I've always thought that the circumstances that perpetually surround Coppola have been what has made his output drop - those expectations that he will conjure up another film-opera of dramatic grandeur like "Godfather" are hard to work with/through/around. He is actively trying to survive what George Lucas aggressively seeks to sustain. That past glory. Coppola, like Lucas, is a dynamic director and his projects ("The Conversation," "Apocalypse Now," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," even "The Outsiders") reveal latent idiosyncracies that were either too transparent, rudimentary or non-existent "Godfather"-era and they show his inclination to refashion his style with every picture. ("Dracula" strikes me as his most different project, but they all possess something unique from the others.) That's why so many people feel that the new "Star Wars" trilogy didn't work - Lucas is a different filmmaker with a different economy but the material and its fans demanded consistency, continuity. Coppola's fans work the same way. Of the "Film School Generation" the only one who's been allowed to carve out new territories is Steven Spielberg, whose projects combine the economy of an indepedent film (even titans like "Munich" and "Minority Report" took only a couple weeks to actually shoot) with the resources of typical Hollywood. I'd go as far as to say that while Spielberg has fashioned some real marvels, Coppola is the real technical genius, Spielberg just knows people and knows how to make them shine.
Here's hoping that Coppola finds himself even further revived with "Tetro" after the lukewarm reception "Youth Without Youth" received. He once said that he's only been able to make movies again (this was around the time "Youth" was in production) because he was inspired by the advances his daughter, Sofia, has been able to make with limited budgets that was the norm back during the New Hollywood days ("Easy Rider," "Bonnie & Clyde," etc.). Coppola's a step away from that generation, so it'll be exciting to see how he handles old sensibilities in new environments.
If you'd like to see the first three minutes of "Tetro," take a trip to Kris Tapley's In Contention site which has a nice embedded video. I've gone on for too long, and I don't want to clutter this post up even further. Tapley's also got some great info from Coppola on what his literary and cinematic inspirations were for this film.
Is Coppola making an offer you can't refuse?
TRAILER from: In Contention
POSTER from: Awards Daily