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Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 06/15/2010

Sofia Coppola's 'Somewhere': Assessing the movie trailer

By Jen Chaney

The trailer for "Somewhere," the upcoming film from Sofia Coppola, was released yesterday and looks quite promising. Fans of Coppola will be pleased to see all that lush, urban imagery, as well as what appears to be a return to the sort of meandering, contemporary character study the writer-director navigated so elegantly in "Lost in Translation."

Speaking of "Lost in Translation," it's impossible to ignore one thing about this trailer: the fact that "Somewhere" looks an awful lot like "Lost in Translation."

Let's have a look at the clip, take a brief break for some Suntory time, then count all the connections between the latest Coppola effort and the previous, Academy-Award-winning one that happened to contain the best karaoke scene ever.

The similarites:

1. Focus Features: Both films are being distributed by the same studio. Minor point, but I'm just getting rolling.

2. The disaffected actor: Both films feature actors disinterested in their Hollywood careers. In "Lost in Translation," Bill Murray was the older, washed-up veteran of the movie biz, while in "Somewhere," Stephen Dorff plays a younger, still-working version of the pre-established type.

3. The hotel fixation: Much of the action in "Lost in Translation" centered, for obvious reasons, in the Tokyo hotel where Murray's and Johansson's characters were staying. In "Somewhere," at least some of the action will unfold in the chi-chi Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles.

4. The father-daughter relationship: In "LiT," there was definitely a parent-child vibe between Murray and Scarlett Johansson, although there was clearly a romantic, sexual energy between them as well. In "Somewhere," the daddy-daughter thing is more literal than metaphorical; Elle Fanning plays the teenage daughter who re-enters her father's life and, obviously, the sexual tension thing is not a factor.

5. Mattress time: If the trailer for "Somewhere" is any indication, the movie will, like "Translation," give plenty of screen time to people lounging around in bed.

6. City as a prominent backdrop: Judging from the trailer, L.A. will get the same kind of love in "Somewhere" that Tokyo did in "Lost in Translation."

7. Karaoke redux: After "LiT," Coppola couldn't do a karaoke scene again. That would just seem ridiculous. So, as the trailer indicates, we'll get a Guitar Hero moment instead.

8. Game show = awards show: Remember when Bill Murray sheepishly played along with the shenanigans on that Japanese game show? Apparently Dorff will play along with the shenanigans during what appears to be an Italian awards ceremony, while grinning sheepishly at his daughter.

9. Trendy, mood-setting music: Coppola has always put excellent indie and alternative (and often vaguely melancholy) music in her films, not just "LiT." She repeats that trend here, shining the spotlight on the work of Phoenix, a band that happens to be fronted by Thomas Mars, her longtime boyfriend and the father of Coppola's two children.

10. Titles that speak to a sense of dislocation: "Somewhere": it sounds just as vague as the term "Lost in Translation," doesn't it? Although, if this new film is truly a companion piece, I guess knowing that you're fixed "somewhere" -- even if you're not sure where -- indicates some progress beyond being totally lost.

Wow, that's 10 already and I didn't even touch on the Randy Women Visiting Aloof Men in Hotel Rooms phenomenon (see Tokyo prostitute in "LiT" and pole dancers in "Somewhere"). Anyhoo, "Somewhere" is slated for release in December, just in time for Oscar season. (Hey, remember that other Sofia Coppola movie that was a big deal during a previous awards season...?) Are you, like me, eager to see it? Or would you rather fire up some Bill Murray and give it a pass?

By Jen Chaney  | June 15, 2010; 10:54 AM ET
Categories:  Awards Season, Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Movie Trailers, Movies  
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Comments

Jen, maybe Sofia's planning a triptych?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 15, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Maybe she has "daddy" issues. Count me as a fan. I have loved most of her movies and even though Marie Antoinette wasn't that good, it was still visually amazing.

Posted by: kvs09 | June 15, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not this movie succeeds depends on the actors. I liked "Lost in Translation" but didn't love it. Bill Murray and ScarJo had an OK chemistry, and while his performance was amazingly understated, I find her acting overrated.

Regarding "Somewhere," Stephen Dorff is good, but those Fanning kids scare me. So I probably will wait for cable.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | June 15, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not this movie succeeds depends on the actors. I liked "Lost in Translation" but didn't love it. Bill Murray and ScarJo had an OK chemistry, and while his performance was amazingly understated, I find her acting overrated.

Regarding "Somewhere," Stephen Dorff is good, but those Fanning kids scare me. So I probably will wait for cable.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | June 15, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

OH Please!! Could you now go and find "ten similarities" (or more) between Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen's first four feature films?? I bet you can!! Sheesh.

Writer/Directors tend to write about what they know about no? Also, auteurs tend to find a visual "style" of film making - from the music, to the titles, to the plot situations (Woody and urban intellectuals obsessed with sex; Martin and male gang or mob mentality; Quentin and hyperactive dialogue and violence) the credits even - that suits them, and often they stick to that, with maybe a few forays here and there.

It's clear from the trailer to this new film and even the tongue in cheek title that Coppola has taken this film in a direction similar to the one her own life has taken (writers write about what they know about - right?) in that it is a child, not a romance or a position/career/expectations, that helps the protagonist to find meaning. While working on "Lost in Translation," personally, she was heading into a divorce. Now she's heading into the birth of her second child. These sorts of life changing events are bound to infiltrate her work to a degree.

As to style rather than content, Sofia's strength are mise en scene (hence the emphasis on settings, evidence of her background in photography and fashion) and sound (hence the "mood" music, evidence of her own interest and ties to the indie scene, such as her friendship with Sonic Youth and her partner from Phoenix).

There are VERY FEW women writer/directors in film. Thank god for her more subtle take on things. She doesn't do romance, feel good movies; she does character studies. If they echo one another, that is nothing new. And that is my main point here.

Look at most writer/directions, from Griffith to Hitchcock, through Scorsese, Allen and Tarantino - don't they ALL exhibit similarities in their work - thematic, stylistic, even production-wise - perhaps especially their early work wherein they were establishing a style?

I think so.

So what is the point of listing these here?

Posted by: janerunaway | June 15, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

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