[Nameplate] Light Rain ~ 41°F  
High: 63°F ~ Low: 43°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

'Tetro': The genius of Coppola on display

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Maribel Verdu and Vincent Gallo star in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tetro," available now on DVD and Blu-ray.
(Courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
All too often, the word genius is thrown around too easily. A young director springs a surprise on us and we dub him a genius, but are there truly any masters of cinema left among us? A few and perhaps no other cinematic figure looms more largely than Francis Ford Coppola.

Granted, he's reserved himself to making small 'personal' movies, but that is where we are able to see the true mastery of the craft, and a perfect example of that his is most current film "Tetro".

A beautifully, operatic film, "Tetro" is bold and with its use of black and white, it's something lovers of cinema long for.

Directors rarely tackle the black and white medium because it takes much more than just pointing the camera and saying action. It requires a person who knows every subtlety that makes a great film. Plus, the format kills television revenue.

In "Tetro", Coppola weaves a tale of Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) and his older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo), two souls whose shadowy secrets loom large and whose tension is so powerful it almost literally boils just under the surface.

When Bennie finds himself stranded in Argentina when the cruise ship he works on docks for repairs, he heads of to find the brother who left him at a young age with the promise that he would return for him. That brother, Tetro, has closed himself off from his past life and his content with living a life of simple pleasures south of the equator.

"What happened to make my brother leave?" "How long would he be gone?" And "why didn't he come back for me?" Those are the major questions that have fueled Bennie throughout his life and found himself standing on the stoop of Tetro's Argentine apartment.

But as the week goes on, the secrets of the past come rushing to the forefront and with the struggles the brothers encounter, we learn that the truth about the relationship is more heartbreaking the one could imagine.

The performances are great, but what makes this movie what it is would be Coppola. His use of shadows and reflection is astounding for a man who's perhaps in the twilight of his career.

The DVD is also something special. "Tetro's" widest theatrical run was 16 theaters domestically and it pulled in a whopping half million in box office receipts. On the flip side, James Cameron's "Avatar" opened in more than 3,000 screens and holds the box office record for domestic performance. Tetro's disc has eight special features and Avatar has zip. That's why one is a lover of cinema and the other is the lover of green -- and I don't mean Pandora.

The disc features a great commentary by Coppola and Ehrenreich, which is an amazing contrast. Coppola talks to the viewer about the ins and the outs of the films and how this and that was done, while Ehrenreich's exhibits exuberance over his first feature film.

Three of the better special features are "The Rehearsal Process", "Mihai Malaimare Jr.: The cinematography" and "Osvaldo Golijov: Music Born from the Film" Also included is "Fausta: A Drama in Verse", which is an extended version of the play in the movie. "The Ballet" featurette breaks down the film's ambitious dance sequence.

My favorite extra is "La Colifata: Siempre Fui Loco" featurette. There's a scene in the movie where Tetro meets his lover Miranda (Maribel Verdu) while at an outdoor exercise at a mental hospital. The residents, whose voices are seldom listened to by normal people, are given the chance to speak into a mic and have their thoughts projected over big speakers. It was based on an actual place Coppola visited while in Argentina and he explains why it made its way into the movie. It's also interesting to learn the scene with Tetro clutching his writings was based on a resident who displayed the say devotion, love and protection of his words.

Final Cut: Although the film flew under many people's radar in its initial release, "Tetro" is one of Coppola' finest cinematic achievements, and with someone of Coppola's statue, that's saying something. A truly beautiful, moving piece of drama that stirs every emotion the viewer has. This is Coppola at his best.

Movie: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 4.5 Yaps


Starring: Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Vardu

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 2 hrs. 7 min.

Available from Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: