Today’s music video is the video for AIR’s Playground Love.
This song was recorded as a part of AIR’s score for Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. The video, which is largely made up of footage from the film, along with singing wad of chewing gum, is credited as having been directed by both Sofia and Roman Coppola.
(While not as well-known as his sister, Roman Coppola is a frequent collaborator with Wes Anderson and he also directed an excellent film called CQ.)
Leaving this out of a week of music videos that feature dancing would be a crime. I could leave it at that, but let’s talk a little bit about this music video.
Much like the mid-90s swing revival seemed to come out of nowhere, so did this video. We were all familiar with Fatboy Slim’s Praise You whether we wanted to be or not at this time. They played that song to death. Then came Mr. Deer Hunter and Gold Watch up your butt Christopher Walken dancing around a hotel like he was suddenly possessed by the spirit of Fred Astaire. Leave it up to Spike Jonze to think this one up, or at least I assume he did. This is one of those music videos that we not only know the director and producers, but the cinematographer, choreographers, the production designer, the 2nd camera operator, costume and wardrobe, visual effects, stunts, and it apparently had a “Philosophical Consultant”.
The choreographers were Spike Jonze and Christopher Walken themselves, but also a Michael Rooney. His work can be seen from as far back as Saved by the Bell to this year’s The Jungle Book.
Of course you’ll recognize the 2nd camera operator. That being director Roman Coppola.
The cinematographer is Lance Acord. He worked on Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), Lost in Translation (2003), Marie Antoinette (2006), etc.
The people you’ll recognize goes on.
Eric Zumbrunnen was the editor on this video a along with some notable videos such as Buddy Holly, Cannonball by The Breeders, and Sure Shot by Beastie Boys. He too would continue to work with Spike Jonze being the editor on Adaptation and Her (2013).
Producer Vincent Landay would continue to work with Jonze, but Deannie O’Neil doesn’t appeared to have done much of anything beyond this music video.
Production Designer Val Wilt would go on to do 96 episodes of Bones. Not bad.
Costume Designer Casey Storm would also go on to work for Spike Jonze and do Zodiac (2007) with David Fincher.
Visual effects person Ben Gibbs would work some more with Jonze, but I’m not sure about Jeff Kim.
As for the stunt people, Keith Campbell is one of those people who has done stunts on everything. Brian Friedman is apparently very well known as a dancer/choreographer on TV Shows. He also worked on several Britney Spears music videos.
The “Philosophical Consultant” K.K. Barrett worked with both Jonze and the Coppolas.
Wow! Now this is a well documented music video. This makes me happy. It also makes me happy watching Christopher Walken channel his inner Astaire. I love how Walken at first isn’t sure where the music is coming from and notices the little radio. Then he is overcome, and must dance. It’s true what Gloria Estefan said: “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”.
This video is pure fun. It’s also funny that we got 70s cop shows for Beastie Boys, Happy Days for Weezer, 50s musicals for Björk, and then Walken doing a more expansive version of Fred Astaire’s number from 1951’s Royal Wedding.
“I got something for your mother and Sonny and a tie for Freddy and Tom Hagen got the Reynolds Pen…” — Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) in The Godfather (1972)
It probably seems strange that when talking about The Godfather, a film that it is generally acknowledged as being one of the best and most influential of all time, I would start with an innocuous quote about getting Tom Hagen a pen.
(And it better have been a hell of a pen because, judging from the scene where Sollozzo stops him in the street, it looked like Tom was going all out as far as gifts were concerned…)
After all, The Godfather is a film that is full of memorable quotes. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” “It’s strictly business.” “I believe in America….” “That’s my family, Kay. That’s not me.”
But I went with the quote about the Reynolds pen because, quite frankly, I find an excuse to repeat it every Christmas. Every holiday season, whenever I hear friends or family talking about presents, I remind them that Tom Hagen is getting the Reynolds pen. Doubt me? Check out these tweets from the past!
But all that love also makes The Godfather a difficult film to review. What do you say about a film that everyone already knows is great?
Do you praise it by saying that Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Marlon Brando, John Cazale, Richard Castellano, Abe Vigoda, Alex Rocco, and Talia Shire all gave excellent performances? You can do that but everyone already knows that.
Do you talk about how well director Francis Ford Coppola told this operatic, sprawling story of crime, family, and politics? You can do that but everyone already knows that.
Maybe you can talk about how beautiful Gordon Willis’s dark and shadowy cinematography looks, regardless of whether you’re seeing it in a theater or on TV. Because it certainly does but everyone knows that.
Maybe you can mention the haunting beauty of Nina Rota’s score but again…
Well, you get the idea.
Now, if you somehow have never seen the film before, allow me to try to tell you what happens in The Godfather. I say try because The Godfather is a true epic. Because it’s also an intimate family drama and features such a dominating lead performance from Al Pacino, it’s sometimes to easy to forget just how much is actually going on in The Godfather.
The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone Family. Patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) has done very well for himself in America, making himself into a rich and influential man. Of course, Vito is also known as both Don Corleone and the Godfather and he’s made his fortune through less-than-legal means. He may be rich and he may be influential but when his daughter gets married, the FBI shows up outside the reception and takes pictures of all the cars in the parking lot. Vito Corleone knows judges and congressmen but none of them are willing to be seen in public with him. Vito is the establishment that nobody wants to acknowledge and sometimes, this very powerful man wonders if there will ever be a “Governor Corleone” or a “Senator Corleone.”
Vito is the proud father of three children and the adopted father of one more. His oldest son, and probable successor, is Sonny (James Caan). Sonny, however, has a temper and absolutely no impulse control. While his wife is bragging about him to the other women at the wedding, Sonny is upstairs screwing a bridesmaid. When the enemies of the Corleone Family declare war, Sonny declares war back and forgets the first rule of organized crime: “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
After Sonny, there’s Fredo (John Cazale). Poor, pathetic Fredo. In many ways, it’s impossible not to feel sorry for Fredo. He’s the one who ends up getting exiled to Vegas, where he lives under the protection of the crude Moe Greene (Alex Rocco). One of the film’s best moments is when a bejeweled Fredo shows up at a Vegas hotel with an entourage of prostitutes and other hangers-on. In these scenes, Fred is trying so hard but when you take one look at his shifty eyes, it’s obvious that he’s still the same guy who we first saw stumbling around drunk at his sister’s wedding.
(And, of course, it’s impossible to watch Fredo in this film without thinking about both what will happen to the character in the Godfather, Part II and how John Cazale, who brought the character to such vibrant life, would die just 6 years later.)
As a female, daughter Connie (Talia Shire) is — for the first film, at least — excluded from the family business. Instead, she marries Sonny’s friend Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo). And, to put it gently, it’s not a match made in heaven.
And finally, there’s Michael (Al Pacino). Michael is the son who, at the start of the film, declares that he wants nothing to do with the family business. He’s the one who wants to break with family tradition by marrying Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), who is most definitely not Italian. He’s the one who was decorated in World War II and who comes to his sister’s wedding still dressed in his uniform. (In the second Godfather film, we learn that Vito thought Michael was foolish to join the army, which makes it all the more clear that, by wearing the uniform to the wedding, Michael is attempting to declare his own identity outside of the family.) To paraphrase the third Godfather film, Michael is the one who says he wants to get out but who keeps getting dragged back in.
And finally, the adopted son is Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). Tom is the Don’s lawyer and one reason why Tom is one of my favorite characters is because, behind his usual stone-faced facade, Tom is actually very snarky. He just hides it well.
Early on, we get a hint that Tom is more amused than he lets on when he has dinner with the crude Jack Woltz (John Marley), a film producer who doesn’t want to use Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) in a movie When Woltz shouts insults at him, Tom calmly finishes his dinner and thanks him for a lovely evening. And he does it with just the hint of a little smirk and you can practically see him thinking, “Somebody’s going to wake up with a horse tomorrow….”
However, my favorite Tom Hagen moment comes when Kay, who is searching for Michael, drops by the family compound. Tom greets her at the gate. When Kay spots a car that’s riddled with bullet holes, she asks what happened. Tom smiles and says, “Oh, that was an accident. But luckily no one was hurt!” Duvall delivers the line with just the right attitude of “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!” How can you not kind of love Tom after that?
And, of course, the film is full of other memorable characters, all of whom are scheming and plotting. There’s Clemenza (Richard S. Catellano) and Tessio (Abe Vigoda), the two Corleone lieutenants who may or may not be plotting to betray the Don. There’s fearsome Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana), who spends an eternity practicing what he wants to say at Connie’s wedding and yet still manages to screw it up. And, of course, there’s Sollozzo (Al Lettieri, playing a role originally offered to Franco Nero), the drug dealer who reacts angrily to Vito’s refusal to help him out. Meanwhile, Capt. McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) is busy beating up young punks and Al Neri (Richard Bright) is gunning people down in front of the courthouse. And, of course, there’s poor, innocent, ill-fated Appollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli)…
The Godfather is a great Italian-American epic, one that works as both a gangster film and a family drama. Perhaps the genius of the Godfather trilogy is that the Corleone family serves as an ink blot in a cinematic rorschach test. Audiences can look at them and see whatever they want. If you want them and their crimes to serve as a metaphor for capitalism, you need only listen to Tom and Michael repeatedly state that it’s only business. If you want to see them as heroic businessmen, just consider that their enemies essentially want to regulate the Corleones out of existence. If you want the Corleones to serve as symbols of the patriarchy, you need only watch as the door to Michael’s office is shut in Kay’s face. If you want to see the Corleones as heroes, you need only consider that they — and they alone — seem to operate with any sort of honorable criminal code. (This, of course, would change over the course of the two sequels.)
And, if you’re trying to fit a review of The Godfather into a series about political films, you only have to consider that Vito is regularly spoken of as being a man who carries politicians around in his pocket. We may not see any elected officials in the first Godfather film but their presence is felt. Above all else, it’s Vito’s political influence that sets in motion all of the events that unfold over the course of the film.
The Godfather, of course, won the Oscar for best picture of 1972. And while it’s rare that I openly agree with the Academy, I’m proud to say that this one time is a definite exception.
In even more Oscar season news, the International Press Association announced their nominations for the Satellite Awards yesterday. Les Miserables led with 10 nominations.
If you’re like most people who don’t obsess over film awards then chances are that you’ve never heard of the International Press Association. And that’s okay. The main thing to know is that it’s Oscar season and that means that everyone’s giving out an award. The Satellites are a lot like the Golden Globes, just with less credibility. As far as serving as a precursor is concerned, a Satellite win can help a film maintain momentum but a loss doesn’t really hurt.
That said, for the past few years, I’ve always ended up agreeing more with the Satellite Nominations than with either the Oscars or the Golden Globes. For instance, back in 2010, the Satellites nominated Noomi Rapace for her performance in the original (and the best) version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
“Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
“Life Of Pi”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kim Ki-duk, “Pieta“
Ben Lewin, “The Sessions”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Laura Birn, “Purge”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Emilie Dequenne, “Our Children”
Keira Knightley, “Anna Karenina”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Laura Linney, “Hyde Park On Hudson”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Omar Sy, “The Intouchables”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “The Master”
Samantha Barks, “Les Miserables“
Judi Dench, “Skyfall”
Helene Florent, “Café De Flore”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem, “Skyfall”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
John Goodman, “Flight”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Eddie Redmayne, “Les Misérables”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
John Gatins, “Flight”
Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, “The Intouchables”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master”
Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom”
Kim Ki-duk, “Pieta”
Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Tom Stoppard, “Anna Karenina”
Chris Terrio, “Argo”
David Magee, “Life Of Pi”
Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”
Ben Lewin, “The Sessions”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Beyond The Hills” (Romania)
“Caesar Must Die” (Italy)
“The Intouchables” (France)
“Our Children” (Belgium)
“Pieta” (South Korea)
“A Royal Affair” (Denmark)
“War Witch” (Canada)
BEST ANIMATED OR MIXED-MEDIA FILM
“Ice Age 4: Continental Drift”
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
“Rise Of The Guardians”
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”
“The Central Park Five”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”
“The Pruitt-Igoe Myth”
“Searching For Sugar Man”
“West Of Memphis”
Seamus McGarvey, “Anna Karenina”
Ben Richardson, “Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
Claudio Miranda, “Life Of Pi”
Janusz Kaminski, “Lincoln”
Mihai Malaimare, Jr., “The Master”
Roger Deakins, “Skyfall”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Sarah Greenwood, Niall Moroney, Thomas Brown, Nick Gottschalk and Tom Still, “Anna Karenina”
Nathan Crowley, Kevin Kavanaugh, James Hambidge and Naaman Marshall, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Rick Carter, Curt Beech, David Crank and Leslie McDonald, “Lincoln”
David Crank and Jack Fisk, “The Master”
Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson, “Les Misérables”
Niels Sejer, “A Royal Affair”
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Jacqueline Durran, “Anna Karenina”
Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud, “Cloud Atlas”
Christian Gasc and Valerie Ranchoux, “Farewell, My Queen”
Paco Delgado, “Les Misérables”
Manon Rasmussen, “A Royal Affair”
Colleen Atwood, “Snow White And The Huntsman”
BEST FILM EDITING
Alexander Berner, “Cloud Atlas”
Jeremiah O’Driscoll, “Flight”
Chris Dickens, “Les Misérables”
Lisa Bromwell, “The Sessions”
Jay Cassidy, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Dylan Tichenor, “Zero Dark Thirty”
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Dario Marianelli, “Anna Karenina”
Alexandre Desplat, “Argo”
Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
John Williams, “Lincoln”
Jonny Greenwood, “The Master”
Thomas Newman, “Skyfall”
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Learn Me Right,” “Brave”
“Fire In The Blood/Snake Song” “Lawless”
“Love Always Comes As A Surprise,” “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
“Suddenly,” “Les Misérables”
“Still Alive,” “Paul Williams: Still Alive”
BEST SOUND (EDITING AND MIXING)
“Snow White And The Huntsman”
“Life Of Pi”
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“The Dark Knight Rises”
“Life Of Pi”
The Gotham Awards aren’t the only awards regularly given to films that the majority of filmgoers will never get to see. The Independent Spirit Nominations are also dedicated to recognizing the best of independent film and they tend to get a bit more attention than the Gothams. With the early Oscar talk being dominated by mainstream studio films like Argo, Lincoln and Les Miserables, indie films like Bernie and Moonrise Kingdom are going to need all of the help that they can get.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep The Lights On
Silver Linings Playbook
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Rama Burshtein, Fill the Void
Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed
Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever
Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – (for features under $500,000)
Breakfast with Curtis
Middle of Nowhere
Mosquita y Mari
The Color Wheel
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Linda Cardellini, Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
BEST MALE LEAD
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Thure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce, Four
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
David Oyelowo, Middle of Nowhere
Michael Péna, End of Watch
Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom
Yoni Brook, Valley of Saints
Lol Crawley, Here
Ben Richardson, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Roman Vasyanov, End of Watch
Robert Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom
How to Survive a Plague
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present
The Central Park Five
The Invisible War
The Waiting Room
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Turkey)
Rust And Bone (France/Belgium)
War Witch (Democratic Republic of Congo)
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Nobody Walks, Alicia Van Couvering
Prince Avalanche, Derrick Tseng
Stones in the Sun, Mynette Louie
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Pincus, director David Fenster
Gimme the Loot, director Adam Leon
Electrick Children, director Rebecca Thomas
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD (given to emerging documentary filmmaker)
Leviathan, directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
The Waiting Room, director Peter Nicks
Only the Young, directors Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (for ensemble cast)
Starlet Director: Sean Baker Casting Director: Julia Kim Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone