'Megalopolis': Francis Ford Coppola teases 'Godfather' update, criticizes Hollywood at Cannes

Matt Brennan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

CANNES, France — In the face of the criticism, controversy and uncertain financial prospects swirling around his self-financed speculative epic "Megalopolis," Francis Ford Coppola met the press at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday with a good-natured shrug.

"I don't care. I never cared," the 85-year-old filmmaker said when asked about the reported $120 million fortune he sunk into the film. ""The money doesn't matter. What's important are friends."

Those friends, along with sister Talia Shire, son Roman Coppola and granddaughter Romy Mars, flanked "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now" filmmaker on the dais and in the making of the film, on which he credited his cast and crew as co-directors — and star Adam Driver as one of its most active co-editors.

As for Hollywood, which has largely scratched its head at "Megalopolis" according to reports on early screenings for potential buyers, Coppola had less friendly words: "I fear that the film industry has become a matter of people being hired to meet their debt obligations," he said, noting that he'd be open to a streaming platform as U.S. distributor but preferred to see the film receive a theatrical release. "Their job is not to make great movies but to meet their debt obligations." (The film will have an IMAX release, a representative confirmed to The Times on Thursday, but the specifics remain unclear until it secures Stateside distribution.)

"Megalopolis" stars Driver as ambitious architect and inventor Cesar Catilina, who hopes to use his discoveries — such as a powerful new material, Megalon, and the power to stop time — to create a utopia, Megalopolis, in place of the decaying "New Rome" (think contemporary New York City with a Caesar haircut). Arrayed against him are Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), a machine politician desperate to protect his status; Clodio Pulcher (Shia LaBoeuf), the dissolute grandson of a business magnate who turns to violent populism to shore up his power before a takeover; and Catilina's ex-mistress, amoral fame-seeker Wow Platinum (Aubrey Plaza), who teams up with Pulcher to get her revenge.

And let me be clear: "Megalopolis" is much, much stranger than the above synopsis — or even the name Wow Platinum — could begin to suggest. (One of the most remarkable moments features a person with a microphone walking onto the stage of the cinema and posing a question to Driver during a press conference scene, which he proceeds to answer.)


Driver, Plaza, Esposito, Laurence Fishburne and Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Catilina's love interest and Cicero's daughter, all suggested that the creative process mimicked what Plaza called the "dreamlike" nature of the script.

"It was challenging at times to sort of walk towards my character, because I was trying to see her in the way that Francis had envisioned, and there was a journey for that," Emmanuel said, comparing the experience to a musician being conducted.

"Getting into his mind was kind of a trust fall," Plaza added.

What Driver described as the director's generous approach on set extended to the dais, as Coppola — the day's main attraction — repeatedly attempted to bring his cast into the conversation. He toss one question about the film's politics to conservative Jon Voight; at another Fishburne fielded another for him. "Please ask my sister Talia [Shire] a question," Coppola asked at one point.


swipe to next page

©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus