Movie Monday: “Somewhere”

Directed by:
Sofia Coppola
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Monday 1/02/2012 with my wife at home

A lot of American movie lovers will never forgive Sofia Coppola for her acting debut as Mary Corleone in the ill-fated “Godfather III” sequel. That film came out in 1990, but I didn’t see it until more than 15 years later. By then, I had already fallen in love with Coppola for her languid and hazy directorial debut, “The Virgin Suicides,” and for her gorgeously ambiguous second film, “Lost in Translation,” which starred one of my favorite actors of all time, Bill Murray, in a role that he should’ve won an Academy Award for. (The Oscar instead went to Sean “Is That My Daughter In There?” Penn for his overwrought role in the overwrought “Mystic River.”)

Twenty years after her Mary Corleone days, Coppola in 2010 delivered “Somewhere,” a minimalist and slow-paced film that gives an unsentimental snapshot of the life of a B-list actor. I’d never really thought of Stephen Dorff as a leading man, instead relegating him to his Deacon Frost moment in “Blade” or in many other straight-to-video type movies. But I think his real-life background places Dorff in exactly the kind of prolific-but-nowhere place that Coppola aims to access. In every description of “Somewhere” that exists on the Internet, writers describe the film as a meditation on celebrity ennui. Dorff plays the fictional Johnny Marco so perfectly that he absolutely personifies ennui– right down to his blank enjoyment of two pole-dancing twins awkwardly gyrating their same old moves while an old Foo Fighters hit blares like molasses out of a boombox. It doesn’t get any more listless than that, and Coppola serves it cold.

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