Week 17 – Movies.

I watched The Godfather the other day and was asked to give a review of it, so these are my thoughts, though I think I may have gone a bit off track somewhere along the way.

The Godfather is a movie about the Corleone’s, a powerful Italian-American family in the 1940’s, who publically are in the business of olive oil, and privately have their hands in gambling and other criminal activities. The Corleone’s are one of five powerful families in new york, with them being the most powerful they have ties to politicians, newspapers, restaurants, and just about every section of the city. A comparison can be made to other well-known families, such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Bush families. The family and business are run by Vito Corleone, who’s priority above all else is his family and their well being — The movie also get’s its title from this character, who is the godfather to many friends and families children, the title of godfather is a very important and respected privilege to the Italian-American community. Everything that Vito does is justified in his eyes as being for his family, whether it be threatening the head of a studio to boost his godson’s career, or refusing to deal with drugs because he believes that it would tear apart the eco-system between the other four families.

I could continue talking about the machinations of the movie, and my interpretations of the characters and the plot, but I’m going to shift a little to talk about the technical side of the movie. There was some very incredible lighting that I took note of whenever Vito Corleone was conducting Business; the lighting was set up to cast shadows on his eyes so that you couldn’t see them, it creates a menacing look, this could be partly in due to the fact that like a mask, when people are not able to see someone’s eyes they become a little less human, and it put’s the mind on alert. You can tell that the movie was shot on film partly because of the slight noise on screen if you watch closely, but largely because if you watch, the colors at times can seem a little washed, this is because the film itself is washed out and slightly damaged, causing certain scenes to have more offset look. They also really liked fading when changing scenes, but I’m sure that can probably be attributed to the fact that they were limited by the technology they had available at the time; where you didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to making a cut, or scene change, not like today where everything is digitally edited and you can make some absolutely gorgeous scene changes. Another thing was the flow of the movie, I thought that it did a very good job of keeping a steady rhythm, never really dropping in pace.

There’s the mark that this movie has left in modern cinema, iconic elements that have become a part of pop-culture, such as the voice of Vito Corleone, the sort of respiratory breathing, coupled with a low scratchy Italian-accented voice – the line “Make them an offer they can’t refuse” coupled with the implied innuendo has also become a staple remark when talking about making a “persuasive deal” with someone.

On the use of narrative devices and getting the point across, it is conveyed from the first five minutes of the film just about everything you need to know about the presence Vito Corleone has, and that he is, in fact, a powerful individual – you can see that he’s surrounded by consul’s and bodyguards, while an associate asks a “favor” which is implied to hold a lot of weight. I think it’s impressive how much world building and information there is to take in from that short amount of time. The use of deaths can feel heavy, but I think that’s because unlike your modern action/crime movie, the deaths have an impact on the story. Look at a James Bond movie; plenty of people die, but they’re unknown entities, or they’re chalked up to as “grunts” or “bad guys”, but killing and deaths in those movies are more romanticized, they have you rooting and cheering for the protagonist as he creates enough bodies to fill a cemetery at his feet, versus a movie where deaths are used sparingly and are not handed out like candy on Halloween. It makes it feel important since you know these characters, and have watched them it feels more tragic to see them leave the screen, but if you break it down the moral ambiguity disappears, because if you strip them away of all their features, characteristics, and individual traits, your left with a death, which is from a moral standpoint equal to everyone, that is to say, nobodies death should be held above another.

So why is it that we have audiences cheer for characters who are almost like death incarnate? Because from a literary standpoint it is a biased point of view. You’re looking at things from that character’s point of view, you see things from their perception as they’re presented to you; in turn, you befriend their opinion and choose to agree with it, because they’re the familiar character – In fact we are willing to go so far as to ignore and justify detestable actions made by a character in order to accommodate the present bias.  However, if you were to take a step back and look at both sides of a story you might see that things are not as straightforward as they seem. You might see that the views of the main protagonist are in fact corrupt — some movies take note of this and actually use it as a narrative device to create a conflicting turmoil in the mind of the viewer because it is clear that the main character is acting in a more heinous way, but they might be charismatic, or charming. But does that justify their actions? One thing that is used to nudge the viewer to sympathize with a character like this is to have a traumatic backstory, something to justify why they are like this, to in turn justify their actions. It takes a lot of skill to successfully pull this off, to have a “bad” protagonist that the viewer agrees with. That’s my view on things anyway.


Week 16 – History.

Do you ever find some subject that you get absolutely hooked on? Some topic that really leaves you feeling as though you want to really learn more about it? For me, when I find something that seems interesting, I really dive into it, I want to know the things it’s related to, and what it’s relations are related to. I’ll get fixated on something for a short time and soak up large quantities of information until I feel as though I have attained a good grasp and understanding of the history that precedes it. For me, this week, and in sparse snippets the past few months, has been Roman history. Reading about their culture, their people, their wars, but most importantly their politics, which I believe is where the heart of Roman history resides. The last years of the Republic are some the most intriguing series of event’s I’ve read about. It seems as though you’re reading fiction at some points, and admittedly some of the things said are most likely exaggerations in order to flatter themselves. At times while reading I’m able to draw comparisons to the current world we live in, and things that I propose to myself are similar. More often than not I think about the quote by Mark Twain, in which he states “Truth is stranger than Fiction”.

Week 15 – New.

This week I got to be present for the arrival of a new sibling; a baby sister. All my life I’ve been the youngest in my family, so it was strange leading up to it, to think about how I would relinquish my role as the youngest after 18 years. The majority of the day was spent in the hospital, waiting for them to tell us we could go see the baby. After several hours we were finally able to see the baby; she was five pounds, and small enough that the palm of your hand could cover her entire body. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a newborn that was less than 2 hours old, it’s a somewhat unique experience, holding something, knowing that they don’t really know much about their surroundings or what’s going on. Other people in the room were talking about how she looks like this person or that person – I really couldn’t say, maybe I don’t have keen baby reading eyes, I just thought she looked like a baby; a small new life.

Week 14 – Awake.

It was 11 o’clock, everyone else was still sound asleep. My soon to be nephew lay asleep at the foot of the tree all wrapped up in blankets, my siblings slumbered away in the comforts of their beds, and here I was, the first to wake, the first to wait. I’ve always found it fascinating, how every Christmas, without fail I always manage to wake up way before what I deem is the proper time to start the day. Eventually, one by one the masses gathered in the living room, the room became a filled with gifts, and the floor littered with colorful paper wrappings. Later on, we left to celebrate my brothers birthday, as it would dawn by the next day. It’s the most pleasant of times.

Week 13 – Holiday.

Christmas is this coming weekend; the tree is slowly filling with presents, the gifts for people are arriving on the doorstep, and getting wrapped, it’s an all-around good time. I’m looking forward to having family and friends over for the holiday – the food as well, I’m looking forward to the seasonal food that gets made for the winter season. It’s always such a nice and cozy time, being surrounded by people that care about you. But there are still things to do before that day. In my continuation of practicing the guitar, I’ve picked up learning how to play the ukulele as well. It’s been much easier to learn so far, and I’m able to roughly play 2 or 3 songs on it.  I wish everyone reading this a happy holiday! – So I only just realized today that I saved this as a site page rather than a blog post, over a week ago, only just noticed that it didn’t show up. Make sure to double check that!

Week 12 – Gift.

The highlight of my week was my sister. She decided she wanted to teach me how to play the guitar, which I was all about seeing how much I could learn. It was a lot more simple than I thought it was going to be, that is to say, that the concepts were simple, but the execution needed some work. In one day I managed to learn several chords, some little techniques, and the chord progression to a song, all thanks to my sister. I still need to practice some more, and figure out how to hold certain strings without accidentally touching others, my biggest obstacle as of right now is F major, but I’ll get it. It’s like an early Christmas gift, but one that will probably last forever.

Week 11 – Snow.

It snowed last night here in Texas, which means a lot of people will be going hysterical. Oh my god! Snow! Barely an inch of snow! Gotta get the bread and milk! What if we get snowed in? It’s so cold! The freezing point of water is too much! On the non-satirical side of things though, it was quite nice to see these white sky feathers float down and blanket the surrounding landscape, like a mother tucking her child in for bed. In the morning there were children out in their yards playing with the leftover frost from the previous night; it might have been their first time seeing snow in person, and that’s just a wonderful thought. By noon the snow had melted and gone away, leaving behind nothing more than a damp ground, and cold air.