Category Archives: Sofia Coppola

Movies and Tea #24 – The Beguiled

Season 3 and our re-evaluation of the Sofia Coppola filmography comes to a close with her remake of The Beguiled.

Using the Civil war as her backdrop Coppola with The Beguiled continued her evolution in style with a remake of Don Siegal’s original 1971 film only this time shot from the women’s point of view than the man’s as the arrival of Colin Farrell’s solider of fortune at a girls school begins to stire feelings in both the students and teacher alike.

The film being viewed by Coppola as a way to cleanse herself after 2013’s The Bling Ring from what she terms was “Such a tacky, ugly world”

We also discuss her use of the “Female Gaze” aswell as the changes that shooting from the girls perspective brings to the story aswell as highlighting our favourite, worst and hidden gem of Coppola’s filmography

Further Viewing

The Virgin Suicides
The Others
Pride and Prejudice
The Guest
Needful Things
Black Narcissus
Stoker

 

Music on this episode

Phoenix – The Beguiled Opening theme
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Movies and Tea #23 -The Bling Ring

“The Bling Ring” saw Sofia Coppola drawing inspiration from the Vanity Fair article The Suspects Wore Louboutins here as Coppola joined the mini-trend of movies based of magazine articles alongside Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain”. The film would also mark Coppola’s first experiment with shooting on digitial as she charts the crime spree of a group of teens who broke into and robbed the homes of thier favourite celebrities.

Norman from Flick Hunter joins us once again to the discuss the film aswell as question Emma Watson’s rumoured Oscar nod, reveal our favourite Coppola soundtracks aswell as a voicemail from The Vern (Cinema Recall Podcast )plus much more!!

Further Viewing

Spring Breakers
Marie Antoinette
The Fanatic
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Mean Creek
Bully

Music on this episode

Sleigh Bells – Crown On The Ground
M.I.A. – Bad Girls
Aphex Twin – Anvil 14
Aphex Twin – jynweythek ylow
Death In Vegas – Girls
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Movies and Tea #22 – Somewhere

After the mixed reception to Marie Antoinette returned with Somewhere a film similar in style to Lost In Translation while also working memories of her own childhood growing up on her father’s sets as she here we follow Upcoming badboy Actor Johnny as he reconnects with his daughter Cleo and perhaps in turn finds what’s missing in his own life.

Further Viewing

Wonder Boys
Nowhere
The Rules of Attraction
Jersey Girl
Definitely Maybe
We Bought A Zoo

Music on this episode

Phoenix – Love Like A Sunset Part I
The Police – So Lonely
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Movies and Tea #21 – Marie Antoinette

Originally envisioned as her second feature but stuggling with Historical true and an imposing roster of character which would lead Sofia Coppola to begin work on a parallel project which evolved into Lost In Translation whose success would inturn revamp this project.

Setting out to not create another stuffy costume drama Coppola here blends the contempory with the traditional as lavish gowns and powdered wigs are sound tracked to a combination of New Wave and Post Punk as the film follows the life of Marie Antoinette from her marriage to Louis XVI to the fall of the house of Versailles with Coppola drawing inspiration from Evelyn Lever and Antonia Fraser’s biographies of Antoinette to craft a film which is less of a history lesson but instead more of a rich girl fantasy as Coppola focuses on the life the queen and the people in Antoinette’s life

 

Further Viewing

The Other Boleyn Girl
Plunkett & Macleane
Anna Karenina (2012)
Eat Drink Man Woman
Chef
This is Not What I Expected

Music on this episode

Siouxsie and the BansheesHong Kong Garden
Aphrodisiac
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Lost In Translation – Elwood’s Take

After the success of The Virgin Suicides for her follow up Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from her father filming a real Suntory whiskeycommercial with Akira Kurosawa in the 1970’s as she crafts a tale which is not only a love letter to Tokyobut also one of two lost souls in a city were neither of them speak the language while generally confounded by the world around them leaving them to dwell on their own personal issues. Certainly it’s hardly the sort of film you would expect to turn into a huge hit for Coppola not only with critics but more surprisingly with the general movie going audiences who for some reason really warmed to the film.

Writing the film with Bill Murray in mind, Coppola was so set on him taking the role that she even considered scrapping the film if he turned it down. Murray however had replaced his talent agency with an automated voice mailbox with a number that he reportedly only gives out sparingly. However thanks to her friend and frequent Murray-collaborator Wes Anderson she managed to get the number and set about bombarding his mailbox with messages before he finally called her back to discuss the film. Even when he agreed to star in the film it was only a verbal confirmation and Anderson assuring her that he was a man of his word and would turn up which much to her relief when he landed in Tokyo the week before filming commenced.

Here Murray really gives a more is less performance and the kind which he’s seemingly been trying to recapture since and while it’s a departure from his usual comedic style marking arguably on his second dramatic performance but it’s one which really works here, especially when Coppola’s script allows for a large amount of improvisation especially during scenes such as the photoshoot which have a great flow to them. At the same time he carries with the character a real world weary sense to him as he takes this commercial perhaps seeing it as one of the few remaining opportunities to cash in on his rapidly fading star, if not aswell to escape his equally problematic home life as he deals with constant faxes from his wife about her decorating plans for his office, while she clearly has no grasp on how time zones work.

Seeing a “Young Lauren Bacall-type girl” in Scarlett Johansson here effortlessly makes her transition into an adult actor as she is approaching her own lost situation as the opposite end of the spectrum being newly graduated and now facing a loss of direction as her friends are grounded with kids, while her husband John (Ribishi) is so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t really notice his wife’s needs, leaving her in the hotel room were she passes the time attempting to make the room more of a home, doing her make up and casual smoking. Of course this ethereal like presence that Charlotte has is really the sort of the character that Johansson really excels at playing.

While there are more than a few critics including Coppola herself who see this as a romantic movie the film never feels like that kind of film as here we are given a film which is as much of a travelogue with Sofia working in her favourite Tokyo locations as it is just a film about two strangers finding a surprising friendship out of a chance meeting. This in turn makes it far from the easiest film to sell people on as it’s a film essentially about two people having conversations and visiting interesting places and that’s about it. There are no dramatic plot lines, villainous characters or obstacles to over come apart from the ones which have seemingly caused them to find themselves in the rut they initially find themselves in.

Reuniting with Cinematographer Lance Accord who she worked with on her first short film Lick The Star and here really helps Coppola capture the magic and spirit of Tokyo as she showcases the blending of tradition with pop culture as the film takes in shrines and panoramic views from hotel rooms which are blended with the street level view as Bob and Charlotte visit hip night clubs and karaoke bars as it feels that Coppola is trying to work in as many elements of this city she love so much. The decision to shoot on film only adds to this experience despite her father pushing her to shoot digital believing it to be the future. Here by choosing to go against his advice the film really retains that surreal like quality and warmth that digital struggles to retain.

Even now this remains a fiercely original vision and unquestionably the film which marked her out as a director of note rather than just being the daughter of her famous father. Even now it’s a film which has really been replicated despite the efforts of the Mumblecore movement.

Movies and Tea #20 – Lost In Translation

After the success of The Virgin Suicides for her follow up Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from her father filming a real Suntory whiskey commercial with Akira Kurosawa in the 1970’s to crafts a tale which is not only a love letter to Tokyo but also one of two lost souls in a city were neither of them speak the language while generally confounded by the world around them leaving them to dwell on their own personal issues.

It’s a premise which you hardly expect to turn into a huge hit for Coppola not only with critics but more surprisingly with the general movie going audiences who for some reason really warmed to the film.

Further Viewing

Tourism
Her
In The Mood For Love

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Death In Vegas – Girls
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

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The Virgin Suicides – Elwood’s Take

The debut feature film from Sofia Coppola, it’s also one which came out of a series of events as after being given a copy of the book by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore which she soon after set about adapting into a script despite not having the rights to the book which were owned by Muse Productions who had already commissioned a script from Nick Gomez. With the rights to the project lapsing amongst issues with Gomez’s script Coppola saw her opportunity to pitch her own script while the book would also make her realise her own desire to be a director knowing how the book should be filmed.

While I consider myself a fan of her films much like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi this is a film which I have always struggled to get into as it suffers the same issues as Jeffrey Eugenides’ source novel though when it comes to the film it’s hard to place were the issues with the film lye as for a debut Coppola shows a lot of confidence behind the camera crafting a distinctive visual style as she paints a picture of suburban tranquillity and white picket fences alongside the dark intentions harboured by the Lisbon girls which they hide under the veil of perfection and as the living fantasy for the boys they leave to try and piece together what ultimately lead to their demise.

Much like Stand By Me Coppola’s debut is a coming of age tale with a dark edge in particular the allure the girl world inhabited by the Lisbon girls a yearning shown through the audience and the boys glances into this world through window or telescopes and it’s a theme established early on when one of the boys is invited to dinner taking the opportunity to root through the girls bathroom with a fascination that makes even the most mundane of items like perfume bottles and sanitary towels seem like sacred and rare objects. While Coppola certainly might have a reoccurring theme of burgeoning femininity throughout her films but here she actually manages to capture the curiosity of adolescent boys about girls and the adult world.

Narrated by Giovanni Ribishi playing an unidentified grown up version of one of the boys it’s made clear from the start that this is a mystery which even as adults they are still trying to figure out why it happened forming a morbid link to their past which still binds them together even though they have gone off to live their own lives. Despite this there is still the hope that when you watch the film that you might discover that missing detail which clarifies the mystery. The use of the narrator equally helps to tie together the multiple memories of the girls allowing characters to slip in and out of the girls lives outside of the main group of boys.

Despite the small budget and being a first time director here Coppola really pulls together an impressive cast from tapping into her own contacts to bring aboard Kathleen Turner who she co-starred alongside in Peggy Sue Got Married while her father Francis passed the script to James Woods the pair providing a much underrated performance as the girls parents. Woods here giving a much more subdue performance than we have come to expect from him while much like Turner its a pitch perfect supporting role that really provides a backbone for the film with Woods playing the mild mannered Science Teacher balancing out his over protective wife. At the same time seeing how they try to deal with the turbulent lives of their daughters from the opening attempted suicide by the youngest daughter Cecilia and the role they possibly played in her actions, while later attempting to protect their other daughters from the pain of the real world by keeping them within the family home. None of which is played with any of the overbearing parent cliches such as while Turner’s character might be a devout Catholic she’s not putting any of the girls into the cupboard of shame.

When it comes to the girls they are sadly undeveloped with the exceptions of the groups wildchild Lux (Dunst) and youngest daughter Cecilia whose role is limited but whose suicide bother her failed attempt which opens the film and her eventual demise serve as the catalysis for the events which follow as a memorable meeting with Danny DeVito’s Psychiatrist pushes for them to explore interactions outside of the family home something that Lux fully embraces along with her burgeoning femininity leads to it’s own impactful moment when she meets the school Lothario Trip Fontaine (Hartnett). The other sisters meanwhile never get the same development so that while they are present they are for the most part interchangable especially given so few moments to shine like the party their parents throw for them in the family basement only to find the boy / girl awkwardness hampers any meaningful interaction.

While the opening to the film is certainly strong it’s around the third act that the film suddenly stumbles and while there are certainly still some charming scenes such as the boys and the Lisben sisters using secret phone calls and messages sent through carefully picked records everything feels too aimless and lacking the flow to really pull the film through and certainly along with the clumsy epilogue to the story which while it might highlight how life continues to move on it just felt like it was causing the film to overstay it’s welcome.

Between this film and her initial short film Lick The Star Coppola is marking herself out as a talent of note, let alone a different breed of director to her father Francis Ford Coppola who comparisons would inevitability be drawn. But while he favoured grand scale epics Sofia showed her an eye for more intimate stories even though she wouldn’t truly nail down her style until her follow up Lost In Translation and while I certainly wished I enjoyed this film it’s at best a film if it’s flaws weren’t so noticeable.