Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection
Francis Ford Coppola has had an eclectic career, to put it very lightly. How the same man who helmed "The Godfather" also gave us the Robin Williams opus "Jack" is an unanswerable query that will be passed on from generation-to-generation. But this Five Film Collection, which features the prolific wine-maker’s greatest films that don’t feature the Italian-American Mafia, paints a pretty picture. Featuring two stone-cold masterpieces, two interesting curiosities, and a late career return to personal filmmaking; this collection showcases one of America’s most iconic filmmakers at his very best.
We start off with "The Conversation", released the same year as "Godfather II", and perhaps just as good. A Watergate-era paranoia thriller featuring Gene Hackman, the plot is a riff on Antonioni’s "Blow-up", and was later similarly appropriated by De Palma’s "Blow Out". But the stately cinematography and mysterious editing is pure Coppola; his camera coldly surveying his characters as their veneer of control (Hackman is an audio surveillance man,) slowly dissipates into uncontrolled chaos.
A second undisputed masterpiece, the incomparable "Apocalypse Now", shows up in two versions. You get Coppola’s "Redux" cut from the late 90s, but I’d recommend sticking to the (roughly) 150 minute theatrical cut, which provides a experience far more manic and singular. One of the last artistic triumphs of the ’New Hollywood’ Coppola helped define, "Apocalpyse" renders Vietnam - and as such, the American counter-culture - as a sick acid trip leading inevitably to destruction. Or rather, self-destruction; born (as it so often is in his films) from misplaced ego and hypocrisy.
The second curiosity (next to the worth-watching but clearly inferior "Redux" cut of "Apocalypse") is early 80s musical "One From the Heart", which mixes Tom Waits tunes with soundstage-set neon cinematography and endless Brechtian distancing devices. It seemed a New Hollywood tradition for respected auteurs to try and fail to revive the Hollywood musical genre - Scorsese tried with his underrated "New York New York", and Bogdanovich with "At Long Last Love". Unfortunately, Coppola found even less success than they did, as his "Love" never coalesces into anything other than a formidable piece of craftsmanship.
Rounding out the package is "Tetro", a late career character piece featuring some of Vincent Gallo’s best acting. It also features some of Coppola’s best visuals; boasting stunning black-and-white cinematography that gives the film an elegant look and stunning compositions that fill every frame with innumerable details. But the shockingly disparate collection of films are hardly the only attraction here, as each of the 4 discs (both cuts of "Apocalypse" are housed on one Blu-ray,) is packed with a number of extras.