On the DVD commentary, Francis Ford Coppola describes his latest works as examples of "personal filmmaking." He uses this label because all of the others have been demonized about as much as the words "socialist," "conservative," or "liberal" in our current political climate. What would've been proudly presented as an "art film" or "experimental film" in the 1960s, or as an "independent film" in the 1990s, would be seen as something much more obscure if labeled as such today. "Personal filmmaking" best describes what Coppola is doing now. At age 70, the writer-director is making modestly budgeted films on his own terms, financed by his successful wine business. The "personal" label separates his last two films from his previous career as one of the key figures of what he refers to as "industrialized film." Both Youth Without Youth and his latest film, the wonderful Tetro, are not so much experimental or arty as they are personal. Tetro in particular seems to be about as personal a film he could make without producing a documentary called "Coppola".
That said, this isn't the story of a wildly ambitious filmmaking family, but it is a film about art and how the art is often inseparable from the artist. Beautifully shot in crisp black and white by cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., Tetro seems to be a product of another era. While the visuals echo the work of filmmakers as diverse as Fellini and Elia Kazan (and at times the Coppola of Rumble Fish), the screenplay is very much in the tradition of '50s poetic drama as defined by writers like Tennessee Williams and Clifford Odets.
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