Focus Films via Everett Collection
The Coppolas are like the Kennedys of filmmaking. Francis, Sofia, Roman, and now Gia have all put their craftsmanship on display, and each has his or her own distinct appeal. They aren't in competition with each other, but we thought it would be fun to compare their contributions to cinema and conclude, at this point in time, which Coppola makes the better movies.
Francis: The Don
Francis is the safe choice if you don't want to flunk film school. Since I've already passed, however, I'm comfortable with knocking him down a few pegs. There's no denying that The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now are all masterpieces; these four movies are why most people would choose him as the best. Unfortunately, his films since then have been lackluster and pretentious, and despite a few minor successes scattered throughout (Peggy Sue Got Married and Bram Stoker's Dracula are quite good), he really only has four great films to his name.
Sofia: The Daughter
Let's put Sofia's atrocious performance in The Godfather Part III aside and focus solely on her filmmaking. Her debut film The Virgin Suicides is a beautiful, mysterious work of art, and her second feature, Lost in Translation, is one of the best films of the 2000s. Marie Antoinette demonstrates that she is a confident storyteller with a distinct style, and Somewhere pushes this style to glorious, never-before-seen heights. Her latest film The Bling Ring is the least interesting of the bunch, but it isn't a complete train wreck either. Overall, Sofia has made four great films and one passable misfire.
Roman: The Brother
As a director, Roman's two feature films CQ and A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III contain interesting elements but are ultimately disappointing efforts. As a screenwriter, however, Roman's contribution to Wes Anderson's excellent movie Moonrise Kingdom is worth considering, as is his work on The Darjeeling Limited. For the most part, however, Roman's cinematic accomplishments pale in comparison to Francis and Sofia, perhaps because he is more interested in other things.
Gia: The Granddaughter
It's fair to say that Gia wouldn't have been able to make her first film, Palo Alto, without her family connections, but the work stands alone as one of the most beautiful portraits of high school life in America. It certainly trumps any of Roman's directorial efforts, but Sofia's The Virgin Suicides remains a more poignant coming-of-age story. Moreover, with only one film in her oeuvre, it's difficult to determine what the future will be like for Gia. Nevertheless, she is one to watch.
Gia and Roman obviously can't quite compete with Sofia and Francis, but I don't think Francis automatically gets the vote because of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. In fact, I prefer Sofia's moody, evocative dreamscapes, and I believe that Lost in Translation and Somewhere stand up to even the most powerful moments in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Taking this into account, as well as the number of disappointing films Francis has made over the past 30 years, and my vote unequivocally goes to Sofia.
Do you agree? Let us know in the poll below.
The episode opens with Aria’s Mom teaching Hedda Gabler to the Liars. This is a really highbrow metaphor for the girls, but it makes me expect great things. Like, Hedda Gabler on ABC Family? Maybe just a desperate plea for Emmy attention, but I’m on board. Also, this high school doesn’t only teach To Kill A Mockingbird! I feel like the Liars probably didn’t read Hedda Gabler. Whatever. Aria’s Mom also thinks that people dance for the security cameras at Wal-Mart the night before an exam. Which is a lie — everyone dances for the security camera at the closest grungy supermarket these days. Ugh. Aria’s Mom is always behind.
Emily receives a necklace of teeth that reads DEAD GIRLS CAN’T SMILE. But dead girls CAN smile, if you turn their mouth that way. However, they will look bad if you pull out all their teeth. Emily has a panic attack, everyone runs out after her to have a bathroom powwow. If my memories from high school are correct, you are not allowed to do that. I feel like our four Liars are in charge of the school, you know? The necklace falls into the toilet because everyone is being stupid, and Spencer does the most stupid thing because she triggers the flusher sensor thing. Spencer messes up even after Aria warns her about the sensor. Is Aria passing Spencer for smartest Liar? Probably not, but anything can happen on this show...
Aria’s hair looks better when she puts it in a ponytail and lets her top mom layers frame her lemur face. Yes, I am still obsessed with Aria’s hair because it looks the worst. After the necklace of human teeth is lost forever into the Rosewood toilet system, our ladies decide to double attack Mona and Garrett to get more information. Suddenly, a wild Jenna appears wearing a RIDICULOUS voodoo necklace and still pretending she is blind! The most blind ever, because she is running into people now. Oops. Aria is the only one that realizes how Jenna is now the blindest, further solidifying her smart status. Gold star, Aria!
Emily was absent from school all of April. Was she drunk? How did she miss every day of school in April? Didn’t her friends say something? Was it because of Maya? Couldn’t they help out the token lesbian with good hair? Aria thinks it’s really smart for Ezra to be Emily’s tutor on the English exam — another smart move for Aria. AND THEN BIG SOMETHING HAPPENS: MEREDITH ARRIVES. Meredith as in the graduate student that Aria’s Dad slept with! She is actually Jody Sawyer from Center Stage disguised as a crazy home wrecking bitch, which means I like her and hate her at the same time. Meredith wants a teaching position at the high school, and says she won’t put Aria down as a reference. That comment is not even funny/cute/scary, only dumb. Meredith is hot and dumb.
NEXT: Do you suffer from Ambiguous Loss?
Hanna is still visiting Mona in the loony bin, and Mona still looks dead. Remember that weird Halle Berry film, Gothika? It is really bad. Do not watch it. But I think of it whenever I see Mona. Hanna is sharing the latest gossip with Mona, and then she SNAPS. Like, Hanna starts screaming about peach pie and braiding back hair and she throws a chair. Mona sits as stone cold as ever.
Hot British Doctor is lecturing Hanna about crazy people, which is weirdly sexual. (They should bang?) I know Hanna is with Caleb, but Hannah and Caleb have the same haircut now and that’s weird. Basically everyone should be in love with Hot British Doctor (HBD, from here on out). HBD mentions this thing called “Ambiguous Loss,” in which something is gone but yet still here. Sounds very medical, and by that, I mean it sounds like he made it up.
Spencer is hanging out with Toby and notices that Jenna’s life as a blind person is questionable. Duh. Spencer thought to use a search engine (probably Bing), and realized that Jenna’s camp ended Aug. 23. Where’d she go? Clearly Spencer is the one closest to the Nancy Drew here and solidifies her status as Smart One! Toby suddenly tries to have sex with Spencer. As in, he starts giving her a massage and then pulls her shirt up to expose her entire back and starts kissing and Spencer is not wearing a bra and vigorous making out and we see Toby’s weird hip tattoo again and is this show Fifty Shades of Grey? I forget how to use periods/punctuation when high schoolers have almost-sex on television! Mariska (Spencer’s Mom) comes back and it is over. Mariska’s hair looks bad. Mariska sucks.
Back at school, Aria finds a weird earring in her locker. We flash back to when Ali was alive, which means we see my favorite Aria: Rebellious Aria with the pink extension! Ali looks like a midget hooker, and the two are hunting for evidence of Aria’s Dad having an affair with Meredith; Ali finds an earring, so the two decide to trash everything and make it look like Meredith wants to ruin Aria’s entire family. The trashing looks like so much fun, because Ali and Aria write on the walls with lipstick and throw papers. This is one of the best things PLL has ever done. It is like a food fight but with actual damage. Ali also calls Meredith a “vindictive home-wrecking bunny boiler,” which is a burn I am using every day for the rest of my life. Anyhoo, flashback ends and Aria reveals that the earring is the keepsake Aria dropped in Ali’s casket. GRAVE ROBBING.
Aria passes Jenna on her way out, and Jenna says that she recognizes Aria because of Aria’s ringtone. ARIA’S RINGTONG IS RANDOM BEEPS. Jenna, try harder. Jenna wants Aria to play in a recital with her? What? That doesn’t make sense. Jenna is arranging pistachio shells in a weird crop circle. Aria blatantly lies and runs away. Jenna lowers her sunglasses — the universal sign that her eyeballs work — and starts casting an evil spell on Aria. I love Jenna.
NEXT: Where’s Hanna’s Mom?
Mariska bans Spencer from the jail! Garrett is bad! Spencer is wearing an ugly tennis dress! Garrett has evidence that proves… stuff? He says he is innocent! People lie! Medial records don’t! I believe most of this, but I also feel like someone on this show (umm, A) could 100 percent forge medical records. Garrett gives nothing up. Mariska is now Garrett’s lawyer. Something is fishy. Spencer is frazzled.
Everyone’s mother is being really rude this season and we are already two episodes in! Is that the theme for this season? Maybe all the moms are A? Hanna’s Mom is absent the entire episode, which means she is either filming porn somewhere or having sex with that police officer the entire week. Caleb thinks that Mona spends her time in the psych ward “making ashtrays and pooping in a stall without a door,” which sounds mildly boring but not that awful. Hanna mentions that she needs to see Mona because she is suffering from Ambiguous Loss! HBD! Hanna is like a doctor now. Hanna does Mona’s makeup at the hospital/jail. It is really sweet. Hanna deserves a pig cupcake. Mona also whispers her first line from the crazy house: “You’re still received them, aren’t you?” A!!! Mona also steals tweezers from Hanna and pulls something out of her finger. We’re crossing over into Black Swan territory!
Back at the hospital, HBD and Caleb are having a pissing contest over Hanna. HBD mentions Ambiguous Loss, and Caleb realizes that Hanna lied to him. Caleb is a really good boyfriend and Hanna is a bad girlfriend! Ambiguous Loss is everywhere and A is kind of M.I.A.ish this episode. I like the flip, because I learned about Ambiguous Loss and Ambiguous Loss can be used as an excuse for almost anything. I think.
Aria’s Dad is the worst character on this show, taking the spot left open from when Emily’s Mom used to cry in the soup cabinet about her daughter’s lesbian tendencies, when he forces Aria to apologize to Meredith about the office trashing. STUPID. Meredith is a blonde whore! She has evil eyes. Aria confesses because A sent her the worst A text ever, and it wasn’t that hard to tell the truth. Meredith hangs out in a Rosewood coffee house that has not existed before this very day, which makes sense because Rosewood just invents new stores when characters need a new meeting place. Aria finds out that the earring from her dad’s office does not belong to Meredith. That is not a mystery but more just Aria forgetting about the manipulative character traits of her evil dead friend.
NEXT: Jenna has eyeballs!
Emily is listening to pump-up jams before her exam… and… touching herself? She makes a scary orgasm face and then the exam starts. Emily sees the first page and does the classic “I KNOW EVERYTHING” face. She’s enjoying herself. However, as the exam nears the end, Emily has a flashback to the blue car that has been haunting her since… last episode. The flashback comes because some girl in the classroom acts as a trigger. At first, I thought Emily was going into a hazy lesbian fever dream. However, the woman driving the creepy car was JENNA!!! WITH EYEBALLS!!! NO SUNGLASSES!!! BLACK GLOVES!!! Again, Jenna is the best. Emily doesn’t finish the test. But she only had like seven minutes left when the flashback arrived, and she still had roughly 28 questions left. So… I don’t know if she can blame the car kidnap memory returning, you know?
Aria’s Mom sees that Emily is going to flunk, so she decides to fill in the answers for the questions Emily missed. Amazing. Ezra, as Emily’s concerned tutor, comes to talk to Aria’s Mom about the exam. Aria’s Mom gives the wink treatment to Ezra, basically saying I WILL DO ANYTHING SO SAVE EMILY. Ezra and Aria’s Mom have secrets now. Adults lying along with the Liars is perfect.
The episode ends with the girls having another bathroom party and screaming about everything that has happened this episode. They’re all talking on top of each other and no one is listening. Aaand then Jenna stumbles in! The girls hide in the stalls. Jenna fills up a water bottle. Jenna finds Aria’s evil-not-Meredith earring on the bathroom sink. JENNA TAKES OFF HER SUNGLASSES BECAUSE SHE CAN SEE. The Liars see everything from the slits in their bathroom stalls. Brilliant.
Aria is “ready to hang a sign: ‘Bitch can see!’” Spencer decides to wait because they can use the information to their advantage. Spencer is the smartest. Spencer wins. Aria gets close because that is a good sign.
Ultimately, I really hope A is controlling everything that ever happens in Rosewood and it ends up that A is the Mayor from Buffy. Like, the same actor that turns into the giant worm during graduation. This IS season three, and I like the parallels. Little Red Riding Hood is shown in a hunting shop with a lot of knives at the standard “clue” to cap the episode. What will happen with those knives? Are their knives in Hedda Gabler? Would you do the makeup for your crazy friend that tried to murder you and probably had a lot of knives? Are any of you readers suffering from Ambiguous Loss? Don’t play with sharp knives. See you next week.
[Image Credit: ABC Family]
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And now, welcome to the Glee American Idol Variety Hour: 60 minutes (or approximately 43 without the commercials) of broadcast programming whose only purpose is to make us “ooh” and “ahh” while only establishing a minimal emotional connection. Of course, if this was American Idol, that connection would build over the course of the season as we reached the live shows while barreling towards the epic finale of the season. But because this is the broken-down, exhausted jalopy that is Glee, we’re puttering along in that audition phase of the Fox singing competition. Which, if you’re an Idol viewer like myself, tends to get old after the first week. Contrived drama between auditioners? Check. Mean judge? Check. Group week mania before finally pulling it all together at the last minute? Check. Predictable outcome because of all the ridiculously easy-to-read hints dropped throughout the episode? Check. And finally, the closer featuring a Kelly Clarkson ballad? Ch-ch-check. Now if only Ryan Seacrest could have stopped by to keep the episode on track.
Exhibit A: Auditions Circuit
The big plot this week was, of course (because Fox and Lea Michele would not let us forget however hard we tried), Kurt and Rachel’s big auditions for NYADA, and as we saw very blatantly in the previews for the episode, things weren’t going to go right for Mini Babs. Leading up to the big A, we see Kurt preparing for his moment with a rehearsal of “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera. And between the fire hazard — er, candelabra set design — and Artie wheeling around the stage fanning the mist, we knew ol’ Porcelain wasn’t going to stick with this song. Besides, he does know that for most auditions, he’s lucky to get a dinky piano accompaniment, right? Arts schools don’t let you stage an off-Broadway production to get your point across.
Kurt has the brilliant, totally sound idea to switch his audition number to “Not the Boy Next Door,” as famously performed by Hugh Jackman in amazing gold lamé pants in The Boy From Oz. Rachel’s brain suddenly suffers a cataclysmic case of the Midwest conservatism they’ve been fighting for three seasons and she decides to “save” Kurt by breaking their pact to not speak to each other until after the auditions so she can convince him to stick with the safe choice, the Phantom song. A: The audition judge is from New York, and therefore open to expressions of sexuality and personality like the number from Oz. B: Kurt sings “Music of the Night” like a lost little puppy — albeit a super adorable lost little puppy.
When it comes time to audition — shocker — Kurt has gold pants on under his Phantom cape and his “swans” at the ready for an impromptu performance of “Not the Boy Next Door.” Unsurprisingly, it’s amazing and Whoopi the NYADA judge loves it. Of course, because this episode is (indirectly) brought to you by American Idol, Whoopi takes a second to pull the old audition fake-out on Kurt. Giant pause, heavy breathing, then boom: Immense praise.
Cut to Rachel’s audition, which, as we saw approximately 3,500 times on Fox this week (don’t quote me on that — math’s not my forte), is not going to go well. Rachel takes her own advice and sticks with the Barbra Streisand song we’ve heard her sing 3,500 times (although that may be because we went through a phase after we paid 99 cents for it on iTunes), but what’s this? She forgets the words… twice. And Whoopie, in all her turbaned glory, cuts off our young heroine and informs her that this is the end of her NYADA dreams. Of course, it’s completely absurd that Rachel would forget anything. You’ve seen the way she wakes up: Like a musical theater mummy with a smile that could burn through all the sadness in the world. (It’s a little creepy.) But like an Idol audition, the plot set the overconfident egomaniac up to fail and it had to deliver.
Next: Glee finds its Simon Cowell.
Exhibit B: The Mean Judge
Whoopi Goldberg’s NYADA dean Carme Tibideaux is the Simon Cowell of the art school audition circuit. Kurt and Rachel trade stories of her vicious tirades just before they take the stage for judgment. Obviously, the meaner streak comes out when Rachel flubs her whole audition and Whoopi tells her that if she forgets the lyrics on Broadway, the understudy takes her job, as she coolly walks out and turns the lights out on the devastated could-be starlet.
But Whoopi really brings it home when she offers up high praise to Kurt. Even Simon knows, being so brutally honest only works if you occasionally dole out servings of some very serious praise. And telling Kurt that Hugh Jackman would have been impressed with his performance may have been an overstatement, but it certainly fits the bill.
Exhibit C: Group Week
Next stop: Idol’s infamous group week, wherein a gaggle of singers fight and cry and fear failure until they get it together in the 11th hour. The Glee version of this comes when all the New Directions guys gather to muse over their concerns about Puck’s potential to flunk out of high school weeks before graduation, which is a plotline that really should have come up months ago. (If anyone has the potential to flunk out, it’s Puck.) Apparently, they all work out together too (except for Joe of the ridiculous dreads, who stands there like he’s afraid the free weights might bite him).
After Puck’s plan to pass Geography by seducing his teacher fails (and here you thought he’d worked out all his Mary Kay Letourneau wiggles) and he sings an unwieldy version of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” that is so powerful it makes 1980s groupies pop out of lockers, the Glee gang gathers to prep him just enough to pass his final exam. And by prep, I mean they all sing a rock version of “The Rain in Spain” and Puck consequently only knows the test answers that come from the lyrics of the My Fair Lady tune. Add in the “sob story” about his deadbeat dad showing up to ask him for money, inspiring him to graduate and become a better man, and you’ve got the perfect group week package.
Exhibit D: PSA/Sob Story
This week on the lesson-learning portion of Glee, we learn about the perils of domestic abuse. (I’m fairly certain they’re just pulling social issues out of a hat at this point.) Bieste comes to school with a shiner, and assuming no one could get the jump on Bieste, the glee club girls who aren’t stuck in a wheelchair or crying over a flubbed audition make jokes in the hallway about her getting clocked by her husband. To teach them a lesson for their heartlessness — which is actually an accurate depiction of how even the sweetest high school girls sometimes act among friends in the hallway — Sue, the co-advisor of the glee club, and her mini-me NeNe Leakes rope Bieste into a lesson for the girls. She asks them to turn a song into an empowerment anthem for women, and they screw it up on the first round. But we’ll get to that part in just a minute.
By the time the girls get it right with the song choice — Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out” — we find that Bieste was hit by her husband Cooter, and that while she told Sue she moved out to live with her sister, she’s really staying with the abuser and trying to work things out. And much like last week’s one-off treatment of the gender identification issue facing many teens, this quickie after-school special of the week treatment of such a huge issue like domestic abuse undermines the gravity of the topic. Out of nowhere Bieste has an abusive husband, Sue puts a glee-club bandaid on it, and she really thought that was the end of it? Once again, this show bites off a bigger topic than it can even fit between its tiny little molars. And once again, the series fails to lend the appropriate respect to the sensitive topic. Besides, they’ve got a truly disturbing issue ready and ripe for the picking: Can we tackle Will’s infantilism soon, please?
Next: And now for a very inappropriate Broadway number.
Exhibit E: Inappropriate Broadway Number
It’s a good thing Randy Jackson was too busy picking out a polka dot bowtie for tonight’s Idol to be around to see the Chicago number that the girls picked out to combat domestic abuse. (In case you don’t watch Idol auditions every year like I do, you should know that if there’s one thing Randy hates about auditions, it’s all the folks who come in and try to perform Broadway numbers for him and his fellow judges. No! Not the vibrato!)
This time, the inappropriateness wasn’t so much about genre as it was about tact, but we’ll let the slant connection slide. While Bieste is wrestling with her struggle with domestic violence, these ladies waltz up on stage in skimpy lingerie and sing “a song about crazy women in their panties killing men for chewing gum.” (For once, NeNe makes a damn good point.) Randy would probably have some misplaced metaphor about a fish to insert here right about now.
Exhibit F: Close with a Kelly Clarkson Ballad
After all is said and done — Puck miraculously passes his exam using only facts obtained from My Fair Lady, Kurt rocks his audition, the glee girls pat themselves on the back for singing an uplifting song, and Rachel blows her audition — we can’t escape the episode without a big emotional ballad to watch all the storylines get wrapped up with a bow. And what better way to pay homage to Idol than by closing with a Kelly Clarkson ballad, sung by Rachel and appropriately titled “Cry.” With this we get the Idol auditions one-two punch: rousing ballad courtesy of the show’s own success story (nepotism!) and an emotional sob story to send us on our merry way (but really beg us to come back and make sure that heartbreaking young person achieve their dream, by golly!).
And in closing, because there are still parts of this show that we love, some of the funny little moments that were the spoon full of sugar to help us swallow “Choke”:
--One of Rachel’s biggest fears is “Menstrual Bloat.”
--Brittany’s prom theme idea is “Aliens” and involves a probing booth.
--An A+ for the intro that hearkened back to Season 1’s wildly (terrifyingly) driven Rachel Berry.
--Finn knows something’s wrong with Puck because he hasn’t been logging onto any Call of Duty tourneys.
--Rachel can’t even lie to Kurt when he asks if he can sing “Music of the Night” as well as Michael Crawford.
--Bieste’s sister is named Denise Bieste, because of course she is.
--Puck gives himself the name “Puckgellan” to amp himself up for his geography test.
Did you see it all coming? Are you getting tired of the way the show throws emotional topics around in the plot? Do you think I’m nuts for finding all these connection to Idol? Have I just been watching too much Fox?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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