Past Movie Review: The Godfather

I have thought about writing a review about perhaps the greatest movie ever made or that will ever be made for quite some time now. One of the things I thought would be the most challenging about writing a review about The Godfather is, how can anyone define why or how a movie is great? Then I thought that this is really very easy to do. When the title of a movie is mentioned, do you remember the movie, because the majority of movies are mostly forgettable? Then, after the title of the movie is mentioned, how many pictures come to your head? How many scenes do you remember? What about the dialogue, the music? Considering these basic facts about any great movie, it is easy to believe that the Godfather is the greatest movie ever made because so many great scenes immediately come to mind and then you remember the great dialogue and musical score.

When the director of the Godfather Francis Ford Coppola was directing the Godfather, there had to be some worry not only with him but with the actors and producers that for the first time Hollywood was be showing the inside world of the Mafia and some of the most dangerous people on earth. There had to be some concern about possible retribution and even some backlash from Italian Americans who thought that this movie might show all Italians in a bad light and not just the murderers and criminals that are in the Mafia. On top of the greatness of this film, even considering doing a project like this took a great deal of courage.

When I think about the Godfather, released in 1972 and Godfather 2, released in 1974, and even Godfather 3 released in 1990 many great scenes and dialogue immediately come to mind. Without a doubt, I think that the scene where Michael Corleone comes out of the bathroom with a gun and is about to shoot two deserving lowlife at close range is the most tension filled scene that has ever been shot for any movie. The camera angles, the depressing dark environment of the restaurant, the look on Corleone’s face for the minutes before he stood up and shot these two men, the close range shooting of the police officer shot in the neck and forehead and Sollozzo in his forehead and then Micheal walking almost calmly out of the restaurant, while throwing away the gun.

When people are asked about the Godfather, more than likely the first scene they think about is the horse’s head scene that was horrible and shocking, but very effective. Killing an animal must be very easy for people who can kill a person almost as if it was like brushing your teeth and this was made very clear in this scene. What I remember the most about this scene is not only the screaming of the movie producer but the nauseous sounding version of the Godfather theme that was played before he discovers the horses head in his bed.

Other scenes that stand out as some of the best ever filmed include Sonny Corleone’s assassination at the toll one of the most brutal murders ever filmed but true to the type of killings that the Mafia considered commonplace.

Throughout the Godfather trilogy, the pattern of killing for revenge provides the greatest insight into the precarious world of living within a Mafia family. If you kill indiscriminately as if you are in a war, it is inevitable that one day your time is coming.

I also remember Godfather 3, that was released in later 1990 and was never as critically acclaimed as the previous two films as having one of the greatest scenes of acting I have ever seen when Michael Corleone’s daughter was killed at the end of the movie. This has to be the most difficult scene Al Pacino ever had to film and his emotions were the most real and grief filled I have ever seen. The end of this movie and the Godfather trilogy showed that after all the bad things that Micheal Corleone did in his life, in the end, he had to pay the ultimate price with his own daughter being murdered right in front of him. In the end, all of us want to believe that if you do evil to others that one day you will have to pay a price for what you did and this one scene at the very end of the Godfather trilogy showed that better than any film ever has.

For me, the ultimate measure of the greatness of any film are the pictures that come into your mind and the dialogue and the music that you remember and no movie has as much of this as the Godfather. What is most remarkable about the first two Godfather movies is that the first one came out 45 long years ago, and to this day, no movie has come close to approaching how great these two films are. The entire cast of this movie, many who have long past, would all have to agree that the highlight of their entire acting careers was the miracle of them being cast in the Godfather.

The Godfather 3-Movie Collection

Movie Review: John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves has been around for 30 years now and after the Matrix franchise of 3 movies ended 13 years ago he can call his own shots and do whatever he wants as far as acting or producing any movie. Since the Matrix Reeves has been making mostly action movies, with the exception of, “The Lake House” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Now, with the 2nd installment of the John Wick franchise and the extremely impressive reviews on IMDB (87%) and Rotten Tomatoes (90%), Keanu has found a movie franchise that could be the equal to the Mission Impossible franchise has been for Tom Cruise.

Like the first John Wick movie that came out in October 2014, this one has the same simple story, followed by extremely violent, bloody and one of kind hand to hand and gun fight sequences and action at a very intense almost insane level. Even if you hate violent movies like this, you cannot help but be impressed with the amount of preparation, training, stunts and risks the producers of both movies have taken to create so many dangerous action sequences. Both of these movies have perfected the art of the rapid-fire handgun shooting and a very high percentage of the people shot in this movie were shot in the head. Of course, the logistics of these action sequences are absurd. Thousands of bullets are shot at John Wick and even though he is wearing body armor, he is rarely severely injured or even killed and this is despite Wick killing probably 100 people in this film outdoors, indoors, in underground tunnels and even inside a series of rooms covered with mirrors. Wick is also hit by a car and then thrown no less than 2 times and is able to get up and continue fighting, which is ridiculous. He is also able to continue fighting after getting stabbed and even shot. If you forego the logistical problems in the action sequences and appreciate the choreography then this film will keep your attention during the entire two hours.

The actors Common and Laurence Fishburne both have strong performances in this film.

Go to this movie if you appreciate a great action film but not if you expect a good story. I recommend John Wick Chapter 2.

Movie Review: The Comedian

The beginning of the movie “The Comedian” for me gave me an idea of what could have been a much better movie. Examining the life of someone who has either tried to be a stand-up comedian for many years and has never really made it, or follow the life of someone like Brett Butler who appears as a stand-up at the beginning of this film and had her own TV show in 1993 “Grace Under Fire” . After her show ended 5 years later Butler has tried to find that level of fame again, probably by still doing stand-up in seedy clubs like the one at the start of this movie and this difficult life of chasing show-business fame would be a very compelling story for a much better movie.

From an outsider looking at the life of anyone who thinks they can be a stand-up comedian it appears to be a dark depressing life of low paying gigs, heckling and drunk audiences, bombing many times over before you master the this most difficult art form and years of dues all for the hopes of a miracle down the road. This life includes traveling around the country and living day by day in run down motels, wondering if the cost of traveling from one club to the next is going to be more or less than you are making by performing your act at the next performance. Living a life like this is not for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, making a real life documentary or movie about a person who chooses a life like this would be fascinating and far more interesting than the Comedian which turned out to be a surprisingly bad movie.

During one of the talk show interviews Robert De Niro did to promote this movie he revealed that he worked very hard to perfect the art of being a stand-up comedian. The problem is that for whatever reason, De Niro, despite his acting talent has virtually no ability as a stand-up comedian. What is worse about this film, is that during the four times De Niro performed comedy in front of an audience in this bad movie, the material was not only not funny but disgusting and raunchy. Being disgusting and raunchy will never overcome material that is not funny. The worst of his performances was the last one he made at a retirement home in Florida and even one of the female patients in the audience said what everybody was thinking, “is this supposed to be funny”?

De Niro has made a few bad movies lately, the last very bad one was “Dirty Grandpa” and now this one, but he has also made a few very good movies as well, including Hands of Stone and Joy. At this point in his career, I see no reason why he would ever make a movie like this because one of the main points of becoming rich and famous as an actor is that you can control your own destiny and never take a bad role just because of money. The movie The Comedian will probably encourage all of his fans ask him, “what the hell were you thinking”? This bad film is far beneath Robert De Niro and the long list of actors who appear in this production.

As for the screenplay, there is no real story here, just a series of events that occur with Deniro, who is a former TV comedy star like Brett Butler and his girlfriend played by Leslie Mann. Harvey Keitel is also in this movie as Leslie Mann’s father and there are numerous unfunny scenes of anger between Robert De Niro and Keitel in this movie that are nothing more than temporary distractions as you desperately wait for these very long two hours to come to an end.

Despite the bad script and story for The Comedian, there are a remarkably large number of famous comedians and actors that have cameos, including Billy Crystal, Cloris Leachman, Charles Grodin, Danny Devito and even Jimmy Walker. Despite all of the cameos and some small parts of this film that do work, I cannot recommend this movie for about ten different reasons, starting with the horrible, awkward, raunchy and unfunny comedy performances that De Niro’s character gives throughout this bad film. This is one movie that should have went straight to DVD.

 

 

Movie Review: A Dog’s Purpose

The movie “A Dog’s Purpose” is about much more than just the reincarnation of one dog into the lives of several different people. This movie is about the human condition, it’s about a bad marriage born out of husband who is miserable in his job and very sick of being a traveling salesman and ironically because he is so good at selling things on the road, he is doomed to never be promoted. Because of his misery, just like the recent movie “Fences”, he takes out his anger on his family and then turns to alcohol. You wonder while you watch the unraveling of this family because of the anger and misery over a job, just how often something like this happens to people in this country and around the world. Is it possible to ever be fulfilled and happy when you hate your job and you know deserve so much better? But the problem really is, it is not your family’s fault, so why take it out on them? This movie does a beautiful job in blending together complex human problems with the simple thoughts and the simple life of a dog and suggests that a dog’s purpose is all about being there, to give some happiness and joy to people and ultimately, this is the real message of this film.

There are several different stories within this movie and they all connected to the repeated reincarnation of the same dog and within each reincarnation, the dog is able to remember previous lives. The most important story is the first one about a young boy, who is an only child, and gets his first dog and ultimately his parent’s divorce because of alcoholism. Throughout this whole film, there is narration so we can hear the thoughts of the dog, although I would have selected a different sounding voice than the one they chose for this movie. Some parts of the dog’s narrations are funny but other ones can break your heart because of their simplicity and purity. This movie doesn’t try too hard to make you cry but at times it is impossible not to, most especially at the end when the last story is expertly tied together for a very emotional ending. I would not recommend this movie to any young children because of the multiple deaths and reincarnations of this dog, but I thought overall that A Dogs Purpose was a throwback to Disney movies about animals and was very well done.

The actor Dennis Quaid is in the last story within this film and he does a solid job as one of the owners of this reincarnated dog as well as Peggy Lipton who I have not seen in a movie in many years.

Unfortunately, there is some controversy over this movie because of some possible trainer abuse of a German Shepard for one scene where the dog had to jump into water and this probably accounts for the low ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. I have heard that there was no real abuse of any animals in this film including the incident with the German Shepard and it was obvious to me that everybody involved in this film loves animals and especially dogs so I believe this controversy is unwarranted. A Dog’s Purpose is a very good movie about the love of dogs and I give it a very solid recommendation.

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans

Oscar Nominations for 2017

I agree with most of the nominations below however, Tom Hanks should have been nominated for best actor for “Scully”, Amy Adams should have been nominated for best Actress for “Arrival” and Jessica Chastain was a major omission for best actress for “Miss Sloane”. Taraji P. Henson was essentially the lead actress and is equally as deserving for a nomination as Octavia Spenser for Hidden figures and also did not get a nomination. Perhaps the solution for these obvious omissions is to increase the number of nominations like they have done for movies.

On top of this Viola Davis in Fences is not a supporting actress, her time on screen warrants a Best Actress nomination and this is also true with Dev Patel, who is in almost every scene. I would like to learn the logic of how the Academy decides these categories which very often makes no sense. The worst example of this was Timothy Hutton in “Ordinary People” in 1980 who was the lead actor, was in every scene, but was nominated for best-supporting actor and did win the award.

The movie La La Land received 14 nominations, now tied for the most in Oscar History. La La Land is very good, but both Manchester by the Sea and Fences are better movies overall, in my humble opinion. The movie the “Lobster” is nominated for best original screenplay, even though it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Manchester by the Sea should win in this category, but like the Golden Globes, the odds are that La La Land will win this award as well.

Best picture:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Lead actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Lead actress:
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Supporting actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Supporting actress:
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best director:
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”

Animated feature:
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Animated short:
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Pearl”
“Piper”

Adapted screenplay:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Original screenplay:
“20th Century Women”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”

Cinematography:
“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

Best documentary feature:
“13th”
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

Best documentary short subject:
“4.1 Miles”
“Extremis”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best live-action short film:
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing”
“Timecode”

Best foreign language film:
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“Tanna”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

Film editing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

Sound editing:
“Arrival”
“Deep Water Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Sully”

Sound mixing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Production design:
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land”
“Passengers”

Original score:
“Jackie”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Passengers”

Original song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Trolls”
“City of Stars,” “La La Land”
“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana”

Visual effects:
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Jungle Book”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Movie Review: XXX The Return of Xander Cage

I agree with most of the nominations below however, Tom Hanks should have been nominated for best actor for “Scully”, Amy Adams should have been nominated for best Actress for “Arrival” and Jessica Chastain was a major omission for best actress for “Miss Sloane”. Perhaps the solution for this is to increase the number of nominations like they have done for movies.

On top of this Viola Davis in Fences is not a supporting actress, her time on screen warrants a Best Actress nomination and this is also true with Dev Patel, who is in almost every scene. I would like to learn the logic of how the Academy decides these categories which very often it makes no sense. The worst example of this was Timothy Hutton in “Ordinary People” in 1980 who was the lead actor, was in every scene, but was nominated for best-supporting actor and did win the award.

The movie La La Land received 14 nominations, now tied for the most in Oscar History. La La Land is very good, but both Manchester by the Sea and Fences are better movies overall, in my humble opinion. The movie the “Lobster” is nominated for best original screenplay, even though it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Manchester by the Sea should win in this category, but like the Golden Globes, the odds are that La La Land will win this award as well.

Best picture:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Lead actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Lead actress:
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Supporting actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Supporting actress:
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best director:
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”

Animated feature:
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Animated short:
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Pearl”
“Piper”

Adapted screenplay:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Original screenplay:
“20th Century Women”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”

Cinematography:
“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

Best documentary feature:
“13th”
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

Best documentary short subject:
“4.1 Miles”
“Extremis”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best live-action short film:
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing”
“Timecode”

Best foreign language film:
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“Tanna”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

Film editing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

Sound editing:
“Arrival”
“Deep Water Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Sully”

Sound mixing:
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Production design:
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land”
“Passengers”

Original score:
“Jackie”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Passengers”

Original song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Trolls”
“City of Stars,” “La La Land”
“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana”

Visual effects:
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Jungle Book”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Movie Review: The Founder

“When the competition is drowning, stick a hose in their mouths.”, Ray Kroc

The best line in this great movie is the one above. I have never seen a movie about the reality of money, business, success or failure that is better than the film “The Founder” is the true story about Ray Kroc and how the corporation Mcdonalds was originally founded.

Prior to getting involved with McDonald’s, Ray Kroc was a failure, trying to sell milkshake machines to restaurants around the United States before he stumbled onto two fast food founders named McDonald in San Bernadino California who amazingly to Kroc, wanted to buy eight of his milkshake machines. During his entire life, Kroc failed at many ideas he tried, but due to the success recordings he was encouraged by, he relied on his perseverance to rise above all the bad times he had in his career. While watching this movie and all that Kroc had to go through, you just had to admire him for surviving all he had to endure to finally become successful.

The Mcdonald’s brothers were the original founders of the fast food idea in the 40’s, inventing a brand new mass production technique for food, much like Henry Ford who did the same thing for the automobile. Most fascinating was their story about the large number of setbacks they had to go through and their move from a small town in California to San Bernadino. This included putting their restaurant on a truck and then sawing it in half so it would clear a bridge in the town of San Bernadino. After that amazing feat, they ran into problem after problem until they finally perfected the idea of fast food. The Mcdonald brothers were two very honest men and two very nice guys and what this movie shows so well, is that very often in both business and in life, “Nice guys finish last”.

Everyone who sees this film will have to make up their own mind of how good or bad Ray Kroc is in this story. In my opinion, some of the things he did were justified and some were more than just because of business, they were about revenge and perhaps taking out his many years of frustration and money problems on other people. Much like the true story in the movie Joy, even after Kroc had success, he still had major money problems and many huge obstacles in his way that he had to overcome. Kroc needed a ton of perseverance to be successful, but as this story shows, he also needed quite a bit of luck too.

The Founder is a great film and one of the best acting performances in Micheal Keaton’s entire career. There is a scene in this movie that was remarkably like the movie “Pacific Heights”, that starred Keaton and came out in 1990, where Kroc walked into a hospital room holding flowers where one of the Mcdonald’s brothers was having a major heart problem because of extreme stress. I was rather amazed at how similar this scene was to a major turning point scene in Pacific Heights, which is another great movie that Keaton starred in.

I highly recommend this movie because the story is amazing and its message about success and failure in business and in life.