Somewhere: Driving in circles. Literally.

Somewhere: Driving in circles. Literally.

merrick morton

SOMEWHERE The climactic action set piece.

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Okeeeey dokey. Sofia Coppola sure has her thing, doesn't she? It's like, yes, Sofia. We catch your drift. Being rich is hard. Being famous is hard. Being attractive is hard. Being rich and famous and attractive all at once is so hard that you have built an entire career making one movie after another about its terrible, terrible hardness.

Somewhere, regrettably but unsurprisingly, is that same old yarn all over again—artfully crafted, intermittently amusing, relentlessly self-indulgent, and structurally identical to Lost in Translation. You've got your malaisical older male movie star (Stephen Dorff), your wiser-than-her-years younger female person (Elle Fanning), your unsubtitled foreign land (Italy), your humiliating press junkets, your vapid Hollywood bimbos, the false warmth of a hotel (Dorff's character lives at the Chateau Marmont—never a good sign), Rock Band instead of karaoke (gotta stay current), and even an updated version of that sad, empty phone conversation Scarlett Johansson has with her friend back home when she talks about going to a shrine and not feeling anything and her friend just can't be bothered to comprehend (the new version: "I'm fucking nothing. I'm not even a person." "Why don't you try volunteering or something?"). It's the samiest same-same that ever samed. But what's missing from Somewhere is Translation's affecting, any-port-in-a-storm resignation, the unassailable melancholic charm of Bill Murray, and that minty-fresh feeling that you haven't already fucking seen this movie when it was better and called Lost in Translation.

It's also clunkingly literal. Coppola opens the film with a scene in which Dorff drives his fancy Ferrari around and around and around in a circle in the dirty desert—the camera low and drawn back so that his speed appears slow and static. Get it? Luxury equals boredom. Fast equals slow. Driving in circles. Literally. Ferrari. Circles. Circles. Literally. In the end (spoi—zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz), Dorff marches toward the horizon in a straight line. Where is he going? Oh, I don't know... maybe... SOMEWHERE!?!?

Somewhere is a movie made by a famous person from a famous family about how hard it is to be famous. To be honest, despite what you might think from the above, I didn't actually mind watching it. There are some funny gags and that baby Fanning is a charmer. I just don't understand why it needs to exist. Psst! Sofia! Pro tip: Make a new movie next time! It is literally your job! I know from your movies that you think having a job is tedious, but everyone's job is tedious—THAT'S WHY IT'S A JOB. AND BTW, IT'S NOT LIKE YOU WORK IN A QUARRY OR SOMETHING. COMPLAIN TO ME WHEN YOU CATCH BLACK LUNG IN THE CRAFT SERVICES TENT. Jesus.


Comments (49) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
quite simply, lindy, i love you.
Posted by thewarren on January 5, 2011 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Haven't seen this yet, but I plan to this weekend.

I *love* Lost in Translation and don't see it as a movie about how much it sucks to be rich and famous. Scar Jo's character isn't rich and famous, after all, and the movie's half about her.

I'm sure if Sofia Coppola could climb through some mirror into an alternate reality where she was the daughter of poor quarry workers instead of rich Hollywood people, she'd totally do it, just like any of us would.

Or not. Either way, this looks good.
Posted by Amanda on January 5, 2011 at 6:08 PM · Report this
It is way too simplistic (and frankly lazy) to regurgitate the same brand of "oh poor rich girl whining from her gilded tower" criticism that was repeated to death in response to Lost in Translation. That's just a lot of easy populism bullshit. I can't fault Sofia Coppola for being rich and famous. What? Is she supposed to pretend that she's something she's not? Clearly she's an artist that seems to be working out the same (or similar) themes. That's fine with me. Let her work that shit out. In fact, in a media culture which expends so much time and effort keeping everyone spending like the good little brand worshiping, corporate slaves that we are, I applaud Coppola for suggesting that dreams of fame and fortune are empty endeavors without internal fulfillment.

There is much to like in Somewhere. It is definitely not the little masterpiece that Lost in Translation was. But I see lots of growth in Coppola's directing style. I think she showed tremendous restraint in her shot selection and a maturity in her pacing. That she demonstrated patience to hold shots and let them play out show a real step forward for her over her earlier more "actively cut" films. The opening set piece looked to me like an homage to Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny or one of those slow burn Gus Van Sant films. And some of the delicate zooms (like during the special effects make-up scene) were almost Kubrickian in their execution.

I'm not sure I appreciate casting Stephen Dorff as the lead. But Elle Fanning was brilliant. I hated the end the most. And Fanning's departure in the third act felt clumsy and implausible. But overall, the film was stylistically very European. Definitely worth seeing if you have the sensitivity to be receptive to what its selling (and don't have a some kind of blue collar chip on your shoulder because Coppola has the audacity to have more money than you).
Posted by cjboffoli on January 6, 2011 at 1:00 AM · Report this
Sat'n 4
Ms. West, apparently some chips from your blue collar have fallen onto your shoulder. You might want to brush them off before anybody tortures any more metaphors, or thinks you have blue dandruff.
Posted by Sat'n on January 6, 2011 at 9:55 AM · Report this
#2, 3 and 4,
The review didn't say the movie was bad because Sofia Coppola is rich, it said it was bad because it was the same movie as before. So don't get your Sofia fanboy, wanna-be rich but until that never arriving day destined to be a mere brown-noser panties in a bunch. You don't have to leap to the defense of a person infinitely more capable of marketing herself than yourselves.
Posted by Xavier on January 6, 2011 at 11:36 AM · Report this
katrat 6
Good God you are funny, Lindy.
Posted by katrat on January 6, 2011 at 12:03 PM · Report this
@5 I actually wasn't leaping to her defense, I was pointing out that knocking someone for the family she was born into is retarded. Don't get your Lindy fanboy panties in an uproar now.
Posted by Amanda on January 6, 2011 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Sat'n 8
Hey #5: I was commenting on #4's statement that West had a blue collar chip on her shoulder. You know, making fun of #4. Apparently in a very subtle way. Man, people get huffy over in this place. They should change its name to the Huffer.
Posted by Sat'n on January 6, 2011 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Ron Bennington 9
You had me at Clif Spab isn't and never will be John Winger
Posted by Ron Bennington on January 6, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Lindy West 10
Not bothered by her family/economic background. I'm fine with people telling their stories--the stories of rich people are as valid as any others. Loved Lost in Translation. Liked some things about Somewhere. But three movies in a row about rich people being bored (I am totally counting Marie Antoinette) is annoying. Just make a new movie, I said.
Posted by Lindy West on January 6, 2011 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Sometimes I wish you could write the entire Stranger by yourself. But, I understand that would be a lot of work. Maybe you could just take over some of the tunnel coverage?
Posted by clint on January 6, 2011 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Terrible, Terrible Hardness is the name of my band.
Posted by gi on January 6, 2011 at 2:55 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 13
Oh, it would be awesome if Lindy were assigned some tunnel coverage. I'm trying to keep up, but it's been deadly dull to sift through all of it.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on January 6, 2011 at 3:11 PM · Report this
Actually, from the supplementary materials present with whatever DVD release they have, now, of "Lost in Translation" I rather got the impression that Sofia Coppola was in love with Bill Murray; the whole movie, in that vein, was a parade of masturbation as her proxy "Charlotte" proceeded to engage with him in the makings of a romance.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on January 6, 2011 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Fox in Socks 15
I make it four, with The Virgin Suicides. Rich, bored, life is hard. Check check check.

When you do the same thing FOUR times it stops being repetition. It's an oeuvre. That's an important French word, to be taken seriously.
Posted by Fox in Socks on January 6, 2011 at 3:39 PM · Report this
@10, I agree with you except for the part about the stories of rich people being as valid as others. Actually, let me clarify that. I also loved "Lost in Translation", and thought "Somewhere" was meh. The difference for me was that "Lost in Translation" was about a man who happpened to be rich and famous, but was fundementally miserable. He was depressed and isolated despite his wealth. "Somewhere" was about a guy who was depressed because of his wealth. That doesn't elicit a lot of sympathy. I can't really put my finger on why this movie felt so different. Maybe it's just that I think Dorff blows.
Posted by annesmith on January 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
biffp 17
Talking about beating a dead horse. The Stranger never changes its tune on bloody antything. It's just the same points in over and over.

Lost in Translation was awesome. A lot of people missed the point. If you've travelled a lot, you got it. It was a sad movie about the temporariness of everything. I don't think it was bemoaning the pains of being rich.
Posted by biffp on January 6, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Oh shut the fuck up morons. Film makers are quite fucking allowed to work with the same theme over and over. Not everyone needs to be formally eclectic like the Coen Brothers. Believe it or not you novelty-starved fuckers, a body of work is allowed to be consistent, even repetitious. It has no bearing on the individual work of art.
Posted by Jizzlobber on January 6, 2011 at 3:54 PM · Report this
By morons, I mean Lindy and her loyal followers.
Posted by Jizzlobber on January 6, 2011 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Ron Bennington 20
I agree with 15. I agree with 18 if it's the end of the world that was the last can of beans.
Posted by Ron Bennington on January 6, 2011 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Here's another vote to put Lindy on the tunnel coverage - or anything else that she feels like writing that could use some entertainingness.
Posted by sassafras on January 6, 2011 at 4:55 PM · Report this
@18 " Film makers are quite fucking allowed to work with the same theme over and over."

Sure they are. Approaching projects that way would certainly lead to a life of boredom though (for the audience as well as the filmmaker).
Posted by clint on January 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM · Report this
I was sort of on the fence about you, but now I love you. Can you please be the new music editor?
Posted by New Fan on January 6, 2011 at 5:04 PM · Report this

That's why "Match Point" was such a good movie.

Because the bored rich people go and kill a Commoner.

Great ending too [No spoilers].
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on January 6, 2011 at 5:29 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 25
Nice. Now write this for Nicole Holofcener.
Posted by keshmeshi on January 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 26
@18 - What you say is true for other mediums - like, say, painting: You can be a respected artist by painting an endless series of cow skulls or flags, but it's hard to think of a great filmmaker who has taken that approach to movies.

Woody Allen has been making movies about how fucked up rich people are for years, but at least they're always fucked up in a different way.
Posted by Free Lunch on January 6, 2011 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Sooooo, this movie is a lot like LW's movie reviews then?

Actually, I didn't see an "AMIRITE?!" thrown in there, so that's good I guess.
Posted by frolicofmyown on January 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM · Report this
hydrozoa 28
speaking of same sameiness.
Posted by hydrozoa on January 6, 2011 at 6:50 PM · Report this
biffp 29
Seattle's moto should be, 'the same sameiness.' Why don't we all get a Prius or Subaru, not do our f'ing hair, shop at REI and work at Amazon or Microsoft? No wonder this town has less sex, less kids and hopes that its teams miss the playoffs and/or move to Oklahoma City.
Posted by biffp on January 6, 2011 at 7:36 PM · Report this
veo_ 30
I loved Marie Antoinette and Lost in Translation. I'll probably enjoy this film too.
Posted by veo_ on January 7, 2011 at 1:40 AM · Report this
Of the three Sofia Coppola films I've seen, the style and structure have varied significantly. Yes, the director is exploring very similar themes. Artists tend to do this. As far as I can tell, any dismissal of Coppola as a whiny little rich girl stems from either sexism or sour grapes or both. She is the real deal.
Posted by Amanda on January 7, 2011 at 3:44 AM · Report this
Sophia Coppola is a beautiful visual director, but her characters are always so under developed. She has the asthetics of an artist, but the writing abilities of your average inexperienced 20-year-old creative writing major. If she collaborated with a decent writer, I think she'd produce some great work.

Allison Anders' "Sugar Town" is a much better film that deals with the same themes, as is Altman's "Short Cuts."
Posted by I really want to like her, but.... on January 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Eric F 33
Momus ruined "Lost in Translation" for me, but I think it was for the best.
Posted by Eric F on January 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Sophia always has the prettiest movies. Too bad they're ALL boring as fuck.
Posted by DJ BJ on January 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM · Report this
I think the truth is somewhere in-between the extreme views expressed in these posts & reviews. Sofia Coppola is neither a masterful filmmaker of epic proportions, nor is she a hack.

I believe her movies are interesting and simple. She is fairly direct about what she wants to portray, and does it elegantly. As is well documented, her plots and insights are not incredibly deep. Some like her style, some don't. It's not a big deal.
Posted by fanta@ on January 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Lindy West writes the same insincere poseur nothing-is-good-enough review over and over again, whether it's Din Tai Fung, "Somewhere," or Gold Bond Foot Powder:

"What the FUCK this thing is just terrible. Fucking terrible. Whatevs. Not worth it."

Can anyone cite a Lindy West review where she actually says she likes something, or at least discusses the pros and cons of the review subject with sincerity and earnestness, instead of profanity-laced indignation? Never, which is why the hipster-er-than-thou attitude is tiresome and hollow and phony after a while.

After all, if nothing is ever good enough for her, why is she even reviewing anything??

Funny that when it comes to Lindy West's own blogs and reviews, sameness is OK, but when it's Coppola it's fucking terrible.
Posted by billytee on January 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Lindy West writes the same insincere poseur nothing-is-good-enough review over and over again, whether it's Din Tai Fung, "Somewhere," or Gold Bond Foot Powder:

"What the FUCK this thing is just terrible. Fucking terrible. Whatevs. Not worth it."

Can anyone cite a Lindy West review where she actually says she likes something, or at least discusses the pros and cons of the review subject with sincerity and earnestness, instead of profanity-laced indignation? Never, which is why the hipster-er-than-thou attitude is tiresome and hollow and phony after a while.

After all, if nothing is ever good enough for her, why is she even reviewing anything??

Funny that when it comes to Lindy West's own blogs and reviews, sameness is OK, but when it's Coppola it's fucking terrible.
Posted by billytee on January 8, 2011 at 3:53 PM · Report this
And yes...I felt so strongly I said it TWICE.

BT Dubs, Lindy....loved your Gallagher review. That is the highlight of your writing career. Hope to see your review next time Gallagher comes through town again...but not before. Unless you find something you can discuss without your poseur persona.
Posted by billytee on January 8, 2011 at 3:57 PM · Report this
Lindy, you're the best. and so fucking funny. I'd say more about how the anti-Lindy comments upset me, but I have to go drive circles in my Ferrari. It's going to be super boring, but someone has to get the job done.
Posted by jicarh on January 8, 2011 at 10:17 PM · Report this
Rev. Adam McKinney 40
@36 & 37

Off the top of my head, she loved "Never Let Me Go." Clearly that was a movie that was "good enough." Most movies are not.…
Posted by Rev. Adam McKinney on January 9, 2011 at 4:24 AM · Report this
Seeds 41
It's pretty funny, the columnist who submitted unfinished columns in place of a finished one telling a director of a completed movie to do her job.
Posted by Seeds on January 9, 2011 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Seeds 42
@29.. we also all hope that whiners who can't make a go of it in the Northwest would just shut the fuck up and go back to where they came from.
Posted by Seeds on January 9, 2011 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 43
@36: She liked The Eclipse.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on January 10, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
That girl needs to step out of her own shadows, shake the familial cinema tree a little harder. How about putting Murray in a little slapstick paternal send-up called "The Beardfather" or even rousting cousin Nick up for a little farce-like sorta sendup called "Francis Ford Got Scary." And what then, say -- supposing her at least to be still on some sort of decent speaking terms with Bobby Duvall and/or Martin Sheen -- could possibly go wrong with plundering those same fertile Philippine rice paddy locations for no less than the ultimate father-daughter VietNam encore epic -- "Apocalypse in Translation."
Posted by the shirtcocker on January 10, 2011 at 9:08 PM · Report this
another classic "the stranger" film review. i get more kicks reading the user comments than the review itself. but first and foremost, i don't know lindy west, so i can't call her a poseur / hipster... as others have mentioned. i suppose it is more entertaining to tear-down the merits of a movie as a critic, than to praise them. but, i for one have enjoyed all projects from sofia coppola, including 'somewhere'. and yes, i think it does take a certain breed of viewer to really digest and understand her films. the pacing tends to be deliberately slow, along with subtle mood and character building. nothing is "in your face". in my opinion, her style is one to be closely watched, and savored. i put this flick ahead "marie antoinette", but behind "the virgin suicides, and "lost in translation".
Posted by Eugene Rushmore on January 10, 2011 at 9:41 PM · Report this
I like you people. I'm from Boston and we're not snarky enough here. How did I get on this site? Dunno. Anyway, rock on Seattle.
Posted by PeaceBang on January 11, 2011 at 11:53 PM · Report this
I read today about Bill Murray's presentation speech for Coppola's special fimmaking prize from the National Board of Review. A NYT blog printed it in full, and here's the closer:
I want the best for her because she’s a lady, she acts like a lady. The women in her movies are ladies, they have strength and they have power and they’re strong. Even the pole dancers in this movie had enough of themselves to call the lead actor a moron, as all you women should call your men this evening – pole or not. Give her a boost to say, go on, you’ve made it this far, push her out into the deep water, push her out into bigger and deeper films, more and more films. She has a beautiful eye, she has great taste in the people she chooses to work with, she’s a kind and thoughtful director and editor and producer. She’s all the things that we hoped we could be when we work like this. She’s been lucky so far and she’s been strong so far. Let’s keep her going. I appreciate your asking her to receive this award for filmmaking achievement. Miss, Ms. Ms. Ms. Sofia Coppola.…
Posted by gloomy gus on January 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Judas Priest, it's so easy for anyone to take one parting glance at this has-been review, you, Lindy West, have so carefully scripted, and say "You are so entertaining! La la la!" ...Which is exactly what you had in mind, right? But, I got so bored with your predictable wording that by the time I reached your ALL CAPS LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME moment, I realized The Stranger is not The NY Times, but at least their writer took the time to not sound like a jaded little hipster. It is not uncool to love Sofia Coppola. It's also not uncool to admit that her style is legit consistent, but certainly not dull, overplayed, or even close to a replica of Lost In Translation. If anything, Sofia continues to prove that she is capable of depicting the male protagonist in a way that other directors and writers fail to fully capture without throwing themselves into the pitfalls of typical Hollywood shit.
If anything, she has a distinct voice in the business, something that anyone could walk into blindly, and recognize as hers. She incorporates elements that are far too damn genius for you to even fathom. The audience who GETS IT and has a hot crush on cinematic aesthetics will surely disregard your forgetful review, much like I have just forgotten your name.
Posted by kimhoffman on January 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM · Report this
6 49
I will read a review about any movie as long as Lindy West writes about it. I've never even heard of this movie, but I read the review because I saw her name attached to it. I'll probably do the same thing next week. Thank you for being you, Lindy!
Posted by 6 on January 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this

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