Tag Archive: Francis Ford Coppola


Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether or not every element of the new Paramount+ series The Offer is based in reality just doesn’t matter.  Fifty years ago Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather premiered in theaters across America and it’s maintained its status as one of cinema’s best films.  Viewers want all the crazy legends behind its creation to be real, including Frank Sinatra getting into a public argument with author Mario Puzo, and the mob getting irked by its very existence.  When you have to choose between legend and history in storytelling, give audiences whatever makes the better story.  And the story from the view of The Godfather producer Albert S. Ruddy is like reading the exploits of gangster Jimmy Alo in Dylan Struzan’s book A Bloody Business (reviewed here).  When an old bird is telling fish tales from decades ago–and he’s good at it–you just let him go (the character of Johnny Ola in The Godfather, Part II is based on Alo, so the comparison has some credence).  Only this limited television series has the kind of result that makes you wish it were a movie.  As peeks into Hollywood go, the acting, writing, direction, and production values are exactly as the streaming provider has been promising in its months long advance marketing.

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Fifty years ago this week The Godfather premiered in theaters across America.  That fiftieth anniversary is netting more than one re-creation from Hollywood of the making of that movie.  Barry Levinson is directing Francis and The Godfather, a movie starring Oscar Isaac as The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola facing off against Jake Gyllenhaal as producer Robert Evans (an actor who eventually produced Chinatown), with Elle Fanning as Ali MacGraw, and Elisabeth Moss as Eleanor Coppola.  It began filming last year, so expect it in theaters or streaming by year end.

Before that arrives, a limited series that is also about the making of The Godfather is heading to streaming service Paramount+ next month.  The Offer has an impressive cast, all seemingly well cast against their real-life counterparts.  Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts) plays Coppola, Matthew Goode (Watchmen) plays Evans, and Miles Teller (Fantastic Four, Top Gun: Maverick) plays producer Albert S. Ruddy.

Here is the trailer for The Offer:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’d happened to watched last year’s crime noir film Motherless Brooklyn and not known the screenwriter or director, I wouldn’t fault you if you expected to see Francis Ford Coppola’s name in the credits, or you figured Martin Scorsese finally made the perfect New York picture.  But that’s not what you’ll find, because it not only stars Edward Norton, but he wrote and directed the film–his first director effort.  And it’s an exciting, stunning, gritty film.  The fact that Motherless Brooklyn is even worthy of comparison might be praise enough for the film and its creator, but it goes a step further and surpasses a film it’s frequently been compared to–Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.  The fact that Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and The Irishman were nominated for best film at the Oscars this year, but this wasn’t?  That’s a real head-scratcher–or that Norton’s performance as a Tourette’s syndrome-affected private detective trying to find the guys that killed his boss wasn’t even nominated for best actor?  Movie lovers and fans of crime noir who missed it should catch its home release.  It’s as good as it gets.

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The 3D movie is here to stay and it’s as big as it’s ever been.  Not only new movies continue to hit the big screen and impress us with newer ways to turn a movie visit into an amusement park ride, whether in 3D or IMAX 3D.  Old films continue to get the 3D treatment, too.  An entire branch of films and home video releases are devoted to this category, with films that weren’t originally filmed in 3D like Titanic, Jurassic Park, Top Gun, I, Robot, and Beauty and the Beast among the films getting the upgrade–the best results coming from the incredible 3D work done to The Wizard of Oz (reviewed here) and Predator (reviewed here).  But a music video getting a 3D upgrade?  That’s new.

This year the 1980s are coming back in a big way.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller knocked our socks off as part of the latest trailer for Stranger Things season 2 last month.  The powerhouse music video (which even made the National Film Registry) has been given a complete 3D and sound upgrade for a premiere at the Venice Film Festival this summer followed by a return to the theaters for the first time since a limited run in Los Angeles when it debuted back in 1983.  Thriller is truly a one-of-a-kind film, directed by John Landis (The Twilight Zone, The Blue Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places) and co-written by Landis and Michael Jackson, the film was a dream project for Jackson, who was a fan of Landis’s fang-filled An American Werewolf in London.  Jackson spared no expense, pulling in monster maker Rick Baker for prosthetics and Michael Peters for choreography input.  It’s a little bit meta–Vincent Price’s Thriller was the (fake) monster movie Michael and his girlfriend watched in the theater in the video, with a great shot of the marquee as they emerge from the theater.  Fans of a new generation will be able to see Thriller in real life on their local theater marquee.

A fan of 3D, Michael Jackson pioneered the re-launch of 3D films in 1986, starring in his sci-fi film Captain EO, a 3D musical with executive producer George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, scored by James Horner and co-starring Dick Shawn (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Producers, The Year Without a Santa Claus) and Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor, The Addams Family, The Grifters, The Watcher in the Woods) as an incredibly designed borg villain (an inspiration for Star Trek First Contact’s Borg Queen).  John Napier (Broadway’s Cats) created the costumes, Rick Baker returned for makeup and monster creations, and Tom Burman (Planet of the Apes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Goonies, Dead Again) created Huston’s makeup.  A Disney theme park exclusive, Captain EO was shown up until 2015 in the parks’ 3D theaters, but has not been released in a home version.  The Captain EO 3D comic book is regularly still available here at Amazon.

Michael Jackson’s first (and then, presumably only) 3D film featured Anjelica Huston as this spectacular borg creation, the Supreme Leader.

Michael Landis returned to lead the 3D, music, and sound effects upgrades for the new 3D release of Jackson’s film/video Thriller, saying, “I am so happy to have had the chance not only to restore but enhance Michael Jackson’s Thriller!  We took full advantage of the remarkable advances in technology to add new dimensions to both the visual and the audio bringing it to a whole new level.  Even though Thriller was shot traditionally, I was able to use the 3D creatively.  Let me just warn you, there is a rather shocking surprise in there!”

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