What I Learned From The Godfather: Part III

I have no idea why I watched The Godfather: Part III last night. Even though I own the trilogy and have seen the first two movies countless times (it is required viewing in my household), I always avoided watching the final installment. Probably because I was worried it would ruin the entire trilogy. The Godfather: Part III was as exactly as I expected. Mostly terrible. The plot isn’t engaging and truly horrendous performances overwhelm the film’s few good moments.

These are some of my stray observations about The Godfather: Part III. Continue reading “What I Learned From The Godfather: Part III”

Review: Somewhere (2010)

Somewhere is bookended by “Love Like a Sunset Part I” and “Love Like a Sunset Part II,” two songs by the French band Phoenix. I recognized the songs immediately. When I want to think about nothing, I listen to Phoenix. In a movie about an actor amidst an existential crisis, I found the music selection fitting.

The actor is Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a Hollywood star who finds little purpose in his life. He lives at the Chataeu Marmont in Los Angeles, aimlessly driving his Ferrari, drinking, and sleeping with various women. His only real commitments are to promoting his latest movie. When his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) stays with him for an unexpected, extended visit, he slowly begins to find purpose in his life.

This is director Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature. Themes such as boredom, seclusion, and identity, seen in her earlier films, are revisited in Somewhere. Its slow pacing, stemming from long takes and minimal editing, is a suggestion that the audience should just watch what unfolds on the screen. It is about the banality of life and the experience of being alive. There is also an interesting commentary on Hollywood culture and how that culture is separated from the “real world” at work here. Coming from Coppola, a director who grew up in Hollywood and based the film on some her childhood experiences (she stops short of calling it an autobiographical film), this commentary is all the more intriguing. Just what is Coppola trying to tell us about the movie industry? How banal and unrealistic it all is – a fact we all know but choose to ignore.

Not much happens in Somewhere yet everything happens all at once. Johnny starts off as a womanizing Hollywood rising star. He’s disconnected from the real world. All he cares about is drinking, aimlessly driving his sports car, and sleeping around. Slowly, as Cleo’s presence in his life increases, he becomes a responsible parent. Still, the film reaches few, if any, conclusions. A logical assumption would be that Johnny is going turn his life around for Cleo, but who knows if that will really happen.

There is just Johnny Marco, an actor who doesn’t really know how to act in his real life. And there is just Cleo, who despite the precocious front is just an 11-year-old girl who wants a family.

Review: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Director Sofia Coppola’s latest feature, Marie Antoinette, has received a mix of praise and boos, beginning at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Some critics found it dull and disappointing, others called it intriguing and energetic.

And I think I found my favorite film of the year (<sorry Martin Scorcese).

Marie Antoinette opens with flashy black and pink credits and pop music blaring in the background. Marie (played by Kirsten Dunst) is briefly introduced; she is lying on a chaise lounge, wearing an elegant outfit, surrounded by cakes and having her shoes placed on her feet. While this scene illustrates how France saw Marie Antoinette at the height of her rule, through Marie Antoinette, Coppola hopes to paint a different picture of the ill-fated monarch .

Adapted from Antonia Fraser’s biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, the film narrates the life of Marie Antoinette beginning her arrival to Versailles from Austria as she meets her future husband, Louis-Auguste (Jason Schwartzman). Although the couple is expected to produce an heir to the throne, their marriage remains unconsumated for seven years. Additionally Marie Antoinette depicts the free-spending ways, emotional distress, and overall growth of the Queen as Dunst gives a charismatic performance.

However, the film itself is less a historical film and entirely Coppola’s artistic interpretation. From the use of contemporary pop music as scene narratives to the vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, and gorgeous set design, every element of the film is purely diretorial vision.

Most likely Marie Antoinette will not be nominated for any awards this season. But if you let yourself be taken away by magic of Sofia Coppola’s revisionist Versailles, the picture becomes a delight.

Updated October 11, 2010