San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Francis Ford Coppola Panel Highlights; Tour Planned

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Any time we can connect the great Francis Ford Coppola with our genre is a good time. With Comic-Con living out its final hours (thank God) some interesting things have come out from the panel of Coppola’s latest flick Twixt.

San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Francis Ford Coppola Panel Highlights; Tour PlannedAccording to Deadline, a surreal tone was set from the beginning of the panel, as attendees accustomed to being handed standard Real-D 3D glasses instead got cardboard Edgar Allan Poe masks with polarized 3D lenses. The mask doubled as a program with movie credits, in the style of the handouts that were available at some screenings of Apocalypse back in the day.

At a panel featuring Coppola (who got a partial standing ovation), star Val Kilmer (sporting a long, blond mane), and performance artist Dan Deacon, Coppola said that he has been a fan of 3D since Bwana Devil and House of Wax; he used to experiment with spinning red and green filters to see if he could create glasses-free 3D. Believes that maybe movies should have only some sequences in 3D, so you can take the glasses (which he dislikes) off from time to time. He believes cinema is still only in its infancy, and more innovations than 3D will come along.

In some scenes from the movie, Val Kilmer plays “the bargain basement Stephen King,” doing a book signing in a creepy small town’s hardware store (creepiness enhanced by Tom Waits voice-over). An oddball sheriff played by Bruce Dern brings him to the morgue to come see a body; he then talks about a murder that happened years ago, and speculates that it was done via an execution device built by and for vampires, with a motorized stake. He demonstrates this with a small doll in a scale model.

Kilmer drew laughs hamming it up in front of a computer to beat writer’s block; dream sequences in black and white featuring Edgar Allan Poe and ethereal ghost girls (Elle Fanning among them had a much more haunting quality (Guy Maddin-esque, almost; based on an actual dream Coppola had). There’s a flamboyant goth gang in there somewhere, and a 3D sequence with gears and icicles jutting out and in-your-face.

Reminiscing about the days when all performance was live, Coppola complained, “Most art is recorded, it’s canned.” He feels there’s a yearning for a live element in theaters. He plans to do a 30-city live tour before the films, that he will personally attend and add live elements to every show.

Deacon was surrounded by an array of computers – the footage was then screened again, with Deacon doing a live score, scenes re-edited, and Coppola replacing Waits’ narration. The new score included a goth song featuring Coppola chanting “Nosferatu!” over and over again. Kilmer joined in the signing live, and after the clip ended, they continued the song, exhorting the audience to put on the Poe masks and dance.

Just to demonstrate the potential, Coppola hit the “shuffle” button, and we got a different remix of scenes, this time with no music at all.

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Steve Barton

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