Story by Leslie Coffin
Its the summer of sequels, but there are some which don’t deal with space, superheroes, or cars. Some are remarkable human dramas which use the time difference to allow the filmmakers, actors and audience to extend and grow with the characters and have turned remarkable films into true classics. Here are five of the most impressive uses of the sequel in film.
Released against not one but two sequels this Memorial Weekend, Before Midnight is the latest, but apparently not the last in the Richard Linklater romances. Before Sunrise focused on 90s era “slackers” and Before Sunrise showed the same characters as young adults building lives of their own, Before Midnight is the first to show the characters of Jess and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) in a longterm relationship. Each film deals with only one day on vacation in their lives, and according to Linklater, he would like to keep coming back to the characters every decade of their lives to see where they are in their lives and relationship. There is one other part of this series, a segment featuring the characters in the experimental rotoscope film Waking Life.
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How can you not include The Godfather films in a list of great sequels. The incredible thing about The Godfather pairing is each can stand on their own as pure pieces of classic cinema. But when watched together (preferably in one sitting), there is a depth which is specific to that experience. And what’s more impressive is the fact that the prequel within Godfather 2 about Vito’s journey to America not only adds depth to what you’ve just seen of Brando’s Vito, but the comparisons made to Vito and Michael’s love of the family turns the mob movie into one of the great stories of an American family. Sure Part 3 isn’t great, but lets all ignore it and just think of the greatest sequel ever made.
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Ironically, for a lot of audiences and critics, Toy Story 3 was the best in the series. If you don’t like cartoon movies, there is no reason to look at these films. However Toy Story accomplished two things of great importance in the family film marketplace. Pixar maintained the quality of story, animation, and voice talents in an increasing direct-to-dvd system. And they told a story about growing up which would allow kids who first saw Toy Story in theaters connect to and share with their children.
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The documentary series by Michael Apted (originally Paul Almond) is already on their 8th film and shows know signs of stopping. Every seven years, Apted and his crew turn their cameras on the same group of former seven year olds to check in on their lives. Divorce, financial struggles, mental problems, professional achievements and disappointments are all addressed in the interviews, sometimes with the participants getting upset that they are disrupting their lives and some have even refused to participate. But each film is a fascinating snapshot of aging and the time in history, and in recent films provides a study on the long term effects of reality fame.
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It is the film which brought the French New Wave to the public, but Francis Truffaut wasn’t done with his protagonist after 400 Blows, his autobiographic tale of a preteen French school boy. After becoming one of the most successful French filmmakers in history, he reunited with former child actor Jean Pierre Leaud, and turned him into the iconic face of French cinema for the world. From childhood drama to romantic comedy-dramas, they made the short film “Love at 20 (aka Antoine and Colette),” and feature films “Stolen Kisses,” “Bed and Board,” and “Love on the Run.” Audiences watched him go from delinquent child to immature young man to unprepared husband and father, always referencing back to the selfish child being ignored by his mother and “father.”