Post Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola seemed determined to find new directions from old inspirations; his 1982 musical One From the Heart returns to the set-based musical of the 50’s and 60’s , with a Las Vegas set love story scored by Tom Waits. Hank and Frannie (Frederic Forrest and Terri Garr) are the couple on the rocks, and tightrope-walker Leilia (Nastassja Kinski) and Ray are the possible new romances against an independence day background. A maudlin musical was never likely to fire up public interest, and One From The Heart flopped; seen today, it’s a fabulous mood piece, with sensational work from Waits and some dynamic shots that boggle the brain in their artful conception.
‘What is this, another glorious battle for the kingdom?’ ; Mickey Rourke’s performance as the Motorcycle Boy is just one of the attractions of Francis Ford Coppola’s teen movie for adults, adapted from the book by SE Hinton. Rusty James (Matt Dillon) is a disaffected youth, caught up in gang culture, frustrated with his boozing father (Dennis Hopper) and living in the shadow of his brother (Rourke). Unlike Coppola’s version of Hinton’s The Outsiders, swathed in golden light and nostalgia, Rumble Fish is harsh, tough and uses black and white photography and a percussive soundtrack to suggest the barren landscapes of teenage rebellion. Nicholas Cage, Diana Lane and Laurence Fishburne are amongst the revels, while Tom Waits flips burgers at the local diner.
Francis Ford Coppola scored a significant hit with his baroque version of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale, helped by a wonderfully over-the-top performance by Gary Oldman. Whether under an immense powdered wig or strutting around England in a top hat and shades, Oldman exudes menace while providing plenty of off-beat comedy. While the rest of the cast are somewhat mismatched in acting styles; Keanu Reeves is a stiff Jonathan Harker and his British accent has been the subject of much merriment, as has Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. But Coppola pulls together a rich and sumptuous production design, from the shadow-play opening to the various silent movie in-camera tricks to capture the supernatural action. Winona Ryder looks great as Mina, and the romantic link between her and The Count is cleverly set up in a prologue that establishes their thwarted history. It’s more Coppola than Stoker, but with the likes of Tom Waits and Monica Bellucci in support, the result is consistently exciting to watch.
Francis Ford Coppola’s contribution to the bandwagon of John Grisham legal adaptations is probably the best of the bunch. Matt Damon shoulders the weight of the film as Rudy Baylor, a young lawyer teamed with a cynical paralegal (Danny De Vito) as he attempt to win a lawsuit against a powerful insurance company, with the money for a young boy’s bone-narrow transplant at stake. Coppola gets strong support from Mickey Rourke, Roy Scheider and Jon Voight, and even with the romance with Clare Danes is a little rusty, The Rainmaker is considerably smarter entertainment that the usual legalese potboiler.
Francis Ford Coppola is a director who has refused to go back on old glories (other than Godfather Part 3), instead ploughing an increasingly lonely but interesting furrow of personal films. The Tucker featured here is automobile manufacturer Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) and the story is about how his pioneering designs were quashed by the powers-that-be within the industry. For a film about broken dreams, Tucker has a lot of energy, with gleaming photography, great period detail and a barnstorming performance by Bridges. And the cars themselves are beautiful, with Coppola’s film attesting to the notion that the best don’t always finish first.