Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:58 am 
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PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

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VAL KILMER AND BEN CHAPLIN IN TWIXT

Dreaming horror, finding a story

A beautiful, if slight, pastiche on the horror and vampire film is Coppola's latest experiment, following Youth Without Youth and Tetro, this features Val Kilmer as Hall Baltimore, a failed and drunken detective story writer who has grumpy Skype conversations on the road with his impatient wife (Joanne Whalley) and his editor (David Paymer). The wife wants a $25,000 advance, and the editor, who won't go over $10,000, wants "a great twist ending, with tons of heart." Baltimore fumbles and goes in and out of drunken reveries and dreams, but comes out with a cracking good tale that his editor likes.

At a humiliating book signing in a hardware in a little town, our author is approached by the local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (a typically hammy and wild-haired Bruce Dern), with the proposal of a story idea of a prosecution of young girl vampires linked to a long-ago series of local murders. If this sounds like a rehash of a rehash, with some elements from the recent middling British costume horror piece The Woman in Black , it certainly is. Except that an autobiographical element is added, that of the blocked or no longer high-functioning artist. Along with that, Baltimore has frequent imaginary consultations with the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin). Another personal element is Baltimore's weighty and guilty memories of the tragic loss of a child in a boating accident. He lost his daughter, and Coppola lost his son Gio this way in 1986. The daughter is played by Elle Fanning, who played the daughter in his daughter's film, Somewhere.

This weighty material aside, this is nonetheless a playful and at times willfully silly divagation, though one whose slightness does not mean a loss of quality in tech elements. What makes this film worth watching and shows a master's hand are the beautiful images. D.p. Milhai Malaimare Jr.'s cinematography includes colors in the dull waking passages that evoke early Seventies detective movies, while Baltimore's dreams come in sharp black and white with dashes of color, à la Coppola's Rumble Fish. Some of the treatment of young girls is disturbing. But Kilmer keeps things light, yet dignified. One goofy bit is his immitation of Brando in Apocalypse Now, and a closing citation of "The End" sung by Jim Morrison, whom Kilmer played in The Doors. And Bruce Dern is an in-joke in himself, with many creepy self-references, some serious and some silly.

Twixt debuted at Toronto September 2011 and was included in the San Francisco International Film Festival in Coppola's home turf of the Bay Area. It was released in France April 11, 2012 where it received a fairly good Allocine 3.0 rating. This involves mixed reviews, high from Cahiers du Cinema and Les Inrockuptibles, low from Telerama, generally good from some of the more "sophisticated" publications. Screened for this review May 16, 2012 at MK2 Hautefeuille, Paris.

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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