09 October 2013

October 9th

Twixt (2011) directed by Francis Ford Coppola
There seems to be two reactions to this film out there in Internetland: "this is amazing and I loved it" and "Coppola has lost his damned mind!"  I can understand both.  The film is hard to follow, a tad slow at times, and ends abruptly.  It ain't for everyone.  It's also beautiful, hallucinatory, funny, and strange.  I dug it quite a bit.

I can't say that I've kept up with Coppola's work over the years, so I'm not sure what Tetro and Youth Without Youth were all about.  With Twixt, I'm seeing an aging artist playing with new ways of being creative, perhaps trying to re-capture that creative spark artists have in youth.  While the vampires and witches and murder mysteries and goofy small town characters are fun, I think this film is an exploration of the creative process and Coppola's current struggles with it.

At least, that's what I see the protagonist, Hall Baltimore, struggling with during his stay in the small town.  There for a book signing tour, his one and only fan in town happens to be the sheriff.  The sheriff excitedly mentions there's been a recent murder and that he has an idea for a novel based on it he wants to share.  Initially uninterested, Hall finds himself in a lucid dream involving the murdered girl and an abandoned hotel.  Upon awakening, he realizes the goofy sheriff is correct: there is a good story there.  More importantly to Hall, it's a potential break from writing the dull series of semi-successful novels about witches he's been contracted to create.

From herein, he researches the facts of the case while awake and weaves the story in his mind while asleep (or knocked out).  While dreaming, he is lead through his own unconscious by Edgar Allan Poe.  His Virgil, Poe guides Hall through the layers of his unconscious, unearthing the personal reason why this girl's death has affected him so much and how these emotions can be used in powerful storytelling.  It about the coolest illustration of the eternal question "where do your ideas come from?" that I've ever seen.

In the end, Hall has only succeeded in switching from witches to vampires for his new novel.  But, it's something new, he's faced his guilt over his daughter's accidental death, and he has discovered a new way to access that well of ideas lurking deep in our brains.  For anyone who's ever suffered writer's block, this is about as happy and ending as you can get for this sort of story.

Watched: blu-ray from Fox.


  1. I think writers got a lot more out of "Twixt" then most did. I did a very good job of capturing the frustration of writer's block, the agony and ecstasy of actually completing something, of pluming the soul for inspiration. It's not a smooth film but a visually beautiful one and deeply personal, which I appreciate. It really reignited my interest in Coppela. Apparently making visually beautiful and deeply personal films is what he does these days, which is certainly better then what he was doing in the early nineties. (Which was taking paychecks.)

  2. Yeah, the assessment of Coppola is accurate. I haven't seen Twixt, but Youth Without Youth is about his own death and Tetro is about is own family. Youth I enjoyed, Tetro I hated. Eh, check em out, why not.