Marcus theaters was playing gangster movies throughout September. The first two weeks it was the first two Godfather movies, then Scarface, and then Casino. When I told someone I was going to see The Godfather, they made fun of me for going to an old movie in the theater when I could have gone to see Fantastic 4 or the latest Mission Impossible movie (yes, those were really the examples he used). Forgive me if I happen to think there’s some value to seeing certain movies in a theater, up on the silver screen.
This was actually not the first time I’d seen the first two Godfather films on the big screen- years ago, I caught them at what is formerly my favorite theater. I say “former” because it used to be a revival house and had some other fun events (midnight movies, burlesque shows, etc.), but now they only play first-run features. I haven’t been back there since that change. No point, really. If I want to see a first-run movie, there are much closer theaters for that.
Anyway, here is the story of what happened the first time I saw The Godfather, Part 2 in the theater, which, when I recounted it to my sister, she found hilarious and disturbing at the same time:
I’m at The Godfather, Part 2, and it’s been playing for a while when some lady takes out her cell phone and starts looking at it, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. If you can’t go a couple hours or so without looking at your damn phone or talking to your friends, then stay out of theaters. Well, this old guy gets up out of his seat, purposefully storms over to where the woman is and loudly and angrily tells her to put the phone away. While I clearly can empathize with his annoyance, he could have handled the situation with a great deal more tact. Instead, now he’s being an even bigger distraction and a bigger jerk than the woman with the phone. Another woman asks the guy to be quiet and sit down and he barks at her, “Shaddap! I’m takin’ care of business!”
When he goes back to his seat, I notice that the old guy is sitting in between these two younger, very large guys that I want to describe as goons, for lack of a better term. I mean, I can only see them from the back, but they’re built like gorillas. The movie eventually gets to the scene where Kay (Diane Keaton) is having it out with Michael (Al Pacino)- the part where she tells him that she had an abortion because she didn’t want the Corleone line to continue, etc., and a thundercloud passes over Al Pacino’s face and you know that nothing good is about to happen. The two goons sense it, too, and as Michael gets madder and madder, they get more and more audibly gleeful, like instead of sitting in a movie theater, they’re watching a football game in a sports bar and their team is about to score a touchdown. Then, when Michael smacks Kay hard enough to knock her off her feet, these two meatheads, unable to contain their delight, actually cheer!
When the old guy said he was “takin’ care of business,” my first thought was that he was a little too caught up in the spirit of the movie. I guess I’m naïve, because it didn’t even occur to me until sometime later to consider the very real possibility that those three creeps in the audience- the old guy and what I now assume were likely his bodyguards- were actually in the mob themselves. They definitely conformed to the stereotype, that’s for sure.
There’s a caption at the start of this movie explaining that a large percentage of refugees that Castro sent to America from Cuba in the early 80s were criminals, which I couldn’t read without thinking of a certain clown running for president right now.
This was my first time seeing Scarface. It’s a good movie, but there’s not really anybody to root for. I was surprised by how nasty and unlikable Michelle Pfeiffer’s character was pretty much the whole way through. Unlike The Godfather, nobody is corrupted; they’re all horrible right from the start. I felt a little bad for Tony Montana- he showed some glimmers of humanity, but unfortunately, not really enough to redeem him.
I wanted to go see Casino the following week, since I remember next to nothing about that movie, but I caught a bad cold from someone in my brother’s family, so I had to miss the movie.
La Femme Nikita
Not only have I never seen this movie, I also haven't seen its American remake or either of the two TV shows based on it, except for the pilot of the CW's Nikita; I probably would have watched more of the latter, except it was on at the same time as some other shows I watched. The original and its various remakes are all things I've been curious about for a while now- ever since the version with Peta Wilson.
The basic premise: a woman is rescued from a prison sentence by a top secret organization and groomed to be a spy/assassin. For the first thirty minutes or so, I found the protagonist to be totally unlikable, but after a while, I started to sympathize with her more. Nikita was not exactly what I've come to expect from female action heroines. While she definitely undergoes a major transformation throughout the film and is skilled at the roles she’s been groomed to fulfill, she never becomes the badass I was anticipating. In my opinion, not enough focus was placed on her actual work as a spy/assassin. Relatively speaking, she doesn’t do all that much, and by the end of the movie, she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown as the strain of it all becomes too great to bear. I'm not saying that all movies in this genre need to follow the same formula; it just feels like there was more that could have been done with the premise. I guess other people felt that way, too, which would explain why it's been turned into a TV series twice. I still do kind of want to see both those series, as well as the remake with Bridget Fonda.
Pitch Perfect 2
I laughed a lot when I saw the first Pitch Perfect, but it didn't make a big impression on me and I found I’d forgotten a lot about it by the time I saw this sequel. It was pretty much the same with this one. I guess it wasn't quite as good at the original, but I had a good time. I think there was probably one more storyline than the movie could handle. There's a new girl in the cast, and she was okay, but there really wasn't enough there for me to care much about her or her arc. I wish I'd seen it with a bigger audience, since I live in Wisconsin and there's an unexpected Wisconsin connection in this film, so it might have been fun to get a reaction to that.
I distinctly recall The Craft when it first came out, but never got around to seeing it until now. The Craft is about three high school girls who use witchcraft to get what they want, but then things get out of hand, of course.
The movie feels very uneven to me, like there are deleted scenes out there that would have helped the story make more sense. Neve Campbell's character has burns on her back, and I guess we don't need to know how she got them, but it feels weird that it's never explained. Fairuza Balk's character is the one girl in the group who becomes completely corrupted by her power, but then her two friends just seem to go along with her evil plans for no reason. This is especially confusing when it had appeared that one of the girls was starting to feel guilty about getting revenge on her bully, but the next time we see her, she's completely turned to the dark side.
And then there's Robin Tunney, who is the protagonist- the one uncorrupted member of the group who is horrified when Fairuza Balk uses her powers to kill. But she didn't seem all that disturbed when the very first magical act the girls supposedly performed together inadvertently caused a vagrant that scared her to get run over by a car.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
It’s kind of sad to consider how The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series was a huge deal back in the sixties, and now a lot of people today probably have no clue that it even existed. As for myself, I never saw an episode of the show until within the past few years. I find it entertaining enough; I’ll watch it when it’s on- but I’m not the biggest fan. I guess that’s kind of how I felt about the movie. I liked it, but didn’t love it the way I wanted to. Also, I hate how much of the movie the trailers gave away. I know they’ve got to try to sell the film to audiences, but come on; there wasn't all that much left to surprise me.
I waited kind of a long time to see this movie. I believe it was back in January that Marcus theaters was screening classic Disney movies on the weekends. I went to all four and I had to sit through the teaser for Inside Out four times, to the point where I was sick of seeing it. Frankly, it just kind of looked like Herman's Head: The Movie to me. I come across these news pieces from time to time that praise Pixar for dreaming up these genius concepts like toys coming to life when their owners aren't looking or exploring the life of monsters that live in your closet. You can't have watched many cartoons or read many books if you are somehow unaware that these ideas have been done before. Honestly, there aren't a lot of original ideas left out there. What matters is how well they're executed and that's a big reason why Pixar is so successful.
Do I even have to explain the premise? On the outside chance you didn’t know, Inside Out concerns the workings of the emotions that reside inside the head of Riley, a twelve year old girl. What really impressed me about the script was how the two storylines had to complement each other because they were really both the same story- Riley's emotional journey as seen through anthropomorphic representations of her emotions. What's going on inside her head had to reflect what's happening to her in the real world. It must have taken a lot of work to get that right. I also like the look of the main characters, which are sort of a cross between Dr. Seuss and the Muppets. They have this flocked look that is very Muppet-like.
As with every Pixar movie, there's a short before the main feature, this one being "Lava," about a volcano looking for love. I thought it was a little stupid when it started, but man, what an emotional roller coaster that turned out to be.
I saw this at a weekday matinee, so there were only a small handful of people in the theater with me- maybe six or so. As I find is sadly often the case, the most disruptive person walked in at the last minute- in this case, it was a woman with a toddler who was fidgety the whole time. I thought about shooting the mother a withering look when she walked out, but then when the credits rolled, she stood up and apologized to everyone in the theater, which made it a bit harder to me to stay annoyed. Yeah, it still seems pretty inconsiderate to bring your damn baby into a theater with you in the first place, but at least she had enough class to say she was sorry afterward. I wish more people were that self-aware.