The Godfather

The GodfartherThe biggest hit and the most sensational mobster movie ever made is The Godfather. It is considered to be a classic, a blueprint for portraying the mob in any movie. The show covers the 1940s era and a New York family that is involved in the mafia. The characters do what they must in order to protect what they have created. There are changes in dynamics among families, loyalties, and leadership. The story spans from 1945 until 1955.

The Godfather was released in March of 1972 and directed by the talented Francis Ford Coppola. The movie is based on the top selling novel that was introduced in 1969. The movie is ranked #1 as the best movies ever made. In that #1 spot is Citizen Kane. It was the #1 box office grossing film in 1972.

Some of the best actors that have ever existed were a part of The Godfather. Their legacy will be here long after they are gone. This includes Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino. The characters have plenty of depth to them as the story lines intertwine and as they unfold. These men are all very believable in their roles as part of the mafia.
What is very interesting is many in charge at Paramount weren’t impressed with Coppola’s choice of actors. They weren’t fond of Brando and they pushed for him to get Laurence Oliver. However, Oliver was ill at the time and refused to consider any roles. Pacino was virtually unknown at the time, and Coppola felt he was perfect. Yet executives wanted Ryan O’Neal or Robert Redford.

Of course there are those critics out there that feel that The Godfather puts a golden halo on very dangerous criminals. They feel the movie portrays the mafia as family oriented and only trying to do what they can to move forward in life. They don’t show them as criminals and as a danger to society. In 1972, the film was pushing the envelope in terms of some of the dialogue and violence. By todays film standards though, it is very mild.

The Godfather won three Oscars and many other awards. In 1990, this movie was selected to be preserved by the National Film Registry. They feel this movie depicts history, realism, and value to viewers. In 1974, there was a sequel called The Godfather II and in 1990 The Godfather III. The trio of films can be purchased on DVD in a box set.

 Image credit: Gwydion M. Williams

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Despicable Me 2

Despicable MeFew people were surprised to learn Despicable Me 2 was in the works. After all, the first animated movie was a huge hit with young and old fans. The movie is about Gru who is an evil villain. It covers how he learns to love and to do good things instead of striving to take over the world.

In Despicable Me 2, Gru has already adopted the three girls who sold him cookies. He is starting to show them affection and there is a lady in his life. Yet all of those good things are at risk due to other villains out there trying to destroy the good. He makes an effort to end what they are up against once and for all.

This second movie was released on July of 2013, and became one of the highest grossing films of the year. There has also been millions of dollars worth of merchandise sold relating to the movie. The first movie appeared in 2010.

There are plenty of huge artists that offer their voices to Despicable Me 2. The voice of Gru is once again Steve Carell and Miranda Crosgrove is Margo. The unique voice of Russell Brand is Dr. Nefario. Al Pacino is the villain Eduardo. However, Pacino expressed that he wasn’t happy with his character when all was said and done. Therefore, his role was redone by Benjamin Bratt before the film was released.

It was difficult and they only had a month until release. Bratt had to spend 5 days doing the role, and had to make sure when he spoke it matched exactly with the movement of the character’s mouth. In the end, it paid off and the project was completed with everyone involved feeling very satisfied with the outcome.

The yellow Minions are a big part of the success of Despicable Me 2. They are able to change their ways along with the villain and do good things with their scientific abilities. There will be a spin off featuring the Minions for their own movie in 2015.

While Despicable Me 2 was nominated for quite a few awards, it didn’t win them. It lost in several categories to the Disney movie Frozen. It was the second highest grossing film of 2013, right behind Frozen. Fans will be happy to learn that Despicable Me 3 will be released in 2017.

 Image credit: Michael Pollak

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Divergent

The movie Divergent is based on a novel in a series by Veronica Roth. It is considered one of the best films so far of 2014. The movie involves a younger cast and lots of action so there seems to be plenty for everyone to enjoy. There is also a great love story so that is an extra part of it that you won’t want to miss!

The movie is a futuristic type of environment where the young have to come of age through a ritual where they learn their faction for future work and where they fit into society. The character Beatrice, learns that she is divergent. This means she doesn’t fit into any of the factions, and if those in charge learn about this, she will be killed.

She decides to go by the name Tris once she has selected her faction, and it is dauntless. She struggles through the early parts of the training, but makes improvements so that she can continue. Her spirit and determination are very impressive to those in charge of dauntless. Soon she learns about the mind control serum that is being used to create an uprising. She works with her peers in dauntless to prevent that from happening.

At the end of the movie, they are on a subway, not sure where they are headed or why. They only know that there is much more that has to be done, and they  are going to be ready for the challenges when they come.

Shailene Woodley was selected to play Tris, but they wanted Jennifer Lawrence from the Hunger Games to do so. Lawrence declined, and she has publicly stated that she is very happy with the performance of Woodley in this role. Some feel that the story line is very complex, and hard to follow at times. However, fans that have read the books feel that it was well done and they have the basis for what was going on and they were able to make sense of it throughout the film.

Theo James plays the role of Four, her mentor, her leader, and eventually the young man she falls in love with. He becomes her protector and shares that he knew from day one she was divergent – just like him. The film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 2014.

Divergent has done extremely well at the box office. There are already plans for the next two novels in the series to be made into movies. The next installment is Insurgent and it will be in theatres March of 2015.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Draft Day

Anyone that is struggling to get through Sundays without NFL football will find some solace in Draft Day. The show has been endorsed by the NFL, and that rarely happens! The show covers the story of all that goes on behind the scenes for the NFL draft. The main character in this film is played by Kevin Costner. Jennifer Garner is also in the film.

The story line revolves around Sonny Weaver (Costner) and the chance to save the Cleveland football team by trading for the #1 pick in the draft. However, he has to make some tough choices about what to sacrifice and what to hold onto in order to make that happen. He also has to find balance between his professional and personal life.

Part of the charm of Draft Day is that it does incorporate some real fan events. For example, there is footage of fans at the 2013 draft for the NFL. There are also fans filmed watching the Cleveland Browns play from various bars and clubs around the area from the 2013 season. Cameos in the film include sportscaster Chris Berman and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall.
Draft Day was released in April of 2014, and it did well at the box office. Critics have been tough on it, stating that the show is predictable. They also felt that the numbers could only work if they all worked magically – and we all know that there are too many variables in the NFL for such control to really happen.

Others felt that this was a poor attempt of the NFL to put the spotlight on what all goes into the coaching and the drafting so that fans would be more understanding. The NFL has denied such claims, and said they liked the idea of a football story from a new point of view.

The movie hasn’t been a huge overall money maker though due to the cost to make it. In the end, it barely broke even in the box office. However, it was up against Rio 2 and a few other top shows at that time. They are hopeful the movie will do well when it is released on DVD and boost that overall gross margin.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Fargo

Even though Fargo was released in 1996, this comedy is one that many people still enjoy watching. It is a movie about black crime, and it is comical in the way it portrays the events. There is a complex but fun story line in place. A pregnant police chief is investigating homicides locally. William H. Macy stars as a car salesman who hires a pair of criminals to kidnap his wife.

There has been some controversy over the beginning of Fargo, as it reads that what a person is about to watch is a true story! However, it is fiction, and some  have complained that it is misleading the audience. The Coen brothers though claim the events are actually real – from a variety of true events – and they simply put them all in one movie to share them. For example, the death of Helle Crafts after his wife put him through a wood chipper to hide the body in 1986.

While not everyone liked the plot of this movie, it was hard to deny it was so funny! Fargo received 7 Academy Award nominations. The director, Joel Coen, won the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996.

At the time, the top movie critics that people listened to were Siskel and Ebert. They named Fargo by far the best movie of 1996. Carter Burwell was responsible for the soundtrack for the movie, and it also did very well. The movie was released on VHS in 1996, DVD in 1997, Blu-Ray in 2009, and again on re-mastered DVD and Blu-Ray in 2012.

In 2006, Fargo received plenty of recognition once again. It was recognized for the cultural and historical value by the Library of Congress. This made it a candidate for the National Film Registry to preserve it, and they have done so. This also provided new viewers to experience Fargo for the first time. Many who had watched it when it was first released were happy to have the opportunity to enjoy it on DVD and to experience it again.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fight Club

There are few people who haven’t heard of or watched Fight Club. It was released in October of 1999 and directed by David Fincher. The movie is derived from the novel by the same name. It was printed in 1996 and written by Chuck Palahnuik.

Fight Club was an early movie for some actors who are household names today. One of them that is at the top of that list is Brad Pitt. He plays the main character who is tired of his routine world with his white collar job. He is interested in starting a fight club where men can come to fight recreationally.

While there is a great deal of physical violence in Fight Club, that isn’t what the movie should be remembered for. In fact, the fighting is actually a metaphor that represents the conflict between young individuals growing up in a society where their beliefs conflict with what is going on in the world around them.

If you felt uncomfortable as you watched the movie in parts, that was intentional. The movie wasn’t made to sugar coat anything, and that includes the brutal talk about homosexuality. Another factor that makes Fight Club so unique is that few critics or fans where about to guess the ending when they watched the movie for the first time.

The target audience for the film was individuals in their early 30s, especially males. Even though it appears to be a coming of age movie, it wasn’t written for youth. It was for those that have come to a point in life where they wonder if that is as good as it is going to get. They wonder what they can do to make changes if they aren’t content with where they happen to be at that point in time.

There are romantic stories that develop in Fight Club as well as lots of humor. For those that are very curious, there is plenty written between the lines of what is said and what is implied. That is why some fans say they watch it over and over again. They get a different perspective based on what they say that time or even a change that has occurred in their own lives.

Even though Fight Club wasn’t well liked by the executives at the studio, it was given the green light to be released. It did fairly well at the box office, but the final numbers were a far cry from what had been hoped for or anticipated. No matter what people thought about it, the movie was very controversial and it got people talking about it for a very long time.

 

Background Image Credit: Kenneth Lu