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September 17, 2008

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Pete Apruzzese

Well, real Home Theater enthusiasts (I would count myself as one, even though I would rather see a movie projected via film any day of the week) *want* the disc to look like actual film. Digitally scrubbed releases (ala the Patton and Gangs of New York Blu-rays) are generally panned by anyone with a large enough monitor.

If Robert Harris (with whom I've had many disagreements, i.e. Vertigo's picture & sound) managed to keep the grain intact on these Godfather discs, then more power to him

Owain Wilson

An absolutely fantastic read. I saw the first two Godfather movies once quite each a few years ago but never particularly fell for them.

However, thanks to your loving descriptions, Glenn, you've convinced me to get the new Blu-Ray set and wallow in it over the course of a single weekend with a steady line of piping hot cups of tea by my side.

Glenn Kenny

Pete, that "Gangs" disc is sure enough a must to avoid. I delve into it in the upcoming PM article. Miramax's home division really dropped the ball on it...and it got a positive review (!) on DVD Beaver (!) regardless! (It was by Leonard Norwitz, not Gary Tooze.) Goes to show you never can tell.

Individual taste also enters these discusssions, maybe a lot more than people admit. I'll sheepishly admit to largely enjoying the Blu-ray of "Dirty Harry." And I sure think that individual scenes of the "Patton" DVD come off well.

Despite my sarcasm, I don't have any beef with "home theater" as a concept. I just hate the presumption, particularly as iterated in the high-def domain, that everything has to be bright and shiny.

Pete Apruzzese

I'm in complete agreement with you. One of the reasons I enjoy running my classic film shows is that it gives people a chance to see what these (older) pictures really look like on a screen. Our recent show of The Sand Pebbles showed that Fox did a good job replicating the actual look of the film with their latest video release.

As someone who also haunts Home Theater sites, one of the issues I try to stress to people is that transfers must look like film, warts and all. Obviously, there shouldn't be dirt or scratches (and they should be removed whenever possible) but film grain is part of the picture.

Glenn Kenny

It's a fascinating, multi-leveled topic, Pete. One of the challenges in doing the PM piece was keeping the word length manageable!

I wish I'd been to the recent show of "Sand Pebbles." The DVD looks mighty fine as well. Harris rates it very highly also.

Pete is not one to blow his own horn, so I'll tell you that he does the film programming for the classic rep at the fantastic Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, N.Y., and also keeps all its projection equipment in trim. Seeing ANY movie there is a fantastic experience. It would be particularly so for those of you keen on the topics we're discussing in these posts. By all means check out their website, and, more important, the theater itself, if you can:

http://www.bigscreenclassics.com/indexlafayette.htm

Ryland Walker Knight

That new capture of Pacino's face... swoon? Wow, that is a lovely image. Now I'm really kicking myself for missing these at the Castro a couple weeks ago -- they really are phenomenal films. Gah. I really should rewatch _Part II_ again, especially, since I've been so obsessed with how "perfect" the first film's structure-unspooling-architecture plays; I know there's a lot of goodies in how FFC went the other direction, literally, in the follow up. Also cool, but impossible as of this very moment, would be to throw an image from _The Conversation_ up against an image from _Part II_: Hackman talking into the mist, looking up that hill, in his dream, followed by De Niro scaling the roofs, looking down. (Do it do it do it now...)

BTW: You ever seen anything at the Castro, GK? My favorite is, big surprise, seeing _2001_ in 70mm. Really, the whole idea of a 70mm film fest at a local movie palace is awesome; and it bugs me that I've missed _Playtime_ the past few years. And that Silent Fest is a treat to take in all big and huge. Probably the biggest highlight recently was that advance screening of _TWBB_, which I can barely watch at home (did you cover its DVD release at all?). I've got a pretty decent TV but I prefer watching it on my laptop with headphones. It's hard to feel okay about turning my TV up loud enough for that movie. I want the soundtrack to kick my butt (via my ears).

Aaron Aradillas

Ah, The Secret of My Success. How far the mighty Herbert Ross had fallen. (R.I.P.) In a scary way you could make the case that TSOMS was a spiritual sequel to Risky Business. It's odd that the "Oh Yeah" scene would be used as demo. I would've thought the scene of Mr. Michael J. Fox walking around the office as "Walking on Sunshine" plays on the soundtrack would've been a more ideal choice. At the very least it's a better scene-and song. (And to think Mr. Fox would have far more success as an actor portraying the fallout of the Yuppie Movement in the following year's Bright Lights, Big city.)

But, wait, we were talking about Home Theater Systems. It is interesting the way studios sometimes cater to the Home Theater crowd by amping up the sound mix on certain older movies that people seem to think should be demo discs. The "new enhanced" sound mixes on movies like Jaws, Scarface, and The Terminator are prime examples of this. The sound of gun fire on these films' "5.1 mixes" create such a disconnect that I wonder if some people convince themselves of it being better.

finally, I'll save it for "Part Three," but I'm in the camp who defends the 3rd Godfatehr film.

Mark

Nice to see some Godfather Part III love there Aaron. Sure, the Vatican plot is less than enthralling, but it's the funereal/melancholic atmosphere Coppola envelops the proceedings in that make it an underrated film. Pacino's silent scream on the opera steps and the following montage of clips from the first two films, set to the strains of the intermezzo from 'Cavalleria Rusticana' gets me every time.

Aaron Aradillas

I'm of the opinion that III's final 30-minute opera/assassination sequence is one of the greatest pieces of sustained filmmaking ever created.

I do wish the movie was taken on its own beautifully flawed level. Yes, it would've been an entirely different movie if the execs at Paramount had been willing to pay Duvall what he wanted. But they didn't. So, we are left with the movie Coppola made, not the movie we think he should've made.

And while I won't get all Armond White on the subject, I do feel Coppola's daughter provided exactly what was needed for this particular entry. Coppola is right when describes III as a coda, not a sequel.

MarkVH

See, I'm in the camp that should defend Part III as unjustly maligned (I've got a soft spot for hard-luck cases), but every time I see it I just can't get there. It's an ok movie on its own but I think it's a really terrible Godfather movie, even as a coda.

Sure it's competently made, but from a storytelling perspective I can't get over the idea that it pisses on the first two films film by attempting to redeem Michael. It's impossible to view the movie on its own terms because of what came before it, just as it's more or less impossible to view Part 2 without Part 1.

It's been a long time since I've seen III (I watch 1 and 2 around Christmas time every year), but the last time I decided that I could die a happy man without ever seeing it again. If it were just a bad movie then I'd be ok with it. But I truly think it taints the first two.

Aaron Aradillas

I've heard this tries-to-redeem-Michael charge before, and I don't think it holds. Yes, I and II are perfectly contained. Yes, we didn't really "need" a Part III. BUT. I love III because it dares to do something that most sequels fail at. It picks up characters we know (and love) later in their lives. Michael is still doomed, but there is something moving in the way he is constanly trying to get respect (instead of eaning it) as a way of purging the sins of his entire fimaily.

Any good-natured Catholic should find real amusement in the ways Coppola & Puzzo cheerfully weave elements from recent Vatican scandals into the story of Michael trying to buy forgiveness.

That's why the final sequence is so powerful. Michael gets what he deserves right at the moment he thinks he has been forgiven. Unlike Don Vito, he destined to die alone.

Tony Dayoub

MarkVH,

I think "Part III" does have the inherent problem of Sofia Coppola's casting (who knew she'd be such a good director, though). But I don't quite agree with you on FFC "attempting to redeem Michael."

Taken as a whole, once you include "Part III" the saga fittingly becomes the story of Michael, narrowing from the broader story of the Corleone family.

The story is all the more tragic because Michael is unable to fully let go of the reins as Vito once did (one can argue that Michael still retains a high level of involvement after naming Vincent as his successor). Vito's story now seems like the foundation necessary to contrast Michael's colder persona.

I do miss the film that never was, "Godfather Part IV". I had heard that there were plans at one time to structure a fourth part similarly to "Part II", just like "Part III's" structure parallels the first. The film would have covered Vincent's consolidation of his power, and intercut that storyline with Michael's story during the years between "Part II" and "Part III". The film would have come full circle to show how Vincent really fulfilled Vito's legacy, successfully balancing the characteristics of all the Corleone brothers, in a way Michael never could.

Mike De Luca

The moment that made Part Three for me, was the unseen helicopter attack at the penthouse. "Wait, my favorite jacket..."

Mark

The helicopter attack is an inspired moment. If I remember correctly George Lucas had something to do with that sequence?

Another great moment is Garcia shooting down Mantegna:

"Hey Joe!"

BLAM BLAM!!

"Zaza!"

JJ

Fellow Godfather III fans: I salute you.

I really think it's the gangster genre's equivalent to Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid...the long, sorrowful elegy.

Regarding those screen grabs: THAT'S what the Blu Ray looks like?! Ugh. I have to admit, on a purely personal, aesthetic level, I find the older images far more attractive (and a lot closer to the vintage '72 print of the Godfather I saw once). The newer ones feel much too bright--not "wrong", because it's apparently how Coppolla and Willis want it to look, just....The older image of Micheal feels like a Caravaggio. The new one seems tackily overlit. It's just preferance, but...

On the other hand, the final shot, of Micheal and Fredo in front of the window...THAT looks screwed up. Every previous version of that scene I've ever viewed, on film, video and DVD, they were just dark silhouettes against a VERY bright exterior. At least, that's my immediate memory...I'll go back and look at the old DVD again, but it does not seem right.

Whatever. I just keep remembering Tarantino's story about how for years he had blurry, washed out, muffled pirate copies of Godard's Sympathy For The Devil 1 + 1 and Jodorowsky's El Topo, and then he got clean, gorgeous, flawless DVDS of those films and realized he did'nt like them half as much, seeing them in mint condition. The flawed nature of how he was watching them gave them an added level of mystery that pristine presentation immediatly stripped away. I'm not saying all movies should be watched like that, but it's something to think about.

Glenn Kenny

JJ, as I mentioned, all the screencaps here are from standard definition discs. I'm not yet set up to do Blu ray screen grabs.

Tom Carson

It's OK with me if the rest of you think G-III has undiscovered merits, but seeing it compared to Pat Garrett made me decide all this ding-dong revisionism has finally gone too far. Among a gazillion other problems, the two sequences that have been singled out as highlights -- the helicopter attack and Joey Zaza's rubout -- always struck me as empty showpieces that frantically tried to up the ante on the mob-hit scenes in I and II without a similar consideration for their place in the overall design.

I also think Andy Garcia is a worse mistake than Sofia -- who in hindsight I don't mind a bit -- and that both Mantegna and Eli Wallach are cartoons compared to their equivalents in the first two. You can argue that this is intentional in Mantegna's case, though I think it's one of his worst performances. But not so in Wallach's, since he's just up to the senescent version of the tricks he always pulled when he'd privately decided a movie was no good.

I've also always wondered why the movie missed the big opportunity of making this the installment when Kay -- the last holdout against the Corleones' corruption -- finally succumbs and asks Michael to use his power to get her something she wants, which would really have closed and locked the last door to hell. FCC does a little of that with Connie, but she was always a willing participant and damning Kay too would have really made this one all about the women.

And then there's the basic problem that the rushed schedule meant Willis couldn't do work on a par with the first two movies and Coppola didn't have enough time in the editing room, which makes the whole thing herky-jerky and slipshod. David Thomson claimed the expanded DVD version fixed a lot of these problems, but I watched it on his say-so and honestly couldn't see much difference.

On top of that, I really fucking hate Robert Duvall for thinking G-III was all about the money and bowing out, leaving us and Coppola stuck with George Hamilton instead. If Tom Hagen had been in it, the movie might still have worked, flaws and all.

JJ

WOOPS.

I fucked up.

Shoulda read that a little closer.

Well...

I'll be very, very interested to see the Blu-Ray, then, and if still seems weirdly too bright and clear.

JJ

And tc....

Dude, they got this thing now, it's called personal opinion. I've always THOUGHT it's the gangster Pat Garrett. I never said it IS. My word is not law. Well, not in 48 states, anyway.

I admit, that was also my first impression, not a revisionist take...

Politeness counts, guys. Man....

JJ

Final note: I'm really not trying to start an argument. Seriously, I don't want to do battle over Godfather III. I like it, somebody else does'nt, a third party thinks it's got 30 minutes of some of the greatest sustained filmmaking ever (thank you, Aaron), now let's all eat a cannoli. Capiche?

Glenn Kenny

Don't sweat it, JJ. Arguments are what comment threads are for, a lot. And yes, we're a pretty feisty bunch around here, given to vivid language and Strong Opinions, but you shouldn't infer a genuine personal attack. That said, the cannoli is a great idea. A la salute!

Aaron Aradillas

Kay doesn't have to give into corruption for her to be doomed. The fact that she still oves him has doomed her. She has remarried and doesn't speak to Michael at the start of the movie. It isn't until she goes to that big banquet and asks Michael to let Anthony go that she "opens the door" to let Michael back into her life.

The sequence in Italy (Rome, I think) is crucial because she lets herself to start having feelings for Michael again. Then, she realizes she's made a mistake. It's too late, though. Mary's fate has been set.

As far as revisionist criticism is concerned, I realized we had reached some new level of something scary when Cruising was lavished with a "Deluxe Edition." Can' wait to see Pacino dancing in 1080p.

tom carson

JJ, I honestly don't know why you thought I was being impolite. Of course it's all personal opinion -- yours, mine, anyone's -- and I can't see anything in my original post that implies otherwise. So we disagree about G-III, big deal. I'd always rather bond with another movie fan who loves Pat Garrett as much as I gather we both do.

As for my comment about 'revisionism," I only meant that obviously you and other G-III fans are sailing against the conventional wisdom about the movie, which is fine with me on principle even if I can't go along in this case. C'est la vie, and if there's cannoli involved, I'm there.

Robert

Godfather III good? Really? The unintentional laughs Coppola and company provide come fast and furious in this one. From Talia Shire’s over the top performance (just thinking her with those binoculars watching Eli Wallach eating the poisoned patsy during the opera sequence brings a smile to my face) to Pacino’s silly send off (What? No tomato plants close by). The whole project seemed to (almost) paint a mustache on the whole series. With the death of his brother, Michael has lost his soul forever. End of story. Cue Nino Rota. Fade to black.

Owain Wilson

I have never seen The Godfather Part III, but looked forward to watching the new Blu-Ray DVD.

Therefore, I sincerely regret giving in to temptation and reading this thread. Now I know exactly what happens to Michael Corleone at the end.

Damn.

Tony Dayoub

Owain,

Don't feel too bad about it. I do't think it's a spoiler, really. Coppola's original title for the movie was "Godfather III: The Death of Michael Corleone". The movie's about his journey there, more than the actual destination.

Kre

*sigh* is it just me who doesn't have an unlimited bank account?
I spent so much money on the other box set...and now there's a new one? *sigh*...I should've married a Coppola. Any one of them.

It's funny, but I kind of like the old grain (though do see Glenn's point with regards to the first frame of Michael C's closeup). It's like listening to an album on vinyl, when you get used to all the skips and scratches, that hearing the cd version of it just feels a little too clean. Granted, my tv isn't an lcd, and is only considered big by old world standards.

I guess I'd better start working overtime. But really, do I have to have a 2nd copy of Godfather III? That just seems unfair, and kind of Jar Jar esque.

home theater secrets

Wow, that was a loving description about the home theater. This blog mainly describes the quality of the home theater when compared to the normal television.

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