The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

—-Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III

A terrible Blackberry photo of my folding Xootr Swift parked next to a Yuba cargo bike (set up to carry a whole family) outside the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Two different philosophies on urban bicycling.

On the last two Saturdays Candy and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to watch special showings of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. So today, the third Saturday in a row, we went to see The Godfather Part III. I was very interested because they were screening the re-cut version The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. I’m not sure if I was ever able to sit through the original Godfather III – it wasn’t up to the standards of the first two – and I found it ponderous and boring, especially on television. I have read that the new version, although it leaves most of the center of the film the same, changes the beginning and end – leading to a version that is much improved. So we’ll see.

I enjoyed it – I think the key is to realize that it is a very different movie, both in style and in message, than the previous two. If you can take it on its own, it’s a good, enjoyable film – though not as epic as the other chapters in the saga. Seeing it in a theater helped – the film mostly made sense, though I still don’t completely understand all the financial issues with the Vatican.

Oh, and I’m afraid its still true – Sophia Coppola may be a great director – but she is terrible in this movie.

And its fun to spot actors that you’ve seen somewhere else that you never thought would be in a Godfather epic (for example Harry Dean Stanton in Godfather Pert II). In this one it would have to be Don Novello (he has a big part) – better known as Father Guido Sarducci.

The Before Trilogy

“Listen, if somebody gave me the choice right now, of to never see you again or to marry you, alright, I would marry you, alright. And maybe that’s a lot of romantic bullshit, but people have gotten married for a lot less.”

— Jesse, Before Sunrise

Bachman Lake, Dallas, Texas, after sunrise

1995 was not so long ago – what? twenty seven years? That may seem a long time ago to you, but it doesn’t to me.

Even in 1995 it was hard to see odd, independent, or foreign films. It was before streaming, before really diverse rental options, and sort of after the death of repertory cinema. Also, I had two small kids at this time – so I was not able to go out searching for unique cinema.

I was still watching movie review shows at the time (I have since quit, too many spoilers). I remember seeing a review, probably on Siskel and Ebert, of a movie called Before Sunrise starring July Delpy and Ethan Hawke. It sounded unique and interesting and I wanted to see it, but never was able to pull it off. It apparently was a conversation movie – sort of like My Dinner With Andre – except with a young couple meeting and spending one single night (before sunrise) in Europe walking around and talking to each other.

Over the years I read that a sequel was made… and then a sequel to the sequel.

A few days ago I noticed that there was a set of three movies on The Criterion Channel titled The Before Trilogy. It was the Before Sunrise and its two sequels – Before Sunset and Before Midnight. I’m not a big TV bingeing person, but I decided to watch the three movies one day after another. I had to skip one day because I felt like shit and couldn’t even get up the energy to watch a damn movie streaming on The Criterion Channel. I realized that the two sequels were both made exactly nine years apart from each other.

The second movie was better than the first. It was about the stripping away of a person’s facade – and the first movie was about getting around a person’s facade – although the facades were very strong with those two. The second movie was much more complicated with more at stake – mostly because the characters were nine years older and forced to be more serious and introspective and their choices were more important with more at stake.

I’m afraid that I was disappointed in the third film. It was well made – but I felt it was a re-hash of the same sort of arguments every long-term married couple has on a regular basis. Maybe an important subject – but not entertaining to watch. It could be seen as the answer to the more interesting second chapter, but again, not worth the nine years’ wait.

It’s been more than nine years now since Before Midnight was made. There has been talk of a sequel, but the three Linklater and the two stars seem to have run out of ideas.

Shame.