Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
Palo Alto bleeds aimlessness in a lot of good ways. In the tradition of Dazed and Confused and The Last Picture Show, Gia Coppola's directorial debut lands us knee deep in the ennui of a self-contained society of small town teens, daring us to dive right into a neon cesspool vacant of hope or self-actualization. Keeping in step with the mentioned films, Palo Alto is far less interested in telling a story than it is in painting a picture. The spectacle that results is beautiful, piercing, and — quite definitely — Coppolian. But it hits some difficulty when it tries to move beyond its frame.
Adapted from the short stories of at-least-he's-always-interesting James Franco (who is featured in the movie as a sneakily lecherous soccer coach), Palo Alto tags us to the corroded souls of a gaggle of misguided high schoolers in suburban Central California. Emma Roberts is the ostensible lead; her April is a sullen young woman whose chief character trait is sympathetic disillusionment. Her paths cross here and there with Mr. B (Franco) and likewise wayfaring classmate Teddy (Jack Kilmer — son of Val, who has a brief part in the film as the space cadet stepfather to Roberts), who is lightyears away from appreciating the gravity in his drunk driving episode and subsequent community service.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
The highlight of the bunch is Teddy's pal Fred, a compulsively obnoxious clown who The Naked Brothers Band's Nat Wolff stuffs with palpable agony and confusion. Buried inside of him, April, Teddy, and the scattered secondary players who work to identify the core of the proper main character — Palo Alto itself — lives our story, never progressing in any direction thereon out. The film is a snapshot of the pangs, frustrations, misgivings, malfeasances, and so on of the kids, adults, and neighborhood in question. In this form, it glows.
But Palo Alto tries to drive its story forward, yanking April, Teddy, and Fred out from the stronghold of their communal desperation and throwing them into the beyond. It's this forward motion that brings our attention to the delicate seams of the film, its unpreparedness in handling the story as much more than a lasting glimpse. We feel the elements slipping away from Coppola as she attempts to set them on a motive course for the first time in the third act, and so we have a tough time staying adhered as we once were to the characters — the falter is doubled by the fact that this emancipation comes at the intended peak of their emotional journeys.
Although the film might leave off dabbling in undeveloped turns — feeling frayed, uneven, and incomplete (I suppose it's hard to insist that such qualities are inappropriate for the story at hand) — it spends the lion's share of its time in a remarkable establishment: a portrait as lifelike as it is dreamy and as funny as it is haunting. It might lose its balance when it grabs for agency, but it offers an image very much worthy of our eyes.
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Fired CSI actor wants back in
Actor George Eads, who, along with actress Jorja Fox, was fired from the hit CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation last week for failing to show up to work, called the dismissal a "big misunderstanding," The Associated Press reports. At the Television Critics Association meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles, Eads, who was there to promote his upcoming TNT movie Evel Knievel, told the group he wasn't staging a salary holdout when he missed work, as CBS and its chief Leslie Moonves have claimed--Eads says he simply overslept. "They think it's about money and it's not," Eads said. "I overslept…I woke up white as a sheet 3-1/2 hours after I was supposed to be on the set." AP reports Eads said he wants to speak with Moonves to resolve the issue but had yet to reach him. "Let me tell you, I've apologized nine ways to Sunday. It's a big misunderstanding, straight up," the actor said. "I want all this to work out. CSI is a part of who I am."
Ronstadt gets asked back to casino
After being summarily booted from the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas over the weekend for her complimentary comments about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, singer Linda Ronstadt was welcomed back by one of the hotel's partners, AP reports. Planet Hollywood CEO Robert Earl, said he'd like to take Moore up on the filmmaker's offer to join Ronstadt on Aladdin's stage and sing "America the Beautiful" when Earl's management team takes control of the bankrupt casino, as early as September. "We respect artists' creativity and support their rights to express themselves…and we will continue with that policy once we take ownership," Earl said in a statement Wednesday. Current Aladdin president Bill Timmins, who is British, had Ronstadt escorted off the property after her concert because she called Moore a "great American patriot" during a prelude to her encore.
More on rockers who speak out…
Winding up her summer tour across Europe, singer Bonnie Raitt added her own two cents about President Bush, dedicating her song "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)," AP reports. At the Stockholm Jazz Festival Tuesday, Raitt declared, "We're gonna sing this for George Bush because he's out of here, people!" which drew thunderous applause.
It's the Tom and Jerry show
In an odd pairing, Tom Green and Jerry Springer are developing a "week in review"-style program tentatively dubbed Fairly Unbalanced for Lions Gate Television. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show would feature the eccentric comedian-actor and raucous talk show host discussing headlines and newsmakers and generally offering their observations on political and pop culture-oriented topics. "We've conceived this as a weekly series that reviews current events and pop culture in a populist way from the off-center perspective of two larger-than-life, outrageous, irreverent and endearing personalities, who don't always agree," Lions Gate Television's president Kevin Beggs told the Reporter. "It will be informative yet entertaining. Just the thought of these two guys together makes you laugh."
Dick dating Assistant contestant
Comedian Andy Dick admits he was dating one of the female contestants from his hit MTV reality show The Assistant, AP reports. Dick let the cat out of the bag during a radio interview with Howard Stern Monday and was confirmed by Dick's publicist, Nicole Chabot, who told AP, "They've gone out on a couple of times post-show." According to Stern's official Web site, after The Assistant wrapped, Dick "gave everyone his cell phone number and some of the girls called him to hang out. Now he's seeing one of the girls from the show, but he's not ready to settle down with just one girl." The MTV show features an egocentric Dick bullying 12 young people hoping to make it in the entertainment industry. The winner receives a new wardrobe, car and an entry-level Hollywood gig.
SAG sells films in foreclosure
The Screen Actors Guild is selling the rights to seven small films in an effort to recover more than $400,000 in residuals owed to actors such as Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart and David Bowie, AP reports. Even though disputes are typically resolved using arbitration or other methods, SAG said these recent sales mark the first time the union has taken advantage of a clause in its contract with producers that allows SAG to foreclose on a film if royalties remain unpaid. Among the films are The Linguini Incident, a 1991 film featuring Rosanna Arquette and Bowie; Blood Money, a 1996 film with James Brolin; and Telling Lies in America, a 1997 film with Bacon and Flockhart.
DreamWorks Animation goes public
DreamWorks is moving forward with an initial public offering of its animation unit, which will offer fresh funds and a higher profile to the studio's most promising business, Variety reports. In a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, DreamWorks--which was founded almost a decade ago by Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg--said it plans to sell up to $650 million worth of stock in DreamWorks Animation, which will become a publicly traded company seeking the exalted status and lofty trading multiples of rival Pixar. Katzenberg will be CEO of the new company, which he and Geffen will control though a special class of supervoting stock. Spielberg will not have an operating role in the new company but will concentrate instead on DreamWorks live-action division, which is remaining a private company.
Composer Jerry Goldsmith Dies
Academy-Award winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, best known for his scores for classic movies and television such as The Omen, Chinatown and the Star Trek series, died in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Frampton sues over bikini shot
Rocker Peter Frampton is suing popular surfwear manufacturer Billabong for selling a bikini that features his face on the rear and the phrase "Baby, I love your waves," Reuters reports. The British-born singer, 54, is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop sales of the "Frampton Bikini" saying the phrase is "an obvious reference" to his 1975 hit record "Baby, I Love Your Way."