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04-02-2013
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^ Yeah and I think she's critical of how shallow Marie Antoinette is too, and how removed she is from reality. And yet at the same time I think she blames part of that on the royal traditions and how cloistering they are - look at all the pomp and circumstance, the young girl being given over at 14 etc. Not that this justifies her absentee attitude leading to the revolution but one can see how the culture made her that way to a degree.

Also, in Virgin Suicides, clearly the girls are naive, dreamy, and even somewhat snotty, but it becomes clear that a lot of that comes from them being virtual and then literal shut ins - much like Marie Antoinette.

Definitely Sofia looks at the effects of insularity in Virgin Suicides (overbearing parents), Somewhere (fame), and Marie Antoinette (royalty) but even to some degree in Lost in Translation as well since Charlotte and Bob are in a new culture. In all of her films there are brief but illuminating moments of escape (the prom; the trip to Italy with his daughter'; the masked ball or the summer house; and the night out with the locals) when the characters see a possible way out. It doesn't work for the girls in VS or for the queen in MA as they die, but in Lost in Translation and Somewhere, while neither end "happily" there is the suggestion that these characters will change, that they'll find what they're looking for, that they'll get "un-stuck."

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04-02-2013
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Yes, it's the hope and the escape, momentary though it may be, that is so beautifully portrayed.

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05-02-2013
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Kingofversailles: I'm kindly asking you again why Sofia names her film "somewhere"? And does the title indicates a sense or a state of transition, in your opinion? I'm really curious, thank! I believe it's crucial in understanding our respective definitions of "storytelling".

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Well, I personally see a plenty of films derived of cliched, flat, stereotypical minor roles. I won't dive into it here cause this is the thread about Sofia coppola's films. And most people fit into a "type"? Sorry, I have the opposite view on it. I believe no one is a caricature, we are all humans and have our layers of emotions and personalities. True, its impossible to shed light on all those layers when it comes to minor roles, but there's always possibility to add some nuiances to each role, to portray them in a not so black and white fashion.
On the contrary, To portray anyone as a cliche in any film is just poor film making in my eyes, and that very personal statement dosen't only apply to Sofia Coppola.
I think I have said enough about this minor role issue, let's just agree to disagree.

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Not a plain Jane: to what extent is she critical Of how shallow of Marie Antoinette is? I would like to see some examples. Thanks!

So you admit that the causes to her protaganists' problems are mainly external? And to me, that's the problem. The lack of internalization bothers me and makes her characters superficial. Everything seems to be floating on the surface and never sinks in.

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05-02-2013
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How do Bob and Charlotte mock their surroundings? Sure, they're amused by some of the people around them, but Charlotte at least takes the time to try and explore/appreciate a different culture, Bob talks to his wife about how he wants to borrow things from Japan and use them in making changes in his own life. They go out and have fun, hang out with locals, etc. The characters in it aren't quite as vapid in my eyes as they are in yours, I guess. And Bob pokes fun at himself as well and in my opinion never displays that he thinks he's above others. Charlotte really only does that with one person and another person calls her out for it in the film, so it's not only addressed, but it's also an exception, not a rule when it comes to her behavior in the film.

"how does bob and Charlotte mock their surroundings?" well, almost anyone they encountered, except the bunch of people they went out with for a night (well, somehow it's hard to mock the people you yourself asked in the first place to go out with, right?), they always seem to hold a slightly snotty attitude towards them. You will say how about the flower lady, well, again, it's really hard to sneer at someone who seems to demonstrate a high skill at something at the moment of encounter, right? Just like you won't find it easy to sneer at a doctor who is checking you up, even though you would sneer at anyone in any other occassion. Just saying.

Maybe it's just we differ in sensibilities, I happen to find Charlotte' so-called exploration and appreciation toward a foreign culture limited and most important of all superficial. Will you reject a lady who hand you a flower with encouragement when passing by? At least I find it hard to say no. But is it a serious attempt at exploring a different culture? Well, it seems too casual and random to me, merely effortless, I would say. And bob telling his wife he would like to try things Japanese way to change his life? I happen to find the tone highly ironic, more of a mockery than a sincerity.



Well, again, let's just agree to disagree.

On a side note, I myself happen to be in the exact same shoes as bob and Charlotte, alone in a foreign culture close to Japanese at the moment of typing. And this is a good note. I need to tell myself each day to appreciate all the oddities I encounter and try not to judge or worse, take the easy route, which is merely seeing the people as caricatures, or just "a type". To respect each individual as dignified human being, To keep my head down and try to get the most out of this maybe uncomfortable momentarily but nevertheless unique experience.

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Last edited by greengrassia; 05-02-2013 at 09:03 AM.
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05-02-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greengrassia View Post
Not a plain Jane: to what extent is she critical Of how shallow of Marie Antoinette is? I would like to see some examples. Thanks!

So you admit that the causes to her protaganists' problems are mainly external? And to me, that's the problem. The lack of internalization bothers me and makes her characters superficial. Everything seems to be floating on the surface and never sinks in.
Marie Antoinette is made fun of when she’s shot with her (quite literally) over-the-top hairstyles and clothing purchases; “is it too much?” she asks about her hair. Um, obviously! Sofia makes it clear that it’s quite ridiculous. At her 18th birthday party, it’s SHEER excess, with dogs eating pastries and champagne overflowing. The next morning, she’s found passed out on a chaise while the servants come to clean up the mess. Then there’s the scene when she’s walking around the grounds ordering trees and one of her advisors tells her she’s overspending, but she all but ignores him. All these examples suggest a queen who is young, who is shallow, who is exorbitant, and who is oblivious. She’s almost – quite literally again – like a kid in a candy shop. After all, she was a very young woman (14 years old when handed over to France) who’s been give a ridiculous amount of wealth and power, with very few people to rein her in, especially after the King dies. And that's what makes this a more complicated portrayal. Because we can see both sides. We can see that the pomp and ceremony of royal traditions ARE over the top and wasteful. But we can see how Marie Antoinette got caught up in that power too. And we can also see how part of the reason for that is her young age when she was thrown into all this. She's flawed. Yes. But she's also a productive of her environment to a degree. Elements of nature and elements of nurture.

It seems to me it’s mainly when she has children and/or has troubles conceiving, and is getting letters from her mom and a visit from her brother, who chastise her for her “issues”, or later when she’s goes to le Petit Trianon, that we see a more down-to-earth and even human portrayal of the queen, one who is more in touch with her surroundings, be they overbearing or freeing.

Sofia shows, repeatedly in her films, how environments SHAPE people and in my opinion this is not in the least bit superficial but is in fact very true to life. In other words, to me this is not a flaw in her work at all. And I do think the impact their environments have on them sinks in for the characters. She shows how they evolve as a result, albeit very slowly. That again is more realistic than films that suggest drastic life epiphanies and transformations in the space of 2 hours. Her portrayals of people muddling through seem more realistic in my view. Her characters are flawed but they all seem to experience crises that are triggered by their surroundings. It’s the exteriors that lead them to internal changes.

Charlotte goes to the Buddhist temple, witnesses a marriage ceremony, and these things move her to tears, as she begins realizing something is missing in her life; she goes to the arcade and admires the kids hanging out and interacting, which may make her feel lonely; she makes flower displays and appreciates the delicacy and beauty of the tradition, things that perhaps contrast the shallow aspects of her husband’s career. ALL these things Charlotte does on her own as an effort to explore the culture she’s immersed in and in the process she comes to some realizations. She’s lonely; her husband has no time for her; he seems more interested in someone else; she doesn’t know what to do with her life. No wonder she feels confused and alienated. It’s in fact the beauties and subtleties of Japan that help her to see her own life in a new light, I would argue. I don’t find her superficial at all. Not a bit.

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Last edited by Not Plain Jane; 05-02-2013 at 10:21 AM.
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The only film of hers I've watched was The Virgin Suicides, after I read the book by Jeffrey Eugenides. It very closely follows the book, although leaving some bits out, but I didn't find the film very impressive.

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Quote:
You will say how about the flower lady, well, again, it's really hard to sneer at someone who seems to demonstrate a high skill at something at the moment of encounter, right?
This is such a lovely scene; I don't see it cynically at all. Charlotte is walking by and is struck by the ladies practicing such a measured and honoured tradition. And while Charlotte may feel separate from it, like an eavesdropper on another culture, Sofia shows how kind the Japanese lady is, how welcoming, when she invites Charlotte in to give it a try, and nods at her, giving her quiet reassurances.

In fact it's Charlotte most of all who experiences and appreciates Japanese culture. Her husband is doing media, likely for a Western market, same with Kelly, the actress. The lounge singer is singing western songs for an eastern market. In his spare time alone, Bob goes golfing. He's also quite divorced from Japanese culture. But Charlotte longs to connect with it, to relate, to understand - looking out her windows, thinking, longing. Wandering around on her own, exploring. And on their night out with "Charlie Brown" it's transcendent; they all come together and it's a merging of culture - karaoke but with punk songs, parties with kids dancing, but in different settings, with amazing lighting and scenery, pretend battles in the streets of Tokyo. It's the highlight of the film, when everyone comes together and just has fun being themselves.

I love this film; it's so touching and human and lovely. I honestly find it amazing that some people don't like it, ha ha!

But that's just taste and circumstances; different strokes for different folks.

And while this conversation has been awesome and interesting, I don't think any of us have changed our minds one bit! :p I guess Sofia is a polarizing artist? in any case, I am firmly in her corner, and I hope she continues to make films for a long while. We need more female eyes; we need more delicate touches, more quiet moments. At least that's my view.

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05-02-2013
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Not plain Jane, your post about Marie Antoinette is beautifully put. I agree.

I quite like Marie Antoinette the film, I studied History and to be honest it bothers me this idea that all historical figures have to be reworked or in some way rehabilitated in the light of modern concepts. Marie Antoinette was not an extraordinary woman, why pretend she was? But she lived in extraordinary times and was forced to take central stage in a drama that clearly overwhelmed her. I think the fact that the film made such a good job or showing the viewer how she lived in this fantastic bubble of self indulgence, it's exactly why it works, it makes us wonder quite strongly what a shock it must have been for her to be stripped of absolutely everything, to have her children treated like dirt, and to be the target of such open hatred.
The film is vacuous because her life was vacuous, there is no socio-political context because she was dislocated from it, we only see inside the bubble. Her way of life his menaced and the film ends when things starts crumbling and real life getting in, but we get a glimpse of a woman that grew after all and will behave with unusual dignity when faced with everything the film does not show us.


The only film i was not really impressed was Somewhere, It felt forced. My recurrent idea was that she had some beautiful imagery in her mind for bloggers and tumblers to adopt but any sort of particular meaning was an after thought.


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05-02-2013
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@KOV my degree is feminism and people of colour literature. No, I'm not an expert but I'm familiar enough with the theory both within and outside the classroom. Just as Not Plain Jane can bring her degree into the discussion, so can I. (Except I didn't bring up that I had a degree until just now you started feeling threatened by how I was broadening the discussion.)


Quote:
Maybe it's just we differ in sensibilities, I happen to find Charlotte' so-called exploration and appreciation toward a foreign culture limited and most important of all superficial. Will you reject a lady who hand you a flower with encouragement when passing by? At least I find it hard to say no. But is it a serious attempt at exploring a different culture? Well, it seems too casual and random to me, merely effortless, I would say. And bob telling his wife he would like to try things Japanese way to change his life? I happen to find the tone highly ironic, more of a mockery than a sincerity.
@greengrassia. Get out of my head! That's how I feel about it too.

Quote:
Marie Antoinette is made fun of when she’s shot with her (quite literally) over-the-top hairstyles and clothing purchases; “is it too much?” she asks about her hair.
Except, except, except. The over-the-top hair and extravagance wasn't unique to MA. Amanda Foreman's The Duchess (the biography, not the film) makes clear that the aristocracy and royalty from that era were all like that. In both their frivoulity and their responses to their dandyism: being knowingly ironic.

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@KOV also why is literature being brought into this? All art is connected. (Which is actually a point Not Plain Jane made earlier. Granted, each medium is separate, but books do inform the films they are based on, and etc.) Also, many people cross mediums. Fandom certainly have proven how interconnected the mediums are, and what the limitations and and advantages of cross-dialogues. Also, multimedia (in various forms and ways) has been used for a number of years (if not decades) in understanding the mediums of art, literature, and film and how they inform each other.

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@KOV also why is literature being brought into this? All art is connected. (Which is actually a point Not Plain Jane made earlier. Granted, each medium is separate, but books do inform the films they are based on, and etc.) Also, many people cross mediums. Fandom certainly have proven how interconnected the mediums are, and what the limitations and and advantages of cross-dialogues. Also, multimedia (in various forms and ways) has been used for a number of years (if not decades) in understanding the mediums of art, literature, and film and how they inform each other.

But you're broadening the subject so much I think we're losing sight of what the discussion was about. Somehow me saying I wouldn't classify her as a storyteller (perhaps I should have added the clause "at least not first and foremost") and suddenly it turned into me having narrow-minded views and a lesson on women and POC breaking glass ceilings. All art is interconnected, but within the context of what I was saying, it wasn't too closely related, as far as I'm concerned. I more or less agree with everything you just said above ^ but I do think it's a little off-topic.

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@KOV my degree is feminism and people of colour literature. No, I'm not an expert but I'm familiar enough with the theory both within and outside the classroom. Just as Not Plain Jane can bring her degree into the discussion, so can I. (Except I didn't bring up that I had a degree until just now you started feeling threatened by how I was broadening the discussion.)
Not threatened, just questioning it's relevance.



Quote:
Except, except, except. The over-the-top hair and extravagance wasn't unique to MA. Amanda Foreman's The Duchess (the biography, not the film) makes clear that the aristocracy and royalty from that era were all like that. In both their frivoulity and their responses to their dandyism: being knowingly ironic.
True, but Sofia Coppola wasn't portraying Marie Antoinette as an exception in this regard (in the film, she's shown engaging in that behavior with other members of the court.) I think Sofia was trying to humanize her, by showing her getting caught up in the trends and by showing how completely out of touch they ALL were. Consider the humor in the scene where Marie reads Rousseau to her friends, seemingly agreeing with his stance and attempting to emulate, in an absurdly out-of-touch way, the lifestyle she read about. It just further illustrates how, as Not Plain Jane said, Sofia is showing us how insulated Marie is. Not JUST Marie, but many of those around her as well. I don't think she approves of it, but I do think she wants the audience too look at Marie in a more understanding way than history does.

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^ Yes, I agree with your take KoV.

The point is that Sofia is showing Marie Antoinette to be shallow and she is critical of her (and the royal court in which she was ensconced), but hers not a simplistic portrayal that makes Marie Antoinette out to be an evil, self-indulgent artistocrat who deserved to have her head chopped off. Rather, she's portrayed as a young girl who got caught up in the whole privilege and frivolity of the court and lost sight of the world around her. She was trapped in a protective bubble until it popped. And in my viewings, she is afforded some dignity at the end, in how she chose to stay with her husband until they absolutely had to leave, dealign with the uprising in a more mature manner, reflective of her later period of life.

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