Friday, May 29, 2009
An Offer I Couldn't Refuse
A while ago one of my internet friends from the Simply Syndicated forums, a young lad named Kumar, informed me that he had never seen any Star Trek. After I got over my shock and dismay that such a brilliant and insightful lad could make it to fifteen without boldly going where no one had gone before, I decided that this situation could not stand. So I, along with a few others, began to apply the peer pressure. Finally he reached a breaking point and issued a challenge to yours truly. He promised to watch one season of The Original Series if I would watch The Godfather. Now some of you may be thinking 'no big deal', but I had never seen The Godfather, nor did I ever intend to see it. It's just not my kind of film. But when I made it clear last year that I had never seen the 'greatest movie ever made' there was a great hue and cry. Numerous people tried to convince me to watch it, but it took a chance to bring a new person into the Federation to finally make it happen. Kumar devoured The Original Series, and the six movies, so I, reluctantly, rented and watched The Godfather today.
I can see why people like it so much. It is a very well done, and for the most part well acted film. And who knew Abe Vigoda was ever sort of young? I can see why regular folks enjoy watching powerful people who do as they please with little or no fear of the laws and rules of society. It's much the same way I react to vampires or superheroes. I guess we all dream of being above the law. But ultimately these are despicable people doing unconscionable things in a reprehensible way. About 2/3rds of the way through the film I thought what a shame that the only 'good' person in the family, Michael, is corrupted and pulled into the business. But then I realized that his life outside the family was the sham. He wasn't a good man driven bad by circumstance. He was a bad man trying to play good and failing. And there wasn't a single killing in the movie that inspired even the tiniest shred of sympathy. On the contrary, I rather enjoyed watching the bottom feeders feed on each other.
And then there's Brando. Call it blasphemy, call it heresy, but I've never been that impressed with Brando, and least of all with his performance as Don Corleone. So he stuffed cotton in his cheeks and mumbled a lot. Lon Chaney did a hell of a lot more with less recognition. His performance was one note and bored the crap out of me. And the voice he affected, that monotonous whine drove me crazy. I was quite glad when he was in the hospital since he didn't talk for 15 minutes. Actually the stand out performance, in my opinion, was Lenny Montana as Luca Brasi. His portrayal of the hulking Corleone torpedo as he nervously rehearsed his thank you for being invited to the wedding at the beginning of the picture was a heart breaking counterpoint to the rest of his compatriots. He was the only person to not ask the Don for a favor. He just wanted to say thank you. It was the only touching moment in this hard, cold blooded film.
I don't know if this is an accurate depiction of mob life, and I really don't care. It was a good movie, and I'm glad I've seen it if for no other reason than to get everyone off my back about seeing it, but I doubt I'll ever watch it again...and don't even think about trying to get me to watch The Godfather II.