Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, 2007)

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MichaelB
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#51 Post by MichaelB » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:00 am

membrillo wrote:Thats disappointing - being such a fan of "Downfall" - i figured that the inclusion of Bruno and Maria in this film would be a great.
From Jonathan Romney's review:
Coppola should have known not to cast Bruno Ganz as a kindly doctor: Ganz is a phenomenon in German but a liability in English, and here sounds as if he's acting through a mouthful of old socks.

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david hare
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#52 Post by david hare » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:40 am

Don't agree.

Ganz is required to speak nothing but English in Gillian Armstrong's Last Days of Chez Nous. In doing so he quite clearly transforms a likely disadvantage into a highly attractive element of his performance.

It probably doesnt hurt that the movie , while considered "minor" by various "experts" in Oz cinema is something I can actually sit through again from the endlessly untalented Gillian Armstrong. (And Bruno definitely lifts this picture way outta her league.)

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HerrSchreck
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#53 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:41 pm

I just can't get ready for this man's work in this film. Since Godfather 3 I've been on the cusp of being "done" with Coppola... which is a shame, as the size of his talent and the promise that it held seemed to suggest a coming career spangled with masterpieces. But here is a man far too conscious of his place in the world. His mind does not seem to function in it's formerly tuned-in fashion.

I don't know if this has been mentioned here or elsewhere (it probably has, maybe even FFC has gone in record in interviews & talked about it), but this is such a thinly guised portrait of Coppola's picture of himself. An aging man contending with that fact as he seeks to maintain the grand PLace In The World his vital years have secured for him. But he knows he's not what he was when he was young, and yet he wants and needs, craves, an artistic rebirth... wants a real Brando-like comback in his latter years, especially now that movies have blown up so industrially large splattering competition and hollow admiration in all corners.

So the guy wants to do it again... wants to prove he can be his great young self, that that man is still there within him. The style of the making of the pic, the low budget, the location work in eastern europe, the on-the-fly and costcutting... making the film, stripped down, that a young up and comer would make when trying to break in.

Coppola's trying to experience youth without his youth (kind of the reverse of the film... young on the inside while his body is aged... perhaps the film itself is the New Skin he's seeking that will cloak the old image of FFC), and seeking to duplicate the experience of Old Man In New Young (Artistic, FFC's case) Skin that the Roth character seems to go through. All the 'changing the world/earthshaking power' stuff that attends merely plays into the rarified world the man feels he moves thru.

The same way God3 was very much about FFC. Daughter/daughter sister/sister, etc. But just as the aged Roth looks like a bad makeup job (it looks absurd, really), this film is not going to accomplish the revitalization FFC is seeking, and possible will ossify him even further than before.

Coppola is unfortunately not an all-around filmmaker (he may not be any kind of Good filmmaker anymore which would be a severe tragedy because I loved him and his style so enormously in my formative years.. ApocNow, Taxi Driver, and Blade Runner were the fucking holy film trilogy of my late teens, and I thought The Conversation one of the coolest films ever made). I'd rather see him like Fellini or Visconti stick to familiar ground... it may be that FFC should stick to grand operatic melodramas, or period pieces, about family, etc, in his autumnal years. I'd rather see him succeed with great performances fro kickass casts and a1 scripts about Big Subjects executed as well done painterly pieces in familiar territory (nothing wrong with having a style so long as you do it well) than further hobble his ability to get his next picture made by flopping with experiments in alien territory. I know as Cocteau said "habit is the enemy of creativity"-- and this is true-- but just as Cocteau maintained his own style and ongoing mythology in the worlds of film, literature, and visual arts (no mistaking a Cocteau drawing), there is nothing wrong with Knowing Who You Are, and being that the best you can.

FFC is not a Jean Epstein, a film scientist who can tackle any material and pull it off... or at least not anymore he isnt. I did think Rumble Fish, Dracula (I thought this was a very beautifully photographed 2 & 3/4 star film), Tucker (one of the more underrated in his *yawn* catalog) were very good films... but certainly not continuances of the canon begun w GF1 &2, Apoc, Conversation.

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david hare
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#54 Post by david hare » Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:02 pm

Any American director who can still honor the long dead Musical as Coppola has so well with Finian's Rainbow and the absolutely wonderful One from the Heart (a magical film) is alright by me. (Even if I don't like a lot of his other movies.)

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colinr0380
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#55 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Dec 28, 2007 1:37 am

HerrSchreck wrote:Coppola's trying to experience youth without his youth (kind of the reverse of the film... young on the inside while his body is aged... perhaps the film itself is the New Skin he's seeking that will cloak the old image of FFC), and seeking to duplicate the experience of Old Man In New Young (Artistic, FFC's case) Skin that the Roth character seems to go through. All the 'changing the world/earthshaking power' stuff that attends merely plays into the rarified world the man feels he moves thru.
I'd be interested to hear what yourself and davidhare made of Jack, since that film seems to be opposite, but similar, to Youth Without Youth in the way it fast forwards a child into an adult's body rather than reverses an old man into a young one. The films both deal with a personality, either wiser and being given a second go around or simpler and being rushed through and robbed of a childhood to learn about the world. It seems that both characters in those films are trapped inside the shell of a grown man and face all the societal expectations and pressures that being in that form brings from those who base their interactions on physical appearance rather than mental experience.

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Dylan
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#56 Post by Dylan » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:58 am

A very intriguing, interesting film, and among my personal favorites of the year. Hopefully it will find its audience on DVD.

Alexandra Maria Lara is very good - in particular, when Roth is first acquainted with Veronica, the personality of that character Lara creates in just a few seconds is so rich. Tim Roth can't go wrong, and this is his first big leading role in a very long time. Golijov's score should absolutely win an Oscar. And for once in modern cinema, there's a main title sequence at the front of the film (after a brief prologue, that is).
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Antoine Doinel
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#57 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:00 am

Saw this tonight and I have to agree it deserved a much better critical reception than it got. The material seems perfect for Coppola - a man on a continual quest/struggle to complete his life work. Woven into that are a myriad of religious and philosophical themes that at times threaten to go off the rails but never do. At times the film traverses the same territory as Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain though less abstractly, and much more literally. Visually, the film is absolute stunner. Roman Coppola does some lovely second unit work as well, particularly in India (and I wonder if he managed to shoot that concurrently during the production of The Darjeeling Limited). No, the film doesn't work entirely, but on ambition and guts alone it produces several fantastic sequences, and as a whole is very strong return for Coppola. He seems newly invigorated and inspired and I'm anxious to see what he does next.

I could've done without the Matt Damon cameo. And, oh yes, it has one of the loveliest opening credit sequences of the year.

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John Cope
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#58 Post by John Cope » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:37 am

I can't wait to see this as I loved the book it's based on. Interestingly, most of the really scathing critiques I've read or heard (for instance, Mark Kermode's Radio 5 rant), seem to be fixated on details straight out of the book as if those details on their own are somehow a fault of the film. I'm expecting it to play in a similar fashion. Eliade was not trying to explore all the ideas he raised in a thorough or comprehensive way; the sense of intoxication that comes from the exposure to and immersion in the ideas was what he was after. They are, after all, what Dominic lives for. I have no doubt that Coppola has rendered all this beautifully. What's striking to me is that there has been so little press for a wide release of this film or even an expectation that there should be one. It's been allowed to slip away while the clamor rings round the world apparently for a wide release of There Will Be Blood. Somehow this seems suggestive given the radically different ends these pictures (and their protagonists) seek to meet. On one level it's the indifference to the old guard in the face of the confrontational new one. But beyond that the films themselves represent aspects of a differing cultural climate. In other words, what do people really want to see? It's part of what troubles me about the excessive enthusiasm for TWBB. But, anyway, that's for another thread I suppose.

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Dylan
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#59 Post by Dylan » Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:38 am

Coming to DVD and Blu-ray May 13th!

Extras:
Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola
Making of Youth Without Youth
"The Music for Youth Without Youth" Featurette

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John Cope
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#60 Post by John Cope » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:45 am

Okay, well, I finally saw this and I hate to admit it but I was pretty disappointed, though certainly not with the skill that went into its making as in that respect Coppola came through without question. And perhaps I simply wanted to see something else ultimately and my familiarity with and affection for the book became a hindrance.

Which is surprising as Coppola follows the narrative and structure of Eliade's novella very closely (with only a couple of significant exceptions). But of course that belies the fact that such fidelity can be deceptive; it does not form a definitive prescription for success and often, as in this case, it's less relevant than that the overall aesthetic approach is misconceived.

At first I couldn't understand what was going wrong given Coppola's clear devotion to the source material and extraordinary cinematic rendering, and then I decided that it was exactly these things. It's not so much that he didn't get it per se as that he chose to present it in a way that denigrates the ideas, or at least trivializes them. I was surprised by my reaction to this as, at first, I assumed that his Romantic Expressionism was absolutely the right direction to take this in. I mean, why not turn these dense metaphysical ramblings into a breezy, though wistful, adventure? And it could simply be that it seemed too breezy, too wistful, for my tastes. That's why I say I don't lay the blame fully at Francis's door step.

Still, though the film does evidence a sense of comprehension and understanding on his part, especially toward the end where it counts the most, I just felt that applying the left over glaze from Bram Stoker's Dracula was a bad idea. If you want to take it into these sorts of realms where you tempt camp then go all the way and turn it into something that feeds off that vibe symbiotically, something that becomes self-rectifying, like Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon. Either that or give it to Kenneth Anger (or Ken Russell or even Raoul Ruiz...). There are also moments that feel distinctively like a smash up between The X-Files and The Keep, which isn't necessarily a good thing, with a little "Mortal Komabt!" style confrontation from the climax of Renny Harlin's Exorcist thrown in for good measure. But Coppola never fully commits to such an approach. He's too concerned with being respectable. And respectable gothic pulp with metaphysical overlays is a recipe for blatant incoherence. It's all just too much of an imbalanced mish mash and it makes Eliade's profound ideas often seem laughable or at least spurious, even to me. Yet this suggests more than just a desire for respectability but also a determination to avoid the implications of serious engagement, to hedge his bets in other words, and that doesn't sit well with me.

Conversely, the moments that Coppola alters resound with suggestiveness, too. For instance, he makes the Nazi threat much more prominent but also much more a caricature, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. I'm sure this was intentional as it fits his attempt to cast Tim Roth as the Indiana Jones of the mind or whatever but it's another thing that set poorly with me as it creates an imbalance in mood and temperament. Also, and once again as per his agenda I suppose, Coppola makes Roth's abilities more pronounced and far more elaborate in effect. He basically turns him into a default superhero; I kept waiting for Roth to run into Sam Jackson from Unbreakable.

And then there's the issue of Alexandra Maria Lara's character, or characters. I'm not sure on this but I'm pretty positive that in the book Veronica was not inferred as the reincarnation of Dominic's former fiance. I get why Coppola did this as it romantically echoes an underlying aspect of Veronica's arc and it does show that he's got a grasp on what he's presenting us with but it comes off as yet another instance of excessive over-compensation in the form of baroque ornamentation. God knows I love excess but here it feels counter-productive as if Coppola thought he had to keep ratcheting up the stakes for fear of losing our attention. What he does lose is the thread of Dominic's implicit melancholy; Coppola's heavy emphasis on relentless spectacle and a farrago of overworked imagery turns Dominic's tragedy into an attenuated and vacuous sideshow. And if the metaphysics are to mean anything to us at all on a dramatic basis they have to function as performative; they have to be actualized in way that adds depth, not just gilt, to what we see.

The theme of forestalling mortality in order to complete a work which is, by its nature, uncompletable, has resonance and is communicated with genuine empathy so I'll give him that. Also, I like the fact that the work in question is an attempt to return to the source of language and human consciousness. There is great irony in the fact that to cite, objectively and empirically, such a still point, if found, would require a wholly altered objective comprehension to be understood. That's effective but owes its impact to Eliade not Coppola.

The main problem then is that Coppola's chosen stylistic approach obscures and dulls the magnificent, succinct eloquence of Eliade's foray into magic realism. And from the angle of pure form, while Coppola leaves us with a string of curious incidents which at best invite speculation, Eliade gives sustained weight and tragic depth to purposeful continuity.

One final positive note, though this too has little to do with Coppola: Alexandra Lara is so incredibly beautiful that I found myself resenting every shot that cut away. She compels the camera in a way I've rarely seen.

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domino harvey
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Re: Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, 2007)

#61 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:01 am

Finally saw this and can concede the final point with no qualms. The film is bisected, really, and it's with Lara's appearance in the second half that the film really transforms from an entertaining lark to a very compelling, balls-out audacious film. It takes a brave filmmaker to present some of Lara's scenes at face value and more or less tell the audience "Either you're with us or you're not"-- sadly, but not surprisingly, most weren't/aren't. But here's a film that engaged me to think and not the other way around, and so many of the criticism I've read of the picture strike me as anti-intellectual in nature. I'm not sure I could explain the exacts of all what transpires between her and Roth, but I get the gist and even on a basic level it's pretty insane to start comprehending some sort of innate language-as-universal-history quest for truth lurking behind one of those inexplicable human interest stories one vaguely remembers in a little syndicated box near the daily word jumble. What a beautiful, wonderful, maddening film!
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Roger Ryan
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Re: Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, 2007)

#62 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:24 am

As I mentioned in the TWIXT thread, I was very impressed with this film. I had only heard the disappointing reviews (such as in this thread), but when I finally got to it a couple of months back I found it a great return to form for Coppola...or rather a return to superb film-making as the form was almost completely different to what he had attempted in the past. It certainly is one of the more beautiful-looking films he has ever made and Roth's performance holds everything together. The beginning of a new Coppola era.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, 2007)

#63 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:03 am

Even though this film should right up my alley in its philosophical musings, Coppola's deviation from any concrete bearings toward the enigmatic and strange forfeits easy dissection, which seems to be intentional. The Osvaldo Golijov score eerily mimics Raul Ruiz and the film plays within the Chilean filmmaker's otherworldly wheelhouse, imbuing a coat of alternate physics -not just in the obvious narrative arc of aging- but the multidimensional timelessness and directionless space of love. This has been explored in plenty of other fantasy films but seems truer (and often more frustrating, not that this is a bad thing) here because of the absence of the kind of clarity we're used to getting. The material is somewhat impenetrable but still feels sound in its own language, much like the thematic weaving of linguistics connecting and isolating people in the film.

The serenity of holding onto impermanent connections is as beautiful as the sensation of the slippage of these moments is tragic in the futility of avoiding time's gravitational pull. Coppola doesn't provide any linear safety nets to stabilize though, while still allowing characters to breathe and ruminate in their own murky fashion. The onion layers of consciousness and subjective realities as pick 'em illusions-or-truths are probably best left this ungrounded. I can't decide just how much I liked this film yet, but I also don't know if I want to make that choice until I see it again knowing how the whole work functions. The second half builds to a place of nearly alien sentiment, choosing emotion over practicality yet through intellectualization, so what's not to love about the resolve at the very least.

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