The Bling Ring reviews

Big Magilla
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Re: The Bling Ring reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu May 16, 2013 10:29 pm

By Jake Howell jake.howell@utoronto.ca
Un Certain Regard Review: The Bling Ring
Posted Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring opened Un Certain Regard and the reception is mixed, to say the least. Judging from online reactions, fellow critics at Cannes seem to call it “vapid” or other synonyms for empty—but it’s a tricky divide between whether or not the general vapidity of the film is intended satire or altogether a mistake. For my money, The Bling Ring is an early faux pas of the Festival; an overwhelmingly dull, why-do-we-care picture that was must have been far more fun to shoot than it is to actually consume.

Based on a Nancy Jo Sales article in Vanity Fair, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” Coppola dramatizes the real-life exploits of the Hollywood Hills Burglars, a mostly-teenaged band of bleeding-edge fashionistas robbing celebrity mansions for fun and profit. But calling this adaptation something other than a gassy flight of fancy from Sofia Coppola would be like trying to skip rocks in a wading pool: there’s just not enough depth. The Bling Ring isn’t heavy enough to matter in a larger conversation, nor is it entertaining enough to be decent popcorn fodder. Fans of Emma Watson—a supporting member of the troupe—may enjoy watching her try on different clothes and conspicuously break bad, but this would be more generally appealing if the rest of the film provided a reason for us to give a hoot.

From the vacuous trailer we should have known the film is rinse-and-repeat; a 90-minute feature of careless break-ins, high-end name-checking, and copious drug use. When not stealing or snorting cocaine, the Blingers hit the nightclubs and other underground locales, spending their stolen cash, fencing their goods, and dancing in slow-motion to electro songs. The only other real diversions are the sprinkles of external exposition framed around the burglaries a la The Social Network’s closed-doors procedurals, though Coppola’s film lacks the zingy dialogue of David Fincher’s great film. The depositions given by post-arrest Ringers provide Coppola with the rudimentary element to get the party started, but the script is brought down with poorly-conveyed motivations, a disregard for character growth and stiffness across the board. If the film were a five-minute music video for one of the soundtrack’s many head-bobbers, it would probably be okay. But a feature this doesn’t make, especially given Coppola’s filmography and her played-out obsession with rich people and their ennui.

It’s not clear if we’re supposed to find The Bling Ring’s title players forgettable, but they are. The only male of the bunch, Israel Broussard’s Marc, is a decent-enough lead; indeed, starring across from Broussard is the equally-okay Katie Chang (Rebecca). But others in the group are barely worth singling out due to Coppola’s cookie cutter treatment of the ensemble. Emma Watson’s Nicki is frankly only mentionable because of her overt success as Harry Potter’s Hermione, and that her superstar fame is likely part of the joke—this is a shame and a missed opportunity. Last year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower showed Watson’s charms are not simply magickal ones, and she could have done more if Coppola demanded her of it. At the end of the day, it’s useless to bother distinguishing between each of the Blingers, as their throng of superficiality is only separated by their different intonations and silly catchphrases. They steal and have fun. And then they get caught.

The film’s satirical thrust—which is broached somewhere in the first act and is repeated until the credits ad boredom—is around the idolization of celebrities and the fakeness of it all. But this raises a bigger question, though: with the clichéd script, Emma Watson’s wooden American accent, and the stereotypical depiction of American high school students (everybody’s an asshole), are these obvious flaws intended to reflect of the film’s major theme of fakeness? Or are they just some of the many jagged edges in a poorly-conceived, irrelevant adaptation? Count me in on the latter.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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The Bling Ring reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu May 16, 2013 9:54 am

Variety

Cannes Film Review: ‘The Bling Ring’

A spiritual sequel of sorts to 'The Social Network,' Sofia Coppola's film offers a lively and fascinating look at a real-life teen crime spree Scott Foundas
Chief Film Critic

When future generations want to understand how we lived at the dawn of the plugged-in, privacy-free, Paris Hilton-ized 21st century, there will likely be few films more instructive than “The Bling Ring.” A spiritual sequel of sorts to “The Social Network,” Sofia Coppola’s fact-based tale of the 2008-09 crime spree by a gang of enterprising SoCal teens targeting the homes of high-profile celebrities reps a return to more pop, accessible filmmaking for the “Lost in Translation” auteur following the austere “Somewhere” (which earned only $1.7 million domestically). Though it lacks the name cast and self-consciously outre style of another recent girls-gone-wild opus, “Spring Breakers,” this lively and fascinating pic should score well with its target hipster demo, delivering solid arthouse numbers for upstart distrib A24, which plans a June release Stateside.

Given her interest in little girls lost and the vacuousness of celebrity — from the age of Enlightenment to that of Facebook — it’s easy to understand Coppola’s attraction to the story of San Fernando Valley high schoolers who, fueled by ennui and technological smarts, stole upwards of $3 million in cash, clothes and designer swag from a raft of actors, models and reality stars. But where “Lost in Translation,” “Marie Antoinette” and “Somewhere” were all studies of desiccated privilege as seen from the inside looking out, “The Bling Ring” inverts the perspective, focusing on the young barbarians at the gate, drawn to glitter and glitz like Nathanael West’s locusts to the flame.

Indeed, while some may liken the pic’s characters to the masked marauders of both “Spring Breakers” and Michael Bay’s recent “Pain & Gain,” Coppola’s markedly less violent offenders don’t seek wealth so much as notoriety — a goal that has rarely seemed more attainable than in this age of Warholian decadence, where being famous for being famous is more desirable than being famous for anything else. So “The Bling Ring” traces an intriguing feedback loop of which it is knowingly a part: a movie that affords its subjects the very immortality they so aggressively sought.

Aside from character names, Coppola sticks rather closely to the facts as reported in Nancy Jo Sales’ 2010 Vanity Fair feature “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” which came adorned with a glossy portrait photo of alleged “ring” member Alexis Neiers coyly drinking a Frappuccino, more than ready for her closeup. In that same spirit, the film smartly starts at the end of the story and works its way backward through the media prism, with various characters narrating their version of events to a Sales-like reporter. Pic remains similarly poker-faced throughout, sustaining a tone pitched somewhere between satire and grudging admiration, rarely tipping its hand in either direction.

In Coppola’s telling, Neiers becomes Nicki (Emma Watson), who, along, with younger sister Emily (Georgia Rock) and adopted sister/BFF Sam (Taissa Farmiga), is amusingly home-schooled by her mother (Leslie Mann) in lessons drawn from self-help bestseller “The Secret.” Meanwhile, across town at a remedial high school, shy new kid Mark (Israel Broussard) makes fast friends with Rebecca (Katie Chang), an Asian-American fashionista who shares his taste in life’s finer, trendier things. After graduation, she tells him, she hopes to attend Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design, “where all the ‘Hills’ girls went.” He replies that, someday, he’d like to have his own “lifestyle brand.” Always adept at directing young performers, Coppola encourages fine work here from her cast of mostly newcomers, with Watson taking special relish in shedding her goody-two-shoes “Harry Potter” persona. Broussard also makes a strong impression as the wallflower with a yen for fuchsia stilettos.
The crime spree begins in earnest, when Mark and Rebecca rob the home of a vacationing classmate. But soon, with Nicki, Sam and occasional other accomplices along for the ride, they set their sights on bigger fish. First up: the estimable Ms. Hilton, whose various social-media accounts allow the burglars to track her like a tropical storm. When they know she’ll be away for a long evening, they strike her palatial Hollywood Hills pad, satellite photos from Google Earth indicating the best angle of approach. (The front-door key? Under the mat, of course.) In an especially delicious case of life imitating art imitating life, the real Hilton both cameos as herself and allowed Coppola to shoot inside her real home, the walls lined with gaudy artists’ renderings of the hotel heiress, the closets piled high with mountains of Prada and Miu Miu.

Raids on other similarly bejeweled palaces (including those of Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox) follow, aided by the surfeit of personal info available to anyone with an Internet connection. As in life, most of the victims either don’t report the crimes or don’t quite realize they’ve happened in the first place — including Hilton, who only catches on after the intruders make a rather brazen return visit. At no point do these haute-couture Robin Hoods take particular pains to conceal their identities, raising the notion that, on some level, they actually hope to be caught. Which leads to the biggest dilemma of them all: What to wear in court?

Working with her longtime collaborators — the late cinematographer Harris Savides (who became ill during production and was replaced by the equally gifted Christopher Blauvelt) and editor Sarah Flack — Coppola brings a distinct visual signature to each break-in, one a flurry of rapidly edited, closeup surveillance video, another (when the gang descends on reality star Audrina Partridge’s abode) a simple, elegant wide shot seen from a distant remove. The diverse but hip-hop-centric soundtrack, including cuts by Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Big K.R.I.T., rivals that of “The Great Gatsby” as Cannes’ liveliest.


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