Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leave The Gun, Take The Cannoli: The Godfather (AFI Top 100 #2)

I'm not sure what it is about mafia stories that's always made me reluctant to watch them. I loved Goodfellas but it was like pulling teeth to get me to finally sit down with it. I've never seen a single episode of The Sopranos even though my younger sibling, with whom I share similar taste in movies and television shows, is a diehard fan. And it's especially strange because I have always had a very politically incorrect adoration for Italians – or the idea of Italians, anyway. It is well-known in certain circles that I wished I was born Italian (one long-lost friend and I used to joke that my Italian name would have been Rosalie). Maybe what I really love is the stereotype of “The Italian” - is that bad to admit? Some Tony Danza-esque, mostaccioli-eating Brooklynite in a wife-beater with a chubby wife that's always saying “'aye” and “What's da matta witchu?!” 

I digress. I could avoid the quintessential mafia movie no longer as it turned out to be the second film the AFI's Top 100 list. One Sunday night in January, I sat down (for three hours) and watched The Godfather for the first time. What an intense three hours it was! Something about spending that much time watching lawless men fire guns at each other with outrageous abandon really takes its toll, by the way. I was jumpy the rest of the night. But all in all, I have to say that I liked The Godfather. I cared about this family, because they really seemed to love each other (in their strange, dark way). That's the mark of excellent performances all around. 

I originally thought that I would get up here and say that the movie was too long, even for me (a fan of broody Swedish films) – but by the end, I could see why they needed all that time to tie up the loose ends and bring the story full circle, with Michael Corleone as the new don (after nearly a lifetime of reluctance). I had my doubts that I'd like The Godfather, but I was immediately sucked into the world of the Corleone family. The colors (the palette is very brownish), the music and the scenes inside Don Vito's dark parlor set the mood for a richly textured story about loyalty – and you can argue if you like, but it is more about that than it is about violence. 

Next up: Casablanca

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