Tuesday, December 05, 2006

(Corle)One is the Loneliest Number: A Movie Club Column

Sung to the tune of “Oh Mickey”:

“Oh Britney you’re so fine
Your unpantied legs should intertwine
Oh Britney Oh Britney ”

Talk about a tough job.. How does a movie franchise that made 2 awesome movies in the 70s.. bounce back with a sequel in the 90s to a much loved piece of work? This was a question facing George Lucas when he tried to make the Star Wars Phantom Menace movie in 1999... But, from an NWOW perspective, that movie is soooo 2005... Kind of like the days when Britney Spears used to wear panties and all the universe didn’t know her personal grooming habits. And why is she partying with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan instead of taking care of her kiddies?

Today we are talking about another sequel that had a lot to live up to.. The Godfather Part III. This movie came out in the very early 90s…and it definitely pales in comparison to the first two films. Back in 1990 when this came out, a lot of critics blasted Francis Ford Coppola for casting his daughter Sofia in a major role in this movie,… As Mary, the daughter of Michael Corleone, many of the die hards consider her the Jar Jar Binks of this movie..

The first issue with this film comes in the very beginning with a timeline shot of our old pal The Twin Towers establishing that the movie takes place in New York City in 1979, some 20 years after the end of Godfather II when Michael Corleone killed his brother while on a fishing trip. The movie also features a nasty shootout in Atlantic City which is ironic since 2 columns back we featured a fishing headline and an Atlantic City trip. The issue with 1979 is did they make a mistake? Or is the movie taking poetic license by introducing a storyline involving the deaths of 2 Popes which actually happened.. but in 1978? Of course shows like The West Wing and 24 have “Presidents“. But these are not the real President,…. Those are examples of the writer using poetic license to create a fictional Prez like this movie may have done by creating fictional Popes. On the other hand, the 2001 sitcom That’s My Bush which amazingly is easier to find on DVD than the new oh so elusive Match Game DVD (released 2 weeks ago and still IMPOSSIBLE to find in NJ!) featured a moronic buffoon named Bush as President which is obviously very true. Speaking of That’s My Bush, do you think Kevin Federline will use those recent Britney Spears pics when he tries to get custody of their kids?

The movie starts like the other 2.. The Corleone Family hosts a big party and makes a 10 million dollar donation to a Catholic Charity. This film features prominent new characters including Don Altobello played by Eli Wallach who is still working in 2006 and will celebrate his 91st birthday this Thursday! There are also some striking similarities between this film’s opening party and the first movie. Both Godfather’s sons say “no” to a life of crime. And when an older teen idol Johnny Fontaine comes out to sing a song, the head of the family again retreats to his office to work… this time Michael has to address a dispute between his nephew and mobster Joey Zasa.. a scene that culminates with an ear biting performance that shows that Godfather III was on Mike Tyson’s Netflix list before his fight with Evander Holyfield.

The film focuses on Michael Corleone’s 2 kids.. .. now grown and possible heirs to daddy’s life of organized crime. His daughter Mary starts the movie by blatantly flirting with Sonny Corleone’s son… Sonny’s sonny.. Sounds like the catch phrase that catapulted Tom Hanks to stardom in Bosom Buddies. However, Sonny’s son Vinny is also Mary’s first cousin which makes the budding romance kind of creepy. Of course it works for Vinny since he aspires to rise within the ranks of the Corleone organization.

Sonny, played in the original by James Caan of Brian’s Song fame, was gunned down in the original movie at a toll plaza in a violent gun battle that seems to have replayed over Thanksgiving weekend outside that Queens nightclub when a man leaving his bachelor party died after 50 shots were fired by undercover cops investigating nightclub shenanigans, . Isn’t it interesting how Al Sharpton came in and got everyone all riled up BEFORE he knew the facts involved in the case? Now there are reports that there may have been a person with a gun in that entourage…. . And did Sharpton jump on the bandwagon because the young man was gunned down by 50 bullets OR because of another headline grabbing twist… that he was killed on his wedding day. I wonder if Shapton would have started his marches and protests if this gentleman had been killed by just one bullet. I think so because he could always seize the “gunned down on his wedding day“ angle. . Sharpton never met a headline he couldn’t resist; one of his protests was held outside a hospital where sick people need to rest and recuperate!

First of all… you shouldn’t have a bachelor party the day before the wedding.. You need to be sober and well rested to keep track of all the guests and the dancing and of course the envelopes! Secondly, the guy drove his car right into an undercover cop and then rammed his car twice! So maybe he was up to something involving the undercover investigation, or he was seriously intoxicated. Let’s say he was drunk…. While Sharpton talks about the young man’s legacy, its very likely that based on statistics of drunk driving car crashes, that another scenario was very likely to unfold. Based on his difficulty in getting the car out of its parking spot without striking a man and another car is it unreasonable to believe that he likely would have gotten into a deadly accident with his car? And what would his legacy have been then? Or the legacy of the young kid on a bicycle or innocent pedestrian who would have been hit?

Getting back to the movie, Michael’s son Anthony also has his scene announcing his decision to distance himself from the family business, by telling his padre in the beginning of the movie that he will not become a lawyer.. ostensibly groomed by Michael to replace Tom Hagen who “died” because Robert Duvall demanded too much money to appear in this film. Anthony instead decides to follow his dream to become a singer, yet his premiere night at the opera in Italy is like an episode of 24.. capped off with a massive shootout on the steps outside.. the most action seen on steps outside a building since the singles meat market that used to congregate outside of Bnai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side back in my single days.

Its interesting to compare Anthony to his dad in the very beginning of the first movie. Keep in mind that the first movie started with Michael Corleone telling his girlfriend (who would be the kid’s mom) that he would never get involved in his dad’s line of work. Would the kids succeed where Dad failed and steer clear of all the craziness? Unlike his dad, Anthony was able to follow through and stay away from all of the Corleone shenanigans, although hypothetically you wonder if there was a G4 movie, would he actually be working for the family?- What opera company would hire him after his family’s behavior at his Italian premiere? Shootouts on the steps? Another guy poisoned to death in his balcony seats?

But Michael so incredibly unlikeable in the second movie is the focal point in G3. Now that some 20 years have gone by since the brutal killing of his brother… (as opposed to the original where he brutally killed his brother in law in the end), Michael has a craving to legitimize the family business. He offers to make a deal with the struggling Vatican bank where he will bail them out with several hundred million dollars, if they use their board of director votes to catapult him to the head of Immobilare- an international real estate company that will make him a Gates-ian multi gazillionaire. And how did the Vatican Bank get into this pickle? Did they make a bunch of bad loans? Was their slogan - “When the Protestant Bank says no.. the Vatican says… Yes!” Of course things don’t go according to plan and we watch the unfolding of the 3 Popes era of 1978... Or 1979?.

Michael also faces his own mortality as his health starts going downhill. He is actually civil to his ex wife and at times sweet. His dealing with the Vatican is part of his attempt at redemption - he himself rationalizes his deal with the Vatican Bank by weighing the power to absolve debt vs. the power of forgiveness. But his attempt to escape the family business is short lived as his nephew Vinny continues to drag him in.. and Michael can only watch helplessly as his little ho daughter goes skipping around town showing off “My Cousin Vinny”.

Overall when you give this movie a rating it really isn’t fair to compare it to the 2 masterpieces that preceded it… But even if you look at it on its own merits its still way too long clocking on at more than 3 hours.. And the opera scene which had so much potential… enough to add a half or full bladder to the final rating…. lets us down by going on and on and on… Therefore on a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom.. Godfather III gets 2 bladders.

And now folks its time to announce our movie club‘s next anthology: A salute to the late Robert Altman with a look back at four of his classics. (assuming I can find them at Blockbuster)… M*A*S*H, Nashville, Short Cuts and The Player. To paraphrase Lindsay Lohan - I just hope the Altman columns are adiquate!

For Thursday’s NFL Pick - Take the Browns as 7 point doggies.


Reel Fanatic said...

The first time I saw Godfather III I thought it was just wretched ... time, however, has mellowed a bit .. you're right that, viewed more on its own rather than in comparison to the other two, it has some great set pieces and is a fairly sucessful flick

Nate said...

Welcome to the blog reel! Its great to have you aboard.. and your blog is also pretty neat too. I see you're an Orioles fan.. hope you enjoyed Anna Benson this season! And we look forward to your comments once the next anthology starts.. even though I already checked out the local Blockbuster and they have NONE of the Altman movies! Dont these people appreciate fine film making?

Neil said...

You can borrow my DVD of MASH if you'd like.

Nate said...

Thanks - I might just take you up on that! I went to my local Blockbuster and they didnt have any of the 4 movies. Interestingly enough it's right down the street from the E Coli Taco Bell, and ever since that incident happened - the Blockbuster bathroom is consistently occupied! Coincidence?