Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: Somewhere

The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette. Second generation auteur Sofia Coppola hasn't failed us yet. Her perceptive ethereal films about delicate girls with faraway looks in their eyes are stunning to behold and deeply felt, too. Here's the trailer to her fourth film Somewhere (2010).

This is one of those cases where I need to water down my expectations lest I wet myself. I love her movies. So I'll divvy it up as to what makes me most excited (yes), most worried (no), and somewhere in between (maybe so) for the appropriate "I Shan't Be Controlled By Marketing" balance.

Coppola understands how to convey both unexpected intimacies (Bob & Charlotte in Lost in Translation) and painful estrangements (usually familial but sometimes spousal as seen in Suicides and Marie-Antoinette) which should serve her tremendously well in the telling of this story of actor/father (Stephen Dorff) and tween daughter (Elle Fanning) who suddenly comes to live with him at the Chateau Marmont. Coppola's films obviously use her own life as inspiration and she knows from being the daughter of a famous showbiz person, as we all know. The shot of the underwater tea party is unexpected, charming and gives me great hope that this will be variable in mood and so specific that it will read universal.

On the other hand, who can relate to leisurely wealth and scads of downtime? There's so many shots of actor and daughter lounging, sleeping or barely mobile in their luxury environment. Now, I don't have the same problem as some viewers do with Coppola's hermetically sealed worlds and their wealthy almost slothful protagonists. After all, nobody complains when male auteurs make movies about the same male character types each time yet Sofia catches heat for her continual emphasis on upscale lost girls. Double standard! So, I hope she makes dozens more features about whatever the hell she wants. But, since this looks to be the closest to her own experience of all of the films, given the subject matter and movie industry backdrop, it could bring out excessive navel gazing. Sometimes it's just a navel no matter how hard you look. Showbiz played into Lost in Translation, too, but it did so in a more offscreen way.

maybe so
We know that Sofia Coppola is a natural in the director's chair and that cinematographer Harris Savides, one of the best in the biz, will help her provide beautiful vivid imagery. But whether or not Somewhere touches viewers in any substantial way will depend greatly on the father/daughter chemistry of Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. We won't know if that's poor, adequate or sensational until we're actually watching the movie. There are some things you can never learn from a trailer.

Are you a "yes, no or maybe so?"
Care to make any Oscar guesses? The movie is currently set for release on December 22nd, which blows. You'll have to try not to be jealous of the hazy downtime of Dorff and Fanning while you're at maximum stress levels during the holiday rush and the prestige movie glut. Hopefully they'll move this to the usual Sofia spot in the early fall.


Agustin said...

Imagine Elle Fanning getting an oscar nomination before her sister Dakota!
Hell will break loose at Fanning's
(reads the tagline for the TV movie Elle & Dakota: how they became the Joan & Bette of our era)

Jesse M said...

The snarky coverage of this trailer in I Watch Stuff drew my attention to the fact that it seems to follow a very similar structure to Lost in Translation, and to a lesser degree, even Marie Antoinette. Fresh-faced young blond girl purges the ennui of a cynically idle showbiz personality... it looks honest and beautifully realized, but considering Coppola is regarded as so fiercely independent, should we expect her to take a bigger step out of her range at some point?

Well, I'll see it anyway, and I'll appreciate its authenticity and character. I'm sure Coppola will give us a photographer's portrait of the oppressive Hollywood West Coast, and she'll make a gorgeous film in the process.

adam k. said...

Okay, first things first:

ELLE FANNING IS NOT A TEENAGER. She just turned twelve a few months ago, and was eleven most of the time they were shooting. And she looks it.

Seeing that little girl and hearing "teenager" just bothers me in extreme ways. It's hard enough for me to adapt to little Dakota being a teen and acting all sexy. Elle, at least, is not there yet.

Now I'm getting images of twelve-year-old Elle as Cherie Currie in The Runaways, and it's bad bad bad.

Please change the description to "preteen" or something.

My perspective may be colored by the fact that I have a little blonde waifish teenage sister (now 18... yikes) who I recently saw mature from an Elle to a Dakota and beyond. I guess I'm a bit scarred by all of that.

Anyway, I think this looks great. Dorff looks adorkable/DILFy in the lead role, and the chemistry seems solid, at least from the trailer. There's a chance it could be another Almost Famous type nazel gazing autobiographical pic that fails to truly take off and misfires at the box office and during awards season - Sofia's previous Lost in Translation would be Jerry Maguire in this analogy) - but I bet it'll be really good.

They really need to change the release date, though. This is a fall film. Definitely needs time to sink in and build. If that happens, great oscar chances for Elle in supporting actress, and possibly for screenplay and/or actor (though Dorff would have to be Bill-Murray-in-LiT-GREAT to pull that off). And best pic, in a 10-wide field, is very possible.

I think it's smart of Sofia to make the Sofia surrogate the secondary lead and focus more on the father character... should avoid excessive navel gazing that way. But I worry that this won't catch the cultural zeitgeist at all, in this economic climate. She should've made this 4 years ago and Marie Antoinette now.

adam k. said...

I am, of course, assuming the Elle Fanning character is less of a lead than Dorff's, since that's how the trailer makes it look. But it could be another straight-up two lead film like LiT.

Since I'm 100% positive Fanning will be campaigned (and quite possibly nominated) in supporting, I'm hoping it won't be totally fraudulent.

Volvagia said...

Well, it's less "same character" as "same character, same tone, same structure" that infuriates critics. (Taxi Driver is a paranoid drama, almost a thriller, Raging Bull is a sports bio, The King of Comedy is Scorsese's lightest film, Goodfellas is an extremely rare beast, "ensemble thriller", Casino is a dark comedy epic, while The Departed is the most thrilling movie he's ever made. Malick has the same tone and structure, but Sheen in Badlands is wildly different from Gere in Days of Heaven and the cast of The Thin Red Line all have distinct, if thin, personalities. While Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola have 5/4 movies with the same everything (character, tone and structure). You can see now why critics are annoyed with them, no?

Clarence said...

I'm looking forward to this mainly because I admire Coppola. I disliked Marie Antoinette and if this is better than that, then more power to her.

I imagine Elle Fanning can get a nomination for this. It kinda sucks cause I'm a big fan of her sister.

Anyway, I see Picture, Actor, Supp Actress for Fanning, and Screenplay. Maybe Orig Song? (judging by the trailer music, there's bound to be one of those hipster music in there somewhere)


@ADAM -- duly noted and changed to "tween" :) I thought she was older but I guess that's just Dakota yanking up the age of experience thoughts for me.

and TOTALLY on your comment about Marie-Antoinette coming out now. People still might hate it -- feminine movies having it so rough with critics -- but it might resonate more with those who are inclined to watch it closely.

@AGUSTIN -- wouldn't that be more like the DeHavilland sisters?

Volvagia said...

How was Almost Famous navel gazing again? Doesn't that necessitate a lack of dep...oh. William Miller was way too innocent and thin as an actual character. (That's good though. It really is about the other characters and their world. Kate Hudson only really got that Globe win and Oscar nom because critics had to justify their love to the actor driven Academy with a performance, any performance. But Almost Famous is an ensemble, through and through. And even with films noted for ensembles over individual acting, the Academy always has to toss a nomination bone. See: Fred Astaire's stupidly applied nomination for The Towering Inferno among others. (Should have been 2 Godfather Part 2 Boys (Cazale over Strasberg and no Gazzo), Harrison Ford (The Conversation), John Huston (Chinatown) and Jeff Bridges that year. But that result sounds way too good compared to what the Academy's standards are. (2 great citations (DeNiro and Bridges that year) and 3 bizzaro citations that only work as (ugh) career honours (Strasberg's and Gazzo's standing in the Actors Studio, among other things as well as Astaire's enduring popularity.))

Deus Ex Machina said...

I truly hope that this is one of those movies that most people don't get and I do and that it gets ignored by the Academy but years later it's kept better shelf life than those movies that DO get nominated. That's my wish and the Academy will likely grant it to me.

Danielle said...

The trailer definitely gives off a Lost in Translation vibe with its minimal dialogue and moody atmosphere. I wasn't hugely impressed with the trailer, but I'm still looking forward to it - I like/love all of Sofia's movies.

I don't see Fanning getting any Oscar attention - she MAY be pushed supporting because she's a child, but I think that campaign will either fail and/or she won't get the ScarJo type hype anyway.

The Never Let Me Go trailer comes out today also! =D

James T said...

I liked Lost in... and Suicide Virgins but not Anoinette. Yes, the feminism was my problem. I tought it was too lazily done. I didn't see the point. Plus, it was histotically inacurate (unless it was meant to be that way).

I am a "maybe so" on this one.

Andrew R. said...

I did not like Marie Antoinette much, so I hope she's recovered. (Nate-I know you love it, but I've seen it twice, and tried to like it both times. Didn't work. I love Virgin Suicides, love Lost in Translation, but Marie Antoinette was bad.)


andrew r -- we'll have to disagree on Marie-Antoinette. I went back a second time principally because my reaction was so ecstatic and so diametrically opposed to the bulk of critics. But I'm right and they're wrong :)

James T -- it was definitely not mean to be a realistic or accurate depiction of history. It's a tone/theme/character piece. My take on it at least.

Deus Ex -- yeah, it shouldn't be a problem to get your wish. I think it'll be too self reflexive for them... especially because it won't have any time to be reflected upon. I think quiet contemplative movies do better with Oscar if they're released earlier (just as complicated/weird ones do like Moulin Rouge). It's only the traditionally baity efforts, whether great or mediocre, that get unquestionable boosts from being released in December. I can't imagine that Young Victoria and The Last Station, for example, would have managed their nominations if they'd been released in June. Who would have cared by the time nominations season rolled around.

Unknown said...

I am all about seeing this movie, but does it worry anyone else that Dorff is starting to look like Kevin Costner? That's who I thought he was when I first loaded this page.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm excited!! I loved The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette (haven't seen LiT yet), so I look forward to what Coppola has in store for us. And Nat, I'm SO with you on MA, I don't see how anyone watching that film could think she was trying to make a totally historically accurate film.

John T said...

Yeah, I'm dying for the whole Elle getting a nomination before Dakota thing (and if it mirror the de Havillands, they both win one, which is fun). Mostly because I'd like another popular young actress who can, err, actually act.

Kevin P. Durkin said...

A big, fat yes on my behalf. I love all of S. Coppola's efforts so far. As a sidenote, isn't it cool how both Elle fanning and Dakota Fanning have broken out into entirely different parts of the industry? Dakota is so totally a mainstream Julia Roberts/ Rennee Zellwegger (ew) type, whilst Elle is slowly becoming a lovely Kirsten Dunst/Parker Posey type. How fun! Can't wait to see them as they grow and mature in their acting abilities.

Dell said...

Loved "Lost in Translation" (and that's all I've liked off of Sofia Coppola's resume), and this trailer takes a lot of that mood and vibe for this story, so I'm interested. And sadly, I had a mad crush on Stephen Dorff circa-mid 1990s, so it'll be nice to root for him again and see him do something respectable.

Volvagia said...

How can anyone be excited about a nothing trailer? Beyond the base-line excitement of "a Sofia Coppola movie right on time", there doesn't seem to be anything to actually try to attract any audience, discerning or otherwise. (See Wall Street 2, Scott Pilgrim, Inception and The Kids Are Alright, for film trailers that actually manage to give us a sense of tone, visual concept and characterisation without being a plot outline. This trailer for Somewhere is just a rich jerk and his daughter in a hotel, with not even a hint of character shape or direction: Trailer = D+. Wall Street 2: All = B, Scott Pilgrim: 1 = B-, 2 = A+, The Kids Are Alright = A-, Inception: 1 = C-, 2 = B+.)

par3182 said...

yes - i'm all for lazing around luxury hotels
no - that underwater tea party seems unbearably twee
maybe - sofia's track record (which is a yes, no and maybe in itself)

Jorge Rodrigues said...

NEVER LET ME GO trailer out - I liked it. Can I say... NOMS FOR CAREY AND KEIRA? :D

Plus Best Pic?

Blinking_Cursor said...

Why is there all this talk of strife within the Fanning household should Elle get an Oscar nomination before Dakota? This is not the first time I've read such comments on the Film Experience, and I'm wondering at why/how this came to be. I'm not overly familar with either of the Fanning sisters' oeuvre, but from what little I do know of them, they are said to be very close and supportive of one another. So what's with the snarky comments of alleged sisterly strife?

Glenn said...

Yes - Pretty much all of it. Giving a lead role to Dorff, the cinematography, the design, everything.

No - "Music by Phoenix". Oh FFS, Sofia. Her soundtracks are usually events in themselves, but if it's just going to be all Phoenix then that's disappointing. I want my 1980s new wave!

Maybe So - Not enough Stephen Dorff shirtless. Sure, there looks to be a nice amount of it, but perhaps not enough. We shall see.

robyn said...

I'm SUPER EXCITED for this, anyone who uses Stephen Dorff is good in my books, and Sophia always has killer soundtracks. Can't wait for this!

Michael W. said...

Don't worry people. Both Elle and Dakota will get an Oscar nom next year :D

And they will both lose to Juliannne Moore or Annette Bening (my guess is that one of them will be campaigned in supporting. Probably Moore).

But Somewhere looks absolutely fabulous. Just chillin' at the Chateau. That's too Hollywood for Hollywood to ignore.


@Blinking Cursor -- i think that ooh warring siblings thing happens pretty much anytime you have two famous people from same family. The reason people react like that especially in this case i'm sure is that Dakota Fanning has always seemed like a super ambitious adult trapped in child's body. Plus there's that SNL skit that basically had her fuming that Abigail Breslin was nominated before her.

It's all in good fun.

I have no doubt that eventually Dakota will make an Oscar race. But then I thought eventually it would happen for Drew Barrymore too so what do i know?

@Robyn -- agreed on the soundtracks

Mirko S. said...

Oscar buzz for Dorff, Jackie Chan and the two Fanning girls...it seems we could have an unconventional awards season this year and I'm glad about it!!!

Volvagia said...

Nat, I know this is off topic, but could you see Jonah Hex's score (by Mastodon) as a potential left field Oscar nomination?

Ian said...

Love the trailer! Can Stephen Dorff get an Oscar nod for this? It'd be the comeback story of the year if so. Good for him! I need my baity films back. This summer's been utter shit so far. This'll have to tide me over until December. Sigh.

It would be hilarious if Elle Fanning managed an Oscar nod befor Dakota does! I'd be mad catty at first too, no lie.

Peggy Sue said...

I wish Dorff was my daddy...

Agustin said...

@Blinking Cursor
I know they support each other, that's why I made the joke, it would really be sad if they actually have a feud over the golden little man, I really don't expect them to..
just thought it'd be funny
don't take everything so seriously!
oh and nat, I just found out that Olvia and Joan Foantaine are sisters!! wow
I really have to catch up with the classics

lylee2 said...

I'm a "yes" any time Sofia Coppola is involved - unless the film gets totally savaged by the critics (maybe even then).

"Marie Antoinette" is my favorite of her films so far, so your championing it warms my heart.

Blinking_Cursor said...

@Agustin and Nathaniel, thanks for the explanation. I wasn't criticizing the posts per se inasmuch as I was wondering why/how such comments originated (seen the like floating about in other columns dealing with the Fanning girls, so I got curious and was wondering if Dakota had some secret hidden diva streak that has just recently emerged at puberty or something).

BTW, Nathaniel, I think Drew Barrymore may eventually get Oscar nominated herself some day, too. You saw her in HBO's Grey Gardens, right? She was fabulous! She's got the acting chops (plus she's got the whole rags to riches to rags and back to riches personal story - AMPAS so do love a girl that picks herself by her bootstraps), so all she needs is the right role and director to get that golden nomination.

@Michael W., Elle has Somewhere as the oscar bait coming out this year, but what does Dakota have in the way of projects coming out soon that'd be oscar baity? If anything, I think Saoirse Ronan may be a contender too. She's got the Way Back and Hanna coming out. Also, I'd put Ellen Page as the dark horse contender for Best Supporting Actress for Inception. Yeah, I know Nolan isn't known for being a Women's Director, but I think if Inception takes the turn that I believe it will, and if it performs well at the box office, then Page may be remembered at nomination time. Though admittedly she's got a hard road to walk with Inception coming out in the summer and not in the Autumn and Winter months. She may not be on anyone's Oscar radar now (well, except for mine) but then again back in the early summer months of 2007, how many of us had heard of her pre Juno? Once Juno was released, she soon became one of the front runners along with La Marion and Julie Christie. Just sayin' she may yet be in it too, is all...

Michael W. said...


I have said since Sundance that Dakota Fanning will get nominated for The Runaways. I have to stick with that for as long as I can ;D

Dominik said...

Okay I won't rant too much about y I'm a total sucker for this Elle getting an Oscar nod/Dakota losing it scenario... it would be my perfect VH1 Ill-Ustrated episode ever... but that show has ended long ago I think, hasn't it. About SNL… no I’ll cut it short here…

Apart from that, once I choose posting I guess I can’t help ranting:

Re: the movie - on yes - I'm definitely gonna watch it, mostly because I wanna see what Elle Fanning can do. I have only consciously seen her in an episode of SVU and in Benjamin Button (what a disappointment and waste of time of a movie!). I'm always torn between liking and disliking Dakota, sometimes I think she's really an awesome actress, sometimes I think she tries too much. Something about Elle makes me view her as more natural, more normal, less uber-ambitious, less pretentious and less into herself than Dakota sometimes seems to be. So maybe she’s also more convincing as an actress, who knows. (And btw she’s a really cute and very pretty girl at only 12... – she does look older, but that doesn’t change that she’s still a kid)

Re: the movie – on no – the trailer does look like what made me be totally disappointed about LiT and not find TVS more than definitely above average: slow pace and seemingly no plot. Hope it’s not like that. Also I guess I share the concerns that it might be too much about the decadent lives of people who will never get the meaning of words like “economy crisis”.

Re: the movie – maybe so – if manipulative enough, any father-daughter-movie will drive me (close) to tears - and make me feel ashamed for being so easily manipulated in the same moment… and I still see a great chance it actually turns out to be good.

Re: Stephen Dorff – I’ve heard that name before. Back in the 90s. But I can’t connect it to anything, really. Uhm… if Coppola hadn’t cast him in „Somewhere“, wouldn’t ppl probably assume he’s dead or something?

Re: Oscar chances –
Dakota - @Michael W. – I’m really excited about the Runaways (I wonder if it will ever come out here in Germany, haven’t heard about it yet), but it was out in February in the US, right? So no one will remember it in Awards Season I think. Nod for Dakota – with the words of Brüno: Isch don’t think so!

Stephen Dorff – Isch don’t think so!

Elle – I totally saw it for her. Until I heard of the release date being December 22nd. Does that kill her chances? I’d say yes. But then again how come the nods for Last Station last year? I guess I’m still very far from understanding the Oscars…

But I have one rather strange theory what will work for her and against Dakota when it comes to Oscar nominations that I want to present: What do the last four people in a row (one boy, three girls) who were nominated for an Oscar before being 18 and Elle (and on a side note, myself, too) have in common? The star sign Aries: Haley Joel Osment was born 10/4/88, Keisha Castle Hughes 24/3/90, Abby Breslin 14/4/96, Saoirse Ronan 12/4/94, and Elle Fanning 9/4/98. So maybe pre-mature Oscar luck is all in the stars ;-) and though I’m furthest away from ever seeing the Kodak Theatre from the inside (and almost as far away from being still in my teens) that fact sort of makes me proud of my star sign. J

Talking about Oscar… Nathaniel you wrote you will soon update your Oscar predictions which I’m looking forward too, though I’m less excited than I was in April (that was still the buzz of the past season probably). AND I wanted to ask… what about this year's Best Actress Psychic Contest????


DOMINIK -- wow so much to consider. interesting factoid about the "aries" youngsters. unfortunately it's the sign that i don't tend to get along with in real life. at least so far ;)

as for your question about The Last Station. Prestige and career respect are really potent Oscar tools. The only way those nominations happened was because it was two legendary actors. Put a no name in either part and there'd be no nomination. Sometimes the name with the role is the most important factor. Younger actors have to really work a role that people respond to to get nominated. They don't have anything else to make people want to see them recognized. Everyone likes to see legendary people recognized even before they see the movie in question: witness how people always root for Meryl to win a 3rd befor her latest movie comes out.

Dominik said...

@Nathaniel: Well, we Arians, as a matter of fact, are difficult people! ;-)
And ... caught me... guilty... I was so rooting for Meryl's 3rd this year and heaven knows if I will ever see "Julie and Julia"!

Samson said...

I never got the vibe that Dakota Fanning was trying too hard in her films. I think it boils down to many people just not being comfortable with a young and poised actress that doesn't act her age (like that has to be a bad thing when it's not). She seems to have a level head on her shoulders, and all of this Elle Fanning getting a nod before her doesn't change that. Good for Elle if "Somewhere" is a hit, but that doesn't diminish Dakota's great talent and future Oscar prospects.