Rated R for all the R-rated things. With most mafia films, there's violence and language. That's still in this movie as well. But there is a lot of sexuality in this movie, and a lot of that sexuality involving incest. Yeah, it's there. The movie also really takes an aggressive stance on the Catholic Church. As part of that, there are desecrations of Mary that are pretty upsetting. Hard R.
DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola
Gosh darn it, I did it again. I wrote a good chunk of this blog and then I didn't save. This time it was all my fault. I should have done it, but God forbid I actually prioritize my job. I know. I could have just hit save on my progress and gone from there. So if this blog is a little shorter than my normal ones, you at least know the background of this.
I have opinions. I have feelings and opinions and those feelings and opinions are all over the place. My logical self knows that this is just a director's cut of The Godfather: Part III. I don't mind writing about director's cuts as separate blogs. After all, I went as far as writing a separate blog for Logan Noir, and that was just the same film desaturated. But this is a director's cut that refuses to be called a director's cut. I feel like the Director's Cut being a common thing was the product of DVD and the attempt to double-dip the same film. I remember Ridley Scott, in his notes in the packaging for the Director's Cut for Alien, mentioning that he prefers the theatrical cut to the director's cut, but Fox was giving him all kinds of money to put out another version of the movie. I know that's not what is going on with Coppola, but I really just want to call him and tell him to just called this The Godfather Part III -The Director's Cut. Because it really is basically the same movie.
But then I also pity Coppola and want to give him the benefit of the doubt. The Godfather: Part III is kind of poo-pooed in a lot of circles. For years, I didn't watch this one because people implied that it was a waste of my time. Honestly, it might be my favorite in the series. It may be the fact that nobody likes it and I love being contrarian or the fact that I'm not a Godfather addict like a lot of film lovers that makes it so appealing. So trying to distance himself from the original cut of the film makes a bit of sense. In a note from the director at the beginning of the film, Coppola insists that he and Mario Puzo originally named the film The Godfather Coda, which I hold little stock in. I'm sure a draft of the film was called that. But I also know that Coppola and Puzo were considering making a Godfather 4 at one point in time, so I'm skeptical. But renaming the movie implies that this is going to be a different film experience.
I mean, I like it. It fixed a few of the problems I had with the original theatrical release of The Godfather Part III. I don't love when movies are overly long for the sake of being long, which the original cut of the movie definitely was. Also, streamlining some of the unnecessary plot stuff is a good idea. I'm not an expert on The Godfather Part III. I mentioned that I've seen it recently enough to blog about it. But I haven't memorized every single little nuance of the film. I do remember that the movie focused more on the casinos for Michael Corleone. I also remember needed to pretend to know what was going on with the Vatican corporation in the movie. While there are still allusions to this plot in the film, it's okay that you don't know the ins and outs of the movie. What we are left with is a strong look at the character of Michael Corleone in the shadow of Vito Corleone coupled with a still damning look at the Catholic Church. (I still don't love this. It feels like it is trying too hard to attack.)
But that leaves me with the second part of the title. I don't feel like this movie is a Coda, but rather a film that stands on its own two feet. Coppola's new title feels ashamed of what the movie is. Rather than being an epilogue, so we can find out what happened to Michael Corleone, this is a good story in its own right. An epilogue implies that the decisions have been made and there's no escaping. However, the Michael of this film is dynamic. He's a man seeking redemption and comes close to having his soul saved. There are moments where Michael almost escapes the crushing sin that has influenced his entire life. I can't imagine that the most important change of a character can happen in a coda. Rather, this is the battle for Michael Corleone's soul and I appreciate that. If this was simply Michael sitting on the sidelines and watching Vito becoming a bigger power player, I would agree that this is a coda. But there's nothing particularly old or senile about Michael in this film. Yeah, he's got diabetes. Yeah, he sees the clock running down. But he's fundamentally still the man who killed Fredo. Why are we treating this as something lesser than it is. I know that "coda" shouldn't mean "lesser." But we have all new information here. Also, a 2 hr 45 minute coda isn't exactly a coda when it's almost a third of the story. Unless, of course, you are The Return of the King.
I also want to talk about "The Death of Michael Corleone." There's something far too cheeky in this title. I'm sorry. But it almost like Coppola is being too clever by half and that's kind of irking me a bit. The big reveal is that, in Coda, Michael Corleone physically doesn't die like he does in the original theatrical cut. Instead, we're treated to a fifteen second shot of old man Michael feeding birds, mirroring some of the things we saw in some of the previous entries. He watched his daughter die in an attempt on Michael's life and he's had to live with that. Instead, the "death" that Coppola is teasing is the concept of Michael dying off. This character that had been built up over the course of the films is no longer and the redemptive character has taken over. His Faustian agreement, however, doesn't allow him to escape consequences, hence the death of his daughter. But the title doesn't work without having the original film in the minds of the audience. Okay, I'll give it a "it kind of does", but I don't necessarily think it can exist with that title as an independent concept.
I never had a problem with Sofia Coppola's performance. I read somewhere that the cut of the film presented her performance in a more favorable light. I'm iffy about that. She's fine the entire time. She's a kid doing her best. From that, she actually gives some really genuine responses to this world that she's surrounded herself with. If it is a criticism of her acting, she feels more natural in a world that possibly feels too artificial.
I don't know if this was a choice in the re-edit, but I like Vito Corleone's journey in this one. I don't have the time or patience to rewatch the OG Godfather III to see if it is as effective in that cut of the movie, but I really like that Coda is more focused on character. Without all of the complicated plot stuff, the Vito stuff works really well. Michael and Vito drive this film, their sympathetic / antisympathetic traits playing off each other marvelously. There's something about the way that Michael treats Vito throughout the film serves as a cautionary tale that is unlearned by Vito. Part of me believes that Michael would love to see the entire Corleone syndicate shut down, but the sheer willpower of Vito is what keeps it going. I love this dynamic. Andy Garcia as Vito is a scary dude. If Michael wants to see the end of the Corleone syndicate, maybe Vito is there as the gas can to blow it all to heck. I don't know, but I really like it.
So did I like it? Yeah. I think calling it The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone might be way too full of itself considering that this is a simple re-edit and not a whole new look at a different story. Yeah, the ironic survival of Michael changes it a bit, but not so much that it is a fully different movie. Rather, it's just a tighter film. I appreciate a tighter film. If I watch this again, I'll probably choose Coda over the original theatrical release. But that's kind of like me saying, "I'll watch so-and-so movie, but the director's cut, which just reads better." Mentally, it's the same film. I just want to watch that cut. Perhaps that makes me a weak film blogger, but it's also how I feel.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.