Those streets of New York have never looked nicer, albeit tenser, than under Woody Allen’s gaze in Annie Hall. His proactive desire to copulate with each and every street of the Big Apple is stunning, disturbing and intriguing. Painting a picture of those delicate wonders and the dive bars whose opening hours are for night owls and lonely souls, Allen manages to escape it. Not through the integrity of characters bigger or better than them though, it is luck that shines a spotlight on them and drags them into the real world. The director-turned-star shoves audiences into the depths of New York, not to showcase the love he has for it implicitly but to join up his disdain for love with the ironic fixtures of his hometown.
Origin stories have drowned out the originality of the big-budget feature. Nowadays, everything, whether it is a supporting riff from an old legend or a leading role of an established franchise, needs an origin story. Before it was hip and resourceful to do so, though, The Godfather II took a portion of the Mario Puzo book, The Godfather, and siphoned it off into a sequel. While it may open with a mother’s love for her young boy and the lengths she will go to in defending him, the real core of The Godfather II is that the gut instinct of those threatened by the young boy is correct. It is a common occurrence in The Godfather. Instinct is the unmovable object, and it is that which The Godfather II bases itself on.
Bolstered by the fine writing he had offered in the Oscar-winning Patton, Francis Ford Coppola, now seemingly on top of his game, sauntered into Paramount Studios in need of work. His production studio owed hundreds of thousands to Warner Bros., and his previous film, The Rain People, had bombed. But he had an Academy Award in the bag and showed no signs of stopping. His initial hesitance to take on Mario Puzo’s The Godfather as his next project stemmed from the “cheap” nature Coppola had assigned to the book. Still, that mounting financial pressure changed his mind, and that is indeed for the better, for The Godfather is a stroke of pure, raw passion.
With a smirk and a wink to camera opening nearly every episode, Jude Law provides us with his finest role to date. A bold statement to make, but when you have ten episodes to flesh out a character as seemingly villainous and traditional as Pope Pius XII, you must hit the ground running. That he does, and Law provides audiences magnificent tension throughout The Young Pope, a series from director Paolo Sorrentino. What a superb pairing the two makes, and in turn they make some of the most dependable, engaging television the modern era will ever see. It is a fascinating, near-perfect piece of drama, with stories flowing over and around characters who grapple with their conscience and faith under the strained formalities of Vatican City living.
My continued efforts in understanding the minds of Disney fans continue into the territory that I feel a bit more familiar with. Sequels to films I grew up watching is a risk to the source material, and nobody should know that more than Disney and Pixar. They somehow survived two Cars sequels, so I had somewhat high hopes for Finding Dory, a sequel to childhood classic and all-round great film, Finding Nemo. Whereas I have no excuse for nit-picking and tearing through other Disney films that I haven’t the faintest nostalgia or love for, things are different with this one. Finding Dory looks to expand upon memories I hold onto as a child, and with that in mind, Finding Dory would either be a tremendous companion piece to a classic Pixar film, or an unmemorable waste of time and material that never really goes anywhere.