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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bling Ring (2013) d. Sofia Coppola

Emma Watson does her Vanessa Hudgens in the Bling Ring, d. Sofia Coppola (2013)

   Movie Review
The Bling Ring (2013)
d. Sofia Coppola
Theatrical release June 21st, 2013

   Wow so people really didn't dig The Bling Ring did they?  What the fuck were they expecting from a Sofia Coppola joint about this subject?  Citizen Kane or something?  People be hating on Sofia Coppola but she knows how to portray contemporary mores in more or less the same fashion as a 19th century English novelist like The Bronte sisters or Jane Austen.  Her women are young, vulnerable but with huge social influence.  They have been the subject of Art since they came into existence at the beginning of time.  Each of Coppola's films details some woman at the cross roads of irrelevance and power.
Katie Chang as the Bling Ring ring leader Rebecca.

  The Bling Ring is her most explicit foray into the relationship of young women to power.  Here, the setting is modern day Los Angeles, specifically the subset of Los Angeles residents who are there to "make it."  The girls/women of The Bling Ring exist outside of a framework of morality, they are "home schooled" by a Mom who follows the "spiritual" tenets of The Secret.  They are modern day Maenads, young female followers of Dionysus ready for a frenzy or down for whatever.
Gavin Rossdale is The Bling Ring, because why not?

  Like Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring is best viewed without reference to Christian morality.  Whatever you want to say about the movie, "Thou Shall Not Steal" does not come up in conversation at all, for the entire movie.  The gleeful amorality of contemporary youth culture is in no way a novel subject for film, but Coppola deserves unacknowledged credit for opening a window on this most recent iteration of a theme that requires regular updating.

  The non mise en scene aspects of Coppola's work always fascinate- her soundtracks have been influential since Air scored a huge break-out in the aftermath of the Virgin Suicides.  Coppola outpaces other potential filmic/musical influencers by virtue of impeccable taste and an apparently excellent licensing department.  I would even argue that The Bling Ring is the superior soundtrack vs. Spring Breakers.  Spring Breakers and Bling Ring both have M.I.A.'s Bad Girls, which is obviously the theme song for this genre of film.  Only The Bling Ring opens with Sleigh Bells Crown on the Ground over the credits.

 I'm inclined to think that cinema at it's best is a kind of fun-house mirror, reflecting and distorting truth/reality and showing it back to people (for 10 USD plus a pop) so I think some of the negative reaction to The Bling Ring is from people who are like that and didn't like what they saw.  A bold strategy for Coppola as a director, and I think The Bling Ring is a film that will be appreciated more in the future as more people get a chance to actually like it.

 I also think that Coppola is right on in depicting the young upper middle class women of Southern California as a group of beautiful gangsters.  Gleeful amorality doesn't even begin to describe it. And the sound track, wow, evocative of the milieu.


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