Friday Movie Roundup: Last Call for Coppola

Feb 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

It's another slow week in movieland, as only one of the four new releases was made available to us in advance, and that one, The Company Men, delivered mixed results. Rather than whine about something we have no control over, let's turn your attention to a film that sneaked into the Kenwood Theatre last week: Sofia Coppola's Somewhere.—-

If the Sunday evening screening I took in Feb. 6 is any indication — only two other people were in attendance —Somewhere's Kenwood stay is likely to be short one, so get yourself over there this weekend if you have any interest in catching what I describe in my review as a film “about capturing a certain time and place in the life of a man with no particular destination in sight, which it does with stealthy, osmosis-like effectiveness.” It's a description that lines up nicely with her body of work, which has now climbed to four films over the last 10 years.

I'm a sucker for Coppola's impressionistic style, thus it's no surprise I saw past the flaws in her last film, the largely dismissed Marie Antoinette. I dug up the interview I did with her back when the film was initially released in late 2006. Here's the opening of that piece, which serves as a nice intro for those late to the game or as a refresher course for those who forgot what it's liked to be trapped in her  perplexing intoxicating head:

Sofia Coppola is a mistress of listlessness. She loves to present her young protagonists in mid-daydream, as if there could be nothing greater than witnessing a girl in thought.

Her first film, The Virgin Suicides (2000), opens with Kirsten Dunst’s golden visage floating amid a cluster of poofy clouds as the languid sounds of French Synth-Pop duo Air evoke a melancholy mood. Visually assured and emotionally nuanced, The Virgin Suicides announced the presence of a filmmaker with a unique point of view and style to spare.

The similarly dreamy and rueful Lost in Translation (2003) took Coppola’s woozy visions to an even wider audience. The attention was somewhat of a surprise given that her vague narrative tendencies wouldn’t seem to warrant widespread interest. But the film had Bill Murray and a burgeoning Scarlett Johansson, a pair of endlessly watchable actors set amid the upscale backdrop of a fascinating foreign land. It didn’t matter that it had little to say; mood and detail carried the day. And, as usual, the soundtrack ruled.

Now comes Marie Antoinette, a biopic so rife with interiority that one half expects the camera enter Kirsten Dunst’s head and never leave.

Back to this week's releases, none of which have me all that excited — though the premise of Rare Exports sounds intriguing.

New releases:

THE COMPANY MEN —John Wells, the bigwig TV producer/writer behind ER, The West Wing and the new Southland, gives us his take on the Death of the American Dream and corporate greed run amok, and does so armed with a righteous indignation that is only sporadically earned. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at AMC, Kenwood Theatre, multiple Showcase Cinemas.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Grade: C

RARE EXPORTS — Finnish writer/director Jalmari Helander expands his own series of crafty short films to create Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, an adventure that, as its subtitle might suggest, kick-starts after an archeological dig has unearthed the “real” Santa Claus. Of course, in reality he turns out to be not so jolly. (Opens today at Mariemont Theatre.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

THE ROOMMATE — Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly are new college roommates in what looks to be an updated dorm-room version of Single White Female, with Meester in the Jennifer Jason Leigh "bad-girl" role and Kelly in Bridget Fonda's innocent “good-girl” role. For those not familiar with SWF, expect plenty of campy thrills and a suspect rendering of psychodramatic mayhem. First-timer Christian E. Christensen directs a cast that includes Billy Zane (where's he been?), Cam Gigandet, Danneel Harris, Frances Fisher and Alyson Michalka. (Opens wide today.) —JG (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon.

SANCTUM — Pimped as coming from the mind of James Cameron, creator of Titanic and Avatar, director Alister Grierson's action/adventure finds an ace underwater cave team in peril during an expedition into the “unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world.” To which I say, “Duh.” The largely little-known cast includes Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley, Ioan Gruffudd and Christopher Baker. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.