Friday, February 07, 2014

Movie Classics: I drink and live-blog The Godfather

Well, Isaac and I are watching 1972's The Godfather now [Note: this was, like a couple of weeks ago at this point, obvs because lazy] which neither of us has ever seen because we are philistines and illegitimate cultural studies scholars. Strap in, it's gonna be a long one!

Some immigrant guy talks about how is daughter was beaten up by some wannabe rapists and she won't be beautiful anymore. The men's prison sentences were suspended. Marlon Brando wants to know why the guy went to the police first. Brando plays with a cute kitty who is super-chill and is like, "SRSLY though, why should I help you since you've never wanted to hang out with me before?" Brando wishes he'd called him "Godfather." He acts offended that the guy has offered him money for "justice" against the perpetrators. The sad dude kisses his hand and the Godfather relents because it's his daughter's wedding day. He'll ask him for repayment one day, though.

A gigantic wedding celebration. Don Corleone is upset that someone named Michael is missing and doesn't want to take the photos without him. Lots of dancing. Hideous salmon-colored wedding party dresses.

Some detectives(?) write down license plate numbers parked outside the party, where much raucous dancing is taking place. It is very sunny. Abe Vigoda has apparently never been a young man. Some party guests do not want to be photographed. The Godfather's son goes out to yell at the cops, who are apparently FBI. He spits at them, throws one guy's camera down, and drops a few bills as compensation. Back in the Don's office, some bakery guy wants help keeping an immigrant in the country so he can marry his daughter. Don and his son discuss how they will delegate these tasks. Some dude practices his thank-you speech for Don Corleone.

The Don's son Michael, in full military garb, explains to his blonde girlfriend who the various guests are. Tom Hagen, the Don's assistant, is apparently the Don's adoptive son and is very trusted, despite not being Sicilian. The speech practicer hands the Godfather some money. The bride has a huge veil thing sticking out of her dress and dances sassily with her groom.

How to Make It in Hollywood Step 1: Get a godfather of some kind.
Later on, some singing dudes pressure Signora Corleone to go up and sing with band. Some Italian song is happening. Some dreamboat movie star or something has shown up to the wedding, causing a ruckus among all the young ladies, who want his autograph. Apparently he's a friend of the bride. Johnny gets peer-pressured into singing a song. Johnny's the Don's godson. He got Johnny out of a contract with death threats. Kay, the Aryan girlfriend played by an incredibly young Diane Keaton (I thought I recognized her!) seems kind of freaked out. Michael claims not to be in the family business, but I imagine he will be forced to choose at some point during the next two hours and forty minutes. Michael introduces Kay to his brother Fredo, who seems pretty drunk. Johnny tells the Godfather about some movie he wants to be in so he can "get back on top." Tom summons Sonny, yet another son, who is fucking a bridesmaid in the bathroom. Johnny is crying and the Don slaps and mocks him. But then, like a master manipulator, he comforts him. The Godfather will give the studio head an offer he can't refuse. OMG the cake is like 5 stories tall. Michael insists that Annie Hall get in the family photo. That's going to be awkward later once they break up since it's 1972 and PhotoShop hasn't been invented yet. The Godfather and his daughter dance. Clapping.

Tom's been sent to California to convince this movie guy, Woltz, to hire Johnny. Mr. Woltz wears an amazing jacket and smokes a pipe. Woltz throws around some racial slurs. Tom's like, I'm a lawyer, and you're going to want to do this for us, motherfucker. Once Woltz finds out who Tom works for, he's awfully friendly. They have drinks and look at his nice horses on his compound. Woltz plans to run Johnny Fontane out of the business because he ruined one of his proteges, a "great piece of ass." She ran off with Johnny (and... got pregnant? became a drug addict? died? became a housewife?). So this is personal. All Woltz's servants are black. Woltz refers to the Don as a "goombah" again. It's like fucking Mario Brothers up in here. Woltz, you have made a bad decision. Woltz has shiny gold sheets. There's blood on them. Oh, he wakes up and the blood is everywhere in the sheets. HORSE HEAD!! *

Okay, there's a guy they call The Turk. He's a "top narcotics man," already involved with another family. If the other families get him first, they'll earn a lot of money and buy more police and political power. The Godfather does not believe in opening his mouth while talking. The Turk wants money and influence. He offers the Corleones 30%. They drink something clear out of tiny goblets (ouzo?). Corleone points out that drugs are a dirty, dangerous business. I think they haven't made a deal with him by the end of the meeting? Johnny's sent a huge floral arrangement as a thank you for the movie part. The Godfather sends the thank you guy from earlier, Brasi, to find out intel from another family.

I don't really understand this turn of events, but apparently it doesn't matter.
Michael and Kay Christmas shop. Brasi puts on a bullet-proof vest and makes sure his gun is loaded. Some guy, I think it's the Turk, tells Brasi he knows he's been talking to the Tattaglia family and tries to recruit him. Oh, now the bartender stabs his hand against the counter and another henchman strangles him with a garrotte from behind. MERRY CHRISTMAS! The Turk basically abducts Tom while he's Christmas shopping. Don Corleone appreciates produce from fruit stands next to open barrel fires. The Turk and his bro run up and shoot the Don a bunch of times in the back. Fredo clumsily drops his gun. Instead of calling for help, he sits down and cries. The Godfather is pretty clearly dead. The rest of the movie is Ghost of Godfather.

Michael finds out his father's been shot from a newspaper. He rushes to a phone booth to find out about Vito. Sonny says they're not sure if he's going to make it. Okay, I thought Michael was Al Pacino, but again, so, SO young. There are rumors flying about Vito being dead. Sonny gets a call and writes down "8:30" in pencil on his kitchen cabinet because he hasn't got any post-its. The Turk has Tom. He wants him to "make the peace" between him and Sonny, who is the heir apparent I guess. The Turk says the Tattaglias and the other families will want to avert a war, so they should all fall in line with his proposed deal. Tom warns him about Brasi, the Turk says he's got it under control, not mentioning that he already killed him. Big, fat snowflakes and wind at a Christmas tree farm. Apparently Vito's still alive. The Turk is not pleased. In the Corleone office, the bros discuss possible plans. Apparently it's supposed to be 1946. If Vito dies, the other families will probably go along with Sollozzo (the Turk). A package arrives. Fish wrapped in Brasi's vest. SLEEPS WITH FISHES.

A lady tells her husband, some guy, "Don't forget the cannoli." These three guys drive out of the city (The City). The chubby guy with the cannoli obligations gets out to pee in a field and the driver, Paulie, who they thought was a rat, is shot by the third man. "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." And now I actually get the title of that Sarah Vowell book. Kay calls Michael at his house and he won't say he loves her in a kitchen full of bros. The chubby guy gives him a cooking lesson for some reason. They've got a giant Carlo Rossi-type wine jug. Michael's brothers insist he take bodyguards when he leaves the house.

WHAT THE FUCK IS DIANE KEATON'S HAIR IN THIS TENSE DINNER SCENE?!? Michael is evasive about when they'll see each other again. He tells her to go back to her parents' house in New Hampshire. He left a bunch of wine in his glass. Is this what you shot Nazis for, Mike? To waste wine?! I guess he knows where to get lots of Carlo jugs. Mike shows up to the hospital to visit his dad. It's suspiciously abandoned. Is it Christmas today? Michael goes to investigate. The guard is missing from outside his dad's door. Some nurse tells him he shouldn't be there. The cops made the guards leave. He calls Sonny to let him know. Mike tries to convince the grizzled nurse to help move his dad to another room. This hospital is old-timey but still nicer than Briarcliff.

The baker shows up with a bouquet of flowers and Michael tells him to wait outside because there's going to be trouble. Michael tells his dad, "I'm with you now." Vito cries. He should probably be slapped. Mike and the baker pop their collars and hang out on the hospital steps, trying to look menacing. A shiny black car pulls up. Mike reaches into his coat like he's going to pull out a gun and the car drives away. The baker is all shaky now and can't light his own cigarette. Mike's hands are steady. He really does belong in the family business! The cops show up and seize Michael. The police captain insists they take in Michael for no reason, really, except that he sassed him, and he punches him. Tom shows up and tells the captain what's what. Mike gets home the next morning. Sonny got mad and "hit" a Tattaglia this morning. Bruno. Sonny is super proud of himself. The Turk wants Mike to meet with him. Tom and Sonny argue about what they should do next. Sonny is a hothead. Tom is pragmatic and wants to keep the peace. Those cops were in the Turk's pocket. They can't go after a police captain, all the other families would find it distasteful and they'd lose all their political leverage. Mike thinks they have to knock out Sollozzo because he's going to kill the Don, but like, for reals this time.

Mike suggests a plan where they plant a weapon ahead of time so he can take out the Turk and the police captain at the meeting. His face is all messed up from that punch last night. Mike thinks they should expose the Captain in the press. He's so into this business now. The chubby guy gives him public assassination lessons. Abe Vigoda is there a lot, but never says anything. Oh, now he talks. He knows the restaurant were the meeting's supposed to be. They're going to hide a gun behind the old-timey toilet. Sonny is being adorably protective of Michael. They advise him to double-tap both the dudes. He's supposed to take off right after. The Turk picks up Mike. The captain is in the backseat and insists he pat down Mike. He's clean. He looks kind of cute in that three-piece with the hat and the black eye. They're crossing over into New Jersey for some reason. The Turk's driver pulls a quick u-ey to throw off the Corleone tail. They bring Mike to Louis Italian-American Restaurant. The Turk says the veal is good there. Michael glares. Gasp! I just realized that really young Pacino looks a decent bit like an ex-boyfriend of mine. I have conflicting feelings about this realization.

Sollozzo warns the cop he's going to speak Italian to Michael. And it's not subtitled. INTERESTING CHOICE, COPPOLA. Back to English, Mike wants a guarantee his father's life won't be threatened. The Turk says he wants a truce and gropes Mike as he gets up for the bathroom. Uh-oh, Mike can't find the gun behind the toilet tank right away. Oh, there we go. IT'S TIME! He's got to shoot the cop first, right? The Turk talks in Italian some more. The train is loud. Only one shot for the Turk, and one throat and one head shot for the cop, but it works. He remembers to drop the gun on his way out the door. Newspaper montage. The captain was exposed! Gang war! Lots of murders.

Heh heh.
Vito Corleone finally goes home from the hospital. Lots of cops escort his ambulance. Some paramedics carry his stretcher upstairs. Many, many grandchildren hover about. The men meet in the Don's bedroom and the ladies work in the kitchen. We are halfway through this movie. Tom tells Vito the cops are cracking down since the captain's death, but with news of his crookedness, they claim it's loosening up. Fredo's going to Vegas to learn the casino business. Vito asks for Michael. Tom tells him Mike killed Sollozzo and Vito is sad. Tom and Sonny argue again about tactics. Sonny uses a racial slur about black people in Harlem. The ladies are scolded to know their place. Fredo looks sickly. The Godfather is despondent, despite laying in a pile of get well cards from his grandchildren.

Michael is in Italy, I think? Their enemies know he's there, but he can't go back to New York yet, either. Mike and his bodyguards walk through the hills to the village of Corleone. The guys have sweet belts full of shotgun shells (Do you still call them that before they are shot? I don't care.). Mike walks through the ancestral village, which is practically empty because every one is "dead from vendettas." American soldiers drive by in jeeps. The dudes come upon some ladies. Mike sees something he likes, though a bodyguard warns him off. They discuss the chick with a local restaurateur. The guy claims there's no girl like her in town. I'm guessing it's his daughter. He goes inside and starts yelling a bunch. Michael wants to talk to him. He has a bodyguard translate an apology. He wants to meet his daughter, properly. The restaurant guy, Vitelli, pulls up his suspenders and invites him to his house on Sunday. REFILL TIME. It seems like the meeting goes well. Michael's face is still bruised up. He and Apollonia eye each other from different ends of a table.

Back in America, the Corleone sister who got married at the beginning has been beaten by her husband. She begs Sonny not to do anything, but of course he goes and beats the shit out of his brother-in-law in the street. Bites his finger, hits him with a garbage can, kicks him into a fire hydrant. He says he'll kill him if he hits his sister again. That's legit. Back in Sicily, Michael and Apollonia get married. They march with a band through the town. His broken face is nearly healed, but still kind of bruised. He's going to bang his wife now, who looks kind of terrified, but seems to like him. Her eyebrows are over-plucked. BOOBS. Her nipples are really, really light pink. They kind of blend in. Hm.

Naggin' and whatnot.
Back in the U.S. of A., Kay's shown up at the Corleone house. Tom (WHO IS A VERY YOUNG ROBERT DUVALL, OMG) says no one knows where he is. Some slut calls for Carlo, the abusive bro-in-law at home. Connie (the sister) gets mad and starts breaking shit. He starts hitting her in her pregnant belly. She threatens him with a knife. He chases her into the bathroom and we hear him whipping her. Oh, Carlo is gonna die (I hope).

Get it, 'cause it's a toll booth?
Goddamn, Sonny's baby is ALWAYS crying. Sonny drives off to do something rash (though deserved). Tom tries to stop him, unsuccessfully, but sends a car to follow him. Some kind of set-up leaves him at a toll booth, where he gets trapped and like 109387590458 dudes with gats shoot the fuck out of him. Did Tom set this up because Sonny is too much of a hothead and won't make a deal with the Turk? He's drinking sad and alone now, so I'm guessing yes. The Godfather comes down from bed to share a drink with him. What are they always drinking out of those little glasses? Tom tells Vito that Sonny's dead. "They killed him on the causeway." Vito doesn't want vengeance, he wants to arrange a meeting with the heads of the five families to stop the war. Maybe Tom didn't set it up? The Don asks the sad immigrant from before to fix up his son's dead body? I guess that guy is the undertaker.

Back in Sicily, Michael gives Apollonia driving lessons. They are way too happy. Somebody shows up with bad news. They want him to move locations because Sonny was killed. I want a villa for myself. Michael's going to send Apollonia to her father's house. She insists on driving him as they move out. His bodyguard has betrayed him, she is killed in a car bomb. That is horrifying.

Never gets old.
Back in New York, the Five Families meet up. The other dons aren't keen to go back to things as before because Corleone had the most power (political influence). Corleone doesn't want to get into drugs. One other don says he'll only sell to the "dark people." What the fuck is Brando's voice, anyway? They're going to go into drugs as long as it's controlled. Corleone will forgo vengeance for Sonny if Michael can come back in peace. Five dudes hug. The Don found out something at that meeting about Birzini vs. Tattaglia, I don't even know. How the fuck are we supposed to know who is who(m)?

Michael shows up to see Kay, who is taking care of elementary school kids. He says he's been back over a year. He works for his dad now. She's so disappointed in him. She claims senators and presidents didn't have men killed. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Michael insists the family is going to ease into legitimacy. Now he wants to marry Kay. She says it's too late what with not contacting her for years. This is fucked up. He claims to need her. She cries. SAY NO, KAY. They get into a car. The Don admires his fish tank. He's looking aged. Other dudes argue. Michael is wearing AN AMAZING THREE-PIECE SUIT and is now head of the family. They're going to move to Nevada. Carlo is from there. Tom can still be their lawyer, but he's no longer consigliere. Vito's cardigan is great. Poor Tom is out. Will he take revenge? Probably.

Las Vegas in the 1950s! Michael's face was well-fixed by a surgeon. Johnny Fontane welcomes him with a party. Fredo looks awesomely sleazy. He calls Michael "kid." Michael doesn't want the band or the women at Fredo's gathered. Michael is ALL BUSINESS. The family is going to get out of the "olive oil" business and buy a casino. He wants Johnny to sign on for regular appearances and to recruit other stars, too. Moe, the casino guy, shows up. He's the record exec in That Thing You Do! Moe does not want to sell. He thinks he can get a better deal with Birzini. Moe apparently slaps around Fredo in public. AWKWARD. The Corleones bankrolled this casino, not sure what he thinks he can do to get out of this. Tom defers to Mike. Mike tells Fredo to never take sides against the family again. EVER. Kay and Mike's little boy wears a little military uniform. Connie and Carlo want Mike to be their kid's godfather. He'll think about it. Mike meets with his dad. Vito says, "Women and children can be careless, but "not men." Vito's starting to forget things. He's sad because he never wanted this life for Michael, his military hero college boy son. He wanted him to be a legit politician. Whoever comes to Mike about a Birzini meeting is "the traitor." I can't keep track of all the politics/don't care.

Little Anthony wears cute striped overalls and hangs out with Grandpa Vito. They play in the tomato garden. Vito falls over dead. FUNERAL. So many cars with so many flowers. Sad folks cross themselves. Michael stares, stony-faced at those paying their respects. One of the other dons throws a flower on the casket. Michael is like, "Not even." He must be Birzini. Abe Vigoda pulls Mike aside. HE'S THE TRAITOR. He offers to arrange the meeting and security on his territory. Our friend the indebted undertaker hangs out. Tom and Mike are like, "Nice try, Tessio." Mike admits Tessio/Vigoda is smart for trying to move to Birzini.

Mike won't make a move until after his nephew's baptism. He's going to be the godfather. The priest breathes weirdly on the baby's face. Over some Latin ritual talk, we see Abe cleaning his gun. Various dudes are getting prepared for the big Five Families meeting. What does Mike have planned? There's a fake cop of some kind? So many guns being gathered. The baby is sleeping quite peacefully. The fake cop is writing a ticket for Birzini's car, I think? The chubby guy delivers a package. Moe gets a massage. The chubby guy shoots Moe in the eye. His glasses break and real fake blood comes out. Dudes are getting hit all over the place as Mike renounces Satan. Nice one, fake cop. This is some Breaking Bad-level shit with the simultaneous hits.

After the baptism, Mike gets the news that everything's been done. He tells Carlo there's going to be no Vegas vacation. Vigoda is surrounded. He tells Tom "it was only business." Vigoda goes with the guys to die. Mike confronts Carlo. He believes Carlo told the Birzini people how to get to Sonny. Michael tells Carlo he won't widow his sister. HE OWNS HIM SO HARD NOW. Carlo's out of the family business. They're sending him to Las Vegas. Carlo admits he was working with Birzini. Is he really going to make it to the airport alive? Nope. The chubby guy strangles him from the backseat as he kicks out the windshield. I guess Mike meant he wouldn't PERSONALLY make his sister a widow. Carlos was an abusive asshole. Connie is so mad. She tries to spit on her brother. She's a bit hysterical. Mike says for her to get a doctor. Calm that shit down.

Kay glares. So disappointed. You married him, bro. He refuses to discuss his "business" with her. Such high pants. He tells Kay he didn't have Carlo killed and she believes him for some reason. Or at least pretends to. Now Mike is DON Corleone. You've made some bad decisions and should feel bad, Diane Keaton's character.


Stay tuned for a probably two-part blog of The Godfather Part II, which has arrived at my house from Netflix in all its two-disc glory!

*One of my mom's favorite stories from the days she worked as an "usherette" (it was the '70s, okay?) at the Roxy Theater in Bremerton, WA was about how she's seen The Godfather, like, 59 times or something. She claims that the live horse and the decapitated horse head are totally not even the same color.

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