Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sofia Coppola Gives Humanity A Sedative

If you like minimalist dialogue, maximum-impact photography, and travelers who have a lot more funds than fun, Sophia Coppola films are for you. Trust me on this! Her latest movie Somewhere is much like her former work Lost In Translation, from whence we gleaned this Scarlett Johansson photo, proving a picture is worth a thousand words plus several animalistic grunts. Hey buddy, that's art, so you can't criticize it (or true minimalism aficionados like me).

In Somewhere, Hollywood star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) fills his meaningless days with distractions, until he hooks up with his daughter (Elle Fanning) and finds some peace contributing to her sense of well being. Sound familiar? This newer film shouldn't be confused with Lost In Translation, where Hollywood star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) fills his meaningless days with distractions, until he hooks up with a girl his daughter's age (Scarlett Johansson) and finds some peace contributing to her sense of well being. See the difference? If you don't, you're an uncultured slug.

What both movies have in common is atonishingly tender and insightful camerawork. Profound moods and telling gestures are captured unmistakably without a word spoken. What separates the two films? Somewhere lacks the gentle laugh at humanity found in the craters on Bill Murray's face. Somewhere is a cold material world without comic relief. However, Somewhere does dare to suggest the brazen-but-no-brainer comparison between sports cars and female bodies. These fine machines are not the boy toys of choice for nothing. It's always a little shocking when people on Planet Hollywood state obvious truths that only us Planet of the Apes folks called earthlings usually admit. (Ladies in need of a jiffy lube or full performance tune-up are urged to stop by my jungle-ape-office during monkey-business-hours for courteous and guaranteed service.)

So, should you spend hours watching Sofia's sedated meditations on how dull existence can be without purpose? Maybe. It's way better than spending decades living a meditation on how dull existence can be without purpose? Because celebrities like those in Sophia's pampered circle are freed-up from the basic human struggle for security (which often feels like a purpose), they present a clear example that surviving and thriving aren't enough. If you still harbor delusions that attaining wealth will fullfill you, these movies provide a clever fortaste of the dark place people reach when they amass all the "how" to live but none of the "why." If you've already found the better life that comes from not just amassing but contributing, these films may remind you how and why you became one of the truly super-rich.

1 comment:

  1. Such interesting films. Coppola always gets me thinking.

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