My Top Ten Robert Duvall Movies

Happy Birthday to Robert Duvall, who turns 86 today!

Robert Duvall has been in a lot of big films but he seems to be an actor who is often overlooked. To be fair, when I decided to do this Top Ten after watching THX 1138, I couldn’t have instantly named all the movies he’s been in & was like “Oh yeah – he was in that one too!” when looking him up at IMDB & seeing his full list of films. I think some of the films in this list are overlooked as well (I actually really like Falling Down, Colors & Deep Impact, which is why I have them fairly high & will probably be moaned at for having them above a couple of classics). 😉

As always, I’ve ranked these according to how much I personally like these movies (Not according to Duvall’s individual performances in each. But he’s good in them all!). Here are My Top Ten Robert Duvall Movies:

10. Network

9. Apocalypse Now

8. Crazy Heart

7. Deep Impact

6. Colors

5. Falling Down

4. To Kill A Mockingbird

3. THX 1138

2. The Godfather: Part II

1. The Godfather

The Rest That I’ve Seen:
Days Of Thunder
Four Christmases
Phenomenon
Gone In 60 Seconds

Saw These But No Longer Remember Them (sorry!):
The Natural
The Paper
M.A.S.H.

I Like These But His Role Was Uncredited (so I didn’t count them):
The Conversation
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

A Few Big Ones I’ve Not Seen:
Bullitt
True Grit
The Apostle
The Road

My Top Ten Coppola Movies

Happy Birthday to Francis Ford Coppola, who turns 77 today.

This is a part of my Coppola Week. I’ve been reviewing movies directed by Francis Ford Coppola & his daughter Sofia (ones that I’ve seen for the first time this past year). So far, I’ve reviewed The Bling Ring, The Outsiders & Marie Antoinette.

I was going to make this a Top Ten including all of the members of the Coppola family who are in the movie industry but, after looking into how many that would involve, I decided it would be a pain in the ass! Besides, I’ve already done My Top Ten Nicolas Cage Movies HERE. I’ve also never seen the Rocky movies, so there’s no point including Talia Shire. And Jason Schwartzman is mainly in those Wes Anderson movies I can’t stand so screw that. And then there are loads of other family members who do lots of behind-the-scenes stuff such as cinematography so, after researching the Coppola family more than my own ancestry, I decided to make this a list including only Francis Ford & Sofia.

So here are My Top Ten Movies Directed By Francis Ford or Sofia Coppola, counting down to my favorite:

**(Okay, I’ve seen a total of thirteen so here are 11, 12 & 13):
13. Jack
12. Somewhere
11. Peggy Sue Got Married

10. Dracula

9. The Bling Ring

8. Marie Antoinette

7. Apocalypse Now

6. The Conversation

5. The Virgin Suicides

4. The Outsiders

3. Lost In Translation

2. The Godfather: Part II

1. The Godfather

FYI: If they’re not listed, I’ve not seen them. No, I never even bothered to watch The Godfather: Part III. The one I really need to see is Rumble Fish now that I’ve finally watched The Outsiders…! 

I’ll finish Coppola Week tomorrow with a review of The Conversation.

**I recently participated in Ruth from FlixChatter’s Five For The Fifth, in which she asks fellow bloggers five movie or TV-related questions. The fifth question is from a guest blogger & I was this month’s guest with the question “Which character would you most like to see killed off in a current TV show?“. I chose this question knowing I’d be seeing The Walking Dead season finale the next day & now I’d really love to bitch about that ending with fellow bloggers!! Grrr. Have a look at Ruth’s Five For The Fifth post HERE. Thanks again, Ruth! 🙂

Apocalypse Now (1979) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review, we have J James of JJames Reviews (oddly enough!). He writes excellent reviews and watches LOADS of films. I can’t keep up with him! I’m forever apologizing to people on WordPress as I fall so behind on my blog reading & J James is certainly one of those people always receiving my apologies! But when I do catch up on his blog, I know I’ll always get reviews of all the most current theatrical releases as well as the classics.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now over to J James to hear his thoughts on Apocalypse Now, IMDB rank 35 out of 250…

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Directed By: Frances Ford Coppola

Written By: John Milius and Frances Ford Coppola

Starring
Martin Sheen
Marlon Brando
Frederic Forrest
Laurence Fishburne
Sam Bottoms
Albert Hall
Robert Duvall
Dennis Hopper
Harrison Ford
Scott Glenn

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Adapted from: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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Plot Synopsis

After returning to Vietnam for his second tour of duty, special-forces trained Captain Benjamin Willard’s (Martin Sheen) superiors order him to track and terminate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a formerly decorated US soldier who has begun leading a cult that unilaterally executes those they call enemy. With the aid of Chief Phillips (Albert Hall) and his crew of navy personnel, Willard travels the Nung River en route to Kurtz’ compound, all the while growing more disenfranchised with the war. And also more psychologically unsettled.

My Opinion

Frances Ford Coppola’s epic treatise on the Vietnam War needs little introduction, if only because those unfamiliar with the film’s content probably know the story of its creation, a fact that makes this film as infamous as it is respected.

To be sure, it is a quality picture, even if it is not perfect.

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More than most films, Apocalypse Now is theme-based. Good thing that Coppola and Writer John Milius effectively portray the senselessness of war and the fragility of sanity. Between Willard’s mission, Colonel Kilgore’s (Robert Duvall) unseemly obsession with surfing, Captain Colby’s (Scott Glenn) men mindlessly firing their weapons into uninvestigated space, Clean (Laurence Fishburne) shooting civilians, and soldiers responding badly to a USO show, Coppola shows how war creates bad decisions. In his hands, war becomes descent into madness, whether it is Kurtz’ explosive variety, Kilgore’s obliviousness or Colby’s soldiers’ emotional catatonia.

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Perhaps most impressively, Coppola’s filmmaking technique, especially the audio, helps us understand Willard’s descent. Early in the film, the sound design is conventional. We hear the sounds of the characters’ surroundings as they shout to be heard, but as the movie progresses, the audio becomes increasingly psychedelic, until, eventually, Willard’s environment is almost silenced by trippy and disturbing rhythmic noise. Apocalypse Now won an Oscar for Sound Design, and it is no wonder why.

Sound is not the only technical element that proves successful. So does the movie’s cinematography. Few motion pictures use darkness and (almost paradoxically) color to blind both the viewer and the characters, to produce uneasy nervousness.

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In other words, Apocalypse Now is very well made. It is also well acted. Robert Duvall shines as a crazed combat commander, as does Dennis Hopper as a hyperactive photojournalist convinced of Kurtz’ greatness. Of course, Marlon Brando is disturbingly intelligent as the malicious Kurtz, while Martin Sheen admirably anchors the movie.

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All of which is to say that Coppola’s epic is thematically and technically successful. Too bad it is narratively flawed. Most of Willard’s descent, for example, is told through dry voice over, not shown through action or other character’s dialogue, a direct result of Willard’s status as observer in his own story. He spends most of the movie watching other people’s insanity, instead of doing things himself. Similarly, we frequently hear about Kurtz’ charisma, most especially from the Photo Journalist (Hopper), but we do not see it. We see Kurtz’ intelligence and ruthlessness, of course, but not the likability that causes his followers to treat him as their god. Unfortunately, telling not showing continues throughout much of the film’s narrative.

Including with many of the side characters, none of which are well developed. Each has one trait, something Willard often describes in voice over. Ditto that for the consequences to many actions, including Willard’s choice to kill a wounded woman. He tells us that his companions now feel differently about him, but we don’t see their behavior change, really.

Finally, Apocalypse Now has zero notable female characters. While understandable given context, the absence of femininity makes the picture too macho.

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To be sure, none of the narrative flaws ruin Coppola’s film, but they do keep us at an emotional distance from the story. We are unable to immerse in the characters’ psychology and experience, a fact that means we never truly feel their struggle.

Conclusion

Apocalypse Now is a masterfully made thematic film that accomplishes its objectives. Even still, additional focus on narrative and character development would have produced a more emotional, and thereby more moving, final product.

Final Score: 7/10