Today Only: "P.D. James: The Essential Collection" for $45.99 Today only: P.D. James: The Essential Collection is at a one day special price. Offer valid on January 27, 2015, applies only to purchases of products sold by Amazon.ca, and does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants and other sellers through the Amazon.ca site. Learn more
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Crown Jewel of CinemaMay 30 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Francis For Coppola has created a major cinematic miracle in his TETRO. The film is hauntingly beautiful to see, to hear, and to challenge the minds of the viewers. This is what great cinema is all about - taking the risks of storytelling to the impossible extremes available to only the great writer/directors such as Federico Fellini, Alain Resnais, Alexander Sokurov, François Truffaut, Jean Renoir, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, and Luis Buñuel. Heady company, this, but Coppola rises to the occasion with this multilayered exploration of family secrets and the dissection of the concept of 'genius' - all in the quiet guise of autobiographical references that make this work more than simply one of his many successful films. He has the grace to select artists of his own caliber to assist him: the cinematography (as complex a marriage of rich black and white and stunning color as anyone has achieved) is by Mihai Malaimare, Jr.; the musical score is by the brilliant Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov whose atmospheric compositions mesh perfectly with the influential moments of Puccini, Brahms, Offenbach, and Delibes; and a group of actors whose range of talent spans decades of experience and levels of finesse. It all works to one end, and that end is a celebration of a master's art of making memorable film.
The setting is Buenos Aires where Tetro (Vincent Gallo), a writer of plays and novels, all incomplete and written in code and confusing manner - never having published any of his output, lives with Miranda (the brilliant Maribel Verdú), a doctor at the 'insane asylum' where she met Tetro as her patient. Into this shadowy place steps Benjamin (Alden Ehrenreich) who has run away from military school and is working as a waiter on a cruise ship docked in Buenos Aires for repairs. Benjamin seeks out his half brother Angelo (Tetro's discarded name) to try to find out about his confusing and dysfunctional family. Benjamin worships his older brother who taught him all the important aspects of art and life before Tetro disappeared, shunning the family that birthed him. Miranda convinces Tetro to allow Benjamin to stay with them despite the fact that Benjamin represents the family he deserted. Benjamin discovers the writings of his brother and manages to de-code them and writes an ending for a play that Tetro never finished. The play is produced by a small but adventuresome theater run by one Jose (Rodrigo De la Serna) and enacted by Abelardo (Mike Amigorena) and Josefina (Leticia Brédice). Upon hearing this Tetro is enraged and begins to relate the truth about the family that produced both boys - crux of which is the father figure Carlo Tetracini (Klaus Maria Brandauer) who sole claim to 'genius' in the family is his power as one of the most revered orchestral and opera conductors in the world. The remainder of this complex story unwinds the secrets long held within the family and the truths discovered by Benjamin alter his life and his perception of family and love and commitment.
Many of the secretive portions of the story are revealed not only in flashbacks of the family, but also in full color dance and theater sequences focusing on 'Coppelia' and 'Tales of Hoffmann', subtle suggestions to the audience of the truths yet put into words by the actors. These sidebars are brilliantly executed and designed and performed and beg for more time on the screen. If the last portion of the film is a bit slow (a flaw comfortably corrected by the presence of the great Carmen Maura as the preeminent judge of taste and talent who goes by the symbolic name of 'Alone'), this gives the audience time to assimilate all of the information that has been inexorably revealed throughout the course of the film. TETRO is filmmaking at its finest. It demands much from the audience, but its rewards are considerable. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 10
31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Keep the secret and don't you dare to tell!Jan. 30 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
This film cannot in any way be summarized without destroying all possible pleasure in the spectator or viewer. It is a film that is full of various keys and enigmas, each one about what follows or what precedes, anaphora and cataphora melting into catatonia.
Let's say that Coppola deals here with the eternal theme of the relation between the father and the son but he multiplies the relation like with a mirror and ends up with the impossibility to know who the father is and who the son is, who the fathers are and who their sons are.
He then multiplies the rivalries and desires of all type, sexual, emotional, professional or whatever among and around these men. We don't know who made who and who is made by whom, and when these binary relations turn ternary, the trios are absolutely undecipherable. The father makes the son and the son makes the father, for sure, but in what order and in what direction.
This brings us to a far more interesting aspect of the film. The creative act itself, the act of procreation sublimated into a work of literature or drama, into writing, front side back and back side front and maybe some other possibilities too. Then this act is at once surrounded by the ambition, the jealousy and the greed of all those who could in a way or another put their grubby hands onto the work of art and especially the royalties that could be generated by success. And we come to the idea that it takes far more than one father to produce a work of art and the work of art is the son of far more than one father. And anyway this work of art is nothing but a lie and a confused disguise for the real reality that the main concerned people do not want to let out.
Better keep a ghost in your cupboard than face the people who produced that ghost with their selfish insignificance. If you like strongly emotional films that do not fall into sentimentalese verbiage and if you do not like too much gore in your tragic films, that's the film you must not miss. So go out and watch it anywhere you can.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Lighten up, FrancisMay 3 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
It's official now. With his latest film, Tetro, a mad fever dream of a family angst drama that plays out like a telenovela on acid, Francis Ford Coppola has become Colonel Kurtz. OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. I don't really mean to insinuate that the venerable 70-year old director has literally gone completely around the bend in his new film; but as an artist, it signals that he has come full circle-in a sort of insane fashion. Back in 1963, under the auspices of the famously "no-budget" producer Roger Corman, a then 24-year old Coppola wrote and directed a B & W horror cheapie called Dementia 13. The story revolved around a twisted family with dark secrets; and in one scene I seem to remember one of the family members creeping about the estate wielding an axe. While it's not techinically "horror", one could thumbnail Tetro as a B & W film revolving around a twisted family with dark secrets; and, oddly enough, there is a scene wherein a family member creeps about an estate...wielding an axe.
Coppola has cooked up a Tennessee Williams meets Douglas Sirk family stew (with just a hint of balletic Powell and Pressburger opera tossed in for flavoring). Tetro (Vincent Gallo) is an ex-pat living in Buenos Aires with his therapist turned girlfriend Miranda (Mirabel Verdu). Tetro is a troubled soul; a highly gifted but unpublished writer-poet with a history of mental breakdowns who has willfully estranged himself from his family (for complex reasons that are unraveled in very deliberate, sudsy fashion). He is quite chagrined when an unwelcomed boulder comes smashing through this wall of self-imposed exile in the form of his younger brother Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich), who shows up on his doorstep one day. Bennie, a cruise ship worker whose boat "happens" to be in port, has not seen his big brother for many years and is quite eager to reestablish contact.
Tetro, however, is not inclined to reciprocate. Not only does he make it clear that Bennie is not welcome to stay any longer than is absolutely necessary, but he refuses to refer to him as a relative when introducing him to friends. Undaunted, Bennie remains hell-bent to reconnect, and soon fate and circumstance serve to prolong his visit to Buenos Aires, setting off a chain of events that eventually forces both brothers to come to terms with their shared "Daddy issues" (Klaus Maria Brandauer chews major scenery as their narcissistic father, who is a world-famous symphony conductor... and world-class jerk).
I'm no psychiatrist, but Coppola's dad, Carmine, is a composer/conductor (since I don't know the man, I can't attest to whether or not he is jerk...but I'm just saying). At any rate, this feels like a "personal" work on some level; it virtually screams at you from the passionate, high drama of the piece. It goes without saying that "family" is a recurring theme in Coppola's ouvre; so in that respect, you could say that Tetro is a return to form.
Gallo delivers an explosive performance; I think it's his finest work to date. The charismatic Verdu is very effective inhabiting a character who is at once earthy, sensuous and saintly. Ehrenreich holds his own quite admirably with his more seasoned co-stars. However, I had a problem with the film's over-the-top third act. Even accounting for Coppola's (literally) operatic construct that leads up to the jaw-dropping finale, it's all a bit too...too. Maybe it's me; if you enjoy that sort of thing, perhaps you'll be more forgiving. One cannot deny the visual artistry on display. Even when he lost me with the story, Coppola's mastery of the medium kept my eyes riveted to the screen. So he did his job, after all. He's been doing it for 50 years-so I'll let him off the hook...for old time's sake.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
MasterpieceMay 5 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Wonderful film making, beautiful film techniques,glorious use of light and shadow,actors that are natural..and a story that turns and bends around in your mind in a way that only real life can do...One reviewer talks about Francis Ford Coppola and his age ,his past, who his mentors were and blah,blah,blah,I watched this film (a rental)and will now buy the movie on Amazon..because it is a classic..I am a movie fan first and a reviewer second..I recommend this film highly and if i could i would give it 10 stars...I say bravo Mr. Coppola and thank you..for such a thoughtful masterpiece...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the best looking Black-and-White films ever, but the story was less satisfying.Jan. 30 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Tetro (2009) is one of the most visually stunning black-and-white films I've ever seen. Not since Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993) have I seen a film look so good without color. The crystal clear, inky black digital cinematography is simply spectacular. Every little detail of this finely crafted production shines through in every frame. Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this art house flick showcases every bit of his vast technical filmmaking experience. My only complaint is that the story suffers a bit from a lack of focus/clarity and emotional depth. Tetro goes right to the edge of really pulling me into the characters and the story, but then backs off, never crossing over into the absorbing cinema that I wanted it to. I will definitely revisit this film in a few years and see if there is something more there that maybe I missed. Some subtlety that takes Tetro from being good to outstanding. There's no question that visually and artistically the film is outstanding, I'm just looking for an emotional connection to the story to elevate it above and beyond it's technical merits. For now, I give the film 3 stars out of 5. I really want to give it 3.5 stars, but I just can't convince myself right now to go any higher. Sometimes it just takes time to appreciate something more beyond your initial response.
The story of Tetro centers around two estranged brothers, one whose just turning 18 (Bennie) and the other whose much older (Angelo or 'Tetro' as he calls himself). Tetro abandoned his family many years before to go "find himself" as a man and an artist. Now living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tetro has abandoned his artistic expression as a writer and is living with a pretty miserable outlook on life. Bennie has come to find him now that he is old enough to leave home. Coppola's story unravels slowly as we watch the reconnection of the two brothers and eventually find out more. I don't want to say anymore since I think Tetro will be better if viewed with less knowledge of the story. Tetro is a cinematic journey best seen with no expectations I think. Vincent Gallo plays Angelo 'Tetro' Tetrocini. What a talented actor Gallo is! I'm amazed he hasn't had a break into more mainstream acting gigs after all of his years of acting. Or maybe he doesn't want that break. The only film other than Tetro that he's been in that I've seen, or really even heard of, is Goodfellas (1990), but he just had a bit part in Scorsese's gangster opus. Tetro definitely gives Gallo his due and it showcases his ability to engage a viewer through character development. Also phenomenal is newcomer Alden Ehrenreich who sizzles with fresh youthful exuberance and energy as Bennie Tetrocini. The first few minutes of the film, as well as all the way through the end, just pop as we see Ehrenreich showcase his great acting talents as well. He just has this face and body language that inhabits the screen well. And the chemistry between Gallo and Ehrenreich is perfect. I can't wait to see how Ehrenreich's career develops. The flaws I see with Tetro have nothing to do with these two fine actors and the rest of the supporting cast. It's the story's plot and writing that doesn't come together as well as I would like. But all the parts for a great film were present. Tetro just needed that special nameless ingredient to gel them all together.
Director of Photography Mihai Malaimare Jr. did an unbelievable job on this small film. The lighting, the choice of lenses, and the compositions of the various shots really make this film look fantastic. There's a great mix of classic and modern style to the cinematography, showing us close-up details that would've been hard to shoot without the small, lightweight digital cameras of our modern age, but there's also an epic look and feel to the film at times that harkens back to the classic era of filmmaking in the late 30's and 40's. I could see the influences of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, both filmmaking masters in the use of strong light-and-dark contrasts in black and white photography. I'm also glad to see a film where handheld photography is NOT the main modus operandi. It seems like most films of the last decade have prioritized handheld shooting to a point where it's become annoying to watch the camera move all the time for no real reason other than it can. I guess I'm a bit more classical in my thinking that the camera can just sit still and let the action take place on the screen by the subject matter. I don't have to always actually feel the camera following the characters or the story.
Production Design by Sebastián Orgambide was great, with fascinating old-looking sets and locations all shot in Argentina and Spain. The film is set in the present, but it feels like the past. That nifty trick is obviously reinforced with the black-and-white photography, mixing old and new in a delightful way. I also like Coppola's technique of using color photography, cropped to a more square TV/home video look to represent the past when showing us flashbacks to Tetro's youth. The entire production is just so carefully crafted in each and every detail...and it makes the film that much more enjoyable. It's one of those things where you don't always notice it when it's not in a movie, but you really do when it is.
While there is a lot to like with Tetro, it also has it flaws simply as a story that engages you. Like I've said repeatedly, Tetro looks fantastic. Technically its a filmmaking masterpiece that surely filmmakers and film schools will study and talk about for many years to come. I just wish the story left me with that same feeling. Still...don't pass up the chance to see this film on Blu-ray or in HD on TV. I wouldn't even bother watching this on DVD...I doubt that format would let this film sing in the ways it does.