CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
Francis Ford Coppola
CHICAGO – The actor Andy Garcia has been known throughout the years as a tough-guy leading man, with memorable roles in “The Godfather: Part III” and the “Ocean’s Eleven” series. He latest role is a gentle and comic turn, as a father doing a college tour with his son, and discovering more than expected in “At Middleton.”
CHICAGO – Francis Ford Coppola’s “Twixt” should have been a momentous occassion. One of the most important directors of the ’70s returning to the world of horror for the first time since the vastly underrated “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” And yet the film barely got released after a festival run and now comes essentially straight to DVD and Blu-ray for most viewers. It’s a mess. No doubt.
CHICAGO – “Francis Ford Coppola: 5 Film Collection,” a four-disc/five-movie set from Lionsgate, is a unique offering in that it certainly doesn’t include “the best of” its namesake or even four movies that are thematically intertwined. There are two undeniable classics in here, two of the most important films of the ’70s, and their inclusion on Blu-ray makes the set interesting, but it’s far from a comprehensive look at the legendary director; more of a sampler set.
CHICAGO – If Robert K. Elder’s book, “The Film That Changed My Life,” is indeed providing a blueprint for the screening series continuing this month at the Music Box, then cinephiles have every right to rejoice. Elder’s book interviewed a wide variety of filmmakers about the films that left a permanent impact on them, and the series reunites Elder and the filmmakers for screenings of their favorite films.
CHICAGO – Sofia Coppola’s films are intriguing in a way that’s often difficult to put into words. I often find my attention drifting during my initial viewing of them, and yet they somehow manage to linger in my mind long after others have faded. Her problematic costume drama, “Marie Antoinette,” has become one of my favorite films to leave on in the background of a room, simply for the pleasure of dwelling in its subtly nuanced atmosphere.
CHICAGO – It’s been thirty-five years since Francis Ford Coppola wrote an original screenplay for one of his pictures, and though “Tetro” is certainly not in the same league as his last singular written work (1974’s “The Conversation”), it is still the most cinematically exciting, hauntingly beautiful, and achingly personal film he’s made in decades.
CHICAGO – Now that he is widely recognized as one of the best filmmakers of all time, it’s almost hard to believe that there was a period in the career of Akira Kurosawa when he couldn’t get financing to make a film. Kurosawa went through a very dark time in the ’70s, punctuated by his disastrous experience with “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” and needed the weight of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to help with his comeback, “Kagemusha,” now available in a beautiful Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release.
CHICAGO – Last fall, Francis Ford Coppola made the comment that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (along with Jack Nicholson) had lost their ambition. Coppola essentially said they have been phoning in their performances and picking safer movies. “Righteous Kill” could be the case study to that argument.