Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Godfather - Part III

Michael Corleone is back, for this third and last part of The Godfather series. The film was released in 1990 and shows how Michael is trying to legitimize his business and get redemption. The story is around real life events : the death of Pope John Paul I and the Banco Ambrosiano scandal ; which are linked to Michael’s story. The movie stars Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire (Coppola's sister) newcomer Andy García, Eli Wallach (The Magnificent Seven), Joe Mantegna (David Rossi in Criminal Minds !), Bridget Fonda and SofiaCoppola (Coppola's daughter).

In this last part, Michael reflects on what he has done in his life – this is different from the first two, where he never questionned his actions – however, it is always the same old tune : « I had to protect my family ». He tries to get out of illegal activities but they keep catching up with him :

Michael Corleone: Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

There are two sides to Michael : he is the affectionate father trying to bet his business legitimate, at the same time he is grooming his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia) to become the next Don Corleone.

Michael Corleone: Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.
Michael Corleone: Never let anyone know what you are thinking.

The movie is mainly about Michael ; no matter what the storyline, it is about looking for forgiveness and trying to make amends, it is about reflecting on one’s life, a life that Michael did not choose, as we saw in Part I, it is about being unable to change things. The force of destiny is too strong, and Michael keeps being pulled back. If one thinks about it, it is tragic. His life is ruined by the weight of family responsibilities. The most touching scene is his scream on the stairs, as he realizes that the last person he cared for is gone. The conclusion is the only logical one : Michael eventually has to pay the price for everything he has ever done – no matter how much he tried to turn it around, it is too late for him.

Vincent Mancini: Don Lucchesi, you are a man of finance and politics. These things I don't understand.
Don Lucchesi: You understand guns?
Vincent Mancini: Yes.
Don Lucchesi: Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger

Michael Corleone: I feel... I'm getting wiser now.
Kay Corleone: The sicker you get, the wiser you get, huh?
Michael Corleone: When I'm dead, I'm gonna be really smart.

One problem with this movie was the decision to put Sofia Coppola in the film, I found her acting very bad, which took away from the film’s quality. Glad to see Diane Keaton again, exceptionnal as usual, and Talia Shire as Connie, with a much more active role than in the previous movies.
I was not a fan of the storyline involving the Vatican, although I subsequently found that it is based on true events. But, as mentionned before, the storyline barely matters here, as we see Michael struggling.

Part III is more theatrical, more political, therefore very different from Parts I & II. That said, I thought it was a great movie, but nowhere near the first two.

Mary Corleone: I'll always love you.
Vincent Mancini: Love somebody else.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Midnight in Paris

 It’s been a long time, blame the holidays. I am now coming back to review a movie that is light, entertaining, and funny, perfect for those well-earned vacations ! Anyway, this is now the third time that a Woody Allen movie appears on this blog, and I have to say, even though this is not his best movie, Midnight in Paris is still rather enjoyable, with a great cast : Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), Michael Sheen (Blood Diamond), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Adrian Brody (ThePianist), Kathy Bates, and even our very own Gad Elmaleh, Léa Seydoux and Carla Bruni !

Gil and Inez are engaged and are travelling to Paris. Gil is a struggling writer who falls in love with Paris and thinks Paris in the 1920s was the Golden Age, whereas Inez is just your average superficial, normal girl. When Inez goes off dancing with some friends, Gil walks around Paris at midngight and is suddely taken back to the 1920s, where he meets Hemingway, Man Ray, Dali, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, etc… He doesn’t ask questions and just takes the adventures as it comes, which takes him further away from Inez.
I am not a fan of Owen Wilson, and Marion Cotillard is truly beginning to get on my nerves, yet I found this a pleasant comedy to watch.
The movie deals with escaping where you are and always thinking « it was better before ». Ultimately we are stuck in the present, and the movie eventually shows that once you have accepted it and stop chasing rainbows you are ready to be happy. The opening shots of Paris, and actually all the shots of Paris, are breathtaking – I even had difficulties recognizing my city. I enjoyed seeing shots of Giverny (Monet's gardens), where I have been recently for the first time, pure coincidence. The rest of the cast is excellent and, every time we encounter a new character, it is someone famous! : I loved seeing an appearance by Adrian Brody, who impersonates Dali. Every artist portrayed is fun, with a humorous cloud around them. No comment on Carla Bruni’s appearance, tasteless, but high five to Gad Elmaleh, I found it hilarious when he gets stuck in the past.
One needs imagination to watch this: it is of course highly unlikely, and we never get an explanation as to how Gil manages to be back to “today” every morning.... It is a fantasy, a mix of dream and reality. If you are more like Inez (McAdams) in character (sceptical, rational, down to earth, falsely intellectual) then you stand no chance of liking this movie – I like the actress and here I found her character just highly unpleasant.
Inez: You always take the side of the help. That's why Daddy says you're a communist.

Ernest Hemingway: It was a good book because it was an honest book, and that's what war does to men. And there's nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully. And then it's not only noble but brave.

Gil: You can fool me, but you cannot fool Ernest Hemingway!

On the downside, all the story is a bit predictable: Inez’s parents are war overdone, the affair with Paul is obvious, and one could have guessed the end. This is a film that you have to watch without really thinking about the discrepancies, the clichés, and you’ll spend a very enjoyable moment. It is not up to other Woody Allen movies but it is worth the time.