“The Godfather Part III,” which the Screening Room Cinema Cafe (3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst) is presenting Saturday as part of its “dinner and a movie” series, was destined to be the disappointing Fredo of Francis Ford Coppola’s multigenerational mafia saga, but perhaps it is more accurate to call it the trilogy’s Jim Belushi. While the amiable actor has had his share of successes, they pale next to the culture-conquering impact of his late brother. Sounds a bit like 1990’s third “Godfather” film, does it not?
But here’s the thing: “The Godfather Part III” is nowhere near a bad film. In fact, it is a very good one riddled with flaws, chief among them the absence of Robert Duvall, who dropped out over a contract dispute (Tom Hagen was replaced as consigliere by … George Hamilton?!), and the casting of wan novice Sofia Coppola as Michael Corleone’s beloved daughter. (Shoved into the production following the departure of Winona Ryder, the much-maligned Sofia Coppola smartly moved behind the camera.)
Still, it features some of the series’ greatest lines of dialogue, a corker of a performance from Andy Garcia as Sonny’s illegitimate son, a clever storyline involving intrigue and corruption at the Vatican, and several stunning set pieces, including the street-festival murder of the wonderfully named Joey Zasa.
“The Godfather Part III,” then, is in many ways an unfairly judged work, and that should be apparent during its Screening Room presentation. The $30 ticket includes a film-inspired spaghetti buffet dinner, a glass of Francis Coppola wine and cannoli for dessert. The film also will be shown without dinner at 7:30 p.m. May 6 and 9; tickets are $6.
In other weekend screening news, the Old Chestnut Film Society presents Marlene Dietrich’s “A Foreign Affair” at 7:30 p.m. May 4 in the Phillip Sheridan School (3200 Elmwood Ave.). And East Aurora’s Hubbard Film Society is showing the scrabble documentary “Word Wars” at 4 p.m. May 4 in Parkdale School (141 Girard Ave., East Aurora).
Lastly, should you feel the need for another gritty, New York-set crime drama to accompany “The Godfather,” French director Guillaume Canet’s “Blood Ties” is available on Video on Demand and iTunes. While it drew mixed responses at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival, the cast (Clive Owen, Mila Kunis and Marion Cotillard) makes it a must-watch. Plus, it co-stars Sonny Corleone himself, James Caan.
– Christopher Schobert