New Coppola

Just finished Tetro. This film and Youth Without Youth are singular cinematic experiences. This is a bit vague, but I feel as if there’s a wavelength that exists under the surface of the films (both edited by Walter Murch… hmm…) to which I never quite adjusted. Both films were shot on HD, and I cannot help but feel that they simply feel too “clean,” antiseptic (Tetro especially). Also feel that Coppola may be trying too hard to achieve operatic proportion in his work. Frankly I find these films difficult to describe. Trying to work it out. Some gorgeous shots, some over-indulgence, some humor that simply isn’t all that strong. I never understood why Tetro didn’t react more strongly, with more malice, when Bennie searched through his possessions, stole his work, plagiarized it, sold it and put his own name on it – every single act going directly against Tetro’s explicitly laid out dictates. I mean – to a writer, a wildly, notoriously private writer, one who specifically fled the earth from his entire family forever – those acts are simply so, so huge, such a monumental breach of privacy. And Tetro’s reactions are all given in the same tone, the same restrained, “Oh my god. I can’t believe you’re doing this. I do not trust you anymore.” I didn’t buy it. At all. I always wanted more. Now that I think about it, there was another aspect which I found impossible to buy: the way in which Bennie evolves – in no time at all (one is reminded of Luke Skywalker going through a lifetime’s worth of Jedi training on Dagobah in perhaps one week) – from a virginal, absolute dilettante, in everything he does, to a highly arty, Welles-ish ambitious playwright, and achieves unprecedented success. One moment he’s a naive 18 year old boy – next moment he is Tetro. If 20 years had passed, I might believe it. I will say that within the film lies a twist ending I hadn’t seen before – but big deal. Very odd one, Tetro. Not that it doesn’t work… but I don’t understand what audience out there would find it an unquestioned success. Tetro‘s success is transparently dubious.

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