B’Twixt Now and Sunrise – The Authentic Cut (Blu-ray Review)

Francis Ford Coppola’s B’Twixt Now and Sunrise is an aggressively minor but still rather pleasurable late-career foray for the great master, returning him to the horror genre, where he’s dabbled just a few times before. Coppola earned his emeritus status long ago, so it’s okay if the films he makes in the twilight of his career don’t do much more than reflect some of his passions in a way that pleases longtime fans. B’Twixt (released previously in a slightly different incarnation as Twixt) is most similar in its maker’s canon to the official debut, 1963’s Dementia 13. The two films are both slight, dreamlike genre pieces with enough bravura moments throughout to support the seen-it-before nature of the plots. B’Twixt Now and Sunrise is a small pleasure, a movie for people who care about more than plot and dialogue and who find the actual act of filmmaking itself fascinating.


A neat trifle like B’Twixt Now and Sunrise wouldn’t exist unless its prime mover had made a few genuine masterpieces. Coppola is a filmmaker who – in our current timeline – just finished shooting a longtime passion project he funded himself. A finished passion project by an established master like the great Coppola is a reason for excitement, but do any of us think that the film we see on that bright day soon when we buy tickets for Megalopolis will be the final version of the film? Does Coppola even think so now, as he begins to edit the first cut of what we all hope will be his best film since 1992’s then-undervalued wild, revisionist, movie-drunk take on Dracula?

That 1992 masterwork seemed something of a piece with the kind of work-for-hire films Coppola had begun making in the 80s after his loftiest dreams crashed down around him all too literally with the release, critical destruction, and box office death of another passion project, 1984’s One From the Heart. Bram Stoker’s Dracula may not have been a passion project, but it turned out to be an impassioned production. The resulting film has in its bones a strong feeling of the same wizardry that courses through Apocalypse Now, the Godfather trilogy, and Tucker, and even less personal films like Peggy Sue Got Married (a movie so good that it makes such distinctions feel less important). The feeling was, I suppose, the work of a still-young genius.

Coppola is 83 now, and while my hopes are sky-high for Megalopolis anyway, I finally came to his most recent film with very low expectations. I hadn’t heard much to recommend it, except that Cahiers du Cinema has ranked it the third-best film of the year. This new version of the film is perhaps ironically billed as the definitive variant of a movie meant to play in theaters with Coppola present (!) at a kind of live-editing console, giving the audience the option of infinite variants in the experience. Now, that sounds fun.

The very dreamlike narrative of B’Twixt Now and Sunrise involves Hall Baltimore (a dry, very game Val Kilmer), a horror writer who becomes embroiled in the murder of a young woman found with a giant stake through her heart, and how that scenario leads back to the dark, tragic mystery at the heart of the small town where he’s just suffered the indignity of promoting his work at a hardware store that has a few books on racks in the back. Into this, add Elle Fanning as some sort of dream vampire whose long buckteeth have been straightened by a nasty set of braces. B’Twixt is the kind of movie where you don’t know which part is supposed to be a dream and which is supposed to be reality, and then you remember that the whole thing is a film and all of it is a kind of waking dream. And THEN you realize the actress playing Kilmer’s wife on Zoom calls is actually his ex-wife, Joanne Whalley.

Forgoing the details of Coppola’s initial experimental idea for exhibition, the film itself (I suspect in any form) is a minor work by a major artist. The “major artist” part is the relevant aspect, and a sincere minor work like B’Twixt has as much value as one’s critical acumen allows it to have. So you can either be a tough guy and hold the director of The Conversation’s feet to the fire over every little gauche overindulgence you’ll surely see here, or you can continue the conversation with your friend Francis. You’ve never met him in person, but who cares? You know him to be a man who knows movies and has made a few of the best of them. Anything he makes is worth appreciating on some level if you love movies. With B’Twixt – billed here as The Authentic Cut, whatever that means to him – Coppola continues to hold up his part of the deal. As with other interesting recent experiments like Youth Without Youth and Tetro, late Coppola remains experimental above all. That’s a fabulous trait for a man nearing the end of his career.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1

Clarity/Detail: Shot on presumably a midrange DV camera, B’Twixt Now and Sunrise looks terrific on Blu-ray. The format easily handles the wild stylistic and color schemes at play throughout the film.

Depth: Depth is well-rendered, and the film’s look seems convincingly replicated here.

Black Levels: The film has plenty of nighttime-set footage with that title, and all looks solid.

Color Reproduction: The disc retains the sometimes muted, sometimes garish, and sometimes altogether absent colors of the source material.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are represented truly throughout, even for the undead.

Noise/Artifacts: As you might expect from a recent film shot in HD, no blemishes can be found.


Audio Format: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Sound will always be integral to the work of the man who made The Conversation. The effective, if unshowy, mix here replicates a sense of dream reality with fidelity.

Low-Frequency Extension: This is a low-budget film and a low-budget aural experience, but what’s here is effective and well-handled on the disc.

Surround Sound Presentation: Surround is crisp and clearly delineated.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is perfectly represented.


While the film is a new cut, Coppola is not really on hand to say much about it. With that in mind, while nobody will remember this package for the extras, but the one included is at least quite valuable.

Features Include:

  • Twixt: A Documentary (HD, 40:49) – Coppola’s granddaughter Gia was the helmer on this fun and frank behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. It’s always good to see footage of Francis on set, and there’s much of that spirit here.
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film


B’Twixt Now and Sunrise is either a bewilderingly vague horror movie that will bore the crap out of your pajama party group, or it’s a new chapter in the cinematic evolution of Francis Ford Coppola, one of the great living film masters. As someone who can’t help but view it as the latter, I can say that it’s an inessential but kinda lovable Coppola flick – especially if you have the same affection for hoary horror tropes that Coppola does. The package is slim, but the film is well-presented and the lone extra is eminently worth seeing.

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