Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Godfather: Part III. B

It took 16 years to go from 'The Godfather: Part II' to 'The Godfather: Part III.' Now everyone is older. Key characters have left. And Michael Corleone, now in his sixties, is going through a moral crisis as he tries to keep the family business alive. The movie portrays a dual story line, one with the inside lives of the characters, and other with a plot to make millions in a scheme involving the Vatican. The latter element of the plot felt completely unnecessary to me, something that was merely thrown in to keep impatient audience members from walking out of the movie out in extreme ennui. I wanted the mafia business, which we got plenty of in the first two films, to sort of be backstage to the real personal problems of the Corleone foundation. Instead it is woven in with obvious intention and given almost equal attention as the family life. Michael Corleone is in obvious agony over his past, yet he recognizes the identity he has chosen and knows that it's too late to turn back. However, instead of falling apart completely, he does his best to make those that matter to him happy. He is very protective of his daughter, he allows his son to pursue his music passion, and he shows that he still cares for his first and only true love, Kay. With his age and frail condition, Michael knows he'll have to have to take someone under his wing to keep the business alive. So he chooses his nephew, Vincent, who we see falling into the violence and greed from the first scene he's in and onward. As many 'Godfather' advocates have already made manifest, part III should never have been made. It's not that it's a bad movie. It's just that it's very clear what it's trying to do, therefore appearing quite shallow in comparison to the first two. Also, there are some other problems as well. As I said, the 'thriller' aspect of the movie was too confusing and just didn't really fit with something as sophisticated as this. And the acting was a disappointment, too. Al Pacino reprises his role as Michael, yet he doesn't have nearly the same power as he had in the first two, nor the composure that Brando harnessed so beautifully as Vito Corleone in the original. Instead we get an emotional old man falling apart with a stupid haircut. The other acting problem, which has been expressed much more blatantly by Godfather aficionados, is the performance given by Sofia Coppola (the director's real life daughter) as Michael's ignorant daughter. Her performance felt flat and uninspired, as if she didn't want to be in the movie but was being forced to by her father. 'The Godfather: Part III' is not in the same class as the first two, obviously. It's a weak movie compared to its predecessors and hardly worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence. Yet not many movies are. I'm not dismissing this entirely, because it is 'well made.' But in my mind, and the minds of countless others, the 'well' in that last phrase should be replaced with the 'it should never have been.'

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