24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Sofia Coppola

'Somewhere' writer-director Sofia Coppola: I wanted a really short, sparse script

December 21, 2010 |  4:30 pm


If there’s been an uncomplimentary rap in many of the early reviews of Oscar-winning writer-director Sofia Coppola’s "Somewhere," it’s that few American films in recent memory feature less dialogue and less action (at least in the typical sense) than this episodic drama about fatherhood and celebrity, which reaches theaters Wednesday.

Nearly 15 minutes elapse before a character utters a single word on screen. A Ferrari goes around and around a racetrack for a full three minutes in the opening sequence. And in a totally wordless scene that must mark a first in cinema, leading man Stephen Dorff –- as a dissolute B-list star living at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont -- is shown smoking a cigarette from start to finish in one long, drawn-out static shot.

Coppola’s stated intention with such filmmaking sounds reasonable enough: “To see how simple you could make a movie. To not be aware of the camera and have it not feel like a movie. To make a portrait of this guy at this moment in his life,” she said. (In a Calendar section story, the writer-director also explained "Somewhere's" personal and family resonances.)

According to Dorff, who was still puffing away on a Camel Light during an interview at Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons Hotel earlier this month, the process of making such a stripped-down film began with an equally bare bones script –- a screenplay he describes as “a 47-page pamphlet.”

Continue reading »

Who's the best choice to direct 'Breaking Dawn'? An appraisal

March 17, 2010 |  3:47 pm

As startling as it would first seem, the scuttlebutt that three Oscar-winners -- Bill Condon, Gus Van Sant and Sofia Coppola -- have been approached to direct "Breaking Dawn" shouldn't really surprise.

Dawn First, the key is approached. Big directors are approached all the time, the same way you might approach the edge of a cliff but never actually go over it. It still seems far-fetched that the auteur who gave us "My Own Private Idaho" would return to the Pacific Northwest to track Quileutes and Volturi.

But we live in an era when the greatest filmmakers take on Batman and Robert Ludlum properties. And if nothing else, the selection of one of these auteurs could induce some tweens to become suddenly familiar with the early work of River Phoenix. (We suspect "Kinsey" could be a little tougher.) Look at it as directing as demo-expansion.

With that in mind, here's a quick assessment of both the virtues and problems of giving the "Breaking Dawn" assignment to each of the directors on the reputed shortlist.

1) Bill Condon
Pro: He knows how to hit the high notes, literal and figurative, in his love stories. And movies such as "Dreamgirls" adroitly tell of misunderstood and underestimated women, descriptors that certainly fit Bella Swan.
Con: The guy does prestige dramas like "Kinsey." And musicals. Musicals. You know, those movies in which people belt out their thoughts, not whisper tortured nothings to their paramours in-between flying chase scenes. Tonally, we don't see it.

Continue reading »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: