FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Francis Ford Coppola |||
Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola is an amazing talent whose inspiration and influence spans many generations. Virtually the link between the studio system of yesteryear and the independent minded filmmaker of the modern age, Coppola became the first major film director to emerge from a university degree program in filmmaking, thus legitimizing a now common route for many future filmmakers.

This Academy Award winner continues to enjoy an enormous critical and popular success due in large part to Coppola’s ability to break down an epic saga of crime and the struggle for power into the basic story of a father and his sons, punctuating the prevalent theme throughout Coppola’s oeuvre: the importance of family in today’s world. His personal portrait mixed tender moments with harsh brutality and redefined the genre of gangster films.

This intense, yet unassuming thriller has an impact that touches the viewer on a personal level and raises the question of privacy and security in a world of technology – thirty years ago! Coppola’s then virtually unknown cast is a roster of inevitable superstars, including Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall. This Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound lost out to Coppola’s other great effort of the year, The Godfather: Part II.

Coppola's masterful Vietnam War-updating of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was the first major motion picture about the infamous “conflict”. This colossal epic was shot on location in the Philippines over the course of more than a year and contains some of the most extraordinary combat footage ever filmed. Unforgettable battle sequences and sterling performances from every cast member (including Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, and Martin Sheen) mark this Academy Award-winning drama as a must-see for any true film fanatic.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

By BrianOrndorf

April 27th, 2007

It's charming, it has a flying spirit, but "Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" comes up short in the emotion department, no matter how much it tries.

Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

In the 15 years since their college glory days, the members of a vocal group (think a more angsty Rockapella) have all succumbed to the horrors of growing older. Still bound together by their love of music, the group is reunited when one of their own is about to be wed. Meeting again in the Hamptons for the long weekend leading up to the ceremony, the group embarks on an odyssey of painful reminiscing, pranks and jokes, and confronting the bumpy marital and sexual realities of their lives.

“Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” has a marvelous personality to it that does wonders to alleviate the problem areas that plague the script. It’s frothy, sitcom entertainment plugged directly into the lost youth mentality of such past classics as “The Big Chill.” However, “Sing Now” is a modestly budgeted picture that strains mightily to overcome its tiny production value with a song in its heart and yappy characters that don’t know when to quit conversing.

Television comedy writer/director Bruce Leddy uses his verbose script as the sled dog team to pull “Sing Now,” writing both philosophical issues concerning the insecurities of advancing age and light slapstick fare that doesn’t offend but isn’t terribly humorous either. It’s an erratic piece of scripting that starts off strong exploring the secret desires and worries of the characters though comedic interchanges and a loose dinner party atmosphere. The fun doesn’t last for long, with Leddy taking detours into domestic abuse, prostitution solicitation, and suicide as a way of opening the aching heart of the movie and exploring the real world pain of these men. I never bought a minute of it.

Too much of the dramatic material seems born from a writer following a screenplay handbook. “Sing Now” is better and miles more confident staying fluffy and agreeable. Leddy could still attack growing pain confessions with a lighter touch, but he doesn’t trust himself, and late-in-the-game jabs at melodrama stop the film dead.

Leddy has better luck with a majority of his cast, who add to the playful mood of the film with their chipper spirits. Of course, this excludes the acting job from Reg Rogers, who combines the line delivery of Nathan Lane and the swagger of an intoxicated Armand Assante to create a character any viewer in their right mind will want to reach into the screen and slap. Thankfully Molly Shannon, here as an undersexed housewife frustrated with her doltish husband, adds a dash of zing to the film with her spastic one-liners and frank sexuality.

Perhaps “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” suffers from a lack of attitude, but it is an amiable sit. Besides, when was the last time you saw a film that featured men singing for the sheer pleasure of the moment? It’s that type of sincerity that helps get this movie through some rough patches.

My rating: B