Films by Sofia Coppola

ImageSofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring is in theaters this summer.  Coppola’s latest is a departure of sorts from her previous work, based upon an article from Vanity Fair magazine titled The Suspect Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales from 2010.  This story chronicles a series of thefts in celebrities’ homes that were undertaken by young, well-off residents of the Los Angeles area.  The teen thieves targeted the actors and other famous individuals’ homes by surveying their actions via entertainment news and then breaking in while they were absent. The song Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean plays under the end credits and the lyrics accurately describe the general feel of the film:

“Too many bottles of this wine we can’t pronounce/Too many bowls of that green, no Lucky Charms/ The maids come around too much/Parents ain’t around enough/Too many joy rides in daddy’s Jaguar/Too many white lies and white lines/ Super rich kids with nothing but loose ends/ Super rich kids with nothing but fake friends”

This film reminded me of another “teens committing crime” film directed by Larry Clark titled Bully(2001). That film was also based on true events culled from the book Bully: Does Anyone Deserve to Die?: a true story of high school revenge by Jim Schutze. The two films run parallel, with the use of young actors who play against their usual type(the late Brad Renfro in Bully and Emma Watson in The Bling Ring) to add shock value to the proceedings.  One would not expect to see Emma Watson freebasing, but she does in this film. Bully is ultimately more upsetting and cautionary, as that film deals with murder as opposed to the Coppola film that centers on theft.  Regardless of the difference in felonies, The Bling Ring portrays the absolute clueless nature of the perpetrators and their inability to ultimately understand and make amends for the actions they have executed.

The following are Sofia Coppola’s previous films, which are well worth viewing.

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The Virgin Suicides (1999)Coppola’s debut feature was based on the novel The Virgin Suicides by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jeffrey Eugenides. This film follows the lives of the Lisbons, a seemingly normal nuclear family with five teenage daughters living in suburban Michigan in the 1970’s .  The lives of the girls are recounted by the neighborhood boys, who view the Lisbon girls as mysterious, unknowable and unattainable entities.  The pace, soundtrack, and set design of this film are stellar, which helps to ease the audience into the lives of the Lisbon girls.  Kirsten Dunst gives the character Lux Lisbon an inscrutable demeanor; as do the actors who depict the other Lisbon girls. Kathleen Turner and James Woods acting as Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon are so true in their portrayal of helpless parents that it is a high-water mark in their careers.  This is a gem of a film, that despite the disquieting title, is heartbreaking and bewitching.

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Lost in Translation (2003)Coppola’s second feature takes place in Tokyo and follows a week with Charlotte(Scarlett Johansson), a young wife tagging along on her fashion photographer husband’s business trip and Bob Harris(Bill Murray), a Hollywood actor filming a whiskey commercial to turn a quick buck.  The two seemingly disparate personalities meet up in the luxury hotel in which they are staying and form a quick friendship. The chemistry the pair exudes leads this film to be an enjoyable romp at times and also a contemplative piece on the trials and pleasures of marriage.  This film earned Coppola an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, which it easily deserved for it’s delicate and wistful treatment of longing and uncertainty.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

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Click on this picture for in-depth analysis of this film.  A forewarning: this review contains plot points aka Spoiler Alert!

ImageSomewhere (2010) begins with Johnny Marco(Stephen Dorff) driving in circles with his luxury car. Johnny is a stuntman who lives a life of aimlessness while holed up in the Chateau Marmont, hence the starting imagery of circular motion.  For vague reasons, Johnny’s tween daughter(Elle Fanning) is sent to stay with him while her mother deals with some issues.  The father/daughter dynamic is natural between these two actors; their expressions of inside jokes, familial tenderness and discord are very believable.  Somewhere is at times a drowsy film, which takes time to ruminate upon the characters’ struggle for personal change and growth.