CQ (2002)
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Review Date: June 24, 2002
Director: Roman Coppola
Writer: Roman Coppola
Producers: Gary Marcus
Jeremy Davies
Angela Lindvall
Giancarlo Giannini
It's the late 60s in Europe and a struggling film editor with lush dreams just got a shot at directing a major motion picture after the original director gets fired and his replacement gets into a car accident. He's also recording his own life on film, a habit which consistently rubs his live-in French girlfriend, the wrong way. Pretentiousness ensues?
I enjoyed this flick overall because of its awesome set design, its authenticity, its fun behind-the-scenes "movie making" scenarios, its groovy tunes and the way by which it intersected the two films within. Having said that, this is definitely not a movie for everyone, as it does feel very personalized to the director (who just so happens to be the son of mega-director, Francis Ford Coppola), with lots of inside movie winks, obvious homages to films of the past (the entire movie within this movie is a major tip of the hat to BARBARELLA-John Philip Law shows up here as well) and ultimately, a lead character who isn't the most interesting person in the world. I too found myself not really caring about this dude halfway through the movie (he seemed a little too self-involved for me to give a crap about-and sadly reminded me of me and my last two years behind this damn computer...but I digress), but like I said right off the top, the film does have a very unique look to it, the directing is inspired and well...the lead chick is a total hottie (any film that starts off with a shot of a naked girl on a bed, with her muff in full view...can't be all bad, I always say). What I also really dug about the film was that it was set in the movie industry. Being that I myself am also a budding screenwriter and adore movies as much as nachos (the combo is killer), it was very easy for me to relate to the people in the film, and ultimately to the self-absorbed lead dude, played surprisingly, understated by Jeremy Davies. Granted, he was basically doing his best "young Tarantino" impression, right down to the Res Dogs suit, but at least he seems to have finally moved past his annoying "stuttering, fragile" guy character, which he played ad infinitum in other flicks.

The rest of the cast was also a lot of fun, especially Giancarlo Giannini, who is hilariously over-the-top as the Italian film producer who's made 83 movies...I mean, 50 movies...I mean, 37 movies (funny stuff) and Jason Schwartzmann (the director's cousin in real-life), also jumping head-first into a young, pompous, untalented film director's shoes and so obviously, cherishing every minute of it. Both of them were a lot of fun to watch on screen. What wasn't as interesting was the back-and-forth between Davies and his French chickiedee, but being as the movie is very intertwined, and basically goes back and forth between the story that we're watching, and the film that the lead character is filming, it was generally quite entertaining. In fact, the movie within this movie was a blast on its own, with Billy Zane playing the leader of a rebel faction on Mars and the special effects and sci-fi action really jazzing it all up. I also liked how it was ultimately all resolved and the message instilled within. Some of it reminded me of Tom DiCillo's wonderful LIVING IN OBLIVION (what ever happened to that guy?) but with a funky 60s twist. Definitely a solid debut for Roman Coppola, and even though it does overpersonalize the situations a little and get somewhat pretentious (as opposed to just pretending to be pretentious), it also delivers an interesting hour and a half of movie-making neuroses and entertainment...and that's always cool. Anyway, see it if you dig on old school flicks, enjoy cheesy sci-fi movies intermixed with arty Italian/French fare, love just "watching" a movie (it's gorgeously shot) and appreciate actors having fun on screen. Definitely a film to seek out if you enjoy quirky, creative projects outside of the norm.

BTW, if you didn't think there were enough Coppolas involved in the production, look for Roman's sister, Sofia, cameo-ing as the Italian producer's mistress. Natch!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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