Somewhere and Nowhere

Sofia Coppola’s films observe protagonists who have a lot, and yet feel nothing. I saw “The Bling Ring” a few days ago. It’s a good film, but has no heart. It could be that Coppola avoids judgment on purpose, to underline the emptiness of the privileged Hollywood Hills kids who covet the equally empty lives of celebrities. The film is visually striking, with a soundtrack that provides a sort of commentary on the culture that spawns consumerism.

“Lost in Translation” and “Somewhere” are thematically connected to “The Bling Ring”. Film stars and wanna be stars. Detached and disconnected. Bill Murray is the best thing about “Lost in Translation”. Scarlett Johansson manages an understated performance, letting us believe how she and Murray are in the same universe, for that one time, in Japan that seems like über Hollywood in a distorted mirror.

When Stephen Dorff forgets that he is cool, he can turn in a tremendously appealing performance. There are only glimpses of that in “Somewhere”. Like “The Bling Ring”, “Somewhere” is about emptiness, boredom. I found it meandering. Dorff’s character, unlike Murray in “Lost in Translation”, was not very sympathetic.

Coppola is an auteur reluctant to show emotion in her films. Her approach is cool and distanced, even when she depicts the world she knows intimately. It will be interesting to see if this will be her signature, or if she ventures out into a new territory.

I revisited an old territory today. A neighbourhood next to mine, fairly affluent, mixed demographic, families and singletons (undateable). One street with many mid-century modern buildings, usually commercial office space. Insurance companies seem to appreciate modern architecture. A couple of the buildings retrofitted into condo buildings. An inspired idea. They are mid rises, austere and yet beautiful I love the landscaping in front of one of them, spare tall grasses and lilac-colored flowers. It sort of emits warmth and serenity. The new condo towers look so shabby in comparison, shapeless blocks of cement and glass.

A new condo building is going up next to the cemetery. It’s way too tall. It will loom over the gravestones and the trees, incongruent with its surroundings. The men who work on the construction site have no weight issues. Nor do they worry about what to say and how to say it. They remind me of old posters showing the proletariat at work. Physical labour valued and admired.

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