Love the Coopers reminds us that there are few things worse than booze-fuelled family gatherings, but one of them is definitely schmaltzy Hollywood movies about such reunions. Drawing numerous narrative threads towards a climactic yuletide dinner, the film introduces four generations of one family, who must overcome grudges and failings, let slip the odd lingering secret, and possibly realise the true meaning of Christmas.
A true classic and widely regarded as one of the best films of all time, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is a true masterpiece. Seeing the film on the big screen, in a 4k digital restoration, I was reminded of The Godfather’s operatic scope. From the immersive opening act, which occurs in and around a family wedding, through the extraordinary romantic leap to the Sicilian countryside during the third act, this is a bold and visionary experience.
Of course, the stunning performances from Marlon Brando and Al Pacino nearly steal the show. But, it was good to be reminded of how good James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire were in their supporting roles, to take in Gordon Willis iconic cinematography and of course, to hear Nino Rota’s brilliant score in the cinema once more.
A serious contender for worst film of the year. Robert De Niro plays the despicable patriarch of an estranged family, who must come together despite their myriad petty feuds to celebrate the wedding of their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes). The parents of his bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) are somewhat against the union due to their lingering racist tendancies, while Aljandro’s Columbian birth mother is a devout Catholic and as a result, De Niro and his divorced wife of a good decade, played by Diane Keaton, must pretend they are still together. All this despite the fact father has been living quite happily with new partner Susan Sarandon for some years now.
However, the mind-numbing contrivances of the plot are not the film’s biggest problem, rather the detestable nature of all concerned, and the baffling notion that is incessantly hammered home, that infidelity, polygamy, promiscuity and general sexual deviance is all absolutely fine, so long as you follow your heart and don’t let society tell you how to behave. While I am no prude, the flippancy with which this film handles its code of ethics had me flummoxed. I did laugh once – at an actualy joke in the actual script – for which I feel somewhat ashamed, but beyond that this was a baffling, painful and detestable experience from beginning to end.
While there is a 113-minute theatrical version of Robert B. Weide’s film available, all discerning fans of Woody Allen should do their upmost to seek out the full fascinating 195-minute cut. The film takes you through every aspect of Allen’s life and career, from his humble origins in Brooklyn, through his “early, funny films” into his darker more troubled later years (both on and off screen), and into the current era, where he has finally ventured outside New York City to explore the beautiful cities of Europe. Boasting numerous lengthy interviews with Allen himself, and many of his most notable collaborators (although notably not Mia Farrow), this is probably as close as we will get to understanding one of America’s greatest living auteurs, and manages to spend time with each and every one of his 40-something feature films.
Certainly one of Woody Allen’s funniest films, Sleeper sees the comedian play a jazz musician/health food store owner, who reawakens into a bizarre totalitarian state after a routine operation sees him cryogenically frozen for 200 years. There are political rebels, orgasmatron machines, giant bananas and silver balls that get you high. While the film is stuffed full of Allen’s early trademark slapstick and witty observations, mostly aimed at Diane Keaton’s pseudo-intellectual airhead, his vision of a retro Orwellian future boasts a fantastic array of incredible architecture, not to mention cool electric bubble cars. Stylistically it bears a strong resemblance to Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451, but will always be best-remembered for its sex jokes and the sight of Allen disguised as a dickie-bow sporting robot.