Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Marie-Antoinette

by Brian
So, it seems that the premiere of Sophia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette at Cannes was disastrous. Why am I not surprised?

Sometimes, you can feel critical resistance to a film building, and this was one of those times. I don't know how it happened, but somehow Lost in Translation turned out to be a very divisive film, and I get the feeling that the knives have been out for Coppola ever since the 2003 Oscar nominations were announced.

I'm not saying that the cold reception to Marie-Antoinette isn't justified - how would I know? - but I'm not taking this initial response very seriously, either. I did like Wells's review, though. It's a classic I'll-pan-it-now-but-lay-the-groundwork-for-changing-my-mind-down-the-road kind of piece.

13 Comments:

Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

This film may turn out to be bad, who knows, but I can't base that on A: The audience at Cannes, and B: Jeff Wells. As for Sofia Coppola's track record, I liked The Virgin Suicides, was iffy on Lost in Translation (didn't think it deserved the love that it got).

5/24/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, that was a really well done review by Wells. Just can't believe he wrote that in a few hours. Really balanced all areas.

Liked Virgin Suicides a lot, and really dug Lost In Translation.

This criticism that Ms. Coppola has been under ever since Lost In Translation became a critical hit smacks of bitterness and spite. The same vultures crawling out of the woodwork that always come out whenever a former hip and hyped director's winning streak is ended by a not-as-fine film, with their raised noses and snobby 'ooh, anyone could see that he/she totally ripped-off this and him.' Fucking posers.

Still, sad to hear it apparently doesn't measure up to the previous works.

5/24/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I really, really liked "The Virgin Suicides," and especially its cinematography. If you just saw it on the small screen, I think it lost a lot of its effect.

I also liked "Lost in Translation" quite a bit, although not as much. I'm not sure how much of that was Coppola, though, and how much of it was Murray (and the rest of the very able supporting cast).

That said, based on these films, Coppola seems particularly ill suited to do a historical biopic. Her films seem to be more about mood and what is not said, which doesn't seem to fit well with the historical biopic...unless, that is, if MA is something like The New World.

I guess we'll just have to see, and Coppola has enough goodwill for me to see this movie despite the bad buzz (same with Southland Tales).

5/24/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Her films seem to be more about mood and what is not said, which doesn't seem to fit well with the historical biopic...unless, that is, if MA is something like "The New World."

Well with a rock soundtrack and attempts to draw obvious comparisons between Antoinette and Paris Hilton, I hardly think this is going to compare to a Terrence Malick film. Oh, wait, you were making an ironic comment there, weren't you? ;-)

5/24/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Coppola has enough goodwill for me to see this movie despite the bad buzz (same with Southland Tales).

Same here.

And I've probably said this before but the fact that Kelly's Donnie Darko came to Sundance as hyped as Southland, but was met with silence, then recut to the version infamously released that week in September, makes me take this current onslaught of bad press with a small grain of salt. He's trimming this one too, after all.

5/24/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

A Sofia Coppola movie, in my opinion, is naptime. I hate her horribly unlikeable characters, I hate her tarlike pacing, and I hate that boredom/depression funk that apparenly passes for "mood."

After suffering through Lost in Translation and Virgin Suicides, you couldn't pay me to see another Coppola film.

5/24/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I hate that boredom/depression funk that apparenly passes for "mood."

Isn't a "boredom/depression funk" a mood? Feels like a description of the mood I am most commonly found in.

5/24/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger RC said...

I'm glad this film was poorly received...it looked horrible...and jason shwartzman as french royalty and kristin dunst...i can't take it.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

5/24/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Boredom isn't a mood. In fact, nowadays boredom is a self inflicted condition. There is so much to do in today's world that there is absolutely no excuse for ever being bored. Lost in Translation drove me absolutely insane because there is so much to do and see in Japan. The thought of someone squandering their time in that city locked up in hotel rooms was outrageous to me. And when they aren't in their hotel rooms, they are moping about in karaoke bars and photo shoots condescending to all the silly japs having fun and enjoying life in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

Depression is not a mood, sadness is. Sadness is temporary and normal. Depression is either caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, or when people stop acknowledging the good things that happen in life and only focus on the bad stuff. This becomes a self-defeating cycle, because for the most part people have to make the good things happen on their own. The characters in the Virgin Suicides are well-to-do kids who have a bright future. They have absolutely nothing blocking them from doing whatever they want to do in life. They throw it all away by sulking and killing themselves for no good reason.

And don't get me started about Antoinnette. A full length movie that is all about providing historical precedent for this talentless glitterati that is poisoning our culture? I'll pass, thank you very much.

I don't think Sofia Coppola is an untalented filmmaker. Her films are always very shiny and pretty to look at, and she is good at getting actors to fill their characters. It's the content of her films that I find negligently devoid of enrichment. A pretty, well acted turd is still a turd.

When I see a film, I want to come away with something that makes me better, smarter, or more in touch with the world around me. Hell, I'll even take just being transported to an exciting locale for an hour and a half. Coppola's films just don't do it for me.

5/25/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

The plot thickens: Roger Ebert on the boos.

5/26/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous lora said...

Chris-frankly, I have a thousand different reasons to see a film. I don't expect to be enriched by every film I see. Sometimes I want to be challenged; sometimes, I just want to see things blow up. I react most negatively to a film when I think that the filmmaker didn't even try to give the film an identity- think "Toys." I have had angry reactions to films that have a premise that is so offensive as to keep me from connecting to it at all (True Lies). I think that there is room out there for films that know that their only reason for existence is to make you laugh, or to make you say "COOL!" While you may not like a character who fails to seek out what Tokyo has to offer, you can't deny that there are people who really would do that. I liked "Lost in Translation." I didn't think I was signing up for a travelogue, so the fact that I saw a very narrow view of Japan was not a surprise. And although the characters were self-absorbed, I didn't react angrily to them, so I was able to watch and enjoy.
I will confess that there have been films I hated simply because I deeply disliked the characters and found their actions to be totally illogical, but this wasn't one of them.

5/27/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

What? I thought surely by now someone would have stepped forward to defend boredom and depression....

I understand what you're saying about boredom, Chris, but at the same time I'm sympathetic to people who feel bored and frustrated with the culture and society that they're living in. That you believe that there is so much to do that there's absolutely no excuse for ever being bored is itself an indicator to me that there could be a reason for someone to feel bored--there seems to be a pressing need inflicted on us by the consumer culture to feel that we must be entertained at all times, we must be busy, we must be doing something--who cares if it's mindless and only distracts us from the things in life that are actually important and meaningful. Trying to break out of that while everyone around you seems caught up in it can lead to some very real boredom.

And what is this "depression is not a mood"? Not to be too pedantic, but I think you're confusing clinical depression with what can actually be a mood (if you do a quick search you will find depression as part of the definition of mood in an online text for psychiatric nursing students at the University of Michigan). I certainly would never have described myself as sad after walking out of a theater having seen the original Apocalypse Now--I felt freakin' depressed. And that was temporary and normal and not due to a chemical imbalance.

BTW, isn't it funny that in a discussion of Sofia Coppola's films and depression and boredom that I would completely coincidentally think of Apocalypse Now without even thinking about it having been directed by Sofia's daddy? Interesting....

Anyway, I completely agree with talentless glitterati poisoning our culture....

And I also agree with lora about Lost in Translation. I enjoyed that film, though I didn't think it was great, and while I did feel some frustration with Scarlet Johannson's character I didn't find it unrealistic, and I could understand Bill Murray's character's state of feeling a bit like a prisoner of his celebrity.

5/30/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

After watching Apocalypse Now I was ecstatic, not depressed. It was a brilliant piece of art with fascinating characters that took place in an exotic locale during wartime. And even so, depression is an appropriate reaction to war and madness. I do not, however, think that depression is an appropriate reaction to things like professional success or boredom. "Boo Hoo I'm so famous and rich, boo hoo I'm too lazy to think of something fun or productive to occupy my time." Cry me a river, please, some of us have real things to be worried about. Am I callous? Sure! But we need more callousness in the world if we have gotten to a point where we are accepting and even making excuses for this kind of behavior.

And don't get me started about modern psychiatry and its "definitions", I will totally go Tom Cruise on y'all's asses.

This is really just personal philosophy, I don't expect other people to agree with me, this is just how I feel. Opinion is opinion right?

Like I said before, I don't think Coppola is a bad director. I know and respect many people that loved Sofia's flims, and I can tell from her work that she is a talented director. It just seems to me that she is obsessed with shallow, spoiled, boring people, and that is a major weakness for her.

What bothers me the most is that she doesn't provide a character arc. There is never an attempt at self-improvement or even enlightenment for these characters, which is how it should be if you want to tell an effective story. For a perfect example, check out Broken Flowers. Bill Murray plays pretty much the same character, but it is a much more interesting movie because he is actually making an attempt to do something with himself, and in the process discovering what he has been doing wrong all his life.

I would like her films if they gave me something in return: laughs, scares, tears, anything. But I can't get these unless I feel something from the characters. I've hated a lot of well-liked films for the same reason; The Weatherman and In The Company of Men are a couple of recent ones that spring to my mind.

5/31/2006 03:46:00 PM  

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