Monday, April 11, 2016
"I'm going to make him a movie, he cannot sit through."
That would be the logline on the recently released Godfather, The Epic. This 7 &1/2 hour long movie -- the Shoah of gangster cinema -- is a re-edited compilation of both the Godfather and Godfather, Part II.
Instead of the flashbacks and lyrical deconstruction of time in the originals, it serves up a pedantic chronologically correct tracking of Vito Corleone as he escapes from Sicily, makes his way to America, learns how to shake down street peddlers, raises a family and then passes the torch onto Michael Corleone, who dutifully follows in his father's noble blood-stained footsteps.
I've plowed through 5 hours of this gargantuan mess and will probably skip the remaining 150 minutes.
Not because I already know what happens. And I do.
Or that I find Lee Strassberg's portrayal of "That Jew" Hyman Roth to be one dimensional, leaving a bad taste in my mouth like his wife's tuna fish sandwich.
Or even because I've got something else cued up on the DVR that requires my immediate attention -- I'm caught up on Better Call Saul and dread the thought of the series going on hiatus.
It's just that I love Godfather movies so much. And now upon rewatching them in this format I'm finding plot holes and directorial mistakes that frankly tarnish my admiration for this masterpiece.
For instance, in this new version, which features unseen, unused footage, Michael gets his revenge on Fabrizio, the bodyguard who blew up the car Apolonia was driving in the town of Corleone. But the staging, effects and corny over-acting are dreadful at best. I can see why this hundred feet of celluloid was originally left on the cutting room floor.
And Al Neri, Michael's stone-faced, right-hand man who never said a word in the original cuts, now makes the unfortunate mistake of taking on a speaking role.
Finally, there's the assassination attempt on Michael Corleone at his Lake Tahoe home.
The two killers are found in a swampy ditch, their bodies riddled with bullets, despite Michael's command to catch them alive. We are led to suspect they were cut down after the failed attempt by someone on the inside. Was it Freddo? Was it someone from Pantangeli's family?
It's a question that never is answered.
Maybe it is answered in the last twenty minutes of this cinematic goulash that looks less like the work of Francis Ford Coppola and more like the half-hearted artistry of a disgruntled Pizza Hut employee.
But I'll never know, cause I can't sit through this thing.