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"And it's pretty clear the idea behind this choice is to stress how distant Kay is from the dark universe of the Corleones."
November 13, 2011 5:56 AM   Subscribe

The Clothes of Kay Corleone.
posted by Fizz (51 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well written...thanks! It's always fun when someone more astute than I points out subtle/obvious meaningful details that I've not noticed.
posted by HuronBob at 6:24 AM on November 13, 2011


Thank you for that. The title was something so esoteric, so specific that I thought it might be the name of a band or an improv group. Instead it is a very interesting and insightful piece that makes me want to sit down and watch The Godfather again (it has been too long.) The Godfather holds up to repeated viewing better than any other movie I can think of except Citizen Kane.

So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies? I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice. Am I just an old fart? Or is there really nothing out there of this quality?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:25 AM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is great--thanks, Fizz!
posted by marimeko at 6:42 AM on November 13, 2011


The Godfather is one of those movies I can watch over and over again. After the twentieth viewing you start to focus on nuances and details. Like the way the Don brushes off some dirt from Sollozzo's pant legs when they sit down for the first time to discuss the protection he needs for his heroin distribution network. These are the things that make for a great actor/performance. I'm not certain if that's something that is directed or just done by a top quality actor.
posted by Fizz at 6:42 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about Stripes? - Oops... 1981 - 30 years ago
The Blues Brothers? - 1980 - even older
Monty Python and the Holy Grail? - 1974 - eeek

... you're right!

"Are you the police?"
  "No ma'am, We're musicians"

Browsing the top 250 movies... and found one...

1993 - Groundhog Day - 18 years ago...
I could watch that over and over...
  "Don't drive angry"

Almost made it with "My Neighbor Totoro"... 1988 (24 years)


2007 - Ratatouille - "The Chef, is the cook?"
It's a great movie, you can watch over and over, and see new stuff all the time.

2010 - Kick-Ass was pretty funny... time to see it again

2006 - Snakes on a plane?

2010 - The Expendables -
 Arnold Schwarzenegger walks off scene... Sylvester asks Bruce Willis "What's wrong with him?" - Answer... "Ah... he wants to be president" ;-)

Yes... there are still good movies made.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:46 AM on November 13, 2011


2007 - Ratatouille - "The Chef, is the cook?"
It's a great movie, you can watch over and over, and see new stuff all the time.

2010 - Kick-Ass was pretty funny... time to see it again

2006 - Snakes on a plane?

2010 - The Expendables -


You're joking, right? I did specify multi-layered, complex and adult.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:53 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies? I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice. Am I just an old fart? Or is there really nothing out there of this quality?

Quality is subjective, of course, but there are still a few directors around who make good quality films that aren't multiplex-fodder. Michael Haneke, Wong Kar Wai, Lars Von Trier, the Coen Brothers, Ki-duk Kim... the list goes on. Not all of their films will be masterpieces, and they won't appeal to everyone, but I think it's unfair to say the last two decades have been some kind of cinematic wasteland. The 70s and 80s produced its fair share of garbage movies, too.
posted by afx237vi at 6:53 AM on November 13, 2011


Stepping away from Kay Corleone. Every actor in this film was impeccably dressed. The wardrobe department deserves a round of applause. Such a beautiful film.
posted by Fizz at 6:59 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the sort of thing I expect to see on Clothes on Film. I was kind of surprised that the link didn't lead there. (Similarly, if you liked this, you should read the TLo discussion of the women's clothes in Mad Men. I loved it even though I've never watched Mad Men.) That's a really well-conceived, well-written piece and I'm glad I read it.

(I have to admit to a giant wtf moment about "Kay's abortion to Don Michael" which is weird and took me some thinking to parse. But I guess there's no way to say that without sounding patriarchal and possessive. His preposition choice is weird, though.)
posted by immlass at 7:04 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stepping away from Kay Corleone

What does this mean?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:05 AM on November 13, 2011


Similarly, if you liked this, you should read the TLo discussion of the women's clothes in Mad Men. I loved it even though I've never watched Mad Men.)

I second this: TLo

They do a character by character analysis of wardrobe choices.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stepping away from Kay Corleone

What does this mean?


Maybe I phrased that oddly. I just meant that I wanted to take up the discussion of the wardrobe of other characters in the Godfather who are not Kay Corleone (which is the focus of the post).
posted by Fizz at 7:26 AM on November 13, 2011


I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice. Am I just an old fart?

Yeah. Probably. Sorry.

Even movies you hate have stuff like this going on in them.

The other possibility is that you now only like movies based on their surface level traits. This is something that Roger Ebert and his ilk have taught you to do over the past few decades. Of course, if you're making your judgments on the surface level, you're going to hate a lot of movies with rougher surfaces but rich nougat-y centers.

It's something Ebert himself seems to have realized over the past ten years or so. His reviews still struggle to give us any real insight into the depth of what we're watching, but I suppose you can't ask for everything.
posted by pokermonk at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was seriously expecting this link to lead to a Tumblr blog. Instead: quality film criticism! Yay!
posted by moss at 7:35 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is really interesting. Most of the color-theory analysis of the Godfather has been tracking the placement of oranges and how they mark someone for death and calamity. This looks at orange in a very different way.

I actually gasped out loud when I got to the screenshot of Kay working on the dress.

I love this sort of close-level examination. I've done it with The Wicker Man for years.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:55 AM on November 13, 2011


So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies?

Who is 'they'?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on November 13, 2011


So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies?

I work as a writer in Hollywood, although on the television side. Here's the answer in the simplest possible terms: Hollywood (meaning the big studios) used to make a lot of movies, hoping that one of them would be a hit and pay for all of them. Now, Hollywood makes fewer, more expensive movies and therefore needs all of their movies to contain the elements of a smash hit.

It's a lot more complex than that, of course, but that's the main thing. Hollywood wants sure things.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:13 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me put it another way: I was meeting with an executive and asked what kind of scripts they were looking for. "Tentpoles," she told me. "We're only interested in tentpoles."

A tentpole is the big film that will make a bunch of money and "hold up the tent," that is, pay for the rest of the movies that they make. So to put what she was telling me in other words, the studios have figured out that a tentpole works a lot better if they get rid of the tent.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:18 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


> "We're only interested in tentpoles."

It isn't just Hollywood filmmaking. The entire business culture has been taken over in a hostile manner by some B school guys who took the leap of logic from the 80-20 rule (20 percent of your stuff accounts for 80 percent of your profit) to the hubris of we are smart enough to know what the 20 percent is ahead of time so we'll just harmlessly whack off the 80 and not even mess around with it.
posted by bukvich at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy: assuming your are not being deliberately obtuse, your should look up Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy.

And Michael Haneke and the brothers Dardennes are worth checking out too. There are plenty of other directors I could name, but anyone would be hard pressed to argue against the above three as representing the top tier of 'grown up' film making.

Individual films are another story and I could name dozens even though, like Coppola, the directors might have varying success rates.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2011


This is what a good costume department does.


Next time you watch a Kubrick movie, watch out for the animal prints. Animal print = predator.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies? I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice.

They don't make any money. Plus the first Godfather movie is exceptionally good. It's hard to make a very, very good movie, and now Hollywood doesn't want to risk the money.

But people are still trying. I watched "The Good Shepherd" for the second time recently, and found it quite haunting. It's no Godfather -- what is? -- but it is very thoughtfully made, and based on true characters.
posted by mrhappy at 9:01 AM on November 13, 2011


Also, more on topic, I still find it so hard to believe Coppola's career. I swear he must've sold his soul in and for the 70s. Godfather Part I and II, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation in a single decade... All filled with nuance and little perfect touches like Kay's clothing.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2011


Coppola has made a metric ton of fucking shitty movies.. so it's not like Godfather indicates that everything was amazing then. He just got lucky.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2011


Coppola has made a metric ton of fucking shitty movies.. so it's not like Godfather indicates that everything was amazing then. He just got lucky.

Yeah well...that's like just your opinion man.
posted by Fizz at 9:09 AM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cold Comfort Farm is my Godfather. The layers, the lines, and oh, the clothes too. Joanna Lumley and her collection of ladies' support garments! Casual allusions to pushing people down wells. It's Gorey-esque but it leaves me grimly cheerful. My twin and I would play it every weekend while we cleaned our apartment, echoing any line being said any time we swooped through the living room.
posted by clever sheep at 9:15 AM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm glad Kubrick was mentioned. His films are worth repeated viewings. The Shining and 2001 Space Odyssey in particular. The colour palettes in those films just pop and make for some very interesting symbolism.
posted by Fizz at 9:23 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


assuming your are not being deliberately obtuse, your should look up Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy.

And Michael Haneke and the brothers Dardennes are worth checking out too.


Actually I mostly watch foreign movies these days. I guess I should have asked: Why doesn't Hollywood ever make complex, adult movies any more. For example (as someone recommended Cohen Bros.) True Grit was enjoyable, but I can't see watching it more than once or twice. After you compare it to the old True Grit there really isn't much else to discuss (other than Bridges' choice to go with nearly non-intelligible dialect.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:29 AM on November 13, 2011


The newer version expresses the Presbyterian themes much more starkly.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three colors is great stuff but the youngest one is 17 years old so that isn't a real strong refutation of his (her?) point.
posted by bukvich at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2011


If you mean why the Hollywood of the 70s isn't around anymore, the answer is that the Hollywood of the 70s was a big risk-taking enterprise that the risk eventually caught up to.

In the 60s Hollywood was reeling from its competition with television, trying to load everything into expensive spectacle pictures like endless Cleopatras and WWII films with giant battle scenes, everything was in Technicolor and Cinemascope, and at the same time film audiences were skewing younger and younger-- and those folks, in the 60s, were interested in counterculture and European-tinged expressionism so French and Italian and other foreign 'art films' (Antonioni, the French New Wave, Bergman, as well as some Japanese imports) were doing big business. The big Hollywood studios noticed this and started giving some more creative control to young hotshot directors straight out of film school who identified more closely with the youth culture (especially after The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 and then a couple years later Easy Rider). The result was a bunch of young punks with names like Corman, Coppola, De Palma, Lucas, Atlman, Forman, Lumet, and then a bit later Scorsese and Spielberg and Cimino, et al., making weird violent movies that scored big critically and commercially.

As the 70s wore on, the directors of the so-called New Hollywood got more and more leeway from the studios, because not only were they making successful films, but the directors were accumulating star power which brings with it some guarantee of return on investment, the same as movie stars. With the leeway came bigger budgets, and then Jaws happened, and then Star Wars, and suddenly all the stops came out and studios were just giving shovelfuls of money to young male directors without checking on anything, basically.

Then in 1980 Michael Cimino made a huge four-hour bomb called Heaven's Gate-- it grossed about $3 million and cost about $44 million. The film, all by itself, bankrupted United Artists, which was bought by MGM. And the studio heads all looked at this and said, collectively, 'How the hell did this idiot make this terrible movie with our money?' The bubble burst, effectively. And then they looked back a bit and saw Jaws and Star Wars and realized that directorial star power and leash-free filmmaking was probably not the only way to make a lot of money, and certainly not the most prudent.

The result was the 1980s, a decade of American film marked by low-risk, high-blockbuster-potential films.

That isn't the whole story, and things have changed since the 80s, but that's why Hollywood is unlikely to produce another Godfather Part II or Mean Streets or Five Easy Pieces.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:14 AM on November 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice. Am I just an old fart? Or is there really nothing out there of this quality?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:25 PM on November 13


I broadly agree with you, although not literally. There have been some really good, thoughtful adult movies in the last twenty years. Just not as many as there were before about 1980. That's where it all started to get cheap (not in the financial sense, good golly no) and nasty for me.

Don't get me started on superhero movies. Finding out that someone over the age of about seventeen actually likes that shit is, for me, like finding out they're religious or conservative. It's a total deal-breaker. There is no excuse for it. None.

He just got lucky.
posted by ReeMonster at 5:07 PM on November 13


Yeah. He just tossed that shit out and some of it stuck, right? Must have been the zeitgeist or something. What a ridiculous comment.
posted by Decani at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Fizz, this is a great read. I've long been a student of the wardrobes of all 3 Godfather movies (even III was beautifully designed -- the sets and wardrobe are incredible).

I obsessed for a while about the clothes in Io Sono L'amour, too, and was so pleased when a fellow fanatic helped me out in AskMe.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2011


Awesome article. And even it wasn't, anything that reminds anyone how amazing Diane Keaton is in those movies is more than okay by me. She is instantly forgiven all crappy romantic comedies she's made since, which is really quite a feat.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:05 AM on November 13, 2011


" I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice"

Fargo is worth watching a few times. But The Godfather is better, yeah.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:47 AM on November 13, 2011


Any movie worth a shit does things like this. It's fascinating to really dig into a well-made movie and see how it quietly implies important things. The shift of depth of field in Rocky is a personal favorite. For a more obvious example, look at Harold's clothing in Harold and Maude. As he evolves, his clothing style shifts to reflect it.

In Sidney Lumet's book Making Movies, he talked about the subtleties he put into his work, and damn, it was fascinating.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most fascinating "deconstruction" of this kind (for lack of a better word) I've experienced is Anthony Minghella's director's commentary for The Talented Mr. Ripley (it's an extra on the DVD). He explains the framework and visual logic of every single shot and I learned much about the structure of film making from it. About rhyming images and their strength in repetition (Kay's orange dress is an example of this); the unfolding of the acts and their timing; his choices when directing the actors. These choices are very deliberate and work at the level of suggestion, rather than the necessarily obvious, but you are still affected by them.
posted by jokeefe at 11:53 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice.

What about films in the vein of No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood? That's to say, those movies that are by bankable directors that aren't known for blockbuster aesthetics and tend to garner a lot of critical praise. I could certainly stand to watch both of those films a few more times over.
posted by MUD at 11:56 AM on November 13, 2011


Oh, just another example of character building through costume changes: In The Music Box, Armin Mueller-Stahl expresses his character's arc from lovable grandfather to revealed Nazi through shoes: he starts out in sneakers and ends up in shiny black boots.
posted by jokeefe at 12:05 PM on November 13, 2011


That isn't the whole story, and things have changed since the 80s, but that's why Hollywood is unlikely to produce another Godfather Part II or Mean Streets or Five Easy Pieces.

I'm actually still amazed that films like Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy were actually made by Hollywood; they'd never have a chance at a major studio today, as far as I can tell.
posted by jokeefe at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2011


Actually. Ahem.
posted by jokeefe at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2011


So why have they stopped making such thoughtful, complex, multi-layered adult movies? I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice. Am I just an old fart? Or is there really nothing out there of this quality?

Plus there's the fact that you, an adult, have a house or apartment with a giant TV in it and, most likely, someone to watch the film with you whom you can have sexytimes with afterwards. There is therefore, little to tempt you out of the house to spend $10-$20 bucks watching a film when you can have a similar audio and visual experience (and much better snacks) at home for $0-$3 bucks. Whereas teenagers are by and large still questing for their sexytimes person and do not have guaranteed access to the giant TV, so they are much more likely to leave the house in search of these things.
posted by Diablevert at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to know the average age of the audience for today's Hollywood films compared to 40 years ago... I do think that the observation above about the 20/80 rule seems to fit the bill, sadly.

Every time I hear someone over the age of, say, 13 talk about how funny the poop humor was in the latest Apatow or
Sandler outing, I kind of want to cry. I just don't get why seemingly intelligent people pay for such garbage; meanwhile, the beancounters are laughing all the way to the bank.

Anyway, great post and comments. I'll cry later.
posted by Currer Belfry at 3:42 PM on November 13, 2011


Plus there's the fact that you, an adult, have a house or apartment with a giant TV in it and, most likely, someone to watch the film with you whom you can have sexytimes with afterwards.

That shows how little you know me-- we always have sexytimes before the movie.

Every time I hear someone over the age of, say, 13 talk about how funny the poop humor was in the latest Apatow or
Sandler outing, I kind of want to cry


I would never willing pay to see an Adam Sandler movie but I did go with my 18 year old to see Horrible Bosses, partly because Jason Bateman was in it. I sat in the movie theater wondering, "When did I lose my sense of humor?" Don't get me wrong--I still think Arrested Development is hilarious but most of the stuff that passes for comedy in Hollywood movies today just leaves me cold. Just as the horror movies leaves me bored and the romance movies leave me rolling my eyes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:11 PM on November 13, 2011


Don't get me started on superhero movies. Finding out that someone over the age of about seventeen actually likes that shit is, for me, like finding out they're religious or conservative. It's a total deal-breaker. There is no excuse for it. None.

Don't get me started on rigid genre stereotypes. Finding out that someone over the age of about seventeen who buys into that bullshit is, for me, like finding out they're an Orson Scott Card or Dave Sim fan. It's a total deal-breaker. There is no excuse for it. None.
posted by kmz at 4:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't think of a single movie made in the last 20 years that I would care to see more than once or twice.

Try some of these:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Love, Caution
Ride With the Devil
Rushmore
Sideways
Unbreakable
Eyes Wide Shut (I know, you hate it. It's very stylized. Try it again every few years.)
Age of Innocence
Remains of the Day
Gosford Park
Howard's End
The Crying Game
Glengarry Glen Ross
Husbands and Wives
Unforgiven
Schindler's List
Ed Wood
Fargo
Boogie Nights
The Big Lebowski
Pleasantville
Primary Colors
Galaxy Quest
The Iron Giant
Sweet and Lowdown
Topsy-Turvy
The Royal Tenenbaums
Adaptation
Punch-Drunk Love
I Am David
The Incredibles
Pan's Labyrinth
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Frost/Nixon
Moon
The Kids Are All Right
Black Swan
True Grit
posted by grumblebee at 6:34 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd say 8 1/2 holds up to repeated viewings just as well as the movies Secret Life of Gravy mentioned. It doesn't get as much love as it should these days -- maybe because it's not as accessible as The Godfather and not as pedagogically useful as Citizen Kane.

On a related note, Nine was a crime against cinema.

like finding out they're an Orson Scott Card or Dave Sim fan

Whoa, hang on. You'll permit a distinction between being a fan of the person and being a fan of the work, right? Because Dave Sim is unpleasant and bugfuck insane, but he's not a mediocre hack like Card. Large parts of Cerebus are absolute genius -- and I'm not just talking about Gerhard's backgrounds or the early, funny stuff. Look at the opening 50 pages of Form and Void: they're way beyond what anyone else is doing in comics. I can understand being unable to enjoy much of Cerebus, especially when the misogyny and/or religious craziness are front and centre, but being unable to recognize or appreciate its many, many moments of sheer brilliance? That would be a deal-breaker.

posted by twirlip at 10:28 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You rock, Grumblebee. I love a lot of those movies on that list, while I am not particularly fond of "The Godfather." However, I do like the costumes in that movie. It's so weird to think Diane Keaton was in it (I keep forgetting).

Speaking of Cerebus, I really enjoyed the Oscar Wilde character, even if Sim is insane.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:21 PM on November 13, 2011


Millers Crossing.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:07 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try some of these:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Love, Caution
Ride With the Devil


I have seen every movie on that list-- in fact some of them such as Fargo, Royal Tannenbaums, and Gosford Park I've seen at least 3 times. But while they are funny, pleasant to look at, even thoughtful at times, I don't really see them as either complex or epic as in the way of Apocalypse Now or Raging Bull, or On the Waterfront.

I was thinking about this all day yesterday. Aside from Godfather, Apocalypse, Kane, Casablanca, and To Kill a Mockingbird, the movies that I have seen more than 4 times and still enjoy are all children's movies, which I think of as more of a comfort thing. Sound of Music, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wizard of Oz, etc. I don't watch to see new things-- I watch for the familiarity.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2011


I'm not sure what your standards are or how you'd articulate the sort of complexity you're looking for, but I'd like to toss out a few titles.

The White Ribbon
I'm Not There
Ratcatcher
Zodiac
The Tree of Life
A Serious Man
Three Times
Yi Yi


Also since all the films you named are American films I hope you've also seen Andrei Rublev despite its irrelevancy to this conversation.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:59 AM on November 14, 2011


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