Classic Films of Francis Ford Coppola

Posted by Jim on Jun 22nd, 2017
Jun 22

For an overview of SAIL, see this post.

Francis Ford Coppola is one of America’s greatest filmmakers. Although he has had some well publicized flops, his epic films about the Corleone family and the Vietnam war are some of the most important films ever made. I feel that while most students will have heard of the Godfather, and some may have seen it, an entire program of Coppola’s films would be beneficial for these budding film scholars.

Day One (half day)
The Outsiders (1983, 114 minutes)
Rumble Fish (1983, 94 minutes)
Evening Screening
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, 128 minutes)

Day Two
The Conversation (1973, 113 minutes)
The Godfather (1972, 177 minutes)
Evening Screening
Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001, 202 minutes)

Day Three
The Godfather, Part II (1974, 200 minutes)
Tucker: A Man and His Dream (1988, 110 minutes)
Evening Screening
The Godfather, Part III (1990, 162 minutes)

The program begins with two coming-of-age literary adaptations. Both The Outsiders and Rumble Fish were originally novels written by S. E. Hinton, who collaborated with Coppola on these adaptations. Filmed in succession, they provide a good example of what Coppola was up to in the 1980’s. As both films deal with characters who are entering adulthood, I believe the will be of interest to high school students.

That evening we will screen a great horror film, Coppola’s version of Dracula. Gary Oldman gives an incredible performance as the titular vampire. This film does include a lot of the sensuality that is associated with the vampire mythos, and as such, I wanted to screen it outside of the school day.

The first full day of films begins with The Conversation, a highly acclaimed film that is often overlooked by the Godfather films that Coppola made on either side of it. The Conversation did win the top prize at Cannes. In the afternoon we will watch the first part of the Godfather saga. Much has been written about how important this film is, and I will not try to duplicate that here. I will say that I learned a lot about this film while taking a course on Gangster Films at Bowdoin, and I will share my knowledge with the students in association with this screening.

In the evening we will have a long screening of the expanded version of Apocalypse Now. Much has also been written about this film. I am confident I will be able to find academic articles to reference in our discussion of the film.

The final day of the program begins with the second part of the Godfather saga. Arguably a better film than the first, it is a movie that only really succeeds if you are familiar with Part I. Because we are watching it the next day, all the events of the first film will be fresh in the students’ minds.

Following lunch, we will screen a smaller Coppola film, but one I really enjoyed the first time I saw it (back in college). Tucker features a great performance by Jeff Bridges, and also features his father Lloyd. The story is also really interesting. A car manufacturer who is ahead of his time may remind students of the work Elon Musk is doing with Tesla. We will see what the discussion holds.

The final film of the series will be shown that night. It is the oft-maligned, but still worthy Godfather, Part III. I feel it is important to conclude the trilogy in this program. Having watched all three films in two days, I think we can have a meaningful discussion of Part III’s place in the trilogy and in the larger world of Coppola’s films.

If there is additional time in this iteration of SAIL, I think I would also show The Cotton Club (1984, 128 minutes). This is another Coppola film that I was first exposed to in college. It is also a gangster film, but noticeably different from the Godfather films. As it was made just after the two Hinton adaptations, I think it would fit in well on the morning of Day One.

What’s the opposite of Speed Reading?

Posted by Jim on Oct 14th, 2014
Oct 14

I don’t think there is a collectively recognized term that answers the question posed by this entry’s title, because, let’s face it, reading is never exciting when it’s done slowly. Deliberate, careful reading is reserved for dense academic texts, not for the reading material we consume casually. This cannot be said for the moving image—slo-mo can be used to great effect is visual media.

Below is a video from CineFlix that compiles their ten favorite uses of slow motion in films. Check it out!

Although I think the site relies too heavily on recent films for its compilation videos, regularly falling back on its tendency to show what’s hip instead of what is historic, I have to say I was happily surprised to see the inclusion of Leni Riefenstahl shots from a film other than Triumph of the Will. I was mostly angered by the use of the credit sequence from Reservoir Dogs instead of the real classic slow walk shot: the hangar entrance from The Right Stuff. But then I thought to myself “maybe there is a reason it wasn’t included.” I sought out the clip on YouTube:

As you can see, the famous walk shot isn’t actually in slow motion. It is merely the number of shots the this one that inspired that use slo-mo (such as the Monsters Inc. example mention in the CineFlix video). This is a case of me remembering something in slow motion that took place in real time. It reminds me of a story I heard while watching a football game years ago. There is a classic shot of Joe Namath leaving the field after winning Super Bowl III that is always shown in slow motion. See the video here at NFL Films.  As you can see, even in this video, he waves his finger in slow motion. The NFL announcer I remember told his audience that the Namath video is shown in slow motion so often, everyone remembers it happening in slo-mo. This is what has happened to me in regard to The Right Stuff. That made me smile.

2008 Wrap-Up

Posted by Jim on Jan 2nd, 2009
Jan 2

All year I have been keeping track of how many beers I’ve drank and movies I’ve watched.  The final totals are 148 movies and 611 beers.  About one third of those drinks came as part of Novare Res’ Uprising challenge.

For 2009, I’ll be keeping track of movies and beers, as well as the books I read.  To view this list there is a Movie + a Beer link at the top of every page.

Little Gold Bald Dudes

Posted by Jim on Feb 24th, 2008
Feb 24

It’s Oscar night!  Here’s my list of who I hope wins tonight. [At least in the categories where I have an opinion.  Once again, I managed to miss all of the best documentary shorts.]

  • Actor – Johnny Depp
  • Supporting Actor – Javier Bardem
  • Actress – Ellen Page
  • Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett
  • Animated Feature – Persepolis
  • Art Direction – Sweeney Todd
  • Cinematography – No Country for Old Men/Assassination of Jesse James (Rger Deakins is nominated for both films)
  • Costume Design – Atonement
  • Directing – Jason Reitman for Juno (but really, I’d be happy to see any of the nominees win, they are all so talented)
  • Editing – No Country for Old Men
  • Score – Michael Giacchino (I want him to win because his work for the Bad Robot productions is so great, not because I remember the music in Ratatouille being exceptional;  if we were going for a memorable score, Dario Marianelli’s work in Atonement really stands out)
  • Song – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for “Falling Slowly” (I think Alan Menken might suffer from overexposure with his three nominations from one film tonight, but it isn’t without precedent for him to win.  He had three nominations and took home the statue in 1991 for Beauty and the Beast)
  • Picture – Juno
  • Adapted Writing – Sarah Polley (How awesome would it be for Sarah Polley to win this?  If not here, I wouldn’t mind seeing PTA or the Coens win)
  • Original Writing – Brad Bird (I liked Juno a lot [see Best Picture], but Brad Bird is just too great to not root for)

Movie + a Beer

Posted by Jim on Jan 2nd, 2008
Jan 2

I’m going to start a mildly ambitious project this year: document every film I watch and every beer I drink.  I think I have fairly diverse tastes in both categories, and for a brief period in college, I kept a list of all the movies I watched, but this is my first attempt to catalog and analyze my viewing and drinking habits.  I’m hoping it will be insightful, but perhaps all we’ll discover is that I drink too much High Life and PBR.  Either way, I think it will be fun.  The list will be stored on a separate page, linked from the bar above.  I’ll update it as often as warranted. So far, we’re at 3 movies, 1.5 beers.


Posted by Jim on Jan 2nd, 2008
Jan 2

I’ve had an Amazon gift certificate sitting on my computer desk for well over a month now.  I was waiting until after Christmas to use it, as I didn’t want to buy something that someone was planning on giving me as a gift (and before you say I should have spent it on a gift for someone, I did all of my shopping at independent retailers this year—all local retailers, except for one gift, actually).  I was about to spend it on the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion expansion The Shivering Isles, which costs slightly more than the certificate I have, when I thought to check in with my credit card company to see how close I am to redeeming my award points for another gift certificate.  I was happy to discover I’m less than 50 points away.  With the money I spent on gas over the holidays, I’ve already passed the mark!  All I need to do now is wait until the end of the billing cycle, and another certificate will be sent to me.  That will be $50 I can spend at Amazon.  That almost pays for an entire new video game (the Oblivion disc, since it’s an expansion, is under $30)!  Now the question is, which game should I get?  I’m thinking I will pick-up Mass Effect, a huge sci-fi RPG (I’ve been itching to get into another RPG), but suggestions are welcome.  Check out my video games wish list at Kaboodle, and offer up any advice you have.

In other news, as of this posting, here are my stats for the year: Movies – 2, Beers – .5.  But both of those numbers are about to be increased by 1 each.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Jim on Dec 24th, 2007
Dec 24

Enjoy these highlights from the greatest holiday film of all time!


Posted by Jim on Dec 6th, 2007
Dec 6

Last night at the Great Lost Bear, Luke, Nissa and I came up with a fun game that perfectly complements sitting around with friends and drinking Shipyard Preludes: invent outlandish movie cossovers.  Here’s how you do it: select two or three unrelated movie characters you’d like to see make a movie together, and then pick a film’s plot and setting.  It works best when each item is from a different movie.  For example:  Data from Star Trek: TNG, Ruby from The Fifth Element, and Kathrine Zeta-Jones’ character from The Phantom doing It’s a Wonderful Life set to the backdrop of A Very Long Engagement.  Doesn’t that sound like something you’d want to see?