Youth Without Youth

dir. Francis Ford Coppola

Opens Fri Jan 1

Fox Tower

Without a doubt, Youth Without Youth means a shit-ton to director Francis Ford Coppola—but that's the first and last place you'll find much meaning in this impressive mess of a film. Based on the novella of the same name by Mircea Eliade, Coppola's epic take on the sci-fi/drama/romance genre (à la The Fountain) is about as personal and convoluted as a 12-year-old girl's diary. Coppola's film—his first in a decade—is impressive in its audacity, but it ultimately fails to provide audiences with any clue as to what's at stake.

Tim Roth stars as Dominic, a mopey 74-year-old linguistics professor in pre-WWII Europe. Literally moments away from taking his own life, Dominic is struck by lightning, which rejuvenates his body and enhances his intelligence. Reborn, Dominic becomes a specimen of interest for the Nazis; finds his past love (Alexandra Maria Lara); faces immortality; and talks to himself incessantly.

The indecipherable plot of Youth Without Youth is secondary to Coppola's grand scope and vision: His operatic aesthetics and spot-on homages to old Universal Studios monster flicks make the film nearly impossible to forget, even days after walking out of the theater. But Coppola gets lost in this personal world, losing perspective on the big picture—and leaving the audience outside in the cold. COURTNEY FERGUSON

The Bucket List

dir. Rob Reiner

Opens Fri Jan 11

Various Theaters

The Bucket List? Seriously? Who fucking green-lit that title? Can you imagine actually walking up to the box office and being all, "Yes, um, I would like two tickets for The Bucket List, please"? I'm embarrassed just typing it.

Surely this isn't meant to be a review of a movie title, but The Bucket List's very name is strangely indicative of the kind of awkward misfire clearly behind the boardroom gavel drop that set this mess out to spawn. "All right, so we got this sort of morbid, geriatric Odd Couple thing going, okay? So we need like one guy to convey the sage wisdom of the humble poor, but the thing is, he's got to be old too. Hmmm... I got it! Morgan Freeman! And we'll get him to do that cool voiceover thing he always does at the beginning and the end of every movie he's in. This is shaping up nicely."

Soon they've got rich asshole Jack Nicholson (who, frankly, looks like he might actually be dying) coughing blood into a handkerchief like he's one of the Brontë sisters or something, and then rattling off Nicholsonisms that lost their cool about the time that he started to look like Mickey Rooney. There is also a mind-blowingly ill-conceived skydiving scene. If you have even a marginal interest in paying to see this film, you deserve what you get. ZAC PENNINGTON

25th Reel Music Festival

dirs. Various

Fri Jan 11-Sun Feb 3

Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium

That ol' chestnut about "There's something for everyone!" is pretty cringe inducing at this point, but ah, why the hell not: There really is something for everyone at the Northwest Film Center's 25th annual Reel Music Festival, which features films on everyone from Mozart to Otis Redding.

Some promising-sounding selections: The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at Newport (Fri Jan 11, 8:30 pm) offers some insights into Dylan, while Amazing Journey: The Who (Sat Jan 12, 9 pm) examines the rock band's legacy. (The musical legacy, mind you, not the kiddie porn one.) Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story (Tues Jan 15, 7 pm) delves into the landmark Memphis soul label, while legendary collector Harry Smith gets his dues in The Old, Weird America: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (Thurs Jan 17, 6:30 pm). Upcoming weeks have some standouts, too: the Roky Erickson doc You're Gonna Miss Me (Fri Jan 18, 9 pm); Peter Bogdanovich's four-hour(!) look at Tom Petty, Runnin' Down a Dream (Sat Jan 19, 2 pm); and My Name Is Albert Ayler (Tues Jan 22, 7 pm), a look at the brilliant jazz saxophonist.

For the Mercury's take on Reel Music's films, see Film Shorts on pg. 43. Hit for more info. ERIK HENRIKSEN