Some movies never grow old. They exist outside of time and space, always there, always waiting for us to return. The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II are two such movies and they return to the big screen Sunday, June 22 at Century Theatre in Boulder.
Francis Ford Coppola’s saga tells the story of the Corleone Crime family, whose evolution and expansion is mirrored in the true history of 20th century America. The patriarch, Vito (played by Marlon Brando in Part I and Robert De Niro in the flashbacks of Part II), flees Sicily for America and quickly learns that the law is not designed to protect the tired and the poor. Instead, the New York boroughs are ruled by the mob and rather than paying out graft, Vito becomes the mob. He is wiser than most and quickly rises to the level of Don in his neighborhood.
These scenes comprise half of Part II and are lovingly shot in a warm romantic sepia tone by Master of Photography Gordon Willis. This contrasts the extremely dark visuals of Part I, which takes place in the present tense (1946). At this point, the Corleone family is a business in itself and it is yet to be decided who will take over the role of Godfather. The eldest son, Sonny ( James Caan) is a hot-headed brute, and most likely to succeed. The middle child Fredo ( Jim Cazale) is not clinically slow, but certainly not smart — despite his pleas to the youngest brother, Michael, who is played by Al Pacino in a performance that has haunted every gangster film since. Even though Michael rejected his family’s business and Vito claims that he wanted more for his son, it is apparent that ancient forces have conspired to force Michael into the role of Godfather, a role he wears all too well.
Taken as singular entities, the two Godfather movies are complete stories, as good as anything made by human hands. Placed side-by-side, they elevate to the status of masterpiece; a story as viable as anything crafted by Homer or Shakespeare. Screened alone, they show the rise and fall of the Corleone family. Viewed together, the two become one as the creation and destruction of Michael Corleone. Just watch the final scene between Michael and Vito: Vito feels guilty, Michael was meant for more, “Senator Corleone. Governor Corleone…” but here he is, taking over the family business. Michael nods, “We’ll get there, pop.” And then… Vito’s demeanor shifts entirely and gives him advice about a traitor. Vito may have wanted something better for Michael, but Michael was the smart one all along. “We’ll get there, pop” is Michael accepting his fate. Coppola then baptizes Michael in one of the greatest scenes in all of cinema, Michael becomes the symbolic Godfather to his niece and the literal Godfather to the business in one fell swoop.
Famed director Howard Hawks once described a good movie as, “Three good scenes and no bad scenes.” The Godfather saga has many more than three good scenes and amazingly, no bad scenes. We are well into the summer season and there are quite a few good movies playing, but on June 22 at 2 p.m., The Godfather will return to the Century, and even decades after their release, neither film ever makes a misstep, gets tired or grows old. They are, in a word, perfect.
AI WEIWEI: THE FAKE CASE
Following the startling Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, this documentary reflects the artist’s battle against the lawsuit thrust upon him by the Chinese government in an effort to silence him. After 81 days of solitary detention, under house arrest with 18 cameras monitoring his studio and home, police agents following his every move, he is shaken, but still finds new ways to provoke and challenge authorities. At Boedecker. — Boedecker Theater
When famous DJ Alan Partridge’s radio station is taken over by a new media conglomerate, it sets in motion a chain of events which see Alan having to work with the police to defuse a potentially violent siege. Steve Coogan’s comedy is clever and ridiculous and delightfully devoid of a sharp edge. At Boedecker. — Boedecker Theater
CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1925)
This silent film features live musical accompaniment by Hank Troy, piano.
One of the greatest love stories ever told. Cyrano is a man of great wit and intelligence who is an equally adept swordsman. He deeply loves his cousin Roxanne but believes he is ineligible for her love because he considers himself deformed. His nose is large. He employs his dull-witted friend Christian to be his mouthpiece of love to court Roxanne. Cyrano learns that his wit and intelligence can indeed win her over but Roxanne and handsome Christian fall in love even though the catalyst is Cyrano’s words. The film’s story comes from the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand. This French print has been brought back from the “dead” by preserver, restorer and archivist David Shepard who located the original hand-colored nitrate print. At Chautauqua Auditorium. — Chautauqua
Based on a story by Dostoyevsky, Jesse Eisenberg plays a timid, isolated man who’s overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. The arrival of a new co-worker, his exact physical double and his opposite (also played by Eisenberg) causes problems, as the confident and charismatic doppelgänger slowly starts taking over his life. This is absurdist comedy with a sharp edge. At Boedecker. — Boedecker Theater
In 1975, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films El Topo and The Holy Mountain launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Recruiting Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including HR Giger and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune was poised to change cinema forever. At Boedecker.
OPERA: DON CARLO — SALZBURG FESTIVAL
A stellar cast and the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Antonio Pappano made this drama of love and freedom into a triumph acclaimed by ecstatic applause. Starring Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros and Thomas Hampson. At Boedecker. — Boedecker Theater