Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015 Cannes Marathon: CQ


(Played Out of Competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival)



Written and directed by Roman Coppola, CQ is the story of a young filmmaker/editor who is asked by producers to finish a sci-fi film for them as he would fall in love with the film’s leading lady. It’s a film where a young man is given the chance to make a movie while he copes with his own personal life and his own desires to make personal films. Starring Jeremy Davies, Angela Lindvall, Elodie Bouchez, Giancarlo Giannini, Massimo Ghini, Jason Schwartzman, Billy Zane, and Gerard Depardieu. CQ is a stylish yet exuberant film from Roman Coppola.

Set in late 1960s France, the film revolves around a young American filmmaker who is working as an editor/second unit director for a revered filmmaker into sci-fi story until he is eventually asked to take over and finish the film once the original director is fired. There, he becomes fascinated by the film’s leading lady while trying to make his own personal films based on his own confessions about his life as his relationship with his French girlfriend starts to fall apart. It’s a film that sort of spoofs sci-fi films but also plays into the world of 1960s film culture and studio politics as some of it is based on real-life incidents and battles of the film’s writer/director Roman Coppola’s father Francis Ford Coppola.

Coppola’s screenplay plays into the conflicts and desires of its lead Paul Ballard (Jeremy Davies) who is happy in taking the chance to work for the director Andrezej (Gerard Depardieu) on this sci-fi film called Codename: Dragonfly that is starring an American newcomer by the name of Valentine (Angela Lindvall). Yet, when Andrezej is fired from the production by producer Enzo (Giancarlo Giannini), Paul ponders about what to do as the film stock and cameras he borrows to make his own film which is a documentary about himself. Even as he is eventually asked to take over for Andrezej to finish the film as it would be the moment where he is given the chance to make a film. Yet, the script plays into Paul’s conflict about what he wants to do as well as honor the intentions of the man whom he has replaced. Even as he copes with studio politics and his own personal life along with a saboteur who is trying to stop Paul from finishing the film.

Coppola’s direction is quite stylish not just in his varied approach to the films that were being made at the time but also in displaying the idea of what it was like in the world of films in the late 1960s. Notably as he would model much of the ideas of the sci-fi movie based on other film as it does pay tribute to films like Barbarella while Paul’s own film is definitely inspired by the French New Wave. Coppola brings in a lot of unique camera angles and compositions to the film while much of it is shot in Paris with some of it shot on location in Rome. Coppola’s usage of close-ups and medium shots are evident with a few wide shots that is used as he plays into the world of filmmaking as well as a man coming to grips with his own life. Even as his relationship with his stewardess girlfriend Marlene (Elodie Bouchez) is at a crossroads as she would raise questions about the film he’s making. It plays into Paul coming to terms with what he wants as a filmmaker but also as a person as he also deals with the blurring between reality and fantasy. Overall, Coppola creates a very witty yet engaging film about a young man getting the chance to make a film.

Cinematographer Robert Yeoman does amazing work with the film‘s cinematography as it is very colorful for some of the scenes made for the film-within-the-film as well as its usage of lights for some of the interiors and nighttime exterior scenes. Editors Leslie Jones does brilliant work with the editing as it is very stylish with its jump-cuts, slow-motion cuts, and other moments that play into Paul‘s point-of-view as an editor. Production designer Dean Tavoularis, with art directors Luc Chalon and Oshin Yeghiazariantz and set decorator Philippe Tulure, does fantastic work with the design of the Dragonfly character‘s spaceship and the set of the film as well as the apartment Paul and Marlene live in and other sets to play into the world of film.

Costume designer Judy Shrewsbury does excellent work with the costumes to create that look of late 1960s cinema as well as the clothes of the Dragonfly character. Sound designer Richard Beggs and sound editor Michael Kirchberger do superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects created for the film-within-a-film as well as what goes on during a production as well as the sound of old cameras. The film’s music by the French electronic band Mellow is wonderful for its playful and 60s-based score with elements of electronic and pop music in the mix while music supervisor Brian Reitzell brings in a fun soundtrack consisting of Euro-pop songs from Claude Francois, Jacques Dutronc, Paul Piot, Francesco Pennino, and Antonello Paliotti.

The casting by Blythe Cappello, Beatrice Kruger, and Juliette Menager is great as it features small appearances from Romain Duris as a young filmmaker, production designer Dean Tavoularis as a viewer of the unfinished film Andrezej is making, Sofia Coppola as Enzo’s mistress in Rome, L.M. Kit Carson as a fantasy critic observing what Paul is making, Natalia Vodianova as a model-girlfriend of filmmaker Felix de Marco, Silvio Muccino as an editor friend of Paul in Pippo, and Dean Stockwell in a terrific one-scene performance as Paul’s father who visits him at an airport where he talks about a dream that would relate to a possible doppelganger of Paul. John Phillip Law is wonderful as a corporate figurehead in the movie as he would hire Dragonfly to retrieve a weapon while Billy Zane is superb as that movie’s antagonist Mr. E as a revolutionary trying to bring peace and love back to the world.

Jason Schwartzman is hilarious as the kitsch filmmaker Felix de Marco as he is a character that is sort of based on Roger Corman as a young filmmaker who makes cheesy B-movies. Massimo Ghini is excellent as the producer Fabrizio who is convinced that Paul can save the movie as he is the more reasonable producer who knows talent. Giancarlo Giannini is fantastic as the producer Enzo who is not happy with Andrezej’s initial rough cut as he is full of life as he is based on the producer Dino De Laurentiis. Gerard Depardieu is amazing as the filmmaker Andrezej who believes that his film will be revolutionary until his ideas of how he wants to end it has him fired as some of his antics is based on other filmmakers including Roman Coppola’s father Francis Ford Coppola.

Elodie Bouchez is brilliant as Paul’s girlfriend Marlene who copes with Paul’s obsession with his own film as well as feeling neglected due to Paul’s work. Angela Lindvall is radiant as the actress Valentine who plays the lead role of Dragonfly in the film as she has a striking sensuality for the role while showing someone who is really just a normal American woman. Finally, there’s Jeremy Davies in a remarkable performance as Paul Ballard as a young filmmaker trying to make his own personal film while given the chance to become a filmmaker in finishing this sci-fi film as he copes with his own personal issues and desires as Davies brings a quiet humility into his role.

CQ is a phenomenal film from Roman Coppola that features a great cast led by Jeremy Davies and an ode to the world of 60s cinema. It’s a film that isn’t just exciting and full of humor but it’s also a film that showcases cinema at a crucial time as it goes from the world of studio-based films to the more personal work that would occur in the 1970s. In the end, CQ is a spectacular film from Roman Coppola.

© thevoid99 2015

4 comments:

Wendell Ottley said...

I used to see the DVD on the shelf all the time when I worked at Blockbuster, but never bothered watching it. The cover made it look like a cheesy sexploitation flick. Had no idea this was actually any good.

thevoid99 said...

Well, it's from a Coppola so you have to expect something much more than what the DVD cover expects. They can be very misleading.

It's a film that I've enjoyed as it plays into the world of films and filmmaking while having some elements of silliness.

Wendell Ottley said...

Due to that cover I didn't bother finding out who made it. I should've investigated. Have to check ot out, now.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-DVD/Blu-Ray covers can be very misleading as it's often created by studios and their marketing team without the input of its creators.