Tag Archives: crime

Movie Review: The Godfather

Hey guys, it’s Kernook here, coming at you with another movie review. This time we’re diving into crime syndicates and mob bosses with 1972’s The Godfather. If you aren’t expecting integral violence, drug use, dark dramatic overtones that come along with turf wars, and honor among the underbelly, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.

At that point, the review won’t be either. If you do like this content, be sure to subscribe or follow the blog for more content like this. You can support these reviews and help to choose the content over on Patreon as well. Your contributions keep this blog free from advertising.

Don Corleone is no Fat Tony, and this movie is not even close to being a satire. That being said, it’s not about a bunch of young hooligans either, as is the case with West Side Story… it’s not about twisted moral high-ground, as is the case with Road to Perdition, either.

No, this is a film about true honor among thieves and the criminal world that seeks to exploit the virtues of these deeply embroiled families. Being a professional mobster isn’t for the faint of heart, and The Godfather operates on this less than idealized pretense.

At the heart and soul of this franchise, there’s a sad truth to tell. It isn’t all unicorns and rainbows when you’re leading the mob. Rather, oftentimes Don Corleone finds it to be a merciless position to be in. He understands that position, acting with gravitas where it suits him to do so. When it offers him no value, he eases up. That’s the rarity, though.

The mundane grind of pompous gatherings and a plethora of poor diets demarcate a rather sour view of what “good business” is, at least for families like these. For every cigar lit, and a beer taken among the mutterings of those that sit at the table, choices need to be made.

This is all punctuated by orders doled out with a deep consideration to the ramifications. Tragic bursts of violence leave a soul-rending loss in its wake. The ethos of The Godfather spits upon the romanticized glamour of the traditional gangsters of its time… there is no glamour here. Only smoke, sin, and the reflections of those lost amidst countless failings.

Then as if all of that wasn’t enough, the movie unceremoniously plops fierce loyalties and deadly ambition in front of us as the reason why these characters can become so thirsty for their power. In Brooklyn, vengeance takes upon its own soured appeal. Mercy is too expensive to purchase, and Don Corleone understands that all too well.

The pomp and circumstance of the gangster lifestyle permeates even casual encounters. Even simple justifications become twisted around and contorted to no end, at least when it comes to this movie.

Based upon the foundations of Mario Puzo’s novel written in 1969, the film sticks true to the visions and themes presented in original work. He also wrote the screenplay, so you’d never be able to argue that his artistic vision was hampered in the slightest.

One might even say that the book is required reading. Honestly, that’s about the only way to fully enjoy this complex universe. The book is such a landmark novel in its own right. I needed to mention it here for that reason alone.

In spite of the name, The Godfather is not the central character in the movie. That honor falls to Michael, the youngest son. He’s something of an upstart that challenges traditional views of how things should be run. If you have read the novel, you might be surprised to find Michael at the front and center of the movie’s narrative.

If you were expecting Don Corleone to take center stage, I wouldn’t fault you. That being said, it was a smart idea to use the youngest son. This separate looking glass gives us a very different way to see things. Michael provides a far more distinguished viewpoint than Don Corleone ever could. It all comes down to a less slanted, more earnest outlook.

The trials and tribulations of the characters is what makes this movie stand out. Don Corleone’s family are far from perfect, but they’re also down-to-earth characters. Family scuffles at the dinner table, and the bonds they keep at least make them relatable…. but is that enough?

Well, that’s an interesting question, really. The whole aim of The Godfather was to re-contextualize the typical mobsters that people typically saw in the media at the time. Rather than glorify them, The Godfather lambastes them. As a result, family dysfunction and dynastic problems stand at the core of this movie.

Interestingly enough, these concepts were new and interesting at the time. However, these days those selfsame tropes are now become commonplace. They’re the expected staple. That’s the reason why you should watch The Godfather.

It didn’t just re-contextualize the baseline of the mobster in popular media, nowadays it is the baseline of the mobster. What was once subversive became the norm… it isn’t hard to see why.

There’s something earnest in the layers of deceit found openly on display. This is a family of criminals and they make no bones about that. So little of the movie glorifies the concept of the gangster lifestyle. The masses simply loved it so much that it became a glorified concept.

Don Corleone is now the rubric to a successful mobster, if you want to think of it that way.

Although the movie is about three hours long, it’s not a slog. Far from it. There is something heartfelt in dynasty and legacy. As that time passes by and Don Corleone slowly relinquishes his authority over the family, there’s a sentimentality buried beneath it all.

I would say that this movie and its corresponding book are pieces of media that shouldn’t be passed up. If you like crime, drama, fifthly underbellies and morbid justifications for immoral acts, look no further than The Godfather.

Failing that, you should watch it because the film is such a pervasive touchstone for all kinds of media these days. Its influence spans far and wide, from satire to comedy, and drama and to thrillers.

The film is an important part of movie history, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Godfather is just too important to ignore.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Movie Review: Road to Perdition

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I was asked to review this movie, I found myself rather surprised. The “Road to Perdition” is a strange film all things considered. I’d hesitate to call it a masterpiece, and yet I’d also say that it’s above average in quality.

This is a sad fact once you realize this is one of the last great roles that Paul Newman ever had. I’m torn with how to deal with this film, because if you just want a dark movie about crime, it’ll be good for that… trust me, there’s plenty of drama and violence to go around.

What it isn’t good for is trying to tell a thoughtful and compelling narrative. The film lacks restraint or remorse, hammering out tragic fates for all the characters with an intent that has no grace. It doesn’t care for grace, only hard and fast cruelty under the guise of loyalty.

If that’s something that interests you, then this neo-noir drama might be up your alley. That being said, it isn’t up my alley at all these days.

Like a vast many films of this nature, it likes to pretend to be intelligent. Even the name is absolutely pompous, like an art-house film without the art. Right off the bat, just by looking at the name religious symbology smacks us in the face.

In Christian theology perdition references a state of being in which there is no redemption. Think doom and gloom, eternal punishment and damnation here. “Road to Perdition” when correctly defined then, actually reads “Road to Eternal Damnation”.

I’ll let you decide which title correctly reflects the mood of the film.

With a name like that, I was expecting a little bit more class and a lot less convoluted nonsense. The film is a tragedy, but there-in rests the issue. I knew that going into the film. That means I had a baseline expectation, simply because of the title and the trailer.

With quotes in the movie like “None of us will see heaven”, and all of the Christian symbology, it pretends to be much more philosophical than it really is. There’s little in the way of mindful foreshadowing. The film would rather beat you over the head with its symbolism like a rock to the forehead… the movie might be aimed at adults, but there’s little in the way of emotional maturity here.

Of course, what good is heavy-handed religious symbolism without a firm disregard for it? Yes, that was a question asked in sarcasm…

These religious undertones are mixed with a healthily dose of brutality, extortion and murder. Several of the people in the film attempt to live a much more pious life. They simply fail so terribly that it’s entirely laughable in the first place.

the whole sordid situation is played under the context of a double life for Michael Sullivan, as if that somehow excuses him for his scummy ways.

Several characters are self-sacrificing in a way. The film seems to impart that for a great number of these men, the family unit is much more important than his own livelihood. On the surface, that might be true.

Yet these two themes clash in a way that offers very little virtue at all.

The film takes place during the Great Depression. Embroiled in a crime syndicate, the families are torn between hard crime and familial devotion. Three sets of fathers and sons struggle upon this precipice. 

Tom Hanks plays the enforcer Michael Sullivan, a member of the mob. Tyler Hoechlin plays his son Michael Jr., a mere 12-year-old boy. The curious child tries to discover what his father does for a living. One night, the wayward youth hides in his father’s car. Then, he watches a man be killed by mob boss John Rooney, played by Paul Newman.

This would be devastating enough for a good plot-line, but as I said, this movie knows nothing about being subtle. To avoid confusion, I’ll now be calling Michael Sullivan, the father, Sullivan… and the son Michael simply to avoid confusion…

John Rooney’s son Connor, played by Daniel Craig, is a member of the mob as well. Connor has been stealing from his father, and that’s the heart of this supposedly tragic drama. Sullivan holds John in high regard, treating him as his own father figure. This bond goes both ways. John treats Sullivan as a son… so needless to say, Sullivan takes issue with Connor in more ways than one.

A rather notable quote stands out to highlight this. Passed down from Sullivan to Michael: “Your mother knows I love Mr. Rooney. When we had nothing, he gave us a home.”

I won’t attempt to distill the rest of the plot into a few paragraphs. It would be rife with contradiction, none of it succulent or even engaging to ponder about. The movie just isn’t built for that kind of complex analysis.

The movie is directed by Sam Mendes, and it’s based upon a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner… the damn thing is heavily revised by screenwriter David Self. Take that as you will.

When I watched “Road to Perdition,” as a teenager, I liked it a lot. These days, as an adult, I find it to be absolute crap… it tries to debate complicated moral ethos with the brute force of a jackhammer. Sadly, that’s the point that really sticks out to me. Nostalgia can’t even save this movie for me under direct scrutiny.

It would be disingenuous of me to say otherwise.

This film has been compared to “The Godfather,” but you can’t compare these two works. It really grinds my gears when people even try to do that. They’re entirely separate films. While both of them deal with the pomp and circumstance about the criminal underbelly, one does so without false pretense…

I’ll let you guess which one that is.

Let me be clear here, The Godfather makes no bones about who and what the characters are… mobsters… criminals… bad guys! There is no guise of heroism.

However in “Road to Perdition“, that narrative gets muddied… all the way down to the move and the trailer itself. No, I’m not joking. The movie does want us to buy into that kind of misguided tripe from the onset. It’s even in the advertising.

All of the characters, good and bad, are neck deep in the mobster lifestyle… and none of them even try to choose a better path. It doesn’t matter that Sullivan wants better for his own son Michele, he has no valuable concept of what “better” even is.

Sure enough, Sullivan paved a road to hell, but under no circumstance could anyone say it was done with the best of intentions.

While “The Godfather” offers critical questions about loyalty and the option to choose one’s own path upon a silver platter, “Road to Perdition‘ spits on the concept. It refuses to take its own pious themes, religious undertones and family bonds seriously.

The class and integrity provided to the Corleone family in one film, is abhorrently denied to the Sullivan and Rooney families of the other film. That is why you could never hope to compare these films at all.

One is a true film about mobsters and the confines of that lifestyle. The other is a film about glorified street thugs with more firepower and gumption than common sense.

The only saving grace Road to Perdition has as a film is that if you don’t think about it, then it is an okay film to watch. If you just want to see a simple crime movie play out tragically with no forbearance at all…. well, this is the film for you. It’ll give you a decent movie night sufficiently as an entertaining criminal romp.

There’s nothing wrong with a standard popcorn flick, but this is not the popcorn flick for me. If I’m going to watch criminals take the spotlight, I expect a much better baseline respect for themes involved.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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