Sofia Coppola, Emma Watson, And A (Gratuitous) Comparison Between THE BLING RING And SPRING BREAKERS

Posted: June 25, 2013 by Kiki Malone in Film Reviews, Kiki Malone
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A few scattered thoughts in response to seeing The Bling Ring:

– I like the way Sofia Coppola uses her films to follow interesting young women in extreme circumstances: a group of desperately overly -sheltered sisters in The Virgin Suicides; a lonely American bride in Japan hoping for connection in Lost In Translation; a young princess thrust into unending wealth and worship in Marie Antoinette; a daughter grappling for her famed obsessed father in Somewhere. And now, in The Bling Ring, Coppola focuses on celebrity and fashion kowtowing young women so driven by immediacy they steal artifacts of the life they desire rather than build a life of their own. As a girl raised in an extreme life herself – making her film debut as the christened baby in The Godfather – Coppola’s films debunk the notion that money and fame, even love, complete a person. Sadly, all of Coppola’s films end with deferred hopes and sick hearts. Sure, her characters progress from trusting the empty thing/person they hoped would satisfy, but they never find their satisfaction. For once, I’d like to see Coppola’s heroine succeed, simply that I might know what solace – the lost source of gaping ache – looks like to Sofia Coppola.

– Emma Watson will be one of our next great Hollywood actresses. She kills in The Bling Ring and in This Is The End. She can play it straight and comedically. Mark my words: Watson will be a legend.

– Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article that got this whole thing started, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins”, is worth the read. Perhaps we expect films to feel more foreign than journalism, such that the article feels far more embellished than the film. You’d like to think, and it would be easy to believe, Sofia Coppola made-up some of those ridiculous lines Emma Watson’s character says – “God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.” – but then you read them printed in VF with journalistic integrity. You just can’t make-up shit that golden with a straight face!


– I hate comparing films, but it’s hard not to think of Spring Breakers while watching The Bling Ring as both films feature dissatisfied young people seeking solace, even identity, in new (false) realities. And it’s hard not to notice the amazing amount of talent and heart that Sofia Coppola shines over Spring Breakers’ writer and director, Harmony Korine. Coppola’s film uses the common dialogues of news media and social media to invite audiences into the narrative, reminding viewers they share the same world and communication patterns with these characters. By creating a basic commonality, Coppola more easily leads her audience to rethink their own wayward exaltation of self and celebrity. Coppola’s film also explores the shared emotional and spiritual emptiness of its characters, even its audience, as potential paths to both identity crisis and identity theft. It’s difficult to walk out of Coppola’s film certain of your own innocence once you recognize your own lusts excited by the colors and sensations on the screen. Korine’s film, on the other hand, drops viewers into a world stripped straight from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Everything is so overly sexed, overly drugged, overly hyped, overly violent, that – much like A Clockwork Orange or Trainspotting – the sins explored on the screen feel far too grotesque to resonate with the average viewer. Also, when Korine fails to demonize the very debauchery that ruins his characters, one is left unsure whether to embrace such excess as a romantic plea of anarchy or to flee it as a great evil. Such unawareness – or perhaps blatant disregard – for the viewer keeps Korine’s audience on the outside of a story spiraling out of control. Offering no footing in his story, Korine reduced Spring Breakers to pornography when it could have been so much more.

The Bling Ring is not a perfect film. For one, it’s slow, even by Sofia Coppola standards. And I could have used less coke-snorting parties and more consequence, but that’s because I’m an old fart and I believe far more in karma than Emma Watson’s karma-preaching character. Still, The Bling Ring features a perfect soundtrack, solid performances, naughty expose under-the-covers imagery of Paris Hilton’s inner sanctums, and an overall beat-boppy affectation that sticks to the ribs long after leaving the theater.

The Bling Ring gets 4 Louboutin heel clicks from the courtroom out of 5. 

  1. Kiki Malone says:

    Reblogged this on For The Most Kiki In The Morning and commented:

    Lookit: a new blog with old friends! I be writing in TWO places!

  2. barberjo says:

    It sounds like this is a seminal film for that generation. We have lots of conversations around here about postmodernism and its effects and it seems that one of them if this idea of identity. Who am I? Listen to Kanye and Jay-Z on the subject – No Church in the Wild is the theme song for this generation. For that matter, fun.’s Some Nights works too.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      There is a perfectly placed Kanye song in The Bling Ring. Right at the moment of the movie poster scene, Kanye’s “Power” kicked into the soundtrack. It worked on multiple-levels: should the Bling Ring have all that power, or should the celebrity’s have it in the first place? Also, do these garbs and jewels equal power and prestige? We know how Jay-Z and Kanye (see “Otis”) would answer that question, but it’s still interesting to see Sofia Coppola – who, unlike these rappers, hails from wealth and refers to several of Hollywood’s top names as family – ask these same questions. Especially since she appears to land at different conclusion than Hova or Yeezus.

  3. i haven’t seen this or spring breakers yet but i immediately thought they belonged together. maybe with gatsby for dessert? i’m much more interested in this one from the get-go just from what i’ve seen in the trailers, although harmony is a nashville boy who is endlessly fascinating to me.

    every time i visit your place i have a longer list of things to read, watch, think about, and soak in – i love it.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      Korine’s films are train wrecks difficult to ignore. He’s got one about people who have sex with garbage that holds rank in my Netflix queue. I’d be interested to hear anything you have to share about your hometown compatriot.

      • trash humpers – yes, that was a big deal around town :). i don’t know much about him really. i’m a little terrified. will report back when i watch these films!

  4. vinnieh says:

    Excellent and very interesting post.

  5. kmriady says:

    I agree with John that this seems to highlight a discussion if not introspection on the modern idea of identity – this need to be made famous whether by posting self-taken pictures on Facebook or taking extreme acts to get on TV, this defining of self through others and whether they “Like” you as opposed to liking you. It’s a shallow sludge to wade through. As for Coppolla’s movies – I always want to enjoy them, but feel she’s much deeper than me. I can never get invested enough to see more of her work.

    • Kiki Malone says:

      “Like” as opposed to liking – YES! As for Coppola being deep, her films are slow. And sometimes a slow movie feels “deep”. Her movies are also crazy pretty; ie. the colors and confections and pugs in Marie Antoinette. You should at least see that one. I liked it mightily.

      • the girl says:

        I liked THE VIRGIN SUICIDES as much as you can like a movie that depressing and I think I’ve seen bits of Marie Antoinette, but will have to revisit it…

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