On the Rocks, Conned this Rox

One of my top fifteen movies of all time is Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s gorgeous ode to feeling misunderstood, captured perfectly by two different generations (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) who come together in a hotel bar.

So I went skipping to On the Rocks, Sofia’s newest using Bill Murray again, in a different self-aware cad role with the beautiful Rashida Jones as his Eyeore of a daughter.

If L.I.T. was about feeling misunderstood, On the Rocks is about feeling unappreciated. Rashida feels unappreciated by her husband, Marlon Wayans (pretty face, not an actor). Bill relates to the under appreciation having felt that ‘back in the day’ and consequently straying from Rashida’s mom.

Hence, Bill wants to help his daughter get ahead of the curve and find out if indeed Marlon is the cheater he (Bill) use to be.

Many missed opportunities: one being use Jenny Slate as more than just three funny cameos, two give Rashida’s character more pizzazz (I mean no wonder Marlon would be bored), three, the pivotal daughter-father showdown needed to be amped up to evoke emotion.

Fortunately for Sofia, Americans have been bludgeoned by Covid 19 and are so starved for movies that this looks good enough to rate an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. In reality, however, this is a 72and a half (I’m averaging my film buddy Gus Mollasis’s 75 and my 70 here) at best.

One Sofia, Two Sofia, Three Sofia “Somewhere”

I noticed by my third Sofia film that many of her actors don’t seem to have star power longevity. Is it simply a matter of how they can act mediocre enough to do well in Sofia’s atmospheric, minimum plot roles, like Somewhere from 2010?

Of course, there are exceptions. Besides the obvious Scar-Jo (Lost in Translation), Elle Fanning, terrific in Somewhere, also stars in Coppola’s newest (torture porn) Beguiled, not to mention previously winning awards for J.J. Abrams’ Super 8. No doubt EF’s career has legs.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, others do get work. Like Emma Watson (Bling Ring) who just made a bad film with Tom Hanks (aside: he’s wracked up a few now: the aforementioned The Circle and the NOTHING HAPPENS Hologram for a King).
And others get tv work: (Israel Broussard Bling Ring, as does Stephen (could it be his name?) Dorff, star of Sofia film #3: Somewhere.

In Somewhere, Stephen Dorff was impressive in his role as the shallow Hollywood dad living at Chateau Marmont. In fact the Chateau is a character in itself giving the movie a celebrity-eavsdroppiing voyeur’s delight. Who hasn’t been curious about what the inside looks like? The circus-like goings on, twin strippers showing up to perform in Stephen’s room, topless women sunning themselves on the patio, crashers and guests partying till dawn in the (what appear to be) dorm like rooms.

Having called Stephen impressive maybe overstating (hence the aforementioned lack of accolades). In fact, can’t we all look totally bored to tears with life sometimes, a deep ennui settling into our bones? As usual, Coppola’s framing and slow food type film making bring this energy to life, even when the emotion is ‘slightly depressed’. My favorite shot was of Stephen in full face puddy being prepared for an aging John McCain special effects type role in which the camera just sits on his face (not literally), the only visual of his facial ‘skin’ are the two air holes of his nostrils. This represented Dorff’s character at its essence, simply a manatee like breathing vessel.

Of course there’s character development, but no where near my favorite of her films Lost in Translation. By the end of the film, we get the impression that Dorff will change as much as he is able. Again, the best acting came from adorable Elle Fanning who does so well as the kid lost in the Hollywood shuffle.

Perhaps Sofia gets so lost in the photograph of the movie in her head, she forgets about a much needed narrative depth.

Having said all that, I’m glad I did the Coppola three-peat and am also content to let the darker Beguiled pass me by. The world needs more comedy Sofia, not more torture.

Sofia Two: I like it so I should have put a “Bling Ring” on it

Researching the IMDB page for for Bling Ring http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2132285/, I did something I rarely do; read a subscriber review. icreatfilms_UK evidently felt an excoriating review was in order. And while I think this person sounds like a pompous arse, I did avoid Bling Ring at first for some of the reasons she hated the film. Meaning that even though the critic says the movie was boring and shallow, it’s really the kids portrayed who are thus.

Another criticism by the IMDBer was that Coppola appears holier than thou in her approach. Again, I totally disagree. The self-righteousness comes from the arrogance of misguided, rebellious teens (like those portrayed in the film) who feel they are above culpability. Coppola was just reporting the story, not condemning the kids. As Baretta’s theme song once admonished: “if you can’t do the time, than don’t do the crime”.

Now back to my cinema therapy:) I was thinking during the film how sad it is that males are so susceptible to female charms and probably why I will avoid “Beguiled”. In Bling Ring, the male lead Israel Broussard, falls prey to Katie Chang’s character, in being conned into helping her rob celebrity houses. I’ve seen this in real life time and time again*, and also why I refuse to use men for materialistic purposes even though I have had plenty of chances.

It’s also why I think we don’t need to continue the male bashing. We don’t need a big pants suit nation to prove we’re strong, just look around and see how women have won their fair share of battles between the sexes, without having to own any of the emotional use or abuse they dish out. In addition, I think guys feel more guilt about taking care of themselves than women do. They have been trained to suck it up, stick it out, to their own emotional demise.

*Three quick examples are: about five summers ago my best friend basically forgot about his entire existence after having the attention of a female. The excitement of someone wanting to have a physical relationship with him was so engrossing, he was ‘beguiled’ into ridiculous shenanigans that made him believe he caused her physical ailments, that without going into specifics, were definitely not his fault. A second example is a sweet teacher friend of mine who was constantly upbraided by his emotionally abusive wife, but continued/s to stay.

Last example: currently I work with a kind man who is socking a good deal of money into sending gifts to an ex-girlfriend who is 20 years his junior and who resides states away, all in naive hopes that they’ll reunite. If the ‘fairer sex’ in this example would be honest (instead of selfishly raking in the gifts) to tell the guy that she has no intention of reuniting, he could move on, but sadly, the bling ring continues to delude. To be fair, I’m not omnipotent, wh knows, maybe they’ll wind up together. Maybe I’m jealous that people can continue to communicate ‘after the love has gone’, rather than disappear into the mist.

Three shout outs for acting in this film are: Leslie Mann (great new agey super spacey mom), Emma Watson (captures the shake your head at this-girl-is-so-shallow) and Israel Broussard (the desperate male in need of a hug, and hence becomes a thug).

What will be Sofia Coppola’s claim to fame is her ability to put the film goer into a very specific milieu. In Lost in Translation, we feel lost and misunderstood like Bill Murray. In Marie Antoinette, we feel desperate like Kirsten Dunst. In Bling Ring (as semi annoying the continuous party and dance club scenes are) it is actually because of this materialistic lifestyle repetition that we feel empowered in a deluded way, that we, too, can be idolized if only we dress nicer and shine brighter.

Seek out Bling Ring if you never saw it. You’ll care about what you wear for at least for a day or two in an attempt to get a little more attention. And feeling different about the world is a cool, substance-free way to feel affected.

Sofia Coppola First of a Trio: Some Day My Dauphin Will Come “Marie Antoinette”

This review is rated PG13, just like the film!

In an attempt to gear up for the misandrist Beguiled, I decided to warm up with 3 Sofia Coppola movies I have never seen. Mind you, one of hers, Lost in Translation, could be my number one modern era movie of all time (though Whiplash is close as is The Reader), so I have high hopes for this trio, the first of which is Marie Antoinette from 2006.

I need to fact check history^ in order to truly enjoy the plot (I’m not a fan of taking history and rewriting it, though isn’t that what memory is?*), but from what I gather of Sofia’s version, at least one small part was that her husband Louis wasn’t that into sex, but came through in the end. ^Post check: the film’s pretty accurate, save for the number of children and which ones lived vs. died.

*Recently, I had my own rewriting of history in a failed mini relationship which doesn’t happen too often in life. (Sometimes life brings you this close to a mulligan only to have it snuffed away. Like last year when I thought a reunion might happen with one of the three (seems to be a trio motif happening) greatest loves of my life, but when life quid pro quo inquiry was requested, away he ran. Which brings us to an approximate separate flight tie score of 5 to 5).

Anyway back to the nearer past, I take responsibility for this mini relationship’s original rocket’s failure to launch since I was unable to get passed that uncomfortable getting-to-know-you-phase. Possibly my life’s greatest tragic flaw.

In launch two, my past date/relationship came for a five day visit. Five days may sound like an easy feat to accomplish, but I’m a girl with two jobs who hasn’t had a serious relationship (tried with my every Saturday night 5 year long stint with my Jewish gentleman, but he was elusive, yet fun for my exhausted school teacher years) in a decade (come to think of it, probably no real solid relationship since Marie Antoinette was made! And if you thought I was going to say ‘lived’, how old do I look?!:)).

At any rate, on evening four (after two previous tko successfully fun nights!) of the encounter, we arrived home and my partner announced he had to take a shower. If I could rewrite history and make a movie like Sofia, I’d have my self/character say, “No please, take me like a cave man now. I could care less if you’re sweaty. I’ll get too tired by the time you’re out, let’s do this!”, but instead, I said mealy mouthed, like Marie Antoinette did for years (as her underlings whispered about her ‘frigidity’), “ok” and proceeded to horizontal, aka only-good-if-you’re-into-necrophilia-state.

Unfortunately, this one fatigued rejection** took the wind out of the visitation’s sails, and since we didn’t have years ahead of us for make up time, the remaining time fizzled as unspoken second guessing grew into fleeting lost opportunities.

But I digress, isn’t this a film review?! Ok back to Marie Antoinette and Sofia’s rewriting of history. Perhaps I passed this by, many moons ago, blowing it off as a stuffy biopic. Mais porquoi! M.A. combined modern music and some of THE most beautiful cinematography and costuming (won the Oscar for costuming) I have ever seen. Who doesn’t like hearing Bow Wow Wow’s “I Love Candy” while seeing French royalty in the height of their hedonistic eating, drinking and dancing?

And the cast, magnifique! I love Kirsten Dunst, cat teeth and all. I love every ounce of Jason Schwartzman (see former Jewish boyfriend, not JS obviously, but similar in the quiet serious faced, but percolating under the surface kinda way.) And I love even more Steve Coogan, that irresistible, sarcastic son of a gun. Two other special mentions were Rip Torn as Louis XV and Judy Davis as Comtesse de Noailles.

I noted bad editing twice in the film where it was obvious something had been chopped out and then like a cold slap in the face, the next scene jumped in. Perhaps that’s where Tom Hardy went (saw him in the credits, but that was all she wrote).

If you didn’t see it the first time, give Marie Antoinette a re-do. Like me, you might get two great nights of libidinous fun, music, eating and fashion out of it at least:)