This was one of Mrs. Salad's choices. Netflix predicted I wouldn't like it much. You can see the mediocre score from the IMDB raters. It was barely released in theaters back in 2011, and finally came out on DVD this summer. None of this screams "must-see".
But still: produced, written, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. How bad could it be?
Well, let's put it this way: Mr. Coppola knows infinitely more about making movies than I. So he probably did pretty much what he wanted here. Give him that. Okay, what I'm seeing is incoherent and uninteresting, but almost certainly that's what he was going for.
Val Kilmer—boy did he get fat, or what?—plays writer "Hall Baltimore", on a book tour to a dinky town named Swan Valley. There's no actual bookstore, he's informed: just a hardware store that sells some books. He's accosted by the local sheriff, played by Bruce Dern in full-weirdo mode: there's been a local murder with hints of vampirism, wouldn't that make a great book for us to collaborate on, huh?
Baltimore is intrigued enough to stick around, but he's bedeviled by (a) wacky dreams in which Edgar Allen Poe and a creepy girl named "V" appear, uttering loopy dialogue; (b) Skype calls from his shrewish wife (played, amusingly enough, by Val Kilmer's ex-wife Joanne Whalley); (c) guilt-ridden memories of his dear, decased daughter; (d) his publisher, who demands more of the same schlock.
It's a big mess, but there are some funny bits. Bruce Dern is always good when he's weird. And Val Kilmer does some impressions: Marlon Brando and James Mason. Yay, he can still be funny, but it made me wish we'd rented Top Secret or Real Genius instead.
I avoid learning too much about movies before I see them, but now I learn that Father Guido Sarducci himself, Don Novello, was in this. I totally missed that. But I'm not watching it again to catch his performance.