It’s been a decade since there’s been a new Francis Ford Coppola movie in theaters*. In the meantime he’s conquered the worlds of pasta sauce and wine, but he spent most of the last ten years on the quixotic quest to make Megalopolis, his dream story about a city of giant sharks. That film fell apart, and Coppola has since quietly gotten back into the directing game. His next film is Youth Without Youth, which he and editor Walter Murch are finishing up right now. And after that comes Tetro, a movie that will reunite him with Matt Dillon, who has come a long way since the last time they worked together.
Dillon and Coppola did The Outsiders and Rumblefish together back when Matt was a Tiger Beat darling. Now they’re going to Buenos Aires together to film Tetro, a movie about an artistic family of Italian immigrants. If that sounds familiar, yes, it’s quite similar to Coppola’s own life story. Although he grew up in New York, not Argentina. Coppola says that a third of the people in Buenos Aires come from Italian stock, and I guess the weather’s pretty good down there. Nice place to shoot a movie.
Tetro is sort of a return to roots for Coppola – he’s getting back to making original movies. "Forty years ago, my goal was to focus on original writing for film such as ‘The Rain People’ and ‘The Conversation’ and to direct personal films about the passions of contemporary life," Coppola said. "As a young playwriting student, I greatly admired Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill, both of whom drew on their own lives and families in their work. When I wrote the screenplay of Williams’ ‘This Property Is Condemned,’ I conspired to be the delivery boy to bring the draft to his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, just so I could meet him."
Youth Without Youth, which stars Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara and Bruno Ganz (and has a Matt Damon appearance) is based on a novel about a man who is struck by lightning and returns to his youth. God willing we’ll be seeing that in just a couple of months.
It’s exciting to have Coppola back. Sure, Jack was a major piece of shit, but The Rainmaker was probably the best Grisham adaptation yet, and even his lesser films are worth seeing. It’s likely that many people will not be happy with Youth Without Youth and Tetro – these aren’t the operatic, overblown films that made Coppola’s name – but true filmlovers always rejoice when a master gets back to doing the kind of work he wants to do.
*Not counting Supernova.