Week 9 of 2023. Maybe I should start tracking them as 8/2023 and 9/2023 or something. So anyway, this is how the week’s viewing went-
30. The Hatton Garden Job (2017)
31. Rocky (1976) – 4K UHD
32. Fire Down Below (1957)
33. Empire of the Ants (1977)
34. Fall (2022)
Star Trek Picard (season 3) Episode 3
The Godfather (1972) – 4K UHD
So The Godfather had been making me feel guilty ever since Christmas, when the 4K trilogy set was a present I received and I didn’t immediately get to watch it. Ever since, its been looking down at me from its shelf. Well, I figured this weekend was the ideal opportunity – the evenings were free for watching the trilogy over three consecutive nights (well, we’ll see how it goes but that was the plan, so hopefully its Godfather Part Two tonight).
It’s utterly redundant of me to say much about the film itself – The Godfather is a remarkable achievement, one of the best films ever made. Not certain if its one of my top ten favourites, it always seems to be one of those films easily admired, maybe harder loved (I always preferred Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America), but I’m certainly warming to it more as I get older. What I will say though is that everything everyone said about this 4K disc when it came out last year was all true, with zero hype- its got an extraordinary picture quality, elevating almost every shot to a work of art, and not in the showy way of early Ridley Scott films either. Instead it looks utterly ravishing in a strange, matter-of-fact way that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but instead serves the story and seems utterly authentic regards the period setting. It doesn’t ‘look’ like a film shot in 1971. It looks like a film shot in 1948 or 1955, its cinematography feels almost as if it was shot around the same time as Hitchcock’s Vertigo. You combine a film shot as well as this film is, with a fantastic script and with a perfect cast, well, you’ve got cinematic lightning caught in a bottle right there.
Maybe I should mention, at this point, all those other films sitting on the shelves in my den-cum-temporary-office in the back room. Alongside The Godfather sits the second Hitchcock 4K set, in which there are four films, I think, waiting to be watched (alongside THAT set is the first, in which the 4K disc of Psycho still inexplicably waits). A few shelves down, Mad Max 2 & 3 from the 4K Anthology boxset are waiting (there’s the Cannes and Argento cuts in the Dawn of the Dead set alongside the Mad Max box too). Looking back up the shelves, Eureka’s 4K set of the Police Story Trilogy waiting, too- I watched the first film some months back, but haven’t gotten around to the other two yet. Above that, there’s a few Kino Lorber 4K’s sitting together – among them a few still not watched; Phil Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. To be clear, some of these are films I’ve watched several times over the years, these are ‘just’ 4K editions that I’ve bought hoping to savour them again in definitive editions, like Criterion’s 4K of Double Indemnity. Watching something ‘new’ seems to take priority over something ‘old’… I’m not confident about any logic in that, but seems to be how it goes, and there is a comfort knowing I have them there to watch when the whim takes me. One of the other issues with some of these films is that the more obscure ones don’t really interest Claire, so I have to find time to watch them by myself which is an order of magnitude harder than watching all those films that Claire WILL watch, as there’s a long list of those waiting too.
But it does not escape me that I have not watched the 4K edition of Touch of Evil, but I HAVE watched Bullet Train, or, say, Top Gun: Maverick three times now since I bought that film on disc (I don’t rewatch ‘new’ films as much as I used to years ago, but something about Maverick pulls me back).
Anyway, enough of that self-flagellation. Time for best/worst of the week. Well, obviously The Godfather would be the best by a wide margin, but this only concerns films I have watched for the first time, and on that front, it transpires I was in for a bit of a surprise this week, when the 4K disc of Rocky arrived. Watching it, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d never seen the film before. I’d seen the ending before, as its repeated in Rocky II, and I’d seen bits of the film over the years, usually in showings over Christmas holidays. But I’d never actually watched the original film in its entirety before, and hey, turns out it was great, and now I know why some folks go nuts over it. I think seeing Rocky III and IV on VHS rentals had given me the wrong impression of the franchise as a whole, leaving me with no interest in going back to the first film, but yeah, I had never actually watched Rocky. Somehow these things happen, you miss some films… in this case I actually thought I had (maybe boxing films blur together in the memory), but there you go, and yeah, that was the best ‘new’ film of the week.
The worst of this week is easy: Fire Down Below, which was really sunk (sic) by its cast, which itself was a surprise since it starred Jack Lemmon. I know, I know… a gambling man couldn’t be blamed for putting his money on Empire of the Ants but in a funny way, sure, its a bad film, but I enjoyed seeing those old stalwarts from 1970s/1980s tv shows in their wooden ‘prime’ so much so that, weighing things up, I enjoyed that film a little bit more.