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A Coppola Family Conversation, or ‘The Bling Ring’ Movie Review

by Warren Cantrell on June 21, 2013

in Print Reviews,Reviews

Editor’s Note: Scene-Stealers’ west-coast correspondent, Warren Cantrell, has been largely silent since his last SIFF 2013 dispatch.  It should be noted that this is due in large part to the trauma he endured during that Film Festival’s screening of The Bling Ring: a movie that threw Mr. Cantrell into a frozen state of petrified shock from which the man is only just now beginning to emerge.  Before passing into this catatonic waking-coma of sorts, Warren penned a short piece of fiction (below) that Scene-Stealers is running as one of its reviews of The Bling Ring.  Aside from this fictional conversation-review, the only other evidence we have of Warren’s reaction to the film is the rambling, four-word statement that he didn’t stop repeating for eight straight days after viewing The Bling Ring: “rock fist way down.  Rock fist way down.  Rock fist way down…”


[Setting: An adult father and daughter exit an empty theater together.]


Sofia Coppola: Well!  What did you think, Dad?


Francis Ford Coppola: Huh?  What?


Sofia Coppola: I saaaaaid.  What did you think?


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, yeah!  I really like the title.  The Bling Ring!  It really pops, sweetheart!


Sofia Coppola: Yeah, but Daaaaaaaad: what did you think of the movie?  How was it?


Francis Ford Coppola: Huh?  What?


Sofia Coppola: Dad, I think you need to see that ear doctor again.  You usually seem to hear fine, but whenever we get out of an advance screening of one of my movies, you seem to…


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, that.  Oh, no, honey: I thought you did a great job.  Really.  I mean, you never saw any of the film crew, or equipment, and the sound was all dubbed really well, and you got all your friends in there, like Kirsten Dunst, and Paris Hilton.  That was swell!


Sofia Coppola: Yeah, Dad, but what did you think of the movie, like, you know, the story and the actors and stuff.  Did you like it?


Francis Ford Coppola: Of course I did, sweetheart!


Sofia Coppola: Really?  Like, super-duper good?


Francis Ford Coppola: Absolutely, princess.


Sofia Coppola: Like, as good as The Godfather?


Francis Ford Coppola: Watch your goddamned mouth, young lady.


Sofia Coppola: Sorry, Dad.


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, it’s okay, I know you get carried away sometimes, princess.


Sofia Coppola: Well, what would have made it good like that?


Francis Ford Coppola: Come on, now.  You don’t want to do this again.


Sofia Coppola: No, dad, please.  I want to try again.


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, I don’t know.


Sofia Coppola: Please, Dad!  Please!


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh…you know I could never say no to you.  Okay, come on, have a seat over here.  Let’s chat.


Sofia Coppola: So, what was wrong with it, Dad?


Francis Ford Coppola: Well, golly.  Now that you’ve put me on the spot, I’m gonna need a minute…it’s just that there’s so much to…well, okay, for starters, your movie is about a bunch of L.A. teenagers who rob celebrities, right?


Sofia Coppola: Yep!


Francis Ford Coppola: Well, that’s not the most likable set of characters, is it?  I mean, if you’re going to make a movie, you should have at least one character that the audience can root for.  The Bling Ring doesn’t even have that.


Sofia Coppola: You think?  What about the Marc (Israel Broussard) character?


Francis Ford Coppola: Jesus, honey.  Are you stoned or something?  He was the least developed of the lot.  Just because you gave him the most screen time doesn’t mean I, as an audience member, have any idea who he is, or why he’s doing the things he does.  He mentioned at one point that he got expelled from his old school for skipping too many classes, and it was pretty clear early on that he was gay, but that doesn’t explain why he got involved with Rebecca (Katie Chang) and the robberies.


Sofia Coppola: Well, I thought I made it obvious that these kids all had parents without a clue.  I mean, look at where we are as a society, dad.


Francis Ford Coppola: Where is that, exactly?  Your movie definitely didn’t have anything specific to say about that, just a handful of conflicting adult cut-outs playing mostly ignored roles.  Marc and Rebecca’s parents seemed totally hands-off, yet what about that horrible Nikki (Emma Watson) character?  Her mom, the one played by Leslie Mann, she was all involved and super nurturing.  So what’s the message?  That parents should be more attentive, or less?


Sofia Coppola: I wanted to make a point about how none of these parents really knew what was going on in the lives of their children.


Francis Ford Coppola: But you painted each of these kids as an unredeemable monster who had no real concern about their future, the consequences of their actions, or the opinions of non-celebrity adults in their lives.  As an audience member, I gave up on liking them after about five minutes.  Why should their parents be any different?  Yet even that seemingly interesting plot point went unexplored, you know, about why the parents might have gone this route.  Your movie spent infinitely more time watching these kids trying on clothes than exploring the motivations or backgrounds of any of their characters.


Sofia Coppola: Yeah, but didn’t you see all those scenes where Leslie Mann’s character was giving her kids Adderall?


Francis Ford Coppola: Again, baby, what’s your point?


Sofia Coppola: That these parents aren’t helping their kids, they’re just medicating them, and turning them loose on the internet and TMZ for raising.


Francis Ford Coppola: So they’re all gonna grow up worshipping celebrities and turn to a life of high-end crime?


Sofia Coppola: Well, no…


Francis Ford Coppola: So what was the point of all this?  You had some kids on medication, others that weren’t, some kids who were suffocated by their parents, others that weren’t, yet all of them ended up on a celebrity crime spree.  So what are you trying to say?  That all of America’s youth is fucked?  That’s a real fun afternoon for your audiences.  “Hey, everyone: the world sucks, and my movie spends the better part of an hour and a half reveling in that.”  And speaking of that, honey, I got to be honest, I know I mentioned it before, but this was less of a movie, and more of a strung-out series of scenes where spoiled brats tried on clothes and jewelry for what seemed like hours.


Sofia Coppola: Daaaaad!


Francis Ford Coppola: I’m sorry, but you didn’t even try to structure this thing into a series of acts.  This was just an excuse for you to cast beautiful people in a project that played out like the worst parts of an America’s Most Wanted or Unsolved Mysteries re-creation skit.  Shit, at least those programs had actors, and scenes that amounted to more than a collection of “does this look good on me?” moments.  And where’d you find these kids, anyway?  Watching this thing, it looked like they were reading off cards just out of shot.


Sofia Coppola: Now you’re just being mean.


Francis Ford Coppola: No, mean is charging people money to watch The Bling Ring, princess.  I haven’t heard dialogue tumble out of somebody that badly since I directed Keanu in Dracula.


Sofia Coppola: That was a low-blow, Dad.


Francis Ford Coppola: I’m sorry, sweetheart.  It’s just that you didn’t really do anything with The Bling Ring.  It was just an hour and a half of spoiled, overly-indulged brats whining about the things they want, and laughing off every real-world consequence that gets in the way of their materialistic fantasy-land.


Sofia Coppola: Um, yeah?  Now I get to say it: What’s your point?


Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, honey.  I know I always told you ‘write what you know,’ but in this case, I think you’d be better off branching out a little.  I think the world might not be ready for your particular brand of entitled rich-kid drama.  Living a carefree life without serious consequence is something we Hollywood folk revel in, but the peasants out there, I think they get tired of seeing stories about rich people taking whatever they want, and suffering only the most minimal consequences as a result.


Sofia Coppola: But that’s all I know, Dad.


Francis Ford Coppola: I know, sweetheart.  I know.  Hey, I know what will make you feel better!  Let’s go home and look at that Oscar of yours.


Sofia Coppola: Yeah?


Francis Ford Coppola: Yeah, princess.  After all these years, I still can’t believe we duped the Academy into giving you that!  Let’s go have a chuckle.


Sofia Coppola: Thanks, Dad!


“Obvious Child” is the debut novel of Warren Cantrell, a film and music critic based out of Seattle, Washington. Mr. Cantrell has covered the Sundance and Seattle International Film Festivals, and provides regular dispatches for Scene-Stealers and The Playlist. Warren holds a B.A. and M.A. in History, and his hobbies include bourbon drinking, novel writing, and full-contact kickboxing.


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