At first glance, the public life of Sofia Coppola looks like a straightforward G.W. Bush scenario—a clear-cut case of nepotism gone wild, on steroids, and then additionally on crack. Bush and Coppola both prove that even the most incompetent of humans can be greased up and gently nudged into humanity's collective poop chute. All it takes is a juicy enough surname.
Here's the thing, though. Bush was an amateur at dabbling. His sole pre-presidency fling, co-owning the Texas Rangers, was an entirely rational pursuit for a rich, white, MBA-holding Texan man. And after his 8-year fling of flinging feces at the human race, he definitely seemed to recognize the limits of nepotism. He never, for example, attempted to be Pope, or UN General Secretary, or any sort of intergalactic envoy.
Certainly he was never one-one-thousandth as shitty an actress as Sofia Coppola. And he's never made even one bad movie. Coppola has directed four:
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999)
She gets a free pass on this, her merely yawny coming out party. The worst you can say about this movie is that it helped inflict Josh Hartnett on the world, and that it is genuinely drab and awful.
LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003)
This is where things get screwy. Somehow this plotless romp through a luxury Valhalla made $115 million, which is the same sum of cash it took to build Florida's Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. It also won Best Original Screenplay, which is kind of like a stinky piece of dogshit getting elected to Congress and then winning Best Original Screenplay. SEE: 2004 ELECTION
MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006)
The ultimate Poor Little Rich Girl fantasy is also the ultimate non-movie, a single, agonizingly stretched-out "long beat" that is itself buried under several tons of designer costumes and fancy cakes. This is the movie that made the 1 percent weep with envy like the grimiest 99 percenter hobo.
Since I haven't seen this one, I'll have to paraphrase what I'm guessing is the plot. Pampered socialite Stephen Dorff grows despondent after his butler chokes on a ruby. He spends his days puttering around his 9,000 square acre Hollywood vineyard and acting out scenes from his childhood, when he was a little girl running up and down the hallways of various European castles with his beloved pet lynx, Bullion.
Coppola frequently weathers critiques as a woman director, which seems unfair. For one thing, that category doesn't really exist. There are no women directors, only directors who happen, also, to be women. Her lavishly funded emotional obesity offers no reflection on the works of Kathryn Bigelow, or Mary Harron, or Leni Riefenstahl. If you are an amateur movie critic or blogger or person who likes talking about movies loudly on public buses, do not take up this argument, lest you look stupid and piggish.
It is, however, completely fair to criticize Coppola as a human director who is giving a profound black eye to all other humans. What if aliens from Vega catch a broadcast of Virgin Suicides when TV beams reach their system in 2025? What if they watch her subsequent films and, deciding that humans are a pack of preening dilettante debutantes, wormhole to Earth and demand an explanation?
"What is the meaning of these terrible films?" the Vegans will ask.
"But Lost In Translation won Best Original Screenplay," the 86-year-old intergalactic envoy GW Bush will say.
Then the enraged Vegans will incinerate the Earth. How is that fair??
Previously - Flung Condom