Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.
—-Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III
On the last two Saturdays Candy and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to watch special showings of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. So today, the third Saturday in a row, we went to see The Godfather Part III. I was very interested because they were screening the re-cut version The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. I’m not sure if I was ever able to sit through the original Godfather III – it wasn’t up to the standards of the first two – and I found it ponderous and boring, especially on television. I have read that the new version, although it leaves most of the center of the film the same, changes the beginning and end – leading to a version that is much improved. So we’ll see.
I enjoyed it – I think the key is to realize that it is a very different movie, both in style and in message, than the previous two. If you can take it on its own, it’s a good, enjoyable film – though not as epic as the other chapters in the saga. Seeing it in a theater helped – the film mostly made sense, though I still don’t completely understand all the financial issues with the Vatican.
Oh, and I’m afraid its still true – Sophia Coppola may be a great director – but she is terrible in this movie.
And its fun to spot actors that you’ve seen somewhere else that you never thought would be in a Godfather epic (for example Harry Dean Stanton in Godfather Pert II). In this one it would have to be Don Novello (he has a big part) – better known as Father Guido Sarducci.
On the dry and dusty road The nights we spend apart alone I need to get back home to cool, cool rain I can’t sleep, and I lay, and I think The night is hot and black as ink Woo, oh God, I need a drink of cool, cool rain
Love, reign o’er me Reign o’er me, o’er me, o’er me, woah Love, reign o’er me, o’er me
—-Pete Townshend, Love, Reign o’er Me, from Quadrophenia
This evening, after riding my spin bike for an hour or so – using my BitGym app to ride up the mountains and glaciers of Argentina – I rested a bit and watched the 1979 movie Quadrophenia. I wasn’t overly familiar with the movie – or most of the music behind it. I was just out of school in 1979, isolated out in the Kansas plains and not very hooked into pop culture of the time. I had seen bits of the movie – but not the whole thing until today.
I was interested because I had watched a YouTube video on modern musical films that considered Quadrophenia to be superior to the much more well-known Tommy. And having watched the movie I can see where the reviewer is coming from. Tommy is more entertaining, more fun – but Quadrophenia is deeper, both as a window into a certain time and place (and the Mods and Rockers subcultures) as well as a window into the life of a damaged mind.
So it was good – I actually may go back and watch most of it again. One really cool thing I didn’t know is that Sting is in the film – using his extreme charisma as the character Ace Face – the king of the Mods.
“The lawyer with the briefcase can steal more money than the man with the gun.” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather
Last Saturday Candy and I went to a special showing of The Godfather at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Lake Highlands (it was sold out in Richardson – the closest to our house). We very seldom see movies anywhere other than the Alamo – it is just too cool.
This is the fiftieth anniversary of the film – which makes the math easy – I was fifteen when I first saw it. I was living in Managua – the arrival of the film in country was a big deal. I remember seeing it in a theater in town – pre-earthquake – so I did see it in 1972 (sometimes it took films a while to get to Central America).
The theater where I saw it was packed. Sometimes it was tough to get into R rated films in Managua (I couldn’t get in to see Cabaret, for example) but this one was considered highbrow and I was let in with my friends.
There was this kid at school that had mastered a loud, booming, evil-sounding laugh and would let loose with it at any inappropriate moment if he could shock everyone. In the movie, after the wedding, when Michael and Apollonia were in the bedroom and she dropped her nightgown… the crowd was silent and tense… and the guy, from somewhere in the theater (I didn’t know he was there) let out his loudest laugh. It was awful and hilarious.
Decades later, when we all got together in North Carolina, I asked him if he remembered that and he said, “Of course I do!”
At any rate, it was good to see it again, and nobody laughed at that scene. I have seen it many times over the years and was able to concentrate on details – like looking for oranges. I have to admit, over the years, I wasn’t sure what was going on all the time (like who exactly were getting shot there at the end) and I think I’ve got most of it figured out now – the internet helps.
At any rate, we’ve already got our tickets for Godfather part two, showing one week later – and the Alamo is also going to screen The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone – the re-edited version of The Godfather Part III – that is supposed to be much, much better. I haven’t seen it – have to buy my tickets.
“You’re going to have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood.”
—-Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray on being cast in King Kong
OK, to prove I am serious about my streaming Movie Recommendations – tonight when I came home from a bike ride (having narrowly missed today’s thunderstorm) I sat down, dialed up HBOMax, and watched the first item from my list – the Science Fiction film, Colossal.
I’ll keep this spoiler free – it stars Anne Hathaway as an alcoholic mess of a New York party girl hitting rock bottom and a giant monster stomping on Seoul, Korea. And yes, the two plot strands are very related.
That’s all I’m going to say (these plot points are revealed in the first minutes of the film) except… someone who is very famous recently for playing the best of all good guys turns out to be… something else.
A very good movie – different, but not weird, serious, but not maudlin, and not too long. Worth your while.
I’m not even going to link to the trailer… it gives away too much.
“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
It was amazing, cheesy, and so much ridiculous fun. It took a little searching until I found out the scene was from part one of a two part movie series called Baahabuli. I watched bits of it and it was as glorious as it could be. I never had time to sit down for the whole six hours it would take to grind through both installments – plus, viewing little bits here and there with no idea of the overall plot or who these people were was kind of exciting.
Now, however, I have more opportunities for allocating big chunks of time (though not as many as you would think – it is possible to be very busy doing nothing) and over a couple of days I have been able to sit down and watch part one of Baahubali. Now it (sort of) makes sense. I had watched some of the over-the-top action scenes… but being Bollywood it had some equally fantastic musical numbers – and romantic dancing. I really enjoyed these – probably more that the blood slaughter.
In particular, there is a scene in a bar where three sexy dancing girls emerge from a giant coil of rope to dance with the hero and distract the dastardly bad guys for a few minutes – very imaginative and unexpected.
Some friends of mine once came up with the idea of Bollywood watching parties – I would love to try and pull this off – find a place with a big television (ours isn’t giant enough). Baahubali would be perfect – both parts one and two. Crazy action, melodrama, politically incorrect dancing and romance (there is actually a scene where the hero, while holding his breath underwater, tattoos his love’s arm while she sleeps trailing her arm into a lake – that’s a me-too moment).
Now onto part 2 – there’s a lot of unanswered questions.
Ok, there is a YouTube movie reviewer named The Critical Drinker. He is apologetically nasty towards modern shit movies and the useless crap mendacity that has invaded what passes as entertainment – but every now and then he finds something that swims against the stream to recommend.
Today he reviewed and liked a recent Bollywood extravaganza called RRR. He does a very good job of explaining how odd these movies look to Western eyes and why you should put your preconceptions aside and enjoy what dances across your eyeballs. A very interesting review (not too many spoilers).
RRR is streaming on Netflix. So its Baahubali Part 2 – and then it’s time for RRR. Sounds like a party.
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides By the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will Shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children And I will strike down upon thee With great vengeance and furious anger Those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers And you will know my name is the Lord When I lay my vengeance upon thee
—-Eziekiel 25 17, Pulp Fiction
Tonight Candy and I had tickets to a Pulp Fiction Party at the Richardson Alamo Drafthouse.
I haven’t seen Pulp Fiction in a theater for a long, long time – it was time to see it again.
There were a few things that made this showing a “Party.” An employee came out in a bathrobe with a coffee mug before the showing and gave an enthusiastic and F-Bomb filled introduction. They had a Jackrabbit Slim twist contest – I was disappointed that no couple showed up dressed as Mia and Vincent. The winner received a genuine Bad Mother Fucker wallet.
Coolest of all, everyone received some swag – A Serious Gourmet Shit coffee mug, a pack of candy cigarettes, and a Zed Keychain (Zed’s Dead, baby). Now I have a place to keep my chopper keys.
“Listen, if somebody gave me the choice right now, of to never see you again or to marry you, alright, I would marry you, alright. And maybe that’s a lot of romantic bullshit, but people have gotten married for a lot less.”
— Jesse, Before Sunrise
1995 was not so long ago – what? twenty seven years? That may seem a long time ago to you, but it doesn’t to me.
Even in 1995 it was hard to see odd, independent, or foreign films. It was before streaming, before really diverse rental options, and sort of after the death of repertory cinema. Also, I had two small kids at this time – so I was not able to go out searching for unique cinema.
I was still watching movie review shows at the time (I have since quit, too many spoilers). I remember seeing a review, probably on Siskel and Ebert, of a movie called Before Sunrise starring July Delpy and Ethan Hawke. It sounded unique and interesting and I wanted to see it, but never was able to pull it off. It apparently was a conversation movie – sort of like My Dinner With Andre – except with a young couple meeting and spending one single night (before sunrise) in Europe walking around and talking to each other.
Over the years I read that a sequel was made… and then a sequel to the sequel.
A few days ago I noticed that there was a set of three movies on The Criterion Channel titled The Before Trilogy. It was the Before Sunrise and its two sequels – Before Sunset and Before Midnight. I’m not a big TV bingeing person, but I decided to watch the three movies one day after another. I had to skip one day because I felt like shit and couldn’t even get up the energy to watch a damn movie streaming on The Criterion Channel. I realized that the two sequels were both made exactly nine years apart from each other.
The second movie was better than the first. It was about the stripping away of a person’s facade – and the first movie was about getting around a person’s facade – although the facades were very strong with those two. The second movie was much more complicated with more at stake – mostly because the characters were nine years older and forced to be more serious and introspective and their choices were more important with more at stake.
I’m afraid that I was disappointed in the third film. It was well made – but I felt it was a re-hash of the same sort of arguments every long-term married couple has on a regular basis. Maybe an important subject – but not entertaining to watch. It could be seen as the answer to the more interesting second chapter, but again, not worth the nine years’ wait.
It’s been more than nine years now since Before Midnight was made. There has been talk of a sequel, but the three Linklater and the two stars seem to have run out of ideas.
“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.” ― Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing
After my bike ride I took a shower and got ready to go. Candy wanted to go see a movie – Where the Crawdads Sing. She had read the book (I hadn’t, still fighting my way through Zola’s La Terre – need to finish the sucker) and had really liked it. We don’t go to a lot of movie’s anymore and when we do we always go to the Alamo Drafthouse – except for today. Crawdads wasn’t showing at either of the two Alamo theaters on our side of the vast Metroplex, so we went to another theater near where I used to work (when I was still gainfully employed).
The theater was good – the reclining seats were very comfortable. We went to the one o’clock showing – and there were only a handful of folks there.
I actually kinda liked the movie. It had some flaws – the protagonist was a little too polished and glib to be believable as a “Marsh Girl” – I had the ending figured out a good five minutes into the film – but the acting was effective and the scenery gorgeous. It’s hard for me to judge, I’m still suffering from a Everything Everywhere All At Once hangover – every movie pales in the memory of that work of genius.
It’s kind of funny – on Tuesdays the early show was only six dollars to get in – a real bargain. But a popcorn and diet soda were more than twenty bucks.
I have been doing well in getting my ten miles a day of bike riding – so far in July I’m seven miles ahead of my pace. One cheat I do is that I joined the Huffhines Recreational Center (I am old enough for the senior discount – it’s a lot cheaper than a health club) down at the end of my block and they have really nice recumbent bicycles. An hour of stationary riding counts as ten miles in my mind – and I’m sticking to it. If I ride too many days in a row outside my shoulders begin to hurt – so a day on a recumbent is a big help.
Most of the bikes have flat screens and a good selection of channels – but one bike is more old-school without a screen. It’s not very popular – I’ve never seen anyone else using it – but I can prop my Tablet on the bike and watch a movie. So over the last two workout sessions I watched Licorice Pizza.
It wasn’t a great movie – but it was a lot of fun and a perfect way to let the hours go by while I pedaled away. It’s a pastiche, an homage to a certain time, the seventies, which I remember really well.
Waterbeds form an important plot point – and that’s one thing from back in the day that I still miss even now. I had a waterbed for about a decade (or a little more) and never slept better.
Another plot point is the oil embargo and subsequent shortage (lines at gas stations) and that, unfortunately, feels all too familiar right now. I remember 1980 well and the disaster that happened feels like it is happening again. The only difference is that in 1980 I was single and young and all I needed was to buy a couple Ramen Noodle packs and I could get through the day.
“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
― Richard P. Feynman
Jesus! I almost completely forgot!
It was six forty today and I was puttering around the house doing six-forty PM sorts of things when I remembered that over a week ago I had bought a movie ticket for a seven o’clock movie tonight.
An email had arrived touting a “Secret Screening” at the Alamo Drafthouse Richardson. That is where, for a discount ticket of six bucks, you get to see a movie – probably a genre movie from decades past – but you don’t know what movie you are going to see until it starts. I know that sounds nuts – but it is the sort of thing I can’t resist. When I checked the seating – although it was almost two weeks out – there were only single seats left, the others had already sold out. So I bought a ticket and proceeded to forget about it until six forty tonight.
Luckily, the Alamo isn’t very far away (remember – that theater chain won’t let you in after the movie starts) and I through some pants on and jumped in my car. It has been eleven days since I retired and this is the first time I’ve been in my car (I have ridden with other folks) since I stopped working. All other trips have been by bike – and I would have ridden to the Alamo if I had remembered earlier. Luckily, it started right up and shook the summer dust off and made it to the theater with a few minutes to spare. I need to get over being a boomer and learn a decent, reliable system of reminders for my phone.
I ordered a Temptress and sad back to see what movie we were going to be treated to.
It was a film called Prime Cut from 1972. When the name was announced, I didn’t think I had seen it, but when the guy came out and started to talk about it I realized that I had seen it, when it was released, but had not thought about it for, maybe, forty years. Let’s see, in 1972 I was in Nicaragua, so I would have seen it a year later – so I saw it in 1973 – forty-nine years ago. I remembered little bits about it – it was set in Kansas City, my old stomping grounds – and although KC is actually in Missouri, the film takes place in rural Kansas – though it isn’t a very good representation (there is a scene with a combine – a very good scene – an homage to North by Northwest – but the combine does something that combines can’t do – and believe me, I used to drive one of the damn things).
It’s a mob movie set in the wheat fields, a ton of violence and nudity, completely politically incorrect, a movie that could never be made today. It was of its time – a true genre film but with a strange, dark sense of humor. A lot of black comedy in the film.
One thing unusual for a movie of this type is that all three main characters are played by actors that won academy awards (four in total). The anti-hero is played by Lee Marvin, the bad guy by Gene Hackman, and Sissy Spacek – in her first speaking movie roll (four years before Carrie).
The crowd was into it – it’s the kind of people that will pack a theater to see a movie when they don’t know what it will be. They laughed at the anachronisms and sick humor and cheered the ending and again after the credits.
So I guess I had better check the calendar and buy tickets for next month’s Secret Screening. They teased us and said that since it was the 90th Secret Screening it would be a film from the 90’s – not much of a clue.