Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Be sure thy sins shall find you out: Godfather 3

Hot off the press, stunning news, remember you heard it here first: THE GODFATHER PART III IS NOT TOO BAD. In fact, I loved it. More than Part II. But I don't want to overload you with shocks all at once, so we'll take it a step at a time...

Spoilers for all three throughout.

As you may have gathered, last night I watched said film and enjoyed it exceedingly. It wasn't without it's share of problems - like the rest of the trilogy, it took me a while to get into it, I could hardly tell the supporting cast apart, and the mafia politics had me utterly confused. Like part II, I though it could have been browner and I missed the members of the family who were absent.

But as for Total Film's assertion that it was "misjudged", as for the general consensus that it is unworthy of the rest of the trilogy - fie on you fools! Perhaps after a 15 year wait it was a bit of a disappointment - from my point of view, seeing them all in the same year, it was a fitting end to a great trilogy.

There has always been a shadow over Michael. No, not his vast catalogue of sins (though they hang pretty heavy, and heavier here than ever), but his father's memory. All the way through people keep mentioning Vito and reminding us that they conduct their business very differently (see below for my opinion on that...). The most effective moment, I think, is the very beginning of Part II where the name Godfather is immediately applied to the deceased Vito instead of his son - setting the tone of the film. But I thought the flashbacks were a bit heavy handed, and they didn't really enlighten me at all. That's not art, that's obvious. FFC and Total Film agree the stories are better told togather than on their own - I heartily disagree. No, I was far more touched by the more subtle effect produced in part III. Discussions with mob bosses over a table, getting tubed to a hospital bed, developing a charming rasp (yes I know it's due to alchohol abuse on the actor's part, but it doesn't make it any less of a curious character point) and having to deal with the loss of a child.

This film's all about him (yay!) looking back on his achievements - and taking a peep at his flashbacks, there obviously isn't very much there he feels proud of.

Of course, as with the first two, it does all comes back to Michael - and there are too many good moments to count. Anthony singing the in Sicilian was wonderful - a pretty song, bringing bad memories for a Don losing his nerve to the extent he now relies on sunglasses to keep his emotions locked behind bars. Whether quietly inquiring of a corpse what he's done wrong, being invited to confess by an unsuspecting priest or screaming his brother's name during a fit, he's still as elusive as ever. I mean, no one expected him to turn into a monster in the first film (except me, damn spoilers). No one expected him to turn into that much of a monster in the second film (I think you know what incident I'm referring to - not that it surprised me, damn spoilers) And the resulting character arc in this film is about as astonishing. He gets more smiles here than the first two put together.

Sofia Coppola was gorgeous - ok, her acting was a bit limp, but no way as bad as I'd been lead to believe. She was hardly in it for goodness sake - certainly not enough to "ruin it" as people say. Vincent is lovely, in every possible way. Though he's definitely from Sonny's side of the family, he has got a pinch of Michael's quietly psychotic personality - and he looks like Robert De Niro when you squint. Of course, the very suggestion of a Godfather IV would have me in spasms of terror, but it'd be curious to see what sort of a Don he turned out to be. Kay was good in the first two, but here she's really really good - near on destroyed by her experiences from the previous films, which leaves her in a wonderfully fragile state just in time for the mess which is the last five minutes. The real revelation here, though, is Connie - transformed from victim to victor by her various troubles. I wanted to cheer for her once or twice, finally getting a say in Family business. Sweeping in and giving the final word on whether to hit Joey Zaza - tee hee - one wonders what sort of a don she'd have made...

FFC hasn't lost his touch either - it's hardly as good as the baptism sequence, but the opera house montage is still excellent - and while the end came as no surprise, thanks to the same internet rat who let me know who Keyser Soze was (damn you!), it still packed a punch.

One criticism would be the feeling of samey-ness went through both sequels - the plot ran itself through holes to get a party scene at the beginning, some violence during a religious occasion and a montage of hits at the end. It irritated me in II, but seeing it happen again in III was unforgivable.

Overall? Well, I'll be watching my back for assasins after this, but I actually enjoyed this more than Part II. I'm not saying it was better - in terms of greaty-ness they seemed pretty much equal below the unmatchable Part I. For me, it's all about the character arc. Part II doesn't have much more to say about Michael - just confirms a few things which were obvious in his personality from the end of part I. Part III picks the journey up again, and takes it in a whole new direction.

Just a few odd thoughts which don't really fit anywhere else:

I've always adored Tom. Somewhere in the back of my mind was a little voice that said, if something nasty happened to Michael it'd be just comeuppance and probably for the best, wheras Tom was different...(though not necessarily a better person. Just because he's calm and rational, doesn't make him nice. After all, I'd say Mike was very calm and rational. And he didn't seem too horrified standing near the body in Senator Geary's room. Considering he was donning at the time, who's not to say it wasn't his idea?) Thus I found his absence particularly distressing. Especially as it involved actors and their pecuniary matters.

Michael tells Anthony to have the car picture "for luck". Bad move. I have very vivid memories of just what luck it brought Michael when he first set eyes on it.

And I jolly well hope Sollezzo's disembodied spirit saw all of this - I hope he regrets what he did in part I, and I hope he feels bad for unleashing Don Michael on the world. If not for that unfortunate misunderstanding, our hero may have remained a civilian and true to his resolve not to get involved and everything would have been better.

And now, for a bit of a rant. Vito and Michael - forever to be measured by each other. There's an assumption that Vito is a "better man" than Michael (especially at imdb), and I can see why some people think so. Well here's my take on it

The difference between them is merely their beginnings. Vito saw Don Fannuci, a nasty swagger who bullied the neighbourhood, and transformed accordingly to a benevolent don who was willing to grant favours and help his fellows out. However, Michael started half way up. He was born into the mafia world, it was with him all his life and thus he got a different perspective on it - he never sympathised with the "little man" because unlike his dad, he never was one. But who did Mike learn donning from? Where did he get the idea that vengeance implies more than "kick me" signs? It's all perspective. Who didn't love The Don in part one? Kind grandparent, benevolent friend, a great politician - all because we didn't see him do anything evil. But who's to say he didn't, off screen? Every other don did and I think it's fair to assume Vito did too, to cement his power and keep things running smoothly. He's been through gang wars before, he shot Fannuci - his kingly bearing is just a thing he has developed, like the way they insist it's a "business", to cover in his own mind the fact he's a criminal. The idea Vito is nicer is merely an impression. It's all a matter of personality - Vito's a bon viveur, Michael a little more introverted, which is why he seems evil. "Why were you so loved and I so feared" Mike asks Tomasino's corpse, though he could equally have been addressing his father - it's not the things they do, but the way they do it. And a biased camera allows the actions of one to seem worse than those of another. Perhaps running for weapons wasn't Vito's first reaction, but Mike being a very rational and logical thinker (too rational and logical...) probably ran through the other options first. Vito forgive's Sonny's death for political reasons; Michael allows the Risotto brothers to get away with bad stuff scot free, for similar reasons.

But wait, I hear you say...what of the inevitable Fredo question. I wish Mike hadn't done it - it's brought up in answer to all inquries. Almost any discussion of the trilogy can be ended with the words "He had Fredo killed". Vito had a great life. Sonny died, which must have stung, but it was nowhere near the horrible position Michael found himself in. Michael was only trying to protect his family, like his good ol' dad the family came first. But at the end of II, he'd lost his wife, his children and his brother (I mean before the boathouse incident. Everyone always falls on Fredo's side in this - but personally, if my sister's actions had lead to me being attacked I'd be a little cross too. Not only had Fredo inadvertantly put his kids in danger, when called upon to account for his actions Fredo launches into a personal attack. When he says "I've always taken care of you", he means it -all his hard work evidently isn't appreciated by any of them.) all due to his actions. I've heard a thousand different people assert that Vito would never have done such a thing, but in protection of his family...? I'm not so sure...I think that given the right circumstances, he could have had his brother scrubbed. We never really get close to Vito the way we do with Michael. We only ever see Vito's persona, his public side - the side that inspires undying loyalty to characters and audience alike. Before you dispute it, he wears his public side in private as well as in public (tries to quote Connie from II, when she mentions "Dad being strong for all of us") Peverse as it may seem, Michael is far more human. Think about it for a moment...when do you ever know what the Don was really thinking? Perhaps it is just me, but Vito was only ever approached and appreciated from a distance. Vito was so family orientated, and so into the karma-aspects of favour granting that I think that given such a situation he'd do it.

Let's clarify. Pretend that Paulo didn't die, but teamed up with some bad guys and hit young Vito's house instead, putting his family in danger. And as a result, Mama Corleone walked out with baby Sonny, Fredo and Tom (after having an abortion - that'll be no baby Michael then) and left him all on his own. It's terrible just thinking about it - I get mental images of him nuking his brother's house and running around with semi-automatics, I think he would have been devastated. I even think he'd do it himself instead of sending a henchman. Vito really loved his family (don't believe anyone who tells you Mike loved his less...), and while circumstance lead him to forgive Sonny's murder, there was nothing in the way of Theoretical-Paulo's death

Verdict: don't let yourself be blinded by Vito's obvious charisma - just because he covers his tracks with a smile, doesn't make him any less of a baddie.

PS - over the weekend, me and four friends went on an adventure. We wandered randomly around the area, caught every bus we saw, attempted to get horribly lost and ended up where we'd started. All in all, we were lucky not to fall foul of a madman and get murdered in increasingly ukky ways. Especially as we all agreed that I, as the dim blonde, would be the first to be eaten. Anyway, eventually we wound up at a friends house and we decided to get bikes. Only problem - she had but four bikes. "Don't worry!" quoth I, "I've seen this film! It's possible for two people to ride on one bike!" Well, my friends, Paul Newman is either a blooming genius, or or Katherine Ross was tied on there with wires. We spent about 15 minutes trying to work it out, by which time the mother of the friend of the house we were at had produced cake, and everyone mysteriously decided not to use the bikes after all...


Rob said...

Found this through an IMDb topic. Swell blog.

Anywho, Tom Hagen was always my favourite character but in Part II he began to be dull and monotonous, much like the film. Seriously, how can anyone say it was better than the first? Admittedly I haven't seen Part III but if he was closer to how his character was in Part II, it wouldn't of been worth including him in it to further tarnish his good name. I actually thought the flashbacks in Part II were the highlights because they actually held some of the colour and feeling of the original. There were a couple of decent bits in it, though. The ending with the family around the dinner table was great as was the scene where Michael confronts Fredo but besides that, it was all very dreary and bland.

Ninquelosse said...

*glows with pride*

To be honest, Tom was hardly in Part II. I totally agree the final flashback was the best bit - seeing Sonny again! The real problem with it was not only had Michael had lost his family, we'd lost them as well.

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