This capped off a triple-screening movie day for me, and what a way to cap it off. Here’s my brief “review” from the Tetro page.
The rivalry between father and son. Brother and brother. Man and woman. Memory and reality. Reality and your perception of it. The play and Tetro’s family. The written word and its interpretation. Art and life. Reflections and mirrors. Things seen not as they are but through a filter, a lens, on a stage.
The central characters of Tetro and Benjamin are reflections of each other—both moths beating themselves against the light of their relationship and their family history. This is the story at work in Coppola’s return to form.
It’s obvious in every shot that the film was produced by a master and a fantastic crew. It’s simply chiaroscuro gorgeous, the frame alive with texture and meaning that reflects the story unfolding within it.
“We can’t look into the light,” Tetro says. Light is the source of the truth, and it can be too much to bear. For a man, for a family. This is why we form an artifice through which to view it, whether it’s a fantasy or a work of art we produce as catharsis.
The film’s answer is that ultimately, life is what we make it. We turn the truth into a story that makes us happy or destroys us.
Easily one of the best new films I’ve seen all year, and Coppola’s best in forever.
Yay I don’t have to strategically place dog shit on your street!
I disagree on what you think the light represents though. I think it represents the father/grandfather’s talent. The light is always hanging over Tetro similar to how his dad’s talent is always hanging over him. At the end he says don’t look into the light, meaning live your own life and don’t let your grandfather ruin you like he ruined me.
(By the way this is a "repeat thread’:http://www.theauteurs.com/topics/1427/comments?page=2 but I will let it slide since you liked the film!)
Dammit! I searched but didn’t see that page. How is that possible?
All right. I’m letting this one die.
(I’m responding to this thread because the other one seemed mainly about Coppola in general.)
I finally saw this, and I must say that while I didn’t hate it as much as Robert, I didn’t really care for this—although I don’t think I have a great understanding of film. Instead of taking the time to work through the film by myselt, I thought I’d do some of that here.
Tetro(Angie) is the son of a great conductor. At some point, he leaves his father to become a writer. I don’t think the film really explains this—unless Tetro leaves primarily because his father steals his girlfriend from him. He leaves behind his brother (who turns out to be his son—how did the family exactly protect Tetro by not telling him the truth about this?)
Anyway, let me stop there. Basically, I felt the dramatic elements of the film were weak. I just didn’t care for or believe in the characters and their plight. All the attempts to mix ballet, classical music and theater into the film just seemed clumsy and ultimately pretentious.
Here’s my sense of the film. I read somewhere that the film comes out of Coppola’s reflections on his own youth and family. That might explain why the film felt so messy to me. When a person presents dramatic narrative based on family experiences, determing what would be compelling and touching to a wider audience can be difficult. The filmmaker cares about the characters and story because those things (in part) happened to him. It’s hard to see outside those experiences. (In some ways, Billy Crystal’s Mr. Saturday Night was like that, too.)
Moreover, when the filmmaker’s fantasies of chilhood and family (the way he would have liked things to have been) inform the film, the film really can take a bad turn. Whereas these fantasies may be touching and appealing to the filmmaker, they appear ridiculous, schmaltzy and in bad taste to everyone else. Now, I’m not say for certain that this is the case with Tetro, but the film gives me that vibe.
It is certainly dramatically flat (tho all the leads are engaging)
I guess it tries to ape operatic drama with its reveal but the shock is not that shocking, not a big deal at all really
Coppola’s ambition clearly won’t be called into question. The New Coppola is definitely a bit strange. I think most of the queerness lies in his writing. *Tetro*’s sort of fantasy theatrical sequences completely lost me; Coppola’s lifelong love affair with theater is headed in a more esoteric direction. *Tetro*’s denouement was simply not impactful to myself – perhaps unique, personal filial experience is required.
I never understood why Tetro didn’t react more strongly, with more malice, when Bennie searched through his possessions, stole his work, plagiarized it, sold it and put his own name on it – every single act going directly against Tetro’s explicitly laid out dictates. I mean – to a writer, a wildly, notoriously private writer, one who specifically fled the earth from his entire family forever – those acts are simply so, so huge, such a monumental breach of privacy. And Tetro’s reactions are all given in the same tone, the same restrained, “Oh my god. I can’t believe you’re doing this. I do not trust you anymore.” I didn’t buy it. At all. I always wanted more. Now that I think about it, there was another aspect which I found impossible to buy: the way in which Bennie evolves – in no time at all (one is reminded of Luke Skywalker going through a lifetime’s worth of Jedi training on Dagobah in perhaps one week) – from a virginal, absolute dilettante, in everything he does, to a highly arty, Welles-ish ambitious playwright, and achieves unprecedented success. Sure, he’s working with Tetro’s writing, but… I am dubious. Tetro’s product still sounds just like Coppola, not brilliance – the real world would react to Tetro’s work the way they’re reacting to Coppola’s Tetro – some intrigued, some disinterested, but most all left… curious. Digression ended: One moment the brother is a naive 18 year old boy – next moment he is Tetro. He still acts just like he did before.
‘’I never understood why Tetro didn’t react more strongly, with more malice, when Bennie searched through his possessions, stole his work, plagiarized it, sold it and put his own name on it – ’’
I can’t really explain this, but I thought Bennie put Tetro’s name on the finished piece, or offered to in an attempt to put Tetros work out to the world and let the them finally accept Tetro. And then I think Tetro doesnt accept it, or he does, i forget. Also I think Tetros somewhat subdued reaction isn’t sooo unrealistic in the light of Bennie being his son, and perhaps he felt betrayed but he also didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes as his own father. I will need to watch this one again at the very least.
“Also I think Tetros somewhat subdued reaction isn’t sooo unrealistic in the light of Bennie being his son, and perhaps he felt betrayed but he also didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes as his own father.”
I know… that occurred to me after the fact. But during the film, before I knew the twist, it wasn’t playing for me. Maybe I’ve simply become too critical. Regarding Benny, I was under the impression that he pretty much used the play as Tetro wrote it and constructed his own ending (which I still think is kind of bullshit, I just can’t picture that kid writing…). But we see him in the theater at one point, he looks like Welles, and I recall that he had been directing the play – which, again, is what I can’t buy. I could be wrong, though.
The more I think about this film the worse it gets…
Lets list the clichés
crazy artist – gallo does his best crazy imitation but that isn’t enough the voice over the shot of him clutching his play confirms it for us !
Loyal spouse – something is wrong! what could it be !
Mysterious relations: the son – honestly no one saw that coming? when I realized it I was praying I was wrong- there is nothing worse than knowing what will happen and the film was cut that way too: “tetro does lights” – cut to tetro doing lights
…you have the thought, then you’re there
you have the thought, then you’re there…..
you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there you have the thought, then you’re there
I liked Tetro quite a bit. While I think the lead actor did a pretty good job overall as Tetro, he was hardly believable when the role called for aggression or anger. It seems the actor might be too much of a nice guy for the part.
If nothing else, gorgeous black & white photography, yes? Robert, it’s very easy to criticize. I can’t help but think you come off as cynical. You can find cliches in great films and stories throughout time; cliches are useful because they contain truth.
I thought Tetro reacted a lot more strongly than your post suggests. He throws things in the hospital and almost comes to blows with Miranda. (He’s basically yelling and screaming the whole time.) After Tetro slams the door, Miranda tells Bennie that he can’t stay with them any more. So Tetro’s reaction is pretty strong.
Later when the play is being rehearsed and Tetro pops in, he may not have had time to go into a rage because a little after he arrives, don’t they announce that the play has been accepted into that Pantagonia Festival?
I don’t think the cliches were the main problem. It’s just the film didn’t breathe any life into them. The film did feel very emotionally and dramatically flat for me. I just didn’t really care or believe in the relationships between Tetro and his father and Tetro and Bennie.
In the early scenes, I thougth the film was a comedy, in which Gallo was pretty effective. But later when the film seemed to require taking Gallo as a tortured artist, estranged son and father (to Bennie) serioulsy, I think the film failed for me.
anyone have thoughts about the banner in the beginning of the movie? “wind sweeps the streets, you cannot go back.” anyone know if that is a quote?
The overly trendy, self-consciously hip, pose-y look of the trailer does not induce me to want to see this film.
Brooks, it wasn’t that bad, some good performances, and nothing about it screams hip, maybe you’re just a fogey.
I am a fogey, ’tis true. LOL
I think a film can be fairly judged…………………twenty years after its release, but scarcely before. How’s THAT for tight-assed?
Anything that appears spankingly new and slick? I distrust.
Brooks, that’s fair, but I disagree with you about the apparent slickness of Tetro, Tarantino all slick, no stickum, Cameron bathes in slick. Coppola knows what slick is, but knows when and when not to use it, i think he avoided slick here.
I’ve still only seen it once (a year ago), but I still remember it fondly. Don’t remember thinking it was new and slick or hip at all. More old-fashioned.
Apparently, no spoiler-alert warnings are needed on this site, so here goes:
In my mind, at least, Coppola’s casting choices bolster my theory he masterminded an unstated, ex-post-facto twist that might only occur to some viewers after they’ve balked a bit at the apparent contrivance of Tetro’s revelation he’s Bennie’s father. The way I eventually saw things (albeit only after the curtain fell) was that Bennie really was Tetro’s half-brother, and Tetro’d been convinced otherwise in a complex ruse intended to salve his pathological resentment at the father’s theft of his girlfriend (Bennie’s mother). I think the Ehrenreich character purposely resembles the Brandauer character, suggesting a direct paternity and genetic basis for Bennie’s maestro-like reworking and acclaimed staging of Tetro’s long-suppressed manuscripts. High irony, no? But both brothers will take (self-deluded?) comfort in the familial salvation afforded by Tetro’s professed paternity. “We’re a family now,” he says at last.
I can’t stand Vincent Gallo… I’ll deal with this for Coppola
I haven’t seen “Tetro” yet, but I actually liked “Youth Without Youth”.
I don’t believe people should shy away from criticizing a film immediately, having to wait a few years for that purpose. One of the great joys of cinema, like other art forms, is that your vision of the works changes with age. Today I like many films that 15 years ago I wouldn’t even stand seeing. Who knows what I’ll think 15 years in the future. Besides, the whole social, political and cultural backgrounds of the times strongly influence the way wee see and judge films. That’s why we say “that film hasn’t aged well” or “time has benefited that film”.