With anxieties rising about the future of cinema these last few years, the 50th anniversary of The Godfather allows Hollywood to remind viewers they made a perfect thing once, and could do so again.
This year’s Oscars featured a tribute to the 1972 classic, with director Francis Ford Coppola offering brief remarks while flanked silently by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Now, the Paramount+ limited series The Offer chronicles the film’s turbulent production, as told by Al Ruddy, who serves as the show’s executive producer and main character portrayed by Miles Teller. Featuring numerous monologues on the magic of cinema and an endearing let’s-put-on-a-show vibe, the series fashions itself as a love letter to the era of New Hollywood, when maverick directors like Coppola battled Hollywood suits for creative control and won, conjuring some of cinema’s most lasting works in the process.
There is, however, a dark underbelly to the series, and the era it depicts, which Hollywood isn’t so keen to examine. Put simply, The Offer has a nostalgia problem. It portrays and pines for an antiquated era, when male producers could sleep with their employees, while neglecting their supportive women partners at home. It relegates the majority of its female characters to the sidelines, framing them as obstacles the men must overcome to achieve their artistic and professional goals. The exception is Bettye, Ruddy’s intrepid assistant played heroically by Juno Temple, but while the show treats her as an equal to her male bosses, it does so only by defining her through the same tired male cliches. We see her walk brazenly into the office of a mob boss to ask a favor, and we are floored by her moxie, even though we’ve already seen Ruddy do it several times.
Ultimately, The Offer turns both its men and women into caricatures, so it’s hard to get too worked up about its inequality. It’s a routine case of Hollywood self-mythology, but it’s frustrating this is the myth Hollywood is investing in right now. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, one might have hoped the industry would be more introspective about its past, and more honest about the women who were harassed and treated unfairly under the old system. Instead, it appears they are doubling down on the male-dominated canon and reinforcing the status quo. In addition to The Offer, there is another project on the way about the making of The Godfather – directed by Barry Levinson and starring Oscar Isaac as Coppola —–while Ben Affleck is slated to direct a film on the making of Chinatown. Apparently, Hollywood …….