The Godfather: first of three movies based on Mario Puzo’s tale of the Sicilian Mafia in New York, circa 1945-1955. There’s no denying that certain aspects of the film are great: it’s littered with original, shocking, powerful, and iconic scenes; there’s page after page of beautifully written dialogue (monologues and large conversations); the cast is truly monumental, and almost everyone is outstanding in their character’s portrayal. My biggest problem with The Godfather is that the sound mix is atrocious and – worse still – some character’s accents are so thick and/or non-enunciated that I watched the entire film with subtitles, in order to make any sense of some characters. Another flaw in the movie is that it could have been edited down, a lot; there’s entire sections of the film that have minimal impact on the story, but drag on and refuse to end (wedding, Sicily…). The direction’s OK – although editing is fairly rough – and the score really adds a punch to the movie. Perhaps this suffers from the ‘Chinatown Effect’ in that a mixture of lifelong hype, and the movie’s impact being far greater when it was released, that modern audiences are left a little cold and short-changed after seeing it. The Godfather feels like a great film diluted down into a good film, but ‘best film of all time’… sit your guinea-wop ass down in front of the tube, put on Godfellas, and tell me this is better – if ya do, ya’ll be sleeping with the fishes, see?
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. What do Francis Ford Coppola, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Dennis Hopper, Joe Dante, Robert De Niro, David Carradine, Pam Grier, and Ron Howard (to name but a few) all have in common? …give up? They all got their first break from one man; Roger Corman. Much like the majority of his movies, Corman’s career feels like fiction; as a story reader at 20th Century Fox he singled out the script for The Gunfighter, added some suggestions and got no credit for the film’s success, so he left the company in 1955 and self-funded his first movie – he hasn’t stopped working on films ever since. The biggest weapon in this film’s arsenal is Corman himself; he’s fascinating and a very watchable presence – intelligent, unassuming, genuine, happy, modest, energetic, amiable… to be honest, I’d have been happy with a more in-depth 90 minute conversation. His relevance and importance through the decades is truly eye-opening, which is nicely contrasted with Corman’s penny-pinching / budget maximisation methods that have seen him direct and/or produce well over 300 movies and almost never make a loss. The doc does lose some steam and focus around the hour mark, and in patches it feels like a sugar-coated, rose-tinted fanboy piece, but they’re minor complaints. Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel does a decent job of covering the highlights of an amazing +50 year career in 90 minutes, letting the audience know how his surname embodies an entire genre. Most importantly, I sat with a smile on my face for most of the runtime
The man. The Legend. Roger Corman. Doesn’t look like an exploitation master!