Youth Without Youth (2007), directed by Francis Ford Coppola:
I heard about this new Francis Ford Coppola film from a trailer on another DVD. If it ever played Birmingham, I missed it. Chances are it played New York and L.A. and a few festivals, then wasted no time getting onto DVD. Over the course of several nights, after determinedly slogging through this fantasy/romance/tragedy dressed in the trappings of a treatise on linguistics and philosophy, it is easy to see why. There are just too many ideas competing for space on the screen, and none of them gets sufficient play to take full shape. That is indeed unfortunate, as the production value is of the highest quality, and the film has a painterly look and mysterious texture very similar to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. Tim Roth portrays the central character of Dominic Matei with a studious gravity, though at times bearing the appearance of a man sleepwalking (which may have been intentional, given the disappointingly conventional it-was-all-a-dream ending).
Capturing the Friedmans (2003), directed by Andrew Jarecki:
Watching this documentary was an unpleasant experience. Well-made and well-researched, the subject matter – pedophilia and the disintegration of a family – is unnerving, at best. The film begins with the investigation of Arnold Friedman – the father – on charges of possessing child pornography and follows the uncomfortable family dynamic over several years, making use of videotapes that the Friedman sons took of practically every family interacton. I found myself cringing most painfully during those moments when the family members were engaged in shouting and screaming matches. This is a must-see for social workers, family therapists and students of the law (the legal cases against the Friedmans are shockingly mismanaged), but it may have everyone else longing for a viewing of something warm and fuzzy. Like The Godfather.