The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola Produced By Conference

This post is in partnership with Cadillac Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America recently launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenges producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants will make a short film over a single weekend in late June, and the 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. The Guild also recently hosted the Produced By Conference, offering some incredibly storytellers sharing their filmmaking experiences, and the event couldn’t have ended on a better note: an hour-long discussion with Francis Ford Coppola. That’s right, the legendary director behind The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Jack, The Outsiders, and perhaps his most underrated work, and one of my favorite movies, Rumble Fish. If that isn’t reason enough to attend the Produced By Conference in the future, then what is? This panel was easily the most talked about. Up until that point, I hadn’t seen a line as long or a more packed house. Thankfully, the wait was worth it, because Coppola knows how to work a crowd. He’s charming, thorough, and exhibits no signs of an ego he’s earned. Not once did he refer to one of his many landmark films as a “classic.” In the case of Apocalypse Now, he didn’t go much further than saying it’s looked upon more fondly now. Coppola could’ve said he made one of the greatest pictures ever, and everyone still would’ve applauded his modesty. He was that charming. His 1979 epic was one of the many talking points of a panel that everyone would have been […]

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Manhattan Movie

“I’m a minimalist. I see things in simple ways…It’s human nature to define complexity as better. Well, it’s not.” – Gordon Willis Cinematographer Gordon Willis, who passed away on May 18th, leaves behind an incredible legacy of deceptively “simple” lighting schemes and compositions that will forever be stuck in the minds of cinephiles. Willis was perhaps best known for his high-contrast use of shadows and high-key lighting, which filled his frames with a tremendous aura of depth and mystery. While he was referred to as the “Prince of Darkness” by colleagues, Willis himself stressed that it was visual contrast between light and darkness – not darkness itself  – that can produce such memorable imagery. The look of movies in the 1970s, from The Godfather to Annie Hall, is inseparable from the eyes of this master of the craft. Here is an overview of some of his best work.

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Paramount Pictures

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid), and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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Casino Royale

You’d think it would be self-evident that there’s no way to tell whether a movie is good or bad until actually seeing it, but it’s not always the case. Although it’s increasing in fervor lately, the anticipatory intensity leading up to a movie’s release has always swayed movie fans’ perception one way or the other. Sometimes the pre-conceived notions of a movie’s quality are accurate, sometimes things thought to be sure-thing masterpieces are anything but. Sometimes, things everyone spends months dreading turn out to be terrific; the stellar reviews for The LEGO Movie indicate that it may very well be one of them, and even the Robocop remake, getting some positive early notices, might be one as well. Here are five more movies we all covered our heads for before seeing the light.

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Wonder Woman

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Mars Attacks Congress

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are turning burnt orange, horror movies are confusingly not being released, and the GOP has threatened to shut down the government because they failed for the 54th time to stop a law that was passed three years ago. Only this time they actually followed through with the threat (go figure), and now none of us can enjoy the leaves at National Parks or watch NASA launch stuff into orbit. Unsurprisingly, the concept of the government shutting down (or at least this version of a shut down) isn’t well represented in movies because of how breathtakingly uncinematic it is. When we want to see a political crisis on screen, we demand that Harrison Ford punch a terrorist off of Air Force One or Denzel Washington get brainwashed. That doesn’t stop films from tiptoeing around the periphery or taking a central role in this current freeze. Whether directly referenced by politicians or symbolically evoked by our collective subconscious, movies are here to help us make sense of it all and/or confuse us even further.

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Godfather Part 2

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they figure out how the only sequel featured on the list changes the way we view the original. In the #31 (tied with Taxi Driver) movie on the list, Michael Corleone continues his ascent as the head of the family while descending into a personal hell. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Arrested Development Lineup

In the fourth episode of Arrested Development‘s third (and what initially seemed to be its final) season, Michael Bluth wakes up to find the handlebars of his bike in his bed, placed there by GOB, his sheets stained with bike grease. The moment is a clear reference to one of the most iconic scenes from The Godfather, where studio executive Jack Woltz awakes to find the severed head of his prized horse in his bed after refusing to give Johnny Fontaine a prize role in the film. But Arrested Development‘s relationship to The Godfather trilogy isn’t isolated to occasional references or sly parodies. Instead, the underlying structure of the series seems to be modeled off Francis Ford Coppola’s canonized adaptation of Mario Puzo’s crime saga. Here are a few connections between the three existing seasons of Arrested Development and the three Godfather films. Perhaps there will be more to look for when Arrested Development pulls us back in on May 26th.

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Sal The Godfather

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they vivisect the American Dream inside Francis Ford Coppola‘s masterpiece of modern cinema while finding its most important singular line of dialogue. In the #21 (tied) movie on the list, a young military man is drawn violently into his family’s business when war breaks out among the five major mobs of 1940s New York City. But why is it one of the best movies ever?

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IntroRelatives

Being on a movie set can be a blast – especially when you don’t have to do anything. It’s not hard to imagine that with every great actor or director there’s probably a nagging cousin or sibling who wants to be part of that sweet sitting around action. And how the hell are they going to say no? Giving mom a line is a small price to pay for 18 years of guaranteed food and shelter, right? How can an actor resist sticking their kid in a shot or two? It happens a lot – so much so that the following 15 are only the tip of the iceberg.

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Francis Ford Coppola

Despite the fact that he’s best known for his sweeping, epic-in-scope work from the ‘70s like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has been spending his recent years making smaller, more experimental, or at least more under the radar projects like Tetro and Twixt. Yet, even with a smaller scale bringing lower expectations, his most recent work hasn’t been able to gain the same level of esteem as the smaller films of his past, like say 1974’s The Conversation. So what does a directing legend have to do to make a dang impact in this town? Some comments he made while pushing his new five film Blu-ray box set to Inside Movies suggest that he’s planning on returning to his epic roots. When explaining why he’s recently moved from the relative seclusion of his Napa Valley vineyard to new offices at Paramount, Coppola said, “I have a secret investor that has infinite money. I learned what I learned from my three smaller films, and wanted to write a bigger film. I’ve been writing it. It’s so ambitious so I decided to go to L.A. and make a film out of a studio that has all the costume rentals, and where all the actors are.”

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“Newsweek,” the 79-year-old magazine is stepping into the present by axing their print edition to go fully digital in 2013. Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown announced the shift yesterday (tellingly on the Daily Beast site), and the polarized responses of crushing nostalgia, predictions of ultimate failure and it’s-about-time praise came from all corners of (again tellingly) the internet. Whether it’s a signal of internal trouble or not, it’s where our world is heading, which is why it’s particularly encouraging in this time of transition to look back on some of the “Newsweek” covers of the past to discover that history tends to repeat itself. Someone should package that up and coin a phrase about it. Of course, all of our choices are movie-themed, but as you’ll see from the selections, the ghost of the present seems to haunt the past even in the examination of the popular art. Even without the deep sentiment, it’s still fascinating to let nostalgia well up for the times gone by caught by these covers.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This week it’s a series of second stringer fill-ins trying not to run things into the ground while regular columnist Neil Miller disappears for a while due to reasons both glamorous and mysterious (in true Lohan fashion, he’s cited both “exhaustion” and “being dehydrated”). And today it’s a laundry list of Internet people still crushing on Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza, The Avengers, because Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows shit the bed this weekend and we haven’t had anything shiny to come along to steal away our fickle attentions yet. Let’s get to it. The above image comes from an artist named Hannah, who has proven that her finger is firmly on the pulse of the Internet by paying tribute both to the death of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak as well as the work of beloved nerd-God Joss Whedon by mashing up Sendak’s artistic style with the cast of The Avengers. Is cute, no?

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Who even knows anymore… We begin this evening with something strange, a shot of Johnny Depp in full Tonto make-up on the set of The Lone Ranger, meeting with leaders of the Navajo nation. I wonder if they have any problem with the fact that Johnny Depp is exactly 0% Navajo. Nope: “We are honored the movie The Lone Ranger is being filmed here on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation has beautiful landscape and we are glad it is being shared through filmmaking.” 

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Culture Warrior

In a recent article from The Atlantic, business journalist Derek Thompson poses several compelling questions about the business model of contemporary theatrical distribution. Why, he asks, must we pay the same for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as we do for Young Adult at our local multiplex? Wouldn’t it make more sense if the comparably underperforming film, Young Adult, were distributed with lower ticket prices in order to cultivate greater competition against wintertime blockbusters, and thereby (perhaps) gain a slightly greater audience for a film whose appeal is limited by comparison? After all, movie studios don’t so much “give audiences what they want” as much as they calculate degrees success (if you don’t believe me, go ask your local AMC to bring A Separation or Carnage to your theater), so why don’t ticket prices reflect this already-transcribed fate? It’s an interesting scenario to imagine, but one that becomes more difficult to envision once one parses through the details. As the author points out in his #4 reason why we have “uniform pricing,” varied pricing would likely create an unwarranted stigma against less expensive films, much like straight-to-DVD films have. That said, two other assumptions informing Thompson’s provocative question warrant further exploration: 1) we as consumers already have varied pricing, and we have developed patterns of determining a film’s “worth” in our choosing of where and in what conditions we see a film, and 2) movies would largely benefit if the perceived value of the opening weekend lessened significantly.

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Last week’s discussion on the sex appeal of animated characters sparked a little offline controversy. Why did we forget to include sexy villains in our list, when everyone knows they can be just as mouthwatering? Now we could spend an entire novel talking about the awkward crushes we have on certain animated villains, just as we could in the opposite direction, however I’m more interested in the modern rejection of Hollywood’s traditional “uglying up” the bad guy. See, this is where movies have always lost me. A true villain, one who is charming, relies on henchmen, and has a bevy of beauties would never be a disgusting, rotted, warted-up mess. In fact, no matter how determined a villain is to get his or her way, their tinge of crazy (read: psychotic levels) often makes them more attractive to those sharing screen time.  This is probably why you feel the need to shower after watching anything starring Vincent Cassel. But recently mainstream films have taken a page out of the indie playbook and started making their villains just a touch more delicious. Movies.com’s Jenni Miller wrote earlier this week about the sexification of the rapist in next month’s Straw Dogs remake. She discusses her discomfort with the film’s marketing decision to highlight the sexiness of the gang of deviants and how the film’s “down home” feel will get lost with such good looking villains. I have to disagree. Although Alexander Skarsgard (Charlie) has made a career of playing a hot Viking […]

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a ring master with an anger problem, a cross-dressing grandma(n) with a big family, French Canadians in the Middle East and enough product placement to choke an E-CyboPooch.

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Robert Duvall turns 80 today, and that’s an achievement all on its own. It’s also important to keep in mind that Duvall has been in the filmmaking business for 49 years. That’s 61% of his life. The last thing any of us dedicated that much time to was our Regarding Henry action figure collection and doing the math for that problem. Duvall is an icon amongst icons, a living legend that has put just as much love into his craft as he’s gotten back, a cinematic luminary that still continues to make great films. Attempting to pay tribute to him is a difficult task not only because there’s not enough space on the internet to do it, but because his career is a difficult one to wrap one’s mind around. He’s done just about everything except compose a film score, and he’s done so while staying at the top of his game through almost five decades of Hollywood evolution.

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