Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Tetro Dazzles, Manipulates Magnificently

Marvel at the pyrotechnic kaleidoscope that is Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro!” Be amazed, as Vincent Gallo’s titular character somehow manages to chew every piece of scenery on screen! Be astounded by the sensual curves of Maribel Verdu’s Miranda, who’s kisses have the capacity to shatter glasses of champagne! Be wowed by Coppola’s operatic pretensions being projected in glorious black and white (and occasionally, color).

Tetro is a visually gripping film driven by smoke and mirrors, from the opening shot of a moth flying against a light bulb, to the closing city traffic that is rendered almost abstract by the camera’s lingering gaze. There is not a single frame of this film that doesn’t feel obsessively pored over, as if every moment needed to contain the very artistic integrity held so dear by its protagonist.

Coppola proves himself once again to be a more-than-able director. This is not a comment to take lightly. Critics once wondered whether or not the director, known for his misses (Jack, Dracula), as much as his hits (The Godfather, The Conversation), would ever reclaim his status as one of the titans of American filmmaking. While the non-technical aspects may leave something to be desired (the third act drags a bit), it is difficult to deny that this film, at the very least, points the way to further success both artistically and commercially for the filmmaker.

Viewers are presented with a tale of two brothers, separated at a young age. We have Tetro (Vincent Gallo), the damaged (quite literally, in the film’s first half) former writer who leaves his home on the cusp of adulthood to live in anonymity in Buenos Aires. It would be easy to dismiss his performance as over-the-top, melodramatic, and ham-fisted. But that wouldn’t be playing by the film’s rules. He is meant to be the epitome of all that is broken and fantastical. His obscenity-laden monologues and cryptic tossed-aside statements place him in the realm of Bukowski. It is very telling that when Tetro’s writings are discovered, they are written backwards. The only way to read them is to hold a mirror up to them. Only then can the truth of Tetro’s past be told. For that is all that he can write about. Later plot developments elevate him to the level of a certain classical Greek dramatic figure.

Tetro is “married” to Miranda, played by the lovely Maribel Verdu (who you may remember as Mercedes from Pan’s Labyrinth). Here, she comes across as beautiful, sympathetic, and tempestuous all at once. We also have Bennie (Alden Ehrenhreich), the baby-faced slack-jawed military school runaway who carries with him the symbol of his hope, the letter sent to him upon his brother’s departure. It has been ten years, and his brother promised to come back to rescue him from their troubled family. But it was not to be.

Beyond that, the audience is treated to a collage of a storyline, with set pieces ranging from a tonal performance of Faust, which soon devolves into a striptease, to extravagant dream sequences, which owe more than a little to the Powell-Pressburger ballet films “The Red Shoes” and “The Tales of Hoffman.” At moments, viewers will thank the gods of cinema for bringing them to Amherst Cinema on that particular evening. Although some of the later plot developments come across as somewhat clichéd, it is to the film’s credit rather than its loss. Only by emphasizing the main character’s oedipal elements, and letting the music swell with the sudden turns of events, can Coppola’s vivid depiction of melodrama unfold in a fully actualized manner.

 Although it is certainly flawed, Tetro garners 4 stars. It is too technically gorgeous and manipulative to be anything but the perfect encapsulation of classic melodrama that it is meant to be.

Mark Shiffer can be reached at

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