A Certain Something Somewhere

Somewhere posterSofia Coppola’s Somewhere (2010), speaks much the same language as her terrific film of 2003, Lost in Translation.  It is about a fictional A-list movie actor, Johnny Marco, who would seem to have everything — great success in his career, great wealth and fame, and a bright, vivacious 11-year-old daughter.  But Johnny Marco is a man adrift; his existence is almost entirely hollow.  Almost, because there is one thing saving his soul from complete emptiness:  his daughter.

I am continuously surprised to find that these sporadic little titles that I like have been given Roger Ebert’s top recommendation:

Coppola is a fascinating director. She sees, and we see exactly what she sees. There is little attempt here to observe a plot. All the attention is on the handful of characters, on Johnny. He has attained success in his chosen field, and lost track of the ability to experience it. Perhaps you can stimulate yourself so much for so long that your sensitivity wears out. If Johnny has no inner life and his outer life no longer matters, then he’s right: He’s nothing.

Coppola presents Johnny Marco’s existence in a matter-of-fact, deadpan way that will remind you of Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.  A lot of people might really hate this movie: there is no big car chase explosions, or high-stake drug heists, or vengeance killings — or anything even a tenth so dramatic.  But I found Somewhere compelling and entertaining.  8/10

I Ain’t Likin’ It

Bodies Saints-posterI had been looking forward to Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for months as the next big dramatic indie of the year, following The Place Beyond the Pines and Mud (see prior posts).  My expectations of something good — based on the trailer and a cool poster — makes me dislike this film even more for how terrible it is.

It’s story was like a trimmed-down Mud, (6/10) — but very trimmed down.  Mud combined the familiar outlaw on the lam trying to get back to his love theme with a boy’s perspective à la Stand By Me.  Mud was more complex, and infinitely better.  Ain’t Them Bodies Saints has a paper-thin plot and supposedly smoldering, smoky and deep performances by the stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (to see him with the Texas drawl — which he nails again in Saints — but in a good movie, watch The Killer Inside Me).  Affleck and Mara aren’t remarkable here, but I think do what the director asks of them.  But the director had no vision.

It’ll be a sin if Rooney Mara is nominated for her role here — which I doubt will happen — instead of for her job in Side Effects, a much better movie.  I will give one positive: the small-town Texas sheriff is portrayed as a nice guy, bucking the obvious stereotype.  If you’re curious about this movie, watch the trailer — you won’t get any more  out of the non-story which is Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.  Such a waste.  2/10