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17-01-2013
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Not sure about Somewhere though... It's a meaningful film but somehow it bores me.
The pacing is so slow. That's something that I really noticed in that film especially.

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18-01-2013
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^ Yes and the lack of dialogues are making me sleepy... Most of Coppola's films do not have many lines but Somewhere... it's just too few lines.

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18-01-2013
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Originally Posted by newprincesita View Post
Taste is indeed a very subjective thing. Even with explanations and erudite endorsements I find Sofia's pictures extremely bland and style centered without a real spine. To me, like some of Wes Anderson's movies, they're essays on "coolness" or at least what those directors perceive as such. To me they sometimes feel like conversations between hipsters, contrived. Of course I don't mean they're bad movies, I can see there' s a lot of work merit to them....they just bore me to death.
This.

I've watched every one of her films and find them all painful (Virgin Suicides is good actually, tolerable, but it all goes downhill from there). I'll sometimes just keep watching them if I catch them on TV for the colors, a nice background for whatever I'm doing. I find her so vapid that even getting in a discussion on her work makes me realise my morning must be pretty slow right now .. but yeah, and I'm not going to blindly dive into someone's "vision" just for gender endorsement, but if that was the mission.. Potter, Bier any day.

Oh and can I just say, the interaction the characters inspired on herself and her superiority complex have with other women (who happen to be completely stupid and out of touch with reality in her movies) are my favorite part of her empowering movies..

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19-01-2013
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I've read some articles that criticize Sofia's work because she is a privileged Hollywood child, and that indeed her characters are as shallow and as empty as her. I just find that a bit harsh. I understand that writers/artists don't work in a vacuum, so of course their lives will impact their work on some level, but to put down someone's work because of the person he/she is or where he/she comes from seems kind of unfair, and maybe dismissive?
I have read those criticisms and I think they're unfair. But I think she probably gets them because her father has co-produced all if not most, if not all, of her films. Contrast that to cousin Nicolas Cage, who changed his last name, and refused family help because he didn't want to be accused of neopotism/taking advantage of the family legacy.

But there are plenty of people in Hollywood who have ties in the industry through family: Blake Lively, Drew Barrymore, Robert Downey Jr, Katie Cassidy, Daniel Radcliffe, Kate Hudson, etc etc. Maybe Sofia gets critiqued for alleged neopotism because her previous careers were (don't know if accurate or not, cuz I don't follow her that closely) failures or short lived? I do remember before she started directing she was ridiculed for her acting, but I never followed any critiques of her acting, so not sure about how serious or not the jokes were.

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I was not trying to be authoritative or pretentious so apologies if it came across as such.
Apology accepted!

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20-01-2013
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I haven't seen it, but I know her performance in The Godfather Part III induced a widespread puke-fest among critics. I don't know if she ever acted after that.

As for her films, I go back and forth. Of her work, I've seen The Virgin Suicides (which is so depressing I've only ever watched it 1 1/2 times), Marie Antoinette and Somewhere. They're always aesthetically pleasing, but--and I'm rehashing the old tired argument--her stories always seem lacking for me in some way, particularly emotionally. I mean, I don't mind stories that don't have a conventional plot, stories that are quiet or that are more concept-driven--I'm an avid lover of the King: Terrance Malick. But for some reason, Sofia's films don't resonate with me. Not on a level deeper than eye candy anyway. If she deserves credit for anything, it's creating breathtaking imagery, and she's at her best in Marie Antoinette. I could watch that film on mute all day long. The problem is, I never feel anything for the protagonist, not to mention the mosaic of accents on display, which took me out of the film. It's pretty, that's all I can really say about it. Otherwise, I have no stake in any of the characters over the course of two hours or however long the film was. We're meant to root for this girl who is minimally relatable. She's nice and she's scared, but soon enough she gets the hang of things and slips comfortably into her role as princess and then queen. What we see of her life, except for when she's in the countryside, is mostly shallow and hedonistic--which is the point, but doesn't necessarily make a good story or a watchable one. The closest I felt to anything during the scenes where she's playing with her daughter. And even then I think it was just the utter cuteness of the child actress. Otherwise, zelch.

Aside from Elle Fanning's transcendent performance, Somewhere was utterly forgettable. Once again, I commend her on the imagery, though, particularly when they're in the swimming pool and when he's watching her ice skate.


Last edited by chickadee; 20-01-2013 at 10:46 PM.
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23-01-2013
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^^^ She was a farce to be reckoned with in The Godfather lll. The hate is justified.

Sofia was also a handmaiden in Star Wars' The Phantom Menace. Her appearance in the movie was unintentionally funny for me because, for those not familiar with the point of Natalie Portman's Queen's cadre of handmaidens is that they're meant resemble her. Keira Knightly also played a handmaiden, and the rest were beautiful girls as well. I think Sofia is a beautiful woman-- in her own way, but she's not Portman and Knightly "beautiful". So she definitely stood out as part of the entourage of "Portman" lookalikes...

I like her style of filmmaking. I really liked The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antionette. Never saw Lost In Translation since I cannot stand Bill Murray. I loved that her films have a slowburn attitude that takes time to seep in. I don't get the "hipster" label because Sofia is so much cooler and more intelligent than that, and her films never comes off contrived or ironic. Her characters have a modern realness about them that's instantly likable, approachable and authentic about them to me. Her direction gives a sense of improvisation to the characters that I appreciate-- they never come across like they're hamming it up: I like their aloofness.

I'm not well-versed in films, I just enjoy what I like. And as much of a non-event Sofia's style is, I appreciate them even more for that.

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23-01-2013
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She's one of my favorites. I can't wait to see The Bling Ring. It's an interesting project for her and I'm eager to see how she chose to tell the story.
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24-01-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickadee View Post
I haven't seen it, but I know her performance in The Godfather Part III induced a widespread puke-fest among critics. I don't know if she ever acted after that.

As for her films, I go back and forth. Of her work, I've seen The Virgin Suicides (which is so depressing I've only ever watched it 1 1/2 times), Marie Antoinette and Somewhere. They're always aesthetically pleasing, but--and I'm rehashing the old tired argument--her stories always seem lacking for me in some way, particularly emotionally. I mean, I don't mind stories that don't have a conventional plot, stories that are quiet or that are more concept-driven--I'm an avid lover of the King: Terrance Malick. But for some reason, Sofia's films don't resonate with me. Not on a level deeper than eye candy anyway. If she deserves credit for anything, it's creating breathtaking imagery, and she's at her best in Marie Antoinette. I could watch that film on mute all day long. The problem is, I never feel anything for the protagonist, not to mention the mosaic of accents on display, which took me out of the film. It's pretty, that's all I can really say about it. Otherwise, I have no stake in any of the characters over the course of two hours or however long the film was. We're meant to root for this girl who is minimally relatable. She's nice and she's scared, but soon enough she gets the hang of things and slips comfortably into her role as princess and then queen. What we see of her life, except for when she's in the countryside, is mostly shallow and hedonistic--which is the point, but doesn't necessarily make a good story or a watchable one. The closest I felt to anything during the scenes where she's playing with her daughter. And even then I think it was just the utter cuteness of the child actress. Otherwise, zelch.

Aside from Elle Fanning's transcendent performance, Somewhere was utterly forgettable. Once again, I commend her on the imagery, though, particularly when they're in the swimming pool and when he's watching her ice skate.
You totally nailed what's wrong with MA. What's funny is that her MA was supposed to redeem the character, but instead it doesn't because it basks in the 'let them eat cake' stereotype of MA. We don't get a 3-dimensional queen who is concerned about herself, King, and country. Instead, it's parties! games! fashion! food!

The only instance 'country' is addressed that conversation about getting ridding of diamonds to help out the peasants. (When we know MA wrote a letter expressing concerns over the poverty her people were living in.) The only time 'King' is addressed is marriage and motherhood. Even though Queens back in those days were important to diplomacy (well, it is address in MA but very scantily).

I think that's why the second half the film falls apart, because Sofia doesn't know how to address anything outside of the frivoulities of court life. Yes, the frivoulities were important, but they were only ONE aspect of court life which included diplomacy within the country and without, keeping the hierarchies in line (from the royal family to the nobles to commoners), to juggling economy, religion, and political intrigue.

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Her characters have a modern realness about them that's instantly likable, approachable and authentic about them to me. Her direction gives a sense of improvisation to the characters that I appreciate-- they never come across like they're hamming it up: I like their aloofness.
Well, you know I hate her films, but I do agree about the 'modern realness' and 'direction gives a sense of improvisation' parts. I think that's why I watch her films despite disliking them.

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28-01-2013
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I like her style of filmmaking. I really liked The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antionette. Never saw Lost In Translation since I cannot stand Bill Murray. I loved that her films have a slowburn attitude that takes time to seep in. I don't get the "hipster" label because Sofia is so much cooler and more intelligent than that, and her films never comes off contrived or ironic. Her characters have a modern realness about them that's instantly likable, approachable and authentic about them to me. Her direction gives a sense of improvisation to the characters that I appreciate-- they never come across like they're hamming it up: I like their aloofness.
Nicely put - totally agree with your perspective.

The phrasing "slowburn" is a cool way to describe the slow pacing of her films.

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29-01-2013
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Every time I see this thread updated, I keep thinking someone has posted the trailer for The Bling Ring LOL

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29-01-2013
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Originally Posted by wild roses View Post
What's funny is that her MA was supposed to redeem the character, but instead it doesn't because it basks in the 'let them eat cake' stereotype of MA. We don't get a 3-dimensional queen who is concerned about herself, King, and country. Instead, it's parties! games! fashion! food!
You're absolutely right about Sofia's shallowness, superficiality and lack of a perspective that's sympathetic to the everyman-- or everywoman, in this case. But that's not what she's about; that sense of aloofness, frivolity and exclusive to a certain world-- mainly the privileges of a charmed life, which she surely has much experience with, as an alternate perspective to the everyman's version, is just as interesting, to me at least. I never expected her Marie Antoinette to be the definitive-version of the person. I just don't think Sofia's capable of making a film like Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth, nor would she attempt it, so it's not an insult. I mean, it starred Kirsten Dunst-- with Jamie Dornan...

I sense she really works from a genuine and completely authentic place, and most of the time, it's the perspective of a rich, privileged woman having grown up around famous directors, her father being one of them. But what I find interesting, and endearing about Sofia, is she's the rich, but introspective, introverted and awkward type. Hers is not the entitled, loud, Brett Easton Ellis-type of the privileged youth. And this is clearly seen in her characters. She puts herself into these characters. Same with the score; It's music Sofia grew up to, so it seems natural that she would include Bow Wow Wow and New Order-- even for the soundtrack to Marie Antoinette. When she was a contributing photographer and writer for Interview magazine in the early to mid 90s, she revealed that her and her friends would try on clothes in her room while listening to Siouxsie & the Banshees. And now as a director, she's included the music that inspired her youth, as well as new music that she liked-- like Air, in her films. It's all very post-modern from a critical point of view, and maybe that's translated to hipster for some, but it's very honest to me.

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30-01-2013
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In the case of MA, I think she should --and could have-- addressed the 'let theme eat cake!!!!' stereotype simply because MA is one of the most misunderstood, and most maligned, queens in history.

I also think you missed the point of my dislikes against her, cuz I enjoy the films of Woody Allen (and god knows all his characters, including the bohemians, are rich, well-off, and very privileged). Many of the women I admire also come from wealth: Katharine Hepburn, Princess Grace, Jacqueline Kennedy. The different between Sofia and Woody, the difference between Sofia and those women, is that Sofia is so consumed with her little corner that she can't even see the diversity and limitless wonder even within her own wealthy world. Woody can. The other 3 women could. Contrast how he treats ditzy characters compared to Sofia (Woody films celebrate all types of women, Sofia tells us if someone is a ditz, they aren't good enough to be in her company and we should laugh at them too).

Quote:
rich, but introspective, introverted and awkward type
.

That I do like about her films, cuz this character type is under-appreciated. BUT she doesn't need to diss other types of women to prove her point. I disagree about her characters not being 'entitled' though. (Tried 3 times to write out what I mean, but my thoughts aren't ordered yet, so I have to hold off writing out what I mean regarding entitlement in her films.)

I have no problem with her including autobiographical bits on her works, and I like the authenticity that brings to her characters. I would like to point out it's not something unique to her though. Lots of actors/writers/directors do it. I do have a problem with her viewpoint being so narrow that she doesn't realize how her cultural stereotyping and shaming of things that don't fit her viewpoint is problematic.

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30-01-2013
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Phuel, I get the same sense of authenticity as you from the films. I also really agree with this:
Quote:
But what I find interesting, and endearing about Sofia, is she's the rich, but introspective, introverted and awkward type.
In fact, that's why she related to Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette because it considers the fact that she was an isolated Queen and so so young. I don't think Sofia could do a genuinely political film, so she did it from an insider's view. And how that insularity shapes a person. She really explores that theme a lot (Virgin Suicides, the cloistered girls; Somewhere, the Chateau Marmont bubble of fame, etc) and I assume it's because she's writing about what she knows about - that she sees the flaws in being isolated within a culture. But she sees those flaws from the protagonist's inner perspective: existential, not social or political. I think people want her to broaden her horizons, but there is something to be said for sticking to what you know.

wild roses, I am a huge Woody Allen fan too. For the movie challenge last year, I made it my purpose to fill in all the missing Woody films I hadn't seen, and I did it! Very fun. For you, here's a cool link

http://www.everywoodyallenmovie.com/

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31-01-2013
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But she sees those flaws from the protagonist's inner perspective: existential, not social or political. I think people want her to broaden her horizons, but there is something to be said for sticking to what you know.
But...I don't think she neccessarily has to be political or social in her POV. She just has be...non-judgmental and open-minded, neither of which she is.

Besides, it's quite possible to be existential and write with depth. Take Czech New Wave films. Many were political protests made against the government. They were also made to reassert Czech identity in worldwide cinema. However, they use a very non-political, particularly existential viewpoint to explore their themes and make their points. (The existentialism was actually necessary given that anything political would be banned.) Yet they still manage to be very non-judgmental of their characters and still challenge the viewer, and they don't stereotype. Renoir and Bergman also dealt mostly with well-to-do, leisured people, but they manage to cover humanity.

I do think you're getting at something about how she writes about the flaws of being isolated, but I feel that she props her hero/ines too much up to do it. Like, at least, admit your hero/ines are flawed too. Instead Zoe is presented as an Upper East Side Saint (who saves her parents marriage, returns a stolen jewel, doesn't get killed when a robbery occurs...and more ridiculousness), Marie A as this Darling Wunderkund (who is just misunderstood by the French Court) Party Princess, blanking on Scarlett's character's name but she's this Super Intellectual who Understands and Probes More Deeply.

Like No. How about Marie A try to understand the French Court and respect its customs, which she doesn't until she is guilted into doing so (and even then we're supposed to take MA's side). How about ScarJo's character realize that she can do stuff while her hubby is gone. That there is a Tokyo and Japan that exists outside of the American stereotypes. That you don't always NEED to feel something. And you shouldn't complain about having no feelings about life when you basically stay in room all day staring outside your window waiting for life (re: your hubby) to come to you. Yet, because she is 'philosopher,' we're supposed to side with her. That we're supposed to side with her when she doesn't even TRY to step outside her comfort zone. She's in this amazing country, but all she ever does is the tourist stuff. REALLY? So much for someone who supposed to sooooooo deep and insightful.

And this where my biggest problem with the cultural stereotyping is. With both NYS and LIT, other cultures are presented as these alien, unrelatable places where the character doesn't possess the key to unlock it. Until, the "Magical Person of Colour" appears. Who instantly opens all the doors and suddenly Sofia's white characters Get It. And are Wise. And can Save the Day. But the white characters NEVER leave their comfort zone. Which is why this is a big NO. Sofia's idea of Japan is Godzilla and short people who make weird food. When that doesn't even begin to cover Japan. It's not even shorthand. Ever watched any Japanese cinema? True, there are the cheesy monster flicks, but many are serious insightful movies about class, westernization, war, poverty, family, etc. In fact, it's actually the easiest of non-English foreign cinema to watch because Hollywood and Japan have so influenced each other over the past 50 years. But if one goes by LIT, Japanese people are strange beings with nothing in common with Bill or Scarlett. When, actually, Japanese people aren't that different in reality. But they are treated as an exotic species to be laughed at or punned about because their language, their food, their culture, isn't something that Sofia is informed about. (NYS is even more offensive cuz she basically uses Princess Jasmine royalty stereotypes for her Middle Eastern characters.) But do the LIT characters ever admit to being close-minded and ignorant about Japan? No, instead we're invited to basically join in their mocking.

I have nothing against characters who feel they are misunderstood. Which I do think her characters DO feel genuinely misunderstood. But I don't like the Holden Caulfielding that always come in play: Well I'm so special cuz I'm so misunderstood and because I'm special that means I'm above critique. Therefore, let me do damage how I will. My damage is my way of expressing myself and it doesn't matter if it hurts other people because I'm more special because I'm so misunderstood.

Thanks for that link! I'm slowly working my way through Woody Allen's filmography.

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31-01-2013
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Just a couple things about Lost in Translation.

IMO, the Charlotte character does explore and admire the culture by herself. Quite a lot actually. But she's understandably lonely. If I were in a completely different place, i'd like someone to explore it with too.

There's the scene where she is kindly invited to try flower display in the hotel, and the ladies around her are portrayed respectfully, with a kind of grace; there's the scene when she sees the Japanese wedding and goes into the temple, after which she phones her friend crying; there's the scene when she goes to the Japanese arcade and looks on in wonder and seems to feel a kind of awe towards the kids in there. So while she is in her hotel room "wondering" about her life at times, that is juxtaposed with scenes of her out-and-about "wandering" around various places in Japan.

There are a couple of "caricature" scenes, most of which feature the Bob / Bill Murray character, and which are played for humour. Largely, critics liked these scenes and the film itself, but one critic thought there were negative cultural stereotypes, in these scenes especially, so when I taught the film (twice now), I asked students (college level) what they thought. I was kind of surprised to find out that basically none of them found it problematic; I really thought it might engender some debate, but even the Japanese and Chinese students thought the film and its cultural depictions were fine because they felt most of the humour was played due to language barriers and cultural differences that exist, and there was an equal amount of love for the place and people of Japan: like when Bob and Charlotte go out with local people and have a blast.

It's funny, but I see lots of similarities between Woody and Sofia, perhaps because I love both of their films. Woody often plays on stereotypes and makes fun of "shallow" or "unintellectual" people (e.g., throughout Annie Hall the people in L.A. are depicted as ridiculous). He also plays on cultural stereotypes in recent films like Vicky Christina Barcelona and To Rome with Love. But he does it with humour, love, and authenticity as well, which I feel that Sofia manages, too. I think the humour in her films is usually tongue in cheek, but with warm admiration too.

As for Marie Antoinette, probably I "get" Sofia's approach because I've read the book; Fraser writes a pretty sympathetic portrayal of the Queen. Given that Marie was 14 years old when she was taken from her home, stripped naked, and handed over to completely unknown people in an unknown country, it's perhaps relatable as to why she might feel alienated and see things around her as awkward. A 14 year old girl in this sort of estranged situation is unlikely to try to understand customs. Fraser's book is quite excellent, actually; the vocabulary is amazing and seeing things from a personal perspective - as opposed to a more traditionally historical one - was interesting, at least to me anyhow.

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Last edited by Not Plain Jane; 31-01-2013 at 09:41 AM.
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