I've been thinking about Francis Ford Coppola's career a lot lately. Clearly Apocalypse Now broke him, but to go from a decade that saw him direct four works that are easily in the canon (The Godfather Parts I & II, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now) to the 35 years that have followed (Jack, Peggy Sue Got Married, One from the Heart, The Godfather Part III, Twixt) is really pretty shocking. When you add to this the fact that Coppola still seems fairly highly regarded in spite of the fact(s) that his last film didn't even get a theatrical release domestically and the one before that barely cracked the $500,000 mark at the US box office--or that if you go back to 1984 the best film the man has directed is probably Dracula, which is not particularly good--there are many directions into which my mind races.
1. Is it better to burn bright for a short period of time--Coppola had seven years of unbridled brilliance before losing his mind in the jungle--or to have a more sustained but less explosively impactful (at least in regards to a few works speaking much more loudly than an entire body of work--if making an analogy with directors, think maybe a Billy Wilder or Joel and Ethan Coen)?
2. In college, I questioned why a professor had us watch Brian De Palma's Blow Out instead of The Conversation, when the rationale for watching Blow Out in the first place had been to see how the film played with sound. What work that you studied in school do you think should be replaced in the curriculum with another work that addresses similar themes but in a--in your opinion--better or more interesting way?
3. While it's hard to say whether the 35 years that have followed the release of Apocalypse Now have sullied Coppola's artistic reputation--I'd posit that they haven't but probably should have--it's hard to say that he's done anything memorable in that time. In popular culture, whose cachet is completely incongruous to how you think they should be viewed?
4. Coppola has his vineyard. At this point, I'd probably rather drink his product than watch his next film, though that's not a slam on his wine. If you could branch out into an entirely different field of work, pursuing a passion in which you are a relative novice, in what direction would you head?
5. I read a bunch of the S.E. Hinton books--The Outsiders and Rumble Fish included--when I was in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. Though my memory of these books is hazy at best, one could probably argue that I was too young to be reading them. What were you exposed to at to early an age that you probably would not allow a (hypothetical or real) child of yours to do/see?
Boner #1: De Niro or Brando?
Boner #2: Yes or no?