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Film Comment says Bling Ring “Casts such a Lovely Spell”

The first review of note for Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is by Kent Jones for Film Comment, calls it among her best, alongside Lost in Translation and Somewhere:

Like Somewhere, The Bling Ring sneaks up on you. Somewhere during the first visit to Paris Hilton’s house (if it isn’t the real thing, it could just as well be), you might find yourself, as I did, alternately charmed, mesmerized, and horrified by the lives of the characters and the homes they enter. Halfway through the film, Marc and Rebecca wander through what is supposedly Orlando Bloom’s open-plan house at night, viewed from an exquisite remove several tiers above in the Hollywood hills, the sounds of howling coyotes and wailing police sirens quietly echoing in the distance—a suspended spell of uncanny beauty, and one of the most beautifully lyrical stretches I’ve seen in a movie in ages.

I’m not sure if Coppola’s film ends as satisfactorily as it might have—resolving a narrative about characters who lead unmotivated lives does present its dramatic problems—but I don’t think it matters all that much. Unlike Spring Breakers, with which the film will inevitably be compared (alongside Schrader’s The Canyons), The Bling Ring goes about its business quietly but with a tremendous purity of focus. The film casts such a lovely spell that its full force may hit only after the lights come up.

Thanks to @theDeepPink for the tip.

30 Comments on this Post

  1. Bryce Forestieri

    I like THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and nothing else

  2. I don’t have anything against Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation was great), but she never seems to evolve in her filmography. She needs to expand out of her comfort zone a little.

  3. Like David O. Russell. He shows us all sorts of lower-middle class misfits screaming at each other in a myriad of towns across the US.

  4. I get the SLP hate (Wells didn’t make that movie endearing), but Russell made Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. Coppola hasn’t reached out like that.

  5. K. Bowen

    Coppola is one of the most accomplished American filmmakers of her generation. If her name were Sofia Smith, she would be much more greatly appreciated.

  6. Also, if her first name were Scott.

  7. The Pope

    Yeah, I wish Michael Mann would stop obsessing over men and their work. I mean, come on. But you know, what’s wrong with working in your wheel house? It’s like complaining that Degas only depicted ballet dancers or that Monet like lilies. So what? She does it better than anyone else. And it can’t be said often enough, capturing ephemera and providing insight into people who are inherently is no mean achievement.

  8. Jerry

    So it’s like every other movie she has made. That’s disappointing because the trailer made it seem like she was going out of her comfort zone for once. Oh well at least her fans will love it.

  9. Inherently what? The sentence isn’t quite finished. Not trying to be a dick, just want to know what you meant.

  10. Maria Antoinette was my personal favorite. Talk about casting a spell. All the others, well, I can leave them for everyone else to enjoy.

  11. Why does she “need” to? Some of us LIKE the movies she makes.

  12. The Pope

    Mal,

    Thanks for pointing that out to me! I meant to type “people who are inherently shallow.”

    I think that is part of Coppola’s great talent. Like Antonioni, she can take the surface and move deeper than it. Like Antonioni, she deals in detachment, ennui and alienation.

    But these kids seem on another plain altogether.

    I find the criticism of Coppola to be tiresome and trite. A little bit like complaining about John Ford and westerns. Sure, he worked in other genres but that was a different era when the studio system afforded a director the opportunity to churn out a picture or two every single year. Now it’s different yet, if anyone were to bother to examine her films closely, they will see great variation between each one. The only similarity is the surface.

    Coppola is one of a kind.

  13. I’d rather she write and direct stuff she has a good, firm grasp on than pretending to be some Capra-esque poser like Jason Reitman, a director who never gets questions about his family or that his skills of director are questioned with the notion he is only in his position because his father was once a good director.

  14. As a DOR fan, I can say one of his most consistent touches is finding mania in the setting and characters of his movies. He’s like a cocaine-binge Fassbinder at his best. At his worst he can read like TV network production notes to make a sitcom edgier which was SLP, that I’d still re-watch but not before Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter or Spanking the Monkey.

    I personally think Marie Antoinette as a Lost & Translation follow-up was very different and very risky. And I cannot really say that you could make the jump from believing The Virgin Suicides to Lost & Translation is retreading ground aside from both having excellent soundtracks.

  15. I love Kent Jones. If I could make his piece on The Master my new bedroom wallpaper, I’d do it. His recent piece on how ill-conceived Tarantino’s racism charge against John Ford was is also fantastic.

    Kent is not only a great mind and film critic/theorist but a great champion of certain movies. If he thinks The Bling Ring is great, my anticipation just rose a little a more.

  16. Bryce Forestieri

    Tarantino just feels threatened by Ford’s respect-commanding persona. The man never talked about his movies and when he did he was to put it nicely, economical, Tarantino on the other hand can speak all night about the same trash.

  17. The piece is incredible:
    http://www.filmcomment.com/article/intolerance-quentin-tarantino-john-ford

    “Tarantino’s ill-chosen words more or less force a comparison between his recent films and Ford’s. As brilliant as much of Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds are, they strike me as relatively straight-ahead experiences—there is nothing in either film to de-complicate; by contrast, one might spend a lifetime contemplating The Searchers or Wagon Master or Young Mr. Lincoln (39) and continually find new values, problems, and layers of feeling. And while Tarantino’s films are funny, inventive, and passionately serious about racial prejudice, there is absolutely no mystery in them—what you see really is what you get. Within the context of American cinema, Django is a bracing experience . . . until the moment that Christoph Waltz shoots Leonardo DiCaprio, turns to Jamie Foxx, and exclaims: “I’m sorry—I couldn’t resist.” The line reading is as perfect as the staging of the entire scene, but this is the very instant that the film shifts rhetorical gears and becomes yet another revenge fantasy—that makes five in a row. Is revenge really the motor of life? Or of cinema? Or are they interchangeable? Or whatever, as long as you know what side you’re on?”

  18. murtaza

    Somewhere was horrendous, i’ll never get my 90 mins back. one of the most terrible films i could barely sit through. Still don’t know what Coppola wanted to achieve out of it. Miserable last attempt she left on me.

  19. Jpns Viewer

    I quite liked Lost in Translation. *The indie aspect in terms of production, financing money, etc. though, didn’t really impress me since there are many great films, let’s say, from Japan, China and South Korea to begin with, that consumed as equal an amount of relatively lower budget than US-based big-studios’ total as Lost; but I was not dissing her nor that film.*

    Anyway, to be honest, I am looking forward to this film for Coppola’s name […] to it, what could become of her own angle about the incident, as well as the buzz around her as a director, and to an extent that about Watson, as well.

    Lost’s got it somewhere in the B scale, that is, B-, B or B+, personally from me. So, I am hoping this one will do around B- or B; given Coppola’s good name, etc., anything lower than B is a letdown to me in this case. . . . Just say’n.

  20. JeremyEM

    Sofia Coppola does not set out to make films that will have a broad appeal. It is not news that the vast majority of people would find ‘Somewhere’ boring.

    I for one am very glad that she gets to make films even though they are not commercial.

  21. Jpns Viewer

    Correction: I mean anything lower than B-, not just lower than B, (for The Bling Ring) is a letdown to me.

  22. Plenty filmmakers who have famous parents will get crap if their work isn’t good enough. Sofia Coppola and Godfather Part III and (to a point) Marie Antoinette, Roman Coppola and that Charles Swan film, hell all of the Coppola clan have gotten flank now and again.

  23. Somewhere? Somewhere is one of the worst films you’ve ever seen? Literally? It was SO bad you had to label it that? Geez…you’d think that movie was made by Uwe Boll with a remark like that.

  24. Gentle Benj

    It’s not just the positive nature of this notice that encourages me, but the tone of it. “Suspended spell of uncanny beauty,” yes! There are plenty of directors working today who are rightly praised for making tight, sharp films, but Coppola is one of the few who can create something much more diffuse while still delivering a tremendous emotional payload. First that trailer, and now this; my anticipation is going through the roof for this one.

  25. Richard Crawford

    …the movie is wildly entertaining…

  26. Richard Crawford

    K. Bowen…Yes!

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