Sunday, September 8, 2013


I remember the days when Francis Ford Coppola used to be a good filmmaker. The Godfather trilogy (well, maybe not the third one), The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Bram Stoker’s Dracula… the list goes on. And then in the mid-90s he began cranking out more mainstream cookie-cutter fare with Jack and The Rainmaker. In the 2000s he slipped into obscurity, mainly producing other people’s films (specifically his daughter’s pretentious excuses for movies) and making smaller more personal ones of his own whenever it suited him. Youth Without Youth was panned by most critics and hardly anyone has ever heard of Tetro, so I’m going to say that he’s not even really a top-tier contender anymore.

Back in 2011 Coppola began a new project based on a dream he had involving literary figures and ghosts. He developed it into a screenplay and later a film which toured festivals as an odd “live editing” experiment where he would change the cut of the film according to each audience’s reaction to it. Eventually he settled on a final cut and it was released straight to video. That film is Twixt.
A struggling writer (Val Kilmer) discovers that there might be material for a new novel based on a series of child murders in a small town on his book tour.

The movie boils down to a series of strange dream imagery, shitty dialogue and boringly cliché plot developments. Long story short – Twixt is a complete failure.

The cinematography Mihai Mălaimare, Jr. is stunning. At times it’s hauntingly beautiful. Most of the dream sequences are in black and white with only one specific item being in color (as in Rumble Fish), usually something that’s red or is a liquid. Sadly this is the only aspect of the film I’m willing to compliment.
The story is a mess. When I say mess, I mean a gigantic cluster fuck. It doesn’t make a lick of sense due to the extreme amount of goofy dream sequences where Kilmer’s character has lengthy expository conversations with Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) for no reason other than to make up for the fact that Coppola couldn’t come up with a way for his lead to discover the clues about the mystery on his own in reality, instead having this figment spill it all out for him/the audience instead. And what the story ends up being about is a garbled hodgepodge of every horror stereotype you can imagine – ghosts, vampires, David Koresh style suicide pacts, hick townsfolk afraid of the goth kids that hang out at the lake, creepy houses… you name it. The problem is that none of them connect in a way that works or is logical.

The ending is just an abrupt, out of nowhere twist that makes the finale of The Village look like Shakespeare himself wrote it in comparison. The final scene itself not confirming or denying that those events took place at all makes what happened nonsensical in the extreme and confusing like a motherfucker. Actually it pissed me off to no end as my cursing illustrates.
What’s worse is that Coppola can’t figure out if he’s making a horror movie or a straight up comedy. There are times where the plot is dead serious and played as straight as can be by all involved, then the movie switches gears and becomes a keystone cops style slapstick comedy on the fly. Outside of one visual joke in the finale none of the humor works at all. Sometimes I wondered if the comedy was intentional at all.

Coppola can’t even seem to get his actors to look like they give a shit. Kilmer is blah, Bruce Dern as the town sheriff looks lost, Elle Fanning as the ghostly V seems to be trying to make her character creepy but fails, Ben Chaplin looks like Poe but that’s about it and a surprise cameo by Joanne Whalley as Kilmer’s wife is lackluster in the extreme due to her character being given the worst dialogue of all time. The impression that I get is that they all signed on to get a chance to work with Coppola without looking at the script. Their collective performances speak volumes as to what they actually thought of the material afterwards.
In theory I’m sure Coppola thought he had a decent little film on his hands. The reality is that it’s a monumental whiff. Embarrassingly so. Nothing in it works at all and that’s a shame considering all the talent involved. You know I’m serious when I say the only entertainment I was able to glean from this disaster is when I saw that Val Kilmer and his actual ex-wife Joanne Whalley were in the same movie again. Speaking of which… where’s that sequel to Willow?

0.5 out of 5

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