Category Archives: Sofia Coppola

The Bling Ring – Elwood’s Take

Is it a sign of the current state of society that this is now the second film I’ve seen now based on a magazine article a trend which started with Pain and Gain and with this being the second. Still thankfully this is far from dumb film making, even if its subjects are far from the sharpest tools in the shed as director Sofia Coppola continues her on going obsession with celebrity in its various forms with her fifth film, which this time draws inspiration from the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” about the titular Bling Ring; a group of celebrity obsessed teens who broke into the houses of celebrities, stealing cash, clothes and jewellery and whom over the course of their crime spree stole in excess of $3 million in cash and belongings.

Shooting from a stand-off perspective here Coppola chooses to play observer rather than making the audience part of the gang, more so as their criminal activities continue to spiral out of control. Needless to say its only a matter of time before the group begin to enjoy perhaps a little too much the faux celebrity lifestyle they have carved out for themselves from their burglaries or from selling on the items they choose to not keep for themselves. Still what sets this film apart from the numerous true life crime dramas is the brazen stupidity of the group in question, for these high schoolers don’t don disguises or balaclavas and frequently brag to their friends about their exploits while posting pictures of themselves posing with their ill gotten gains over Facebook, so that it’s only essentially a matter of time before the law catches up with them, with of course the big question of course being just how long it will take before they come unstuck .

Making up the group we have ring leader and wannabe fashionista Rebecca (Chang), whose choice of fashion school only seemingly stretches as far as where there girls off “The Hills” go. New kid at school and Rebecca’s chief partner in crime Marc (Broussard) wants a lifestyle brand, while the trio of Nicki (Watson), younger sister Emily (Rock) aswell as Nicki’s best friend and adopted sister Sam (Farmiga) are home-schooled in lessons torn from the self-help bestseller (And general universe botherer) “The Secret” by their new age mum (Leslie Mann), which perhaps along with their already spoiled and care-free lifestyle might explain their lust (like the rest of the group) for celebrity.

Despite sketching out the group members with quick strokes and minimal focus on detail, what Coppola surprisingly does here is essentially tell us everything we need to know about these essentially shallow individuals, without any unneeded padding or attempts at trying to figure out what makes them tick, especially when all this group cares about is what can be seen on the surface even more so when their aspirations are soon so focused on fueling their faux celebrity lifestyle, especially as their become increasingly lax with their criminal activities, while flashing their cash and generally hovering up coke. Like with Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers this is youth lived through excess and little much of a damn being given to the consequences of their actions, as they continue to fuel their own self-delusions.

Once more Coppola shows herself as a highly visual director, with each of the heists taking on their own style, from the single sustained wide shot of reality star Audrina Patridge’s home being raided as Marc and Rebecca work their way through it room by room. Elsewhere she takes a more voyeuristic trip around the rooms of Paris Hilton’s mansion which was actually shot on location, taking in the excess and trappings of wealth that the group so badly crave, as she shoots the scene like a criminally charged edition of Through The Key Hole. Elsewhere the crimes are followed via google earth and TMZ reports, while occasionally cutting away to an insight from one of the key players in this scheme often accompanied by them trying to place more of the blame on another group member, especially in the case of Nikki who frequently tries to play for the sympathy of the public, while trying to portray the image of a good girl lead astray, when the truth couldn’t be more different.

The cast assembled here while largely unknown with the exception of Watson and Chang, they still manage to give a highly believable performance as this group, while I would have to also at the same disagree with the exaggerated praise which Watson has received for her role here, which essentially just build on what she started with the irritating “Perks of Being A Wallflower” and as such see’s her once again trying to play against the Hermione role she has become so synonymous with, by exhibiting general low level bad girl behavior, while far from doing anything to stand above the rest of the cast with Chang for myself being by far the strongest player here, from the devious looks she flashes to Marc as she randomly breaks into cars, to steal left behind cash and jewellery, to her frequently cool demeanor as she attempts to escape to Vegas and pin the blame on her fellow group members.

The downside to the film though is that Coppola gets so caught up in the robberies and the downward spiral of the group, that when it comes to the sentencing it feels rather rushed, with no desire it would seem to focus on the aftermath of these events, outside of a brief catch up. Something which might be frustrating to some, especially when it leaves the focus of the film being kind of limited in scope, but nevertheless this is still another strong movie from Coppola even if it might not be her strongest work to date, it is still an engrossing watch while also providing an interesting statement on celebrity driven youth and the allure of the celebrity lifestyle.

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

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Stitcher

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

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Stitcher

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

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Stitcher

 

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

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Stitcher

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

Listen to the Show

Anchor
Itunes
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Stitcher