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Trilogy Anatomy: Red, by Tober Corrigan

24 Jun

Upon being asked after the release of the Dark Knight if he had a third installment planned, Christopher Nolan replied with asking ironically how many good third movies there were. Of course, Nolan eventually did complete his trilogy, whether it being against his better judgment or not depending on who one talks to. Throughout movie history, the essential functions of the third film in a series have either been as a fitting and satisfactory end to a particular storyline (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), a disappointing but nevertheless conclusive entry (Godfather III), or a debacle so big as to necessitate a reset to the franchise (Superman III/Spiderman 3, etc., etc.). In anticipation of another highly-anticipated third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, this weekly series will cover famous third films, infamous third films and otherwise, exploring how trilogy-enders or other types of third films have functioned in relation to its series.

Trilogies can take on an overwhelming number of meanings, and though the origins of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy are rooted in a definite method, what one can get out of the three films proves endless, and could fill many tomes. Based on the colors of the French flag, and supposedly based on the ideals the three represent, this trilogy goes to Poland, France, and beyond, charting the lives of artists and dreamers, lovers and shrewd business men, models and judges, and how these lives always, against all odds, simultaneously intersect and conflict. Each film’s story is different, with the central characters never repeating from the previous, despite there being surprise overlapping via cameos in each. While much could certainly be said about the politics at work, I found that less relevant (perhaps speaking to my being a foreign viewer) than the more universal aspects that run across the three. And in that way at least, the trilogy is a success.

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Trilogy Anatomy: Alien 3, by Tober Corrigan

17 Jun

Upon being asked after the release of the Dark Knight if he had a third installment planned, Christopher Nolan replied with asking ironically how many good third movies there were. Of course, Nolan eventually did complete his trilogy, whether it being against his better judgment or not depending on who one talks to. Throughout movie history, the essential functions of the third film in a series have either been as a fitting and satisfactory end to a particular storyline (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), a disappointing but nevertheless conclusive entry (Godfather III), or a debacle so big as to necessitate a reset to the franchise (Superman III/Spiderman 3, etc., etc.). In anticipation of another highly-anticipated third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, this weekly series will cover famous third films, infamous third films and otherwise, exploring how trilogy-enders or other types of third films have functioned in relation to its series.

If you turn your head and squint just right, the first three films in the Alien series make for a finely-tuned trilogy. Each one builds on the previous’ mythos, adding subtle shadings to the portrait without giving away all the secrets. The three together play out the same basic story structure while also riffing on the series’ themes. The third film’s ending feels definitive, with a key character decision that completes, or ends, the previous film’s vicious cycles. And yet, somehow, Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3 could not be a more atonal trio.

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Trilogy Anatomy: The Godfather III, by Tober Corrigan

10 Jun

Upon being asked after the release of the Dark Knight if he had a third installment planned, Christopher Nolan replied with asking ironically how many good third movies there were. Of course, Nolan eventually did complete his trilogy, whether it being against his better judgment or not depending on who one talks to. Throughout movie history, the essential functions of the third film in a series have either been as a fitting and satisfactory end to a particular storyline (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), a disappointing but nevertheless conclusive entry (Godfather III), or a debacle so big as to necessitate a reset to the franchise (Superman III/Spiderman 3, etc., etc.). In anticipation of another highly-anticipated third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, this weekly series will cover famous third films, infamous third films and otherwise, exploring how trilogy-enders or other types of third films have functioned in relation to its series.

The recent Tribeca-sponsored Godfather reunion of Francis Ford Coppola and remaining cast immediately followed screenings of Part 1 and Part 2. There was no trilogy to speak of. It’s rather culturally understood at this point to disregard the 1990 sequel to one of the most acclaimed series in film history, and yet it’s still surreal to see how quick those who made it are to dismiss it too.

Admiration for the film today can be found in theory though not necessarily in practice. Both the shock and the horror of Godfather III is in its brazen disregard for what came before. Perhaps this is a function of its infamous preproduction (Robert Duvall backing out, the role of Mary Corleone going to Sofia Coppola last minute), or it could be that we were seeing the start of late-period Coppola without even realizing it. Whatever the reason, one must be daring enough to watch the film more as experiment than canon entry for it to have any power. Only then can Godfather III live or die on its own terms. It still mostly dies, but the better question is perhaps if any film within the context of its trilogy should be intending to work on its own terms.

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Trilogy Anatomy: Lady Vengeance, by Tober Corrigan

2 Jun

Upon being asked after the release of the Dark Knight if he had a third installment planned, Christopher Nolan replied with asking ironically how many good third movies there were. Of course, Nolan eventually did complete his trilogy, whether it being against his better judgment or not depending on who one talks to. Throughout movie history, the essential functions of the third film in a series have either been as a fitting and satisfactory end to a particular storyline (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), a disappointing but nevertheless conclusive entry (Godfather III), or a debacle so big as to necessitate a reset to the franchise (Superman III/Spiderman 3, etc., etc.). In anticipation of another highly-anticipated third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, this weekly series will cover famous third films, infamous third films and otherwise, exploring how trilogy-enders or other types of third films have functioned in relation to its series.

Sometimes the best trilogies come in the strangest packages. This is certainly true for Park Chan-Wook’s self-proclaimed Vengeance Trilogy. Though not connected in any conventional narrative sense, the three films do contain enough cross-references, callbacks, and through lines to back the director’s claims. Principal actors in one film reappear in the next in a minor role, accentuated in ways meant to evoke their other screen selves within Chan-Wook’s universe. Certain visual tricks get re-introduced with each film, seemingly inconsequential objects in the first film become iconography by the third. What these connections mean in and of themselves are at first hard to read.

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