Who's In It: Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Verdu, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Carmen Maura
The Basics: A 17-year-old boy travels to South America in search of his lost older brother. He’s too young to understand, of course, that that’s why people go to South America in the first place—they don’t want to be found. And so when he finally does locate big bro—Vincent Gallo, by the way, a guy who you probably obey when he tells you to bug off—it resurrects a family dynamic of heartache.
What’s The Deal: Sometimes movies don’t need pushy plots. Sometimes they meander and move in circles. They’re about something else. That’s when mood and emotional sense and how awesome everyone looks in black-and-white becomes more important than an A to B to C story. And it’s not that nothing happens. It’s just that the incidents take a back seat to the main event, which is Francis Ford Coppola swooshing ideas and feelings about fathers, sons, blood ties and artistic accomplishment around in a big wine glass. Look, as long as it’s not Jack, with Robin Williams as a really hairy 5th grader, then I’m good.
Why It’s Not Autobiography: Because even though it’s partially about Coppola’s own memories of his family, none of it actually happened. But his own history as a Big Deal Director also hovers over the whole movie. Think about it. This guy made The Conversation. And The Godfather. And The Godfather Part II. And Apocalypse Now. That’s like painting the Sistine Chapel when you’re a kid and then everybody stands around after that going, “Okay, so what else you got, Genius?” Unless you can get out from under that shadow you’re never going to get anything done.
Who’s Great: Carmen Maura (from all those Almodovar movies) shows up to steal some scenes. And Gallo, I don’t care what anyone else says, is one of the most interesting guys in American movies. He’s got that glum handsome-donkey face, a grimy layer of strange melancholy all over him, a cranky intelligence that alienates people and the camera can’t figure him out. What’s not to like about that? Beats vacant prettiness any day. Now go watch The Brown Bunny and tell me you didn't have a good time.
Technically Not A Sequel To Rumble Fish: It's just in black and white with flashes of color.