Master filmmaker Frances Ford Coppola released a revised version of “Godfather” late last year and it’s a welcome version. On a less sweeping scale, an abused mother struggles to find a place to live with her two children in the intense and enjoyable “Herself.”
It’s Viewing the Videos.
The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone
Three decades after “The Godfather: Part III” was generally savaged by critics, director Francis Ford Coppola has reedited the film, given it a new name: “The Godfather Coda; The Death of Michael Corleone,” to great success.
The changes may be relatively minor, and the ending is different, but regardless, the new version is an excellent picture. The new version increases the impact from the first two entries in the series.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the scene where Michael Corleone delivers one of cinema’s most memorable lines, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Coppola’s daughter, Sofia, stepped in after Winona Ryder was taken ill, to play the daughter of Michael Corleone. When the movie was released, she was the subject of harsh criticism due to her inexperience. She has since gone on to show considerable skill as the director of movies like “Lost in Translation” and “On the Rocks.”
Thirty years later, criticism of her performance seems excessive. As Mary, the daughter of Michael Corleone, she seems vulnerable and believable when she ends up in charge of Michael’s nonprofit foundation, which he uses to be respectable or make up for his sins, depending on your point of view.
One thing that is different is the ending. In the original, Michael was gunned down. Here, he lives on to be tormented by memories of his misdeeds.
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the great filmmakers of our time. His reworking of this film has improved things considerably.
If you’re a fan of the Godfather movies, and who isn’t, I’d strongly recommend this. It is very reasonably priced at about $14 on Amazon.
You won’t be disappointed.
Four Palm Trees
Herself (Amazon Prime)
“Herself” is not the feel-good movie of the year, but along with sadness and spousal abuse, there is personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.
It is difficult at the beginning. We witness a woman, Sandra, being physically abused by her husband. She manages to send her young child off with a message to call the police.
Sandra and her two children escape into the system (the movie is set in Ireland), where they live in a succession of depressing apartments and hotels. It’s a harsh environment. Her children use a parking garage as a playground and she works two jobs, as a barmaid and a caregiver to an elderly woman recovering from a broken hip.
Clare Dunne, who co-write the script, is Sandra. We feel for Sandra. She’s not an object of pity, but with two kids, two jobs, and one hand damaged in a beating by her husband, the odds seem stacked against her. Dunne’s Sandra doesn’t allow herself much introspection, but she’s doesn’t constantly project a sunny disposition.
She figures out how much the government is spending on her and her children. After some internet research on building her own small home, she tries to convince a bureaucrat to lend her the money to build the home. She gets turned down of course, but manages to get the money and starts building the house with an unlikely collection of friends.
It sounds like this could turn into a cliché-filled collection of montages.
It is directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who directed “Mamma Mia” on stage and in the movies. But Lloyd keeps things low-key, but with pretty of emotion.
“Herself” features mostly Irish actors and I had to turn on the closed-captioning to be able to follow what was happening.
Some will find the ending disappointing, others will find it satisfying.
You’ll have to decide for yourself, but for me, “Herself” is worth the journey.
Three Palm Trees
FROM THE VAULT
Phyllida Lloyd who skillfully directed the small emotional drama of “Herself,” handled the two movies based on the music of Abba with a broad canvas and a star-packed cast that included Meryl Streep, Stellan Skarsgard and singing and dancing his way into your heart, Pierce Brosnan, who easily steps away from being James Bond into a lighthearted musical comedy.
With the music of Abba as the source for these movies, you don’t need too much plot, so just sit back and enjoy the silliness and of course, the music.
HOW WE RATE THE FILMS
Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.
New Releases are rated as follows:
Five Palm Trees: Must see
Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen
Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen
Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying
One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.