The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents Sofia Coppola on Film, an arresting quartet of films by Oscar-winning writer-director Sofia Coppola, for five nights only this February.
ACMI Film Programmer Roberta Ciabarra says it is the female characters that pervade Coppola’s body of feature films which defines her style as a writer-director.
“Over four impeccably crafted features, Sofia Coppola has created a girls’ own gallery of screen heroines suspended in a gossamer-coated filmic space between self-doubt and knowingness,” said Roberta. “Coppola’s quietly questing female protagonists beguile and enchant even as they remain a mystery to themselves.”
The season opens with The Virgin Suicides (1999), based on the best-selling book by Jeffrey Eugenides. The Virgin Suicides recounts the mesmerising effect the five teenage Lisbon sisters – Cecilia, Lux (an arrestingly luminous Kirsten Dunst), Bonnie, Mary and Therese – have on a spellbound group of infatuated boys growing up in a middle class Michigan neighbourhood in the mid ‘70s. The Lisbon sisters exist in a perfectly hermetic universe, in a kind of trippy astral conjunction with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and the doomed schoolgirls of Joan Lindsay’s Picnic At Hanging Rock.
Coppola’s Tokyo-set charmer about two Americans bonding abroad, Lost in Translation (2003), also screens. A fifty-something Bob (Bill Murray) and twenty-something Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are in crisis about where they’re at in life. Coppola orchestrates a winning intimacy between her two leads in a visually assured film that also deftly interweaves the sensory overload of contemporary life in Japan.
Like her other features, Lost in Translation was penned by the director, winning her an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2004. Lost in Translation is also regarded for its soundtrack of perfectly attuned indie pop by Air, Phoenix, The Jesus and Mary Chain and others.
In Marie Antoinette (2006), Coppola takes a sympathetic view of the ill-fated Austrian royal who became the teen consort of Louis XVI and the target of increasingly malicious propaganda as French Revolutionary fervour heated up in the 1790s. As the title character, Kirsten Dunst embodies all the contradictions of an unsophisticated ingénue transplanted to a French royal court steeped in political intrigue in which her position is made increasingly tenuous by her royal consort’s indifference to producing an heir.
Jason Schwartzman, Marianne Faithfull, Judy Davis, Steve Coogan and Rip Torn feature in Marie Antoinette’s eccentric but spirited supporting cast, accompanied by an eclectic roster of musicians (New Order, The Strokes) for a predictably cool hipster soundtrack.
Somewhere (2010), winner of the 2010 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, stars Elle Fanning, Coppola’s latest starlet du jour. Hipster L.A. actor Johnny Marco is holed up in the ivory tower shabby chic of Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont in an idle, suspended time-out between movie projects. Despite the clamour from press agents, entertainment reporters and groupies, Johnny’s attention span seems set to going through the motions. His emotional listlessness faces an unexpected challenge from his winsome 11 year old daughter, Cleo (Fanning), when she unexpectedly lands in his lap and accompanies the jaded star to an awards night in Milan.
Sofia Coppola on Film will screen at ACMI from Thursday 23 to Monday 27 February 2012. For more information and to book, please visit: acmi.net.au