Posts Tagged ‘the Godfather’

What makes a good Thriller? I don’t believe there is a formula that makes a thriller, the aspects of a successful thriller usually revolve around the opposing forces of good versus evil, however, the line between good and evil can be very murky, it’s usually high-stakes…a ticking clock, life or death in the balance with some kind of realisation.

The thriller genre is packed with sub-genres and there are many classic thrillers. Hitchcock was the master of suspense thrillers, Rear Window (1954) and Dial M for Murder (1954) are two of my favourites. There are notable thrillers – Se7en (1995) ; Fatal Attraction (1987); Les diaboliques (1955) to name a few. From The Godfather (1972); Aliens (1986);The Usual Suspects (1995) to Jaws (1975) are classed as thrillers. While I wouldn’t necessary agree fully with all the categories of the aforementioned it’s clear that thrillers are hard to define.

Below are my comments on a few mystery thrillers that are  typical in some cases but in others definitive of the genre. I hope you enjoy my thoughts these thrillers, possibly seek them out or steer clear from them…

Angel Heart (1987)

P.I Harry Angel has a new case, to find a man called Johnny Favourite, only it isn’t a straight forward missing person’s case. Prefect, grounded, Alan’s Parker’s voodoo-laden, hard-boiled film is the ultimate mystery film.

This is without a doubt Mickey Rourke’s finest role. The supporting cast deliver some of the most interesting and story driven performance that include Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet and Charlotte Rampling to name a few.

You can feel 1955’s New Orleans warm rain, hear the jazz, taste the grit of 1950’s Brooklyn, the film’s Cinematography is amazing,. The films realism captures the time wholly, Trevor Jones mystery music builds up the tension as murders increase Harry Angel is drawn into eventful dangerous meetings. The dialogue is flawless and the ending has a mind-blowing twist that has been imitated but never surpassed. The Johnny Favourite theme tune will linger with you long after the end credits.

A timeless, eerie and realistic atmospheric classic. Perfect.

The Game (1997)

Wealthy financier Nicholas Van gets drawn into a live-action game that consumes his life. Douglas perfectly portrays the characters journey, excellently written by John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris.

It’s a psychological thriller packed with intrigue and suspense, a creepy clown and feeling of helplessness. Supporting actors are an array of familiar faces that include flawless performances from Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

The flashback scenes of a younger Nicholas are captured beautifully by cinematographer Harris Savides and Howard Shore’s score heightens the pivotal moments elegantly.

 The Game is an exciting Hitcock-like yarn, with a principled message of wealth and youth, it’s a fantastic thriller with amazing twists and turns from David Fincher. A must see.

Basic Instinct (1992)

Known at the time for its nookie and infamous cross-legged interrogation scene, 50 San Francisco riot police had to be present at every location to deal with picketing gay and lesbian activists, it’s hard to believe the film caused such a stir at the time.

Michael Douglas plays a police detective investigating a brutal murder, in which a beautiful and seductive woman could be involved. It is without doubt Sharon Stone’s best and most memorable performance, as writer Catherine Tramell, who taps into every mans fear of being lied to, rejected and so on.

The supporting cast are effective, it has a few familiar faces in there. Jeanne Tripplehorn, George Dzundza and Leilani Sarelle are surprisingly good. That said, Douglas who gives great performance does seem miscast especially in the night-club, where he gurns and sports a jumper that will stick in your mind forever.

Despite the dramatic score being over powering in places it adds to the film stylised charm. Director Paul Verhoeven keeps set ups interesting and writer Joe Eszterhas puts in enough twists, albeit clichéd, to keep you interested.

Arguably less effective than Al Pacino’s 1989’s Sea of love, Basic Instinct is a big budget solid thriller that still stands up today.

Shutter Island (2010)

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniel’s and his partner investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is apparently hiding on the remote Shutter Island.

Martin Scorsese again demonstrates why he is one of the worlds best directors. The CGI is unnoticeable and only used to create the imagery of Shutter Island. A WW2 concentration camp, Dachau, is recreated for a disturbing and key scene. Scorese perfectly recreates the 1954, bring the best of location, sets, lighting and sound together to deliver a fantastic psychological thriller.

The cast is a fine line-up that includes Leonardo DiCaprio who manages to get away with the complexity of the characters situation; Swed’ Max von Sydow is on usual perfect form. Zodiac (2007) and Collateral’s (2004) Mark Ruffalo is excellent, although a little under used as Daniel’s partner. Thankfully Ben Kingsley has taken on a role worthy of his abilities as the empathetic Dr. John Cawley. In addition, Ted Levine and Elias Koteas show up in almost cameo appearances.
There’s plenty to like about Shutter Island, it exudes atmosphere, and it’s foreboding and eerie. The story tackles alcoholism, mental heath and asks the viewer to question what should be perceived as a dream and what should perceives as real. It’s an intriguing mystery that not since Angel Heart (1987) have I seen such a well constructed psychological period film. Credit must go to the Laeta Kalogridis’ screen-play and Dennis Lehane’s novel.

Possibly one of Scorsese’ best films.

Quintessential and timeless, The Godfather trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola, tells the story of several generations of Corleone mafia family.

Arguably the finest films ever made and here’s my views on why they’re must sees…

The Godfather (1972)

Coppola’s near perfect masterpiece. A first class cast including, James Caan, Al Pacino and heavy weight Marlon Brando to name a few. There is not much I can add that hasn’t already been written it is the quintessential family, Mafia gangster film.

The 1950’s nostalgic feel is captured, distinguished cinematography by Gordon Willis and the script honed. The costumes, locations and sets add to the overall authentic experience.

Brando’s aged make-up is incredible, particularly for 1972 and apart from some insignificant choppy editing and stock footage the film is near enough picture perfect.

Timeless, compulsive viewing, there is a reason why The Godfather is on a pedestal as one of the greatest movies or of all time… There is no offer to refuse, it’s a must see.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Told through parallel story lines that features the 1900’s, following a young Vito Corleone, played by Robert De Niro, growing up and opening his business. Then in conjunction: the 1950’s as Al Pacino as Don Michael Corleone expands his crime empire.

Same cast, director, writers, Gordon Willis’ cinematography and music by Nino Rota, Pacino is harder and more ruthless than every before. The acting from a stars studded cast is excellent the Cuban and Vegas scenes are astounding, you can taste the atmosphere.

A weaving, compelling and seeming realistic portrayal of the rise of a crime family and it pitfalls along the way. Themes of loss, rejection, and betrayal to name a few, Part to is richer in all respects.

A truly classic film in it’s own right, Coppola and Puzo deliver a worthy seamless sequel to the Godfather.

The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Misjudged due to its truthfulness, filmed in 1991, this Godfather is a fitting third film. It’s now the 70’s and times have changed since the 1950’s hay days of the first two films.

Pacino portrays an aged, mellower, ill and haunted man, gone is the steeliness of his youth. Michael Corleone’s hair changes colour after his stroke, and there are plenty of character touches added to the older Don, as well as to Talia Shire’s Connie Corleone.

Many of the original cast appear which adds to the continuity, a great touch for die hard fans. You can argue that Sofia Coppola was miscast but it may just be because she’s not authentically beautiful, sorry, you can’t pick your family.

Missing is Tom Hagan and George Hamilton as B.J. Harrison fills the gap tolerably. Andy Garcia is excellent as Vincent Mancini, Sonny’s illegitimate son.

Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo take the rounded characters on journey of self realisation. It’s a pleasant character study that reflects how we change as we get older.

The film gains momentum, building great tension and shock in the third act. However, don’t watch expecting the atmosphere, vitality or vigour first two.

These are 1950’s remnants in the 70’s and all the power on earth can’t change destiny.