Francis Ford Coppola

..and why not?
Bungo the Mungo

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 04 Feb 2007, 23:36

Corporal Moddie! wrote:I have to put in a shout for Rumblefish among his minor films. Someone, possibly Kael, described it as "Camus for kids"; I suspect this was meant desparagingly but I don't think its such a bad thing.
The whole thing may largely be an exercise in style, but its all so wonderfully done I'm not complaining. It's genuinely off-beat and so in thrall to its own pretensions that it manages to pull it off in an audacious way.
And I still think Rourke is great as The Motorcycle Boy. One of my favourite films from the 80's in fact.


Blimey. I saw it recently and thought it was absolute tosh, apart from the great Waits cameo. I might try and stick out the first few minutes again after reading your post.

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Postby Mr Maps » 05 Feb 2007, 13:01

I was surprised to learn that he really wanted to be an auteur film maker and do things like the Conversation and One From The Heart which lost his own company money. He wasn't very interested in The Godfather films or Apocalypse Now but did them for the money to fund the more personal projects.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 06 Feb 2007, 17:12

Sir John Coan wrote:
Corporal Moddie! wrote:I have to put in a shout for Rumblefish among his minor films. Someone, possibly Kael, described it as "Camus for kids"; I suspect this was meant desparagingly but I don't think its such a bad thing.
The whole thing may largely be an exercise in style, but its all so wonderfully done I'm not complaining. It's genuinely off-beat and so in thrall to its own pretensions that it manages to pull it off in an audacious way.
And I still think Rourke is great as The Motorcycle Boy. One of my favourite films from the 80's in fact.


Blimey. I saw it recently and thought it was absolute tosh, apart from the great Waits cameo. I might try and stick out the first few minutes again after reading your post.


It's certainly interesting.
And what a cast: I'd pay to see Dillon, Waits, Lane, Hopper, Rourke, Cage, etc (and all directed by Coppola) in a film today as well.

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Postby the masked man » 06 Feb 2007, 19:52

I tend to agree with Geraint on Rumblefish - it's actually a film I thought was not too great when I saw it. Then, I found it haunted my thoughts for weeks afterwards. I'd like to see it again.

I'm not a great Coppola fan, and haven't really thought about him in years. Maybe what put me off him was his segment of New York Stories. Admittedly, it was bound to suffer in comparison to the excellent short films from Scorsese and Allen, but even so it was abject - oen of the worst films ever by a world-class film-maker.

That said, The Conversation could be his finest film - I've just bought it on DVD, and I look forward to seeing that again as well.

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Postby Mr Maps » 07 Feb 2007, 02:36

the masked man wrote:That said, The Conversation could be his finest film - I've just bought it on DVD, and I look forward to seeing that again as well.


Easily my favourite film of his. The commenatry track on that DVD is very good.
nathan wrote:I realize there is a time and a place for unsexy music, but I personally have no time for it.


Django wrote: It's video clips of earnest post-rock I want, and I have little time for anything else.

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marios

Postby marios » 07 Feb 2007, 02:40

I loved seeing the Conversation on the big screen a few years ago. I hadn't seen it before, so the experience felt even more important at the time.

I love the first two Godfathers, but The Conversation is not far behind.

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Postby The Modernist » 07 Feb 2007, 18:26

I can quite see why The Conversation is often the Coppola film of choice for cinestes, it's certainly the most subtle thing he's done and the closest thing to a European art movie. In fact it's hard to place in his ouevre, it is spartan and low key; a marked contrast to his usual extravagent style. Amazing how well it conveys the paranoid Watergate zeitgeist of the time.

If I'm being honest it is a little too cold and remote for it to be my own favourite, but it is a very interesting film.

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Postby the masked man » 07 Feb 2007, 19:14

Corporal Moddie! wrote:I can quite see why The Conversation is often the Coppola film of choice for cinestes, it's certainly the most subtle thing he's done and the closest thing to a European art movie. In fact it's hard to place in his ouevre, it is spartan and low key; a marked contrast to his usual extravagent style. Amazing how well it conveys the paranoid Watergate zeitgeist of the time.

If I'm being honest it is a little too cold and remote for it to be my own favourite, but it is a very interesting film.


Interesting. I can see the film does have links to the chillier side of sixties European cinema, particularly, the 'Atomic age' films of Resnais and Antonioni. But I also see it as being part of a distinctively American filmmaking style of the seventies. That Watergate paranoia you mention was also present in the conspiracy thrillers of Alan J Pakula (Klute, The Parallax View and, of course, the real-life conspiracy of All The President's Men) as well as Arthur Penn's Night Moves. There was a lot of this stuff about!

As for me, well, you know I really like cold, remote films.

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Postby The Modernist » 07 Feb 2007, 19:38

the masked man wrote:
Corporal Moddie! wrote:I can quite see why The Conversation is often the Coppola film of choice for cinestes, it's certainly the most subtle thing he's done and the closest thing to a European art movie. In fact it's hard to place in his ouevre, it is spartan and low key; a marked contrast to his usual extravagent style. Amazing how well it conveys the paranoid Watergate zeitgeist of the time.

If I'm being honest it is a little too cold and remote for it to be my own favourite, but it is a very interesting film.


Interesting. I can see the film does have links to the chillier side of sixties European cinema, particularly, the 'Atomic age' films of Resnais and Antonioni. But I also see it as being part of a distinctively American filmmaking style of the seventies. That Watergate paranoia you mention was also present in the conspiracy thrillers of Alan J Pakula (Klute, The Parallax View and, of course, the real-life conspiracy of All The President's Men) as well as Arthur Penn's Night Moves. There was a lot of this stuff about!

As for me, well, you know I really like cold, remote films.


Yes it's definitely part of an early seventies cycle of the "paranoid thriller". I think it is its pared down elliptical narrative that makes it seem European to me, it tells you very little. It's always reminded me of La Samorai; the two protagonists are very similar leading aescetic, hermetic existances obsessed with their work to the point of solipsism. I wonder if Coppola was influenced by it.

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Postby The Write Profile » 08 Feb 2007, 05:31

Corporal Moddie! wrote:I can quite see why The Conversation is often the Coppola film of choice for cinestes, it's certainly the most subtle thing he's done and the closest thing to a European art movie. In fact it's hard to place in his ouevre, it is spartan and low key; a marked contrast to his usual extravagant style. Amazing how well it conveys the paranoid Watergate zeitgeist of the time.

If I'm being honest it is a little too cold and remote for it to be my own favourite, but it is a very interesting film.


Like Marios, I saw this film in a new print at the cinema and it was probably one of the films that changed the way I viewed (and heard) them. You've mentioned before how it's very 'locked into its misanthropy,' but I think that's the most fascinating aspect of it, the premise of it is at once incredibly tense and utterly banal in terms of action and the accumulating details seem to make the film seem more enigmatic, rather than less so.

Of course the key scene is where Hackman finally realises what the pair were actually saying (or more accurately, the emphasis on the words, because he hears the line exactly, he just can't pick up the intonation), but I think my favourite scene is the closer, with Hackman reduced to searching for a 'bug' that may or may not have been planted in his house, just the way he completely unravels, yet still tries to maintain some form of control. I think a modern director (say Christopher Nolan, for example) would've played around with the framing of that scene a lot, maybe even jumbled the chronology, whereas here the camera seems to stay completely trained on the location, almost as unblinking and remote as the protagonist. I found the scene oddly moving, actually, or at least quite sad.

As for the film's influences, I wouldn't put it past Coppola taking some of his cues from Blow Up, both are concerned with the nature of perception (in Blow Up's case it's what Hemmings's photographer may or may not have seen), although The Conversation has a resolution of sorts (though you're left in the dark as to what will happen to Hackman's character)
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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 09 Feb 2007, 05:16

While I can't place The Conversation above The Godfather, it's not all that far off either. Certainly it shares some thematic concerns with the Corleone saga. Specifically, both films spend a good deal of their time asking just how personally culpable a man is for the work he does. Among the more memorable lines in The Godfather is the oft-used justification, "it's just business." There is no doubt that Hackman's Harry Caul justifies his work to himself the same way. In this sense, The Conversation essentially puts capitalism through a kind of a Nuremburg trial. Are we all "just following orders?" If so, what does it cost us.

Great film.
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