Francis Coppola‘s Megalopolis screened late Thursday morning (3.28) at the Universal Citywalk IMAX theatre, and a certain friendo says the response was quite positive, exciting and emotional…”roaring off the screen, roaring into your eyes and ears“…full powered engagement and then some…intense, experimental, dynamic, a happy ending and “nothing at all like The Godfather, Part II….nothing like it or like any other film.”

It played before a crowd of roughly 300 industry elites (distributors, studio execs, Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Roger Corman…a who’s who of heavy hitters)….”it was like Francis had 300 friends over [to this home]…he was extremely emotional when the lights came up, I can tell you…it was very moving to see him.”

Hollywood Elsewhere can’t make a smooth article out of these scrambled notes, but to understand what Megalopolis is or what it feels like you have to imagine a combination of a film by Francis Coppola and another by Ed Emshwiller, and then mesh them together.

Adam Driver‘s Ceasar, a driven visionary architect…Driver is playing a variation of the same character he played in House of Gucci and Ferrarianother tortured visionary.

Boilerplate: “Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel) is divided between loyalties to her father, Frank (Forest Whitaker), who has a classical view of society, and her architect lover, Caesar, who is more progressive and engaged with his idea of the future. He wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.”

Costar Lawrence Fishburne provides narration.

Friendo (and please forgive occasional repetitions): “It’s very engaging…doesn’t drag at all….constantly entertaining, visually arresting…you have to constantly work to keep up with it. You’ve got to follow it. You can’t help but want to follow it.”

The most extraordinary part of the viewing, says friendo, was when an act of live theatre blended with the film. Friendo: “The lights came on in the cinema, and an actor stood up and he started asking a question of Adam Driver’s Ceasar on the screen, and then Driver answered him as if he could hear the question. Theatre interacting with cinema.”

“There were so many luminaries,” friendo continues. “All the studio chiefs…so many faces……Al Pacino was there.

“It’s a startling film….a very enveloping film, but also highly visual in a ’60s experimental way. It felt like Francis’s youth was returning to him and pouring through his heart at age 84….the kind of independent cinema that he grew up on….it’s a wonderful, larger-than-life, jumps-off-the-screen movie and in a totally personal way….constantly entertaining….it’s not like any movie that’s out there, I can tell you that…avant garde experimental.

“It’s principally about a love affair between Driver and Natalie Emmanuel, the daughter of his rival and opponent (Whitaker)….a battle for her heart. Romeo and Juliet….a Shaekespearean battle between two families…a bit like Baz Lurhman’s Romeo + Juliet.

“The statement that I felt summed up the general response was from Andy Garcia: ‘This guy is the reason we’re all making movies.’

“The film is a huge inspiration. I couldn’t tell you what Joe Popcorn might say, but this was a wildly enthusiastic crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed it…a kind of IMAX underground movie from the late ‘60s.

Special care will be needed to sell it…it follows all of the standard dramatic rules that other films follow, but in an idiosyncratic way…there’s a sense of justice at the end….but this is nothing like The Godfather, Part II. Nothing whatsoever.

“We’re shown an overlaying of images like the beginning of Apocalypse Now, but in a more experimental way….roaring off the screen, roaring into your eyes and ears…more like One from the Heart. Taking place in an unreal world…a big metropolis….in the future but it doesn’t say exactly when….begins after a catastrophe….a city pulling itself together.

“Adam as Caesar, Natalie as his lover….one of the bad guys, the city’s mayor, is played by Giancarlo Esposito.

“Adam Driver is really playing Francis…very much of a visionary….Aubrey Plaza plays a rival love interest….bitchy, grasping.

“It just needs the right handling..Focus or Neon or Searchight…it needs expert handling….an adventuresome film….obviously it’s going to walk a tightrope. It’s probably better to go to Venice and Telluride as Cannes can be a make-or-break…some journalists tend to go there with an attitude.”