Friday, November 1, 2013
A washed up horror novelist (Val Kilmer, at his Kilmerest) on a book tour stumbles onto a weird mystery in a small town which may serve as fodder for a new book. Only, he also begins having strange dreams which may relate to an older, possibly related mystery from many years before. Dreams and reality don't begin to blend so much as they begin commenting on each other. Oh, also, in his dreams he hangs out with Edgar Allen Poe and talks shop with him.
This is the first of Francis Ford Copolla's newer, comeback-ish sort of films I've bothered to see, and now I'm regretting not checking out the others. Because it turns out he's back in his don't-give-a-fuck, do what I want mode, and therein lies all his genius and madness. Twixt is sort of a love letter to horror movies (where Coppola got his start), and it's not so much a cohesive story as it is Coppola being a show-off. Which I always thought was his best color. Here, he does whatever the hell he wants at any given time, basically just to display the fact that he has the technical chops to do anything.
Twixt is gorgeous and strange and unique. It jumps back and forth between a surreal dreamworld and a real world that, frankly, doesn't feel much less stylized. There is a (kinda complex) story, but most of what happens seems to happen more for effect and atmosphere. Nominally it's a horror film but I wouldn't say it's scary; often it even plays like an offbeat comedy. At one point Coppola just sort of points the camera at Kilmer and let's him improvise a bunch of silly voices for a while. But then you'll get some truly bizarre and compelling imagery in the dream sequences. I thought I detected a weird tone of irony in the air; the dialogue and performances are somewhat stylized, and there at times seems to be a winking corniness to the whole thing. But Twixt has it both ways; it good naturedly mocks the genre (and to some degree, I suspect, Coppola himself) while also believing in its cinematic power. It's like if his version of Dracula played it just a little less straight.
In other words, it feels like a movie made specifically and only for me. Like one of my favorites from 2012, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Twixt peers into the oversoul of of corny genre cinema and finds art, abstracting the story and the visuals and the tone into something weird and beautiful.