Friday, March 17, 2017
JEFF OF THE CINEFILES &UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME: FILE #0049: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (2000)
Written & Directed By: Sofia Coopola
Based on the book by: Jeffrey Eugenides
Cinematography By: Edward Lachman
Editor: Melissa Kent & James Lyons
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Scott Glenn, A.J. Cook, Chelse Swain , Hanna Hall, Melody Johnson, Jonathan Tucker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Pare, Robert Schwartzman
A group of male friends become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid-1970s.
I believe that because I love the soundtrack to this film. Which sets the spooky mood and theme for the film. It is a film that amazes me with it's haunted otherworldly quality. I listen to the soundtrack quite often and listening to it brings the film and it's scenes back into my memory. When this film came out I had already heard of the group Air and knew they had a song for the mesmerizing scene of the party invitations in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Their score for the film amazed me so much that I became a die hard fan. The soundtrack proved so popular that while the original soundtrack focused on the score. The sequel soundtrack vol. 2 focused more on the 70's songs used in the film.
I remember seeing the video for PLAYGROUND LOVE by air directed by the films director Sofia Coopola on MTV that convinced me to see the film in the first place. Showing reenacted scenes from the film with singing discarded gum doing the singing for the vocals then exposing it all as a film as we watch behind the scene of recreation the school dance from the film. Trust me it's more beautiful and makes more sense if you see it for yourself.
The performances are amazing the first time. I really noticed Kirsten Dunst as an actress since INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. It doesn't feel like she I acting. Her performance feels natural here. She is in control as she does her best work with Sofia Coopola and Lars von Trier. She really comes into her own with this film.
James Woods is uncanny as he has never played a weak, nebbish strange character that he doesn't play as a stereotype, but a believable character.
Josh Hartnett is used to the best of his acting abilities as the hunk. Between this and THE FACULTY it was really his strong performance apex.
Danny DeVito is here for a cameo that isn't really needed as he has little to do unless he just really wanted to support the project and done as a favor to help get finding or maybe trying to stretch his Character acting ability.
Now while she wrote the script the film is based On a novel. So the story and it points are already there, but Sofia Coopola brings details that while not focused on feel distinct and correct and atmosphere as she seems to relate to the material to illuminate it.
This film has been the only time that teenage feelings crushes and lust have been put on screen so godly right, that has felt true. Sensitive more then you let on yet tawdry as you don't know how to act on Your feelings and hormones as you feel romantic, but there is a lust that is overpowering and you are just learning how to interact with the opposite sex they don't know any better. You only know what you see on TV or around you. Your parents, family and what your friends tell you who are just a little bit more experienced.
The film is like a detective story as you keep wondering who and while there are examples of things that maybe affecting the characters. We are never presented with the exact why. Leaving it up to interpretation, but also remaining an unsolved memory. There are leads and clues yet The story is told by memories and perspectives and even some diary entries yet while we and the characters search for answers and meaning it is the one thing that escapes us and keeps us haunted and hollow. What is brilliant is that the film never feels like it is a mystery until the end. It raises questions that you believe will be answered. Some are some never are.
The mood and atmosphere of the film is what makes the film full while being a not of a period piece. The film has a hazy dreamlike quality that makes it feel like a jazz standard you are in reality, but It feels otherworldly.
A magical realism that comes into play almost like reality and a dream. That haunt the film at times every once in a while. Once the film is over you can't stop thinking about it.
The frank and truthful ending that is matter of fact yet not gratuitous and that you suspect is coming, but still shocking. We get to see the future of Trip Fontaine that tells us all we need to know. Whether or not it humanizes him or not that lead to his fate is. Ever explained but we know it affected him. The role also offers a killer cameo for Michael Pare
My favorite scene is since the girls are forced into their room. The only contact they have to the outside world are the boys who call, but don't talk they play songs and let that be the communication of their feelings. Better than they ever could. It's poetic and simple though special.
It's inventive like the use of an older Trip Fontaine telling us his memories, but doing it In a rehab institution letting us know a bit of what became of him, but not putting a focus on it.
As I have not read the book I don't know what was added and what was original. The film manages to add a lot of details that are singular and minor, but add up to help illustrate the story.
The film like a crush can be a not cold on the surface, but underneath once you finally get to see them and they let you in and embrace. You realize why they are the way they are and you are endeared to them.
An assured directorial debut a great preview of what was to come. It seems this is her most assured film and also almost definite as far as conventional story structure.
The film is more it focused then any of the films she made after this. It shows the audience what she is capable of and the birth of her creativity as a filmmaker.
Her strength has always been in telling or being more open to showing a female P.O.V. And empowering them through stories giving us a glimpse into the lives of others.
I can admit to films making me fall in love or having crushes on certain filmmakers their work or even them. This films femme fall in love with Sofia Coopola and her films she could do no wrong in my eyes. There is a certain quality and detail about her films that I can't describe that no one else seems to have. It was boosted by LOST IN TRANSLATION and learning more and more about her past made her the coolest person on earth to me. Over the years I have become less and less a fan of her films as I believe she always has something of interest in her films that make them worthwhile in some manner. And still though I don't love all of her films and my crush has diminished there is always something in her films that remind me of the artist that she is that certain spark that let's me know she still has it.
I feel like we say with some actors, I believe she is the only director who could have made this film And give as much insight and melancholy emotions that teach the right note.
It's hard to describe this film as it like poetry so open and lyrical to a degree it's More about mood and tone. The story while tragic seems pretty simple but still leaves itself open to explore and continue to be a mystery that you understand but constantly think about. Even with the beginning credits with their doodled artwork remind you of that same type of graphics or typography when you were in school. It seems that everyone either do or they you would find in JR high school and in high school in notebooks, textbooks, workbooks, hallways, desks etc. that out you in a nostalgic mindset. So that it is almost a time warp. So that while you watch the film it's both familiar and like traveling to outer space filled with discovery.
The film can serve the audience well. As it reminds us of lost loves it those girls maybe a crush from your past that almost feels supernatural in your mind as they continue to haunt you. Stand in for those women who set creations and imaginations a buzz who served as subjects knowingly and unknowingly for artwork, ideas, creations iconicized and appropriated but never quite ours. They fuel art as the person who is haunted tries to define, explain it idealize their meaning to them and who they believe they are. Knowing they will never truly understand the real person as they seem to not necessarily understand themself. Not realize their power. As understanding is knowledge and knowledge is a form of possession. Here the women will Always stand as mysteries. As the film nor the characters can define. Them as they themselves never loved long enough to define themselves and only seemed to serve as symbols and are gone before they can really betray themselves. Though the film reminds us that they were their own. They were real and they were human and people. Not looking to be anything to anyone, but never got the chance to be themselves.
As the film seems to be being told by one of the young boys who remembers the girls. It is take. From his point of view looking back which seems so fresh and detailed. Though never can be fully told as we never know what really drove them to that point, it they still haunt all their memories it's like the crushes you have when young how they might not necessarily perish but stay fresh in your mind the same way you always saw them and leaving you in the same manner in which your attraction to them was in a crush as by the end your heart feels that way. As always when it comes to the hall of fame movies there is more that can be said then what is written here. They are that great that they can be defined, redefined, read, dissected, examined, reviewed, explored so many times. That it would never be to complete satisfactions be sill barely scratch the surface
Special mention Mist be given to the soundtrack which not only includes time period hits of the 1970's but also a hypnotic score. There is even one scene devoted to music of the soundtrack as the characters communicate through music, songs and albums just as the director is trying to do with the audience and similarly to what musicians do with their fans. How SEVEN most of us use mix tapes and now playlists to communicate feelings and attitude to either fans or those we care about and for or want to and can't say it so much in our own words.
The film showcases Josh Hartnett's best role to date or at least the one that makes a lasting impression playing teenage lothario trip Fontaine a heartthrob who is shallow but in his brief encounter with Kirsten dominated character gains depth and is haunted by the misdeed he does to her. As through the experience he experienced and develops a depth he ever knew was there or that he had. Which seems to mirror what was happening with Hartnett In real life as he was becoming a heartthrob and know for his looks but strived to be thought of with more depth and seriousness. That he seemed to seek out roles that were more dramatic even though cast as leading men in sometimes more studio financed blockbuster mainstream films.
These are films that are already hard to digest all of in one sitting.
The best resource to get an idea of how my mind works with it's (or my) Inner most thoughts. Basically a blog where I somewhat express myself. As close to being an extrovert without actually meeting me. Then again even if you know me it might be a little revealing. As well as inspiring visuals from around the internet. but I can see them only having a certain amount of room.
Even the visuals are sumptuous, The pre-homecoming photo of the girls foreshadows their deaths. Lux is holding her hand out to feel a leak coming from above (her hand's position resembles holding a cigarette) - later when she dies, her hand is seen hanging out of the running car in the closed garage, holding a cigarette. Therese's eyes are closed, and she died from an over dosage of sleeping pills. Bonnie's arm appears to be scratching her upper back, but also resembles a hanging - which is how she died. And after the photo was taken, Mary coughs, and she died from sticking her head in the oven.