Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Twixt Trailer: Twin Peaks meets Stephen King meets French Surrealism

You have got to love the way Francis Ford Coppola's career has gone lately. Most had given up on him around the mid 90's, when he made such film as Jack (with Robin Williams, heaven forbid!) and The Rainmaker (solid but boring courtroom drama), up until a weird stint directing some scenes of forgotten sci-fi Supernova. Yet, like a filmic phoenix reborn from his celluloid ashes, after a long break, he has taken a new path, one of low budget, experimental films, far from big studioss interference. And it is doing wonders for his creativity.

While Youth without Youth was interesting if a little too arty and pretentious, its follow up, Tetro, was a small masterpiece, while still playing the arty card, a visual treat that was incredibly evocative and powerful. And now the Godfather director has tackled a new territory, the murder mystery with his latest film Twixt, starring Val Kilmer. The first trailer that has just been released has got to be one of the strangest I have seen in a long time, a world away from the conventions of modern trailers.

One of the most striking aspect of this trailer is its pace. For all of us used to the frenetic, epilepsy inducing editing of your average trailer, this comes as a real surprise, so much so that it makes you wonder whether you are indeed watching a trailer or a short film. No split seconds of scenes fading into each other with loud bangs in here! At least we are certainly avoiding the "best bits in the trailer" syndrome as this reveals so little, yet teases us, making us want more, which, really, is what a good trailer should be all about, as opposed to showing us all the film.

It would be hard to have a film with a strange small town with quirky characters and murder mysteries without thinking about Twin Peaks, which is the most obvious reference. There are also strong hints of Stephen King, since the main character is a writer, and indeed the novelist has used strange old towns as the setting of the majority of his novels. And then, but I doubt this was intentional, the atmosphere does remind me of the video game Alan Wake, itself largely indebted to Twin Peak and Stephen King.

But apart from those, Coppola again defies the modern convention of the genres. The style and design of the dream scenes, and some of the visual references are reminiscent of French fantasy films from nearly a century ago, such a George Melies with the moon/face as well as hints of French surrealism and German expressionism. Yet it does not feel like pretentious name-dropping, rather, a willingness to do things differently, following his experimental pursuit. No frenetic editing yet again, and I suspect no creepy long haired woman will be crawling in any of the scenes.

Quite how this is going to be sold to the audience is anyone's guess. Too slow and arty for the Saturday night crowd, not quite arty enough with its echoes of Stephen King for the arthouse audience, it might struggle. I cannot help feeling cautiously excited however. The film will be making appearances at the autumn festivals, no release dates has been set. The director was talking about taking his film on the road, a bit like what Kevin Smith is doing with Red State.

1 comment:

  1. it certainly feels like coppola is finally going back to his american zoetrope dream, full control no questions asked, creative projects. its a shame that he muddied his name with such utter shite over the years but perhaps all is not lost?