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The Godfather Part II: A Masterpiece Continued (083568)

The Godfather Part II, albeit a direct sequel to The Godfather, can be seen as a completely different film in its entirety. Detached from the first in the sense of style, the only thing it perhaps shares in common with its predecessor are the characters. The film is told in juxtaposition between the rise in power of Michael Corleone to that of a young Vito Corleone. It is done so in such a way that brings about a whole new edge to the franchise, it invokes understanding and reason as to why the mob life is the way it is.

What I enjoyed in particular was the style of the film, the juxtaposition between past and present (Vito and Michael Corleone) worked effortlessly for the plot and I believe the film benefitted from the two stories being compared and contrasted simultaneously. Every time the present story line of Michael cut back to that of Vito in the past, it was as if taking a fresh breath of air after spending much time submerged in the violence and cold heavy world of the gangster life that Michael lives. Looking back upon the life of a young Vito, we as the audience are exposed to his roots and I personally found it all the more captivating that the future Don was a very humble and sincere working husband that only did what he had to do for the love of his family. It shows that beneath the rough and cold-blooded exterior of the mob boss Don Vito Corleone lies the humble beginnings and compassion of a family man.

All of this juxtaposed with that of the rise of Michael as the new Godfather, it really sets apart how different the two are, although they are family. Michael is all about the business, at times he does show his respects towards the importance of family (He refused to have Fredo harmed whilst his mother was alive), while at the same time his cold-blooded gangster side is what controls him as he shows no hesitation in issuing the order to murder his brother Fredo towards the film’s end. Michael won’t stop at anything to remain in power, even his marriage falls a part as his wife no longer feels the love they once shared, in essence Michael is nothing like his father and that is made no clearer than when the two are contrasted right next to one another.

By the film’s end we are greeted with a flashback of the Corleone family during a birthday of Don Vito. During the scene we see Michael announce his enlistment into the army to fight in the war much to the disapproval of his brothers and family except Fredo, ironically he is the only one who supports his decision. The scene ends with Michael alone at the dinner table while the rest of the family leaves to greet Don Vito, the family can be heard in the back singing while Michael sits in the table, the film then cuts to Michael on a park bench alone staring out into space further emphasizing the displacement Michael feels towards his family, that he is a loner and that his actions should not come off as a surprise but more seen as a long time coming.

Ultimately, The Godfather Part II brings more depth into the characters of the Corleone family, especially in that of Michael and Vito, it is a tragic film at it’s core and it is this tragedy that drives the movie. Another classic, this film I personally enjoyed much more than the first Godfather.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Final Frontiersman [The Godfather Part II] (093122)

“I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.”

I’m one of the few people that prefers the Godfather Part II over Part I. It wasn’t always this way. I guess it’s because I didn’t catch on to all the subtle implications that the film made when I was younger. Part I & II of the Godfather can be compared to the novels of Jose Rizal, “Noli me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” On the one hand, ‘Noli’ is, for the most part, a bright and idealistic novel. ‘El Fili’ on the other, is very dark and political. Take away the violence and bloodshed in Part I, and one might be able to notice the idealistic aspirations of the characters. The primary concern of Michael is the safety and protection of his family, as well as the legitimization of the Corleone Empire. Fast-forward seven years to Part II, and we come to find that the Corleones haven’t quite made it there. The sequel is undoubtedly more dark, gritty, unforgiving, and merciless than the first. In many ways, it’s more exciting and controversial. However, one needs a good background of Part I in order to fully appreciate Part II.

Perhaps, the reason why most people still prefer Part I over II is that the former is more concise and concentrated, whereas the latter has numerous sub-plots intermixing with the main storyline. Then there are the intermittent flashbacks. A lot definitely goes on during the film, but in my opinion, these sub-plots helped emphasize the increasing complications that Michael faces as Don. The prowess of Pacino’s acting convinces the audience of Michael’s sincerity – he’s a man hell-bent on keeping his family together by being strong for all of them. He knows that the foundation of his family rests on his shoulders – it always has. He doesn’t view this fact self-righteously. Rather, it is a responsibility of the utmost significance and importance passed on to him by his father, and he shall honor it to his grave.

One of the best things about Part II is that it flows a lot like a Western. The ways of the Old West are slowly, but surely dying, and every outlaw has to deal with the changes. We get a hint of this in Part I, when Tom Hagen tells Don Vito, “This is almost 1946. Nobody wants bloodshed anymore.” Frankie Pentangeli is like a stubborn, aging cowboy – firmly grounded in his roots and resistant to change. He becomes enraged when Michael denies his request to go after the Rosato brothers. He’s hit hard with the Age of Industrialization, and realizes that there are new rules to follow. It’s either he gets in line, or gets eliminated. Although Michael has always been one to adapt to any situation, the dawn of the new era also takes its toll on him as well. With the Senate breathing down his neck, and traitors trying to beat him to the ‘Gold Rush’ in Havana, suddenly, the legitimization of his empire becomes all the more imperative. However, he does have to rely on traditional methods to come out on top. The scene wherein Michael meets with his caporegimes and soldiers is an unforgettable one: He looks at Tom dead in the eye and says, “If anything in this life is certain – if history has taught us anything – it’s that you can kill anyone.”

The only way for Michael to secure the pinnacle of the Corleone family’s power and prestige is to once again deal a hand of cold-hearted detachment, even to his loved ones. A threat to the family, even from the inside, is still a threat to the family, and must be dealt with accordingly. Even though Michael is a witness to the ushering in of a new age, the blood of a decisive, uncompromising, and relentless outlaw still runs through his veins.

Old habits die hard, but some never die at all.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s Lonely at the Top : The Godfather II 1974 [092805]

Because I enjoyed the first film of The Godfather very much, I was very excited to see the sequel. I was not so sure of what to expect because most of the time, the sequel never matches up to the original movie. After seeing the film, as I said before, people were not wrong when they talked about The Godfather. IT WAS AMAZING. Some may compare the two films and say that the sequel was even better than the first but honestly, I cannot even compare. I did not know how the sequel was going to follow the first, as the original film was such a hit but amazingly, it did. It came to par with it and according to others, The Godfather, Part II may just be one of the best sequels of all time. It is inevitable to compare the first two films and like one better than the other but I must say, the two films are just two masterpieces in themselves.

I must say, having both Al Pacino and Robert Deniro two play the two “Godfathers” in one movie was a brilliant beyond brilliant idea. Obviously the two did an amazing job. Who wouldn’t love a movie with BOTH of these amazing actors? The Godfather, Part II easily compelled its viewers to watch it.

I don’t care that there are so many characters and so many events in the film that I find myself confused of what is going on. I loved it. The fact that I am confused makes me even more excited to watch it again.

The way the story of Michael Corleone as the current Godfather and the story of the young Don Vito Corleone as his father and predecessor juxtaposed with one another helped construct the film and make it into its own. Though Michael was his father’s son, it could be seen how the times changed him and how different his “methods” were from his father’s. Don Vito Corleone was the perfect example of someone who stood by the words, “FAMILY FIRST.” At first, you would think that Michael Corleone had the same sentiments. But little details in the film made me believe otherwise. I am sure that those were his intentions, of course, he wanted to follow the footsteps of his father that although they belonged to a mafia, morals stayed intact. He told Kay at the beginning of the film that his goal was to make the Corleone family ‘completely legitimate’, as he put it. However, I feel that he got too caught up with the family business. He was in deep. Hence, he forgot the idea and importance of ‘family’ to the point that his wife, Kay, wanted to leave him with the kids. Don Vito Corleone was a powerful man but it was so evident how his family gave him full support. Michael Corleone on the other hand, let the business take over his life. I find it ironic how Michael let the business destroy what it was supposed to protect: His family.

I liked how the stories of Al Pacino and Robert Deniro intertwined and contrasted with one another. The film basically showed the rise and fall of the Corleone family. From being all-powerful and almost invincible, it was evident when things started falling apart. Honestly, I kind of suspected that Michael would somehow ‘turn to the dark side’ at the end of the first The Godfather film. However, I thought that he would somehow be able to fix it in the second film, and instead things got worse. The relationship Michael had with his brother, his son, his wife- it just showed what could happen if he puts work above anything else. I felt bad because from the first film, I really was rooting for Al Pacino to play and stay the good guy. Unfortunately, things didn’t play out the way I wanted it to… But I still gotta give it to his acting skills.

I think it was a great idea for The Godfather, Part II to be shown in class right after The Godfather. It allowed us to compare two amazing films, though of the same story, two different films nevertheless. It made me appreciate what is said to be timeless. I must agree that this film is definitely one of the best of its time.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II, along with the first, is largely considered as one of the greatest films of all time. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I think this can rightfully be called so because these two films set the bar for what a mafia film should be.

Like the first Godfather film, great acting is seen here as well. Another great performance from Al Pacino, as the continuity and growth from his Godfather I performance is highly evident here. Other than that, Robert De Niro also provides a praise-worthy performance in this film as the young Vito Corleone. I think it was the Godfather that made Pacino and De Niro staple names when it comes to mob movies, later appearing in films like The Goodfellas, Scarface and Donnie Brasco to name a few.

What’s even more interesting about the second Godfather film is how different it was from the first movie. The Godfather Part II features a far more complex and intricate plot as it weaves two stories – those of the young Vito Corleone and his struggles through childhood and growing up, and of Michael Corleone following the events of the first Godfather film. This makes for an interesting movie because it ends up serving as both a prequel and a sequel to Godfather Part I. The article by Robert William Berg explains how this is made interesting by the contrast of Michael’s growth with that of his father Vito. It was interesting how the two stories seemed to bounce off of each other, constantly switching from one to the other. This seemed to perfectly complement each other while at the same time developing the main story arc of Michael’s reign as Don. While all of this is happening, the flashbacks also provide us a lot of insight on the histories of each of the other characters, especially that looking back at them as children help us understand the characters that they have developed from and into from the first film to this one. The second Godfather film takes advantage of the first so well that put together, the continuity from first to second is incredible, almost as though the film was shot as one. This makes for a great sequel and prequel at the same time, as all 3 stories seem to merge, keeping the audience immersed in the lives and workings of the Corleone family from beginning to end.

Though many complain about the length of the movie, as it is very long (at over three hours, divided into two parts) and extremely eventful, I don’t think it could have nor should have been done any other way. As stated by Berg, it’s like having two films merged into one. What makes it even more interesting is how the two films work together to form the whole that is the Godfather Part II. Either way, I think The Godfather Part II is a great film on its own and as both a prequel and a sequel to the first.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Godfather II (071289)

It was my first time watching Godfather Part II. It serves as both a sequel and a prequel to Godfather I but can be treated as a separate movie. It shows the story of the rise of Don Vito Corleone and the decline and fall of his son Michael who preceded him as Godfather. You can still understand the story without knowing how Michael got his Godfather status in the first movie but it adds more depth and meaning to the plot. This movie is more ambitious in terms of location and scope. The movies spans 60 years and three generations and were shot in different places like Cuba, Italy and different parts of America including New York and Nevada.

Here are some observations. Both movies open with a family gathering, Connie’s wedding for the first movie and Michael’s son’s communion celebration for the second. There were less action scenes and gruesome death scenes in this movie compared to the first but this movie is more tragic in terms of plot. This movie had more ‘conversation’ scenes that somehow made it tiring to watch. The unconventional way of juggling two story lines plus the increase in the amount of characters in the story also made it hard to understand. Part II is not tightly scripted as the first movie. This is primarily due to the scope of the story and various settings that lessened the intimacy of the characters.

Similar to the first movie, Michael tried his best to hold his family together but in this movie he went too far with the killings to the point that he killed his brother Fredo. Even his relationship with his wife was ruined. He could handle all the stress that came with being a Godfather and that proved that maybe he wasn’t really fit for the job. He didn’t have the same patient and cunning intelligence of his father.

I really hated Connie in this movie. At the end of the first movie she was really broken and devastated with the death of his abusive husband but in the second movie, three years after, she’s okay and has a new husband. Talk about moving on.

The cinematography in this movie is as good as the first movie. The quality is the same. There were more gloomy dark shots of Michael in this movie almost as if he lives in the dark. Visually showing the current state his mind is in.

Together, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II is the ultimate gangster story. Quoting  James Berardinelli in his review of the movie “The Godfather is not so much about crime lords as it is about prices paid in the currency of the soul for decisions made and avoided. It is that quality which establishes this saga as timeless.”

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Deeper Waters [The Godfather Part II, 080664]

The film takes us to uncharted territories. Obviously, most of the characters from the prequel are present here, and having seen the first Godfather, I already know what Don Vito and Michael are capable of doing. But no matter how similar they appear, The Godfather Part II is miles apart from its predecessor, in a league of its own. I find The Godfather more enjoyable to watch but that factor doesn’t diminish my appreciation of the sequel. This one digs deep into the characters’ ethos, like putting them under a microscope. It gives me a better understanding of the motivations behind their actions. It is longer and quieter but it leaves a subtle, indelible imprint in my memory.

I enjoy watching parallel stories taking place, and seeing how they connect in the end is the part I always look forward to. However, The Godfather Part II is a different case. I fear it would be predictable because we know the outcomes of Don Vito’s earlier works. Unsurprisingly, Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo pull off the incredible task of providing an ending that takes the story of Vito Corleone full circle. It is pretty nostalgic, reminiscent of the last time we see the family come together.

The rise of Don Vito, suavely played by Robert De Niro, from an orphan boy to being the head of the biggest crime syndicate in New York, is shown alongside Michael’s acquisition of headship and facing the consequences of his previous crimes. Here, the filmmakers employ a certain technique that stops me from getting stuck up with just one character’s storyline. The scenes are cut and arrange in a way that excitement gets suspended and then the focus shifts to the other character. And I wait patiently for the pay off. The comparison between Don Vito and Michael is inevitable. In fact, among the siblings, the youngest closely matches the father’s temperament. They are both clever, level-headed men. There is, however, a huge difference with the way they make use of their intelligence in forming bonds and alliances. Don Vito starts from scratch and works his way up to earn his people’s respect. Their loyalty to him is deeply rooted; his demeanor tells them that as long as their loyalty remains with the godfather, they are family. On the other hand, Michael inherits the empire and his father’s loyal cohorts. He seems to act cold and distant. He does seem to trust no one, and talks business and nothing else.

The Michael we see in the first film is unstoppable. He still is; outsmarting all of his enemies, and getting out of criminal cases. But his powers crumble, revealing loopholes and limitations. Too focused on keeping his enemies closer, he pushes his family farther away. He neglects his role as a father. He is unaware of Kay’s apparent abortion. No matter how hard he tries to keep the family intact, things fall apart.

The Godfather Part II is hard to watch because it sometimes leads me to believe that it would give Michael some kind of redemption in the end. It gives me false hopes – changes, reconciliation with his wife, and Michael forgiving Fredo and letting him live. Instead it leaves me, not with the same level of astonishment, but with a heavy heart.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Godfather: Part 2

I really liked Godfather: Part 2 because of the way it remains loyal to its prequel. At first I thought this movie would disappoint me after having watched its prequel, which is a very good movie. This could be because I’m so used to being dissatisfied with movie sequels in the past such as those in the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchise. Unlike these movies, Godfather: Part 2 really feels the same as that of Godfather: Part 1. Although the narration style of this movie is different from its prequel, several movie elements such as its atmosphere and quality of acting job remains the same.

Godfather: Part 2 is about the story of how Vito Corleone rose to power and how his son dealt with the family business his death. The movie basically jumps from past to present and vice versa. Although this nonlinear narration distracted me for a while, it made the movie less boring considering the film’s length. It removed the draggy feel of Godfather: Part 1 and made the movie more eventful. I couldn’t even remember now most of the movie’s plot because of all the events that occurred throughout the movie. There are also more characters on this sequel which makes it more interesting to watch since there are more characters who have depth in them such as the young Vito.

Family is probably the major theme of this movie. What’s ironic about this is that the movie tells how the Corleone Family established itself in America and how it began to fall apart during Michael’s reign as the godfather. The movie did a good job applying symbols for this film without making it too forced and obvious like that of V for Vendetta.

Like in its prequel, the actors in this movie did a very good job in portraying their characters. The terrific use of their body language brought more depth to their characters in the movie. Al Pacino, for instance, effectively showed the inner conflict between his character’s job and family through his movement within the film.

Another thing I liked about this movie is its use of sound to set the tone for the two stories within the movie. A more calm and relaxed music is played on the young Vito scenes made the atmosphere more adventurous s the characters rise to power. On the other hand, music played on the Michael Corleone scenes made created a tense and heavy atmosphere intensifying the power struggles within the film. If not for the good use of sound in this movie, the film would have been confusing since there would be no emphasis on the discontinuity of the scenes as it goes from one timeline to the other.

Overall, I think Godfather: Part 2 is better than its prequel. I could even watch it on its own even without watching part 1 of the trilogy. It could stand on its own and it does not give its viewers the redundant feel given by other movie sequels, which really justifies Best Picture award given to this film.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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