The Godfather: Part III

The Godfather: Part III ★★★★

THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE

Some people have never seen “The Godfather Part III” despite their love for Sofia Coppola, whose career behind the camera emerged from the ashes of her supposedly amateurish performance as Michael Corleone’s doomed teenager daughter in her father’s trilogy-capping epic. This writer had never seen “The Godfather Part III” because of my love for Sofia Coppola.

Born in 1984 and raised to think of the “Lost in Translation” director as more of an auteur than an actress, I’ve been all the way in on the likes of “Somewhere” and “Marie Antoinette” from the moment Coppola’s movies came into my life, and it always seemed unnecessary — even rude — to dig through the trash and unearth what I understood to be her greatest embarrassment (even if Coppola herself is blasé about the whole thing). It goes without saying that I grew up in the thrall of “The Godfather” and its sequel, but I liked the idea of letting Michael stew on his sins along the shores of Lake Tahoe for all eternity, and the gifs that survived “The Godfather Part III” (“Dad?”) left me the impression that Coppola’s semi-reluctant star turn had been so disastrous that it didn’t even need the internet to become a meme-able symbol of the movie’s stained reputation.

But when it was announced that her restless father had inevitably assembled a new cut of his most famous cause célèbre and re-christened it with the title he’d always wanted for the film — “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone” — I knew my time had come. That tweak alone was enough to indicate that the elder Coppola, with his daughter’s apparent encouragement, was eager for people to see “The Godfather Part III” in a soft new light; that he wasn’t trying to make it “better” so much as he was trying to shift its place in history and reframe the picture as less the third part of a flawed trilogy than the postscript of a legendary dyad.

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