Saturday, October 20, 2012

Twixt (2011)



I think Francis Ford Coppola wants back to something, someone, he was a long time ago. That's why he's focusing on small, low-budget movies with more personality than spectacular scenes. I respect him enormously for that and I wish him to stay like that for the rest of his career. For who the hell wants to see soulless films like The Rainmaker, Jack, The Godfather: Part III, yeah, everything he's made after Apocalypse Now. Not me. I prefer to see him experiment, play, be a storyteller again and not a teller of what the producers want for the moment. Remember, Bram Stoker's Dracula is just visuals and no passion. I like it, but it's more a gimmick than a story. I've more or less only heard shitty things about Twixt, but something deep inside me believed in it. I dug the trailers and I loved what I was reading, how it was made Coppola's crazy multimedia-interactive plans for it. That last thing never really happened, except one or two shows with Coppola doing some live editing and directly (what I've heard anyway). What's left is one of the oddest movies I've seen a famous director like Coppola do, maybe in the history of Hollywood - at least in this day and age when no one dares to try something new.

You can't set a genre on Twixt. Maybe just plain drama is the best, but it has some big parts horror and thriller, and not to forget: surrealism. But in the middle of everything it's a drama about writing and loss, about finding that creative fire again. The tone reminds - and I'm not the only one saying it - of Twin Peaks, a Lynchian-burlesque with quirky, weird characters doing going their own ways. The biggest character, except Val Kilmer's, is Bruce Dern as the sheriff. He build bat houses. Not bird houses, but bat houses and he likes to write crappy horror stories - and somehow believe all the goth kids at the other side of the lake is evil and slutty and evil and dangerous... and more evil, just because they wear make-up and dresses in black.

The true acting highlight is Val Kilmer. I began to love Val Kilmer when he stopped being an ego-macho-silly- star and just became what he seems to love to do: a character actor. Kilmer is sensational here, both very funny and tragic. I got caught up in his emotions, and that means it works. He also shows us what a great impersonator he is in one scene, obviously based on ad-libbing, doing a perfect parody on Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now - which is extra fun because, of course, Coppola directed that movie and Kilmer later starred against Brando in the huge flop (which might have destroyed Kilmer's Hollywood-career) The Island of Dr. Moreau. Got a nice laugh from that scene. The quirky comedy is a thread through the whole movie and makes it even more Lynchian than they probably planned.

But it's the absurdity, the surrealism, that makes the movie even more strange. Long, oddly coloured dream sequences, a small town with six different time zones, a mystery that might no be a mystery at all, goth kids looking sad and Val Kilmer drinking a lot of alcohol. It's a very special movie, far from being mainstream or sellable. It must be a nightmare for distributors to sell it as a horror or a thriller, because it doesn't work as a normal drama - but yet not a normal genre film. It's in it's own little league and I think it's a damn fine little piece of cinema.

Some people, whining bastards, has compared it to a school production, a work of a newbie, a young and naive filmmaker. Connect that that what I wrote in the beginning of the text: Coppola wants back. He wants to be that experimental film student he once was. When people think it's like the work of someone who hardly have made movies before they're right on the spot and that's the f**king point with it all. It's a pure film, cleaned from that sentimental shit that was Jack or shallow goth-flirts like Dracula... not to forget just being a gun for hire with The Rainmaker.

It's Coppola reborn. 

6 comments:

Gekko P. said...

It's no school work, it's not amateurish staff. I love Coppola, Apocalypse Now e The Conversation two of my all time favorite films. But I just didn't get what Coppola wanted to say with Twixt. It didn't seem to go anywhere to me, it falls in between different genres without getting the most of it out of any of them. Of course there's something beautiful in it, even when he fails Coppola does better than most directors alive.

If you ever watch Killer Joe by Friedkin please write about it. So curious about your opinion.

Anonymous said...

"For who the hell wants to see soulless films like The Rainmaker,"

"Remember, Bram Stoker's Dracula is just visuals and no passion."

I will be honest and say that I liked both of these film.....but you might be right that Coppola has done better stuff.


"What's left is one of the oddest movies I've seen a famous director like Coppola do, maybe in the history of Hollywood - at least in this day and age when no one dares to try something new."

Well...Steven Soderbergh tried to experiment, like Full Frontal (2002), The Girlfriend Experience (2009) etc....but he returned to mainstream cinema, sort of.



"I began to love Val Kilmer when he stopped being an ego-macho-silly- star and just became what he seems to love to do: a character actor. Kilmer is sensational here, both very funny and tragic."

Always liked him, after all.....he was Madmartigan.

Take a look at The Salton Sea (2002), Wonderland (2003) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) etc.....too mainstream for this site but I would love to see a review.


"He also shows us what a great impersonator he is in one scene"

Kilmer has some real skills...just look at True Romance (1993), The Doors (1991).


"(which might have destroyed Kilmer's Hollywood-career) The Island of Dr. Moreau."

Yeah....and the rumors that he is impossible to work with.


"He wants to be that experimental film student he once was."

Maybe that is the problem...you can´t go back.....only forward.

Great review.....I haven´t seen this one yet....I will though....everybody seems to hate this film.

Megatron

Alex B. said...

Fred, I don't give much shit about movies made after 1987. But hell, - I don't know how you did this,- you just sold this one to me. I'll have to see it! Thanks for a great review man

David Arrate said...

Great review, Fred! I've been waiting impatiently to see this movie.

And I'm with Gekko P. I look forward to hearing thoughts on Friedkin's Killer Joe.

reeferjournal said...

saw this last night after reading your review and I really enjoyed it. Great review and thanks for the recco.

Also, I third the request for a review of Killer Joe. Liked it a lot and would be interested in your opinion. :)

Ninja Dixon said...

Thanks and I'm happy you liked it! :D

I've seen Killer Joe and I think it's a masterpiece, but I don't know how to write something new and fresh about it... maybe in a year or two :)