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SOFIA COPPOLA: Stylish Filmmaker
by Nancy Simon

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Coppola: A Cutting Image

Coppola: A Cutting Image
While it may be unnecessary to profile someone of Sofia Coppola's stature- she is, after all, the daughter of legendary filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola, cousin of acclaimed actor Nicolas Cage and rising star Jason Schwartzman, and in her own right, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of LOST IN TRANSLATION (2004); it may be helpful to find out what all the fuss is about with regard to her behind the scenes' abilities as writer\ director and producer.

MARIE ANTONIETTE is the thirty-five-year-old Coppola's third feature length film. Starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, the film is a romp du jour meaning a glitzy view of Marie Antoniette's royal existence in the format of a retold narrative from her own 'obligatory' perspective.

The film recounts the Queen's day in the throne from her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at age 15 to her reign as queen at age 19 and to her beheading in 1793 at the age of 38.

Critics have been all over the place in terms of reviewing this film. Some call it superficial and not accurately based on historical facts while others admire her work on account of its stylistic point of view and contemporizing of 18th century events.

And due to the strong emphasis on confectionary (high price Manolo Blahnik shoes) imagery, Anthony Lane of the New Yorker questions in his review as to whether MARIE ANTONIETTE was actually made by Paris Hilton rather than Sofia Coppola.

On the topic of MARIE ANTOINETTE, Coppola was recently quoted as having said, "You're considered
Coppola and Her Little Gold Man

Coppola and Her Little Gold Man
superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity."

As film trade reports have relayed MARIE ANTONIETTE was booed following its premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Yet, in light of the French's slighting of the film, they still honored it with a Cinema Prize of the French National Education System, as well as, nominated it for a Golden Palm Award.

It was in 1998 that Coppola, a native of New York, began to embark on her career as a filmmaker apart from her acting career in which she was chastised for taking on the role of Mary Corleone in her father's GODFATHER: PART III in 1990.

As Coppola was quoted as saying, "Everyone in my family is in the film business; I knew I wanted to be creative and it was important in my family to be artistic."

And in following her pursuits, she made her writing\ directing\ producing debut with the short film LICK THE STAR (rats kill spelled backwards). Receiving favorable reviews for her unique take on cliques school girls who resort to using rat poisoning to kill-off a threatening peer, she went on to make full-length, feature films of greater substance with recognizable casts.

MARIE ANTONIETTE was not the first film in which Coppola worked with Dunst, the two also collaborated on THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999). A dark, coming of age story, this film showcased Coppola's abilities to compelling tell an original human-interest story, develop riveting characters and sustain the audience's
MARIE ANTONIETTE: The Official Poster

MARIE ANTONIETTE: The Official Poster
attention throughout the entire film.

Carrying these fresh and magical traits over onto her second feature, Coppola crafted LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003) as a statement about cultural assimilation. With respect to casting issues, Coppola smartly cast Scarlett Johanssen opposite Bill Murray and in doing so helped firmly position Johanssen as a highly capable actress and Murray as a re-invigorated actor.

For LOST IN TRANSLATION, Coppola was only the third female (first American female) ever nominated for an Academy Award. Though she failed to take home the statue in the directing category, she did earn one for 'writing a screenplay directly for the screen.'

Divorced from director Spike Jonze (JACKASS, ADAPTATION, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH), Coppola officially announced she is pregnant with French rocker Thomas Mars' (the frontman of Phoenix) child. However, they have not yet come up with a name.

As Coppola relayed to USA Today, "I'm so excited to have a little girl. We're going to wait and see (about a name). When you're writing, you pick names for characters, but it's harder in real life."

And while you may either love or hate Ms. Coppola's work, at least all can agree she definitely puts forth ideas in an unconventional and original manner.

And, at only 35 years of age, Coppola certainly does seem to be blessed with the great fortitude of having a wealth of skills and resources in order to continue making meaningful, visionary films.

Sofia Coppola on MatchFlick

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A capsulized profile on an emerging talent, i.e., actor/director in the film world and a snippet as to why he or she is destined to soon become a household name.

Other Columns
Other columns by Nancy Simon:

EMILE HIRSCH: Young Upstart

SIENNA MILLER:B-day Girl\ Factory Girl

DJIMON HOUNSOU: A Diamond in the Rough

ABBIE CORNISH: Who's That Girl?

DARREN ARONOFSKY: Daring to go further

All Columns

Nancy Simon
A Chicago-based freelance writer and film enthusiast, Nancy has an insatiable curiousity and knack for picking out talented, promising individuals.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Nancy Simon by clicking here.

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