“As a young man I had an old man’s career, [and] now maybe as an old man I can have a young man’s career,” the 70 year-old Francis Coppola said recently to the San Francisco Film Society’s Jason Sanders. “I feel like I’m doing what I wanted to do when I was 18.” And in reverting to the creative spirit of a young man, Coppola has made perhaps the worst film of his career (Youth Without Youth) and another that Coppola is self-distributing (the forthcoming Tetro).

It makes you wonder if having enough money to finance your own films (which Coppola has through his wine company) is all that great a thing. It seems to confirm a long-held suspicion that the rough-and-tumble process of commercial Hollywood occasonally results in better films than those financed by genteel types with their artistic hearts in the right place. It’s almost shattering to think that the name Francis Coppola has come to signify the exact opposite of what it stood for in the ’70s — an assurance of audacity, a deliverer of first-rate chops, a maker of films you absolutely had to see.