Take a Drink: whenever Michael tries to rehabilitate his reputation with the public
Take a Drink: whenever Vincent (Andy Garcia) does something hot-headed
Take a Drink: whenever the Catholic Church does something sleazy
Take a Drink: for anything that feels like a conscious callback to the originals
Take a Drink: for oranges
Do a Shot: for dead Popes
Do a Shot: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in!”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The Godfather, Part III is an interesting beast. Coming 16 years after Part II, Francis Ford Coppola all but admits that he did it for the money, and insists that Part I and Part II be viewed as one story, with Part III functioning as an ancillary epilogue. Compared against the originals, it does pale a bit, but there’s also a lot to like, and I can even get behind its Best Picture nomination.
The film picks up twenty years later in Michael’s life, with his children fully grown, his daughter running the charities he hopes to save his soul with, and his son almost as estranged as his wife. His efforts to move away from his violent past and towards “cleaner” big business hits a road bump when his business interests conflict with the mafia family “business” he’s trying to leave behind.
Their boardroom meetings can get a bit messy…
Lining this film up against the first two Godfathers is a fool’s errand, but if you choose another, much more contemporary mob drama comparison, The Sopranos, it starts to look a lot better. Andy Garcia’s Vincent soon-to-be Corleone, whose rise from wiseguy to prospective Don is one of the major arcs, would totally pound some beers and Russian gangsters with Christopher given the chance.
The film does a good job with Vincent examining the new more volatile and outwardly materialistic face of the mob in the generation right before it would start to fall apart, but this is still Michael’s story. In his advancing age he’s desperately seeking legitimacy and reconciliation, but the foundation of his empire and his relationships is rotten, and it’s all destined to come crashing down around him. Coppola also comments intriguingly on the Catholic Church’s traditional enabling of rich and powerful institutions regardless of whether Jesus would burst a blood vessel hearing about their involvement with them.
The only way this could be more wrong is if Satan is fiddling in the background.
On the technical side, DP Gordon Willis returned to the site of his finest work, but updates his cinematography in interesting ways, particularly the color palette he uses. The reds and pinks especially pop unlike anything seen in the other films. Otherwise, everything from set design to editing is polished and top of the line, if not as formally or thematically ambitious as in Coppola’s younger, hungrier years.
When people talk about the acting in this film, it’s always about how awful Sofia Coppola is. She’s not that bad, guys, and honestly I think it’s her dad’s affinity for redubbing dialogue that’s the real culprit. Perhaps don’t hire her for an animated film, but it was no reason to torpedo her whole acting career.
No sweat, I’ll just become one of the best directors of my generation instead.
More off-putting for me, actually, was Al Pacino’s performance. Jumping straight from Part II to Part III gives you whiplash, as Michael Corleone turns suddenly into, well, Al Pacino. He’s not bad, but his Pacino-ness overwhelms the character.
A slight knock on Coppola’s use of Nino Rota’s classic theme, which seems like it shows up in roughly half of the movie’s scenes regardless of its relevance. The real weakness of this film, though, is how inessential it is. You can argue that everything that really needed to be said about Michael Corleone has been by the end of Part I, and it’s hard to sink any lower than the end of Part II. Coppola said this epilogue was about Michael paying for his sins, but he’s both done that by destroying his family and his father’s erstwhile ideals in the other films, and can never hope to pay off that moral debt.
The Godfather: Part III is both unnecessary and far better than the bad rap it’s gotten. In the end, can you really say no to more Godfather?