waste of time. You are literally sitting stationery (unless you decide to multitask and get in a few quick abdominal exercises) for at least a solid hour and staring at a box that reflects carcinogens into your face (or so I’m told) to see a bunch of people you don’t know pretend to do things that they would probably never do in real life, when the director belts out “cut!” and the lens caps are all fastened back onto the cameras.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s certainly a great escape. But so is composing a symphony. So is cooking a four course meal. So is biking across the country with only a toothbrush, some toothpaste, and a pair of wet sandals in your possession.
And yet we often tend to avoid getting lost in these things - things that are a lot more likely to liberate us from our samsaric predicament than picking a flick to sit through while your Tinder date scrolls through Instagram until you finally decide to click the remote, lean in real close, and whisper (in the unforgettable words of The Thing) “it’s clobberin’ time!”
So why do we do it? Is it because we truly don’t understand the value carried by each fleeting second that goes by?
Possible, but I would like to think not. I have a bit more faith in the human race than I feel that I have been letting on in these past few paragraphs.
I believe that the true reason why we choose to spend so much of our precious time immersed in the cinematic arts is because, once in a blue moon (perhaps even while glugging back a Blue Moon), we get hit with a tidal wave of undeniable brilliance on all fronts, with very little we can do in response except tilt our heads back in sheer awe and utter “Sweet Jesus!” to our dog, cat, or frog (whoever happens to be awake at the time).
Francis Ford Coppola’s silver screen adaptation of The Godfather, Mario Puzo’s classic tale of hereditary complications (among many other things) is nothing short of breathtaking. I would say that watching it is like taking a trip, but I have taken trips that have not even hinted at what this movie puts on a plate for you, with a side of garlic bread and a glass of red wine (perhaps even from one of the bottles that bears the name of the director, which you can find at your local supermarket for a surprisingly reasonable price given the weight of the name and, of course, the quality of the wine).
So I’ll say this instead: watching this film is like smashing open a bottomless piñata filled with cultural confetti.
Ah, much better. I even got to use an Italian word...confetti.
But seriously, folks - can we talk about Tom Hagen?
What a class act, mate. Not even a true son (in the blood sense) - just a poor kid without folks of his own, off the street, taken in by Don Vito out of the goodness of his heart - and yet far more loyal than that cretinous cornball Fredo.
Fredo...lord, what a dolt. I found myself wishing, at times, that they would just replace his character with Frodo. At least then he would be talking a lot less and asking some more interesting questions.
That would be quite the crossover - The Godfather meets Lord Of The Rings. Though I would personally have to hand it to The Godfather due to my preference for verisimilitude, I will admit that the Lord Of The Rings is the better overall trilogy (thanks a lot, Andy Garcia - you’re no Jerry, that’s for sure).
The Apu Trilogy still takes the cake, though.
But, alas, this is not a battle of trilogies. This is a review.
Should I talk about how the sound of the train moving in the background during the scene where Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey adds to the overall tension of the meeting? Or how about the wonderfully woven juxtaposition between Anthony Corleone being baptized and the heads of the rival families (along with the slick talking sleaze basket Moe Greene) being picked off, one by one, like M&Ms in a bag of trail mix?
Nah. I think I’ll just give Marlon Brando some props for managing to get all of those iconic lines out with a mouthful of cotton balls.
Kudos to you, Kowalski.
Alright, I guess maybe the cotton ball thing was a bit of an urban legend (turns out they were just in his mouth for a screen test and he was using a custom built mouthpiece for the actual film).
You know what isn’t an urban legend, though? The fact that every single actor in this film - from Talia Shire as Connie to Richard Castellano as Clemenza - exhibits a performance worthy of three Oscars.
And yet they ended up giving one to a guy who never bothered to show up, on account of Hollywood’s mistreatment of Native Americans.
A fair objection, I must admit.
Kudos to you, Kowaslski.