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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to do with Business, May 14, 2010
This review is from: The Godfather Part II - The Coppola Restoration (DVD)
The Godfather Part II has the rare distinction of being arguably the best sequel ever made, and one of the very few that is every bit on par with its corresponding original film in the franchise. The two films compliment each other by having a little something the other does not. For classic scenes and an inspired storyline, something that comes to someone in a dream perhaps once in a lifetime, the original rightly excels as an iconic masterpiece; for a dark political web of intrigue, a distinct, duplicitous villain and acting from Al Pacino that positively drips with subtext, Godfather II sticks in the craw in the best possible way.

The young Al Pacino was often exemplary, and his performance here should be required viewing in acting school. Pacino's take on Michael's muted mental and emotional turmoil and the subtle power of his projection of this on to the screen is a special magic rarely achieved by others. One can't help but suspect that the presence of Pacino's mentor, Lee Strasberg - of The Actor's Studio - had somehow fueled his protégé to greater heights than he had thus far reached. Indeed, the final confrontation between Michael and a lecturing Hyman Roth illustrates this beautifully, and is perhaps one of the greatest examples of an actor really performing while saying nothing.

Great performances abound: Robert De Niro is of course perfectly cast as a young Don Vito, and the supporting roles are all so well played that it's difficult to find one that shines above another. Character acting abounds in a locomotive of a plot that gorgeously showcases some of the darker side of human nature, as Godfather II might, just might, be a smidge more noir than the original.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 14, 2010 9:52:49 PM PDT
RB says:
What I really loved about these films wasn't just that they romanticized their subject matter, but that they illustrated the details thereof with loads of expository dialogue...and it isn't stagy for even a second. For me, the analogue of Moe Green and Hyman Roth for Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky was a true masterstroke. Not only are those two criminal luminaries granted better depictions here than in any devoted portrayal, but the way the latter's end plays out is a genuine surprise in conflict with reality, in spite of all foreshadowing. In fact, Lansky himself phoned Strasberg to complement him on his performance.
Of course, there's little more to state about Pacino in this than what you've eloquently submitted. I love how he reinvented himself with excess verbosity in the '80s, but he conveys more with a stare here than most actors can with a few minutes of dialogue. When he does speak - usually softly, though seldom without force - I'm glued to every word.

It's a shame about Coppola. In the '70s, he couldn't do anything that wasn't brilliant - the "Godfather" films, "The Conversation," "Apocalypse Now." Unfortunately, his worst, most expensive flops helped bring an end to New Hollywood and he's been exclusively churning out dreck since the early '80s. I am interested to see "Tetro," but not expecting too much; he's almost as useless as his brain-dead daughter these days.
However, he does narrate a nice audio commentary now and again...!

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2010 4:01:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2010 5:40:46 PM PDT
popinjay says:
Heh. Didn't realize until rather recently that Roth's death sort of resembles that of Lee Harvey Oswald. This might at first seem coincidental, except Rocco's dress and the point blank shot from the revolver sort of make it hard to dismiss.

I could go on and on about how good everyone is in this. Thinking about it a little more, Michael Gazzo's performance has grown on me insofar as I think it's one of the best supporting actor performances on film. And this from a playwright. If you haven't read his "A Hatful of Rain," I recommend it.

Agree about Coppola. Don't know what else to say about it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2010 5:33:35 PM PDT
RB says:
No argument there - if he was aware of it, Jack Ruby was surely smiling.

Gazzo had an earthy charm and menace that was so perfect for his role. I honestly didn't know that he wrote "A Hatful of Rain," which I haven't seen on stage or screen, though I'm very familiar with Bernard Herrmann's great score for it. That subject wasn't so worn in the '50s, so I'll give it a look when I have a moment. My library system has a few copies of it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2010 5:44:50 PM PDT
popinjay says:
I think I like it largely because the subject matter - yes, played out millions of times in Hollywood and elsewhere - is so absent of superficiality and narcissism characteristic of what gets injected into stories like it nowadays. The drama in "Hatful" is uncluttered with this type of crap, and it's allowed to resonate louder because of it.

"Oh, look at me, I'm into drugs but it's cool 'n' stuff cuz I'm so hip."


In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2010 11:57:18 AM PDT
RB says:
You know how it is - a generation (or has it been two by now?) grew up reading Ellis and Thompson as I did, and stupidly interpreted their stories as the epitome of awesome, MAAAAAAN.
Fortunately, some of us just enjoy a good story as a good story and feel no need to emulate the disastrous characters therein like schoolchildren might of mallet-wielding cartoon animals.

Posted on Sep 3, 2010 6:16:24 AM PDT
great review ! excellent insight...jim

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2010 3:43:00 PM PDT
popinjay says:

Posted on Dec 4, 2010 5:59:23 PM PST
Just read it again . Truly brilliant write up . Have you seen Pacino in (i think) James foley's GLENGARRY GLENROSS ? Every single performance is absolutely brilliant . With Jack Lemmon , Alec Baldwin , Ed harris , Alen Arkin and Kevin Spacy . The screenplay is by the great David Mamet . The players spent some weeks just learning how to deliver his dialog . You are correct , This is the film that burns it way into memory even more than the first film .

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2010 8:23:19 PM PST
RB says:
American dramas that fully exploit their dream casts have been a rarity since the '70s, good filmic adaptations of stage plays are rarer still, and "Glengarry" is a such great example of both.

Not too many years ago, when I was performing part-time in a professional theater (positioned midway between notable dramaturgical institutions and piddling community theaters), we performed GGR for three consecutive nights to a very receptive audience. Mamet was supposed to attend at one point, but didn't make it - no surprise there. I played Lingk on the first two nights, then had to pull a 180 and play Moss on the last night, as one of us fell sick and I was his understudy. Switching from a timid introvert to a pushy schemer was nerve-wracking and so exciting, but Lingk was actually much easier to play than Moss, whose near-constant dialogue directs his scenes and never lets you forget exactly where you are emotionally. Performing Lingk's persona is a matter of nuanced reaction and affecting a certain cowed disposition, and I probably wasn't very good in the role. Although I don't consider myself much of an actor, it was the most fun I've ever had on stage.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2010 5:50:39 PM PST
popinjay says:
Jim, a very interesting - but not altogether surprising - anecdote about the complexity and subsequent difficulty of Mamet's material.

RB, you never mentioned you had been an actor before, very interesting. Mamet in the audience would certainly have ratcheted up the pressure, no?
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