Somewhere is the new film written and directed by Sophia Coppola. She is considered an artist, though stronger on mood, and atmospherics than story. She has been branded that way, but in fact her story, her narrative is extremely sublime; it is about the “gaze” and an exploration of it without objectifying it or fetishizing it. All this with a female aesthetic in which the body in this case male, and female in her previous Marie Antoinette; are in the artistic sense go beyond the traditional objective of being shown off and voyeuristically consumed. An absence of peep show titillation, plastic and paint.
The film is about Johnny Macro ( Stephen Dorff ), a bad-boy B movie star between jobs who lives in the iconic Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Strip; despite the groupies, drugs and other pleasures, he does not really own his life. He is a tenant with some occupancy rights, though limited. Then his visit from his eleven year old daughter nudges him to the surface. It an exploration of the ostensibly devouring nature of celebrity, even at margins of the major league level. Celebrity as commodity; celebrity as some sort of cultural prostitute that drives demand for goods and services. Whether its Snooki or Justin Bieber or even John Travolta, there is not much difference. Except with Coppola it is. Somewhere is an experimental film with pop culture context. Its about exploring in-between spaces where people are not totally bereft of authenticity , but they are posing, but not obsessively so. Call it gaming theory where their lives are the fabrication of a meme of their own existence.
The pop psychology line suggests our obsession with celebrity may be the result of an unfulfilled quest for personal realization. A desire for a dose of exile; In this alternative universe, nothing is genuine. Everything under the artificial sun is performance, and, as a result, there is insecurity and self-created alienation, usually accompanied by some sort of collapse where someone take the place, or there is resurrection and rebirth. Coppola’s movie is about dislocation and the splintering of self and reflects her own seemingly obsession with the way wealth and fame disfigure people.
Sofia Coppola attempts to portray the female figure in a different way then classical film. She attempts to use the sexual in such a way that it brings up issues about the female sexuality or provides depth into her characters. Also, while she attempts to keep the audience from viewing the female characters with the male gaze, she uses the gaze sparingly in her films. Rarely is it on the main character unless is provides significant insight in the character. In particular, Lost in Translation (2003) refrains from allowing Charlotte from being viewed in this way by Bob Harris. The female figure is portrayed differently then it would be in a classical film when directed by the female director. Some of this could do with the type of plot in the various films, but that also could mean that Coppola is consciously making an attempt to prevent the male gaze from occurring unless she has a specific reason for it. ( Paul Swendsrud )
Andrew McConnell Stott: …Infused with the nascent spirit of romanticism, late-eighteenth-century lovers of literature who desired greater intimacy with their favorite works set off to commune with the spirit of genius as it lingered in place. Writers became objects of fascination, celebrities noted not for their craft or erudition but for their vivid individuality and the expansive range of their passions. For living legends like Voltaire and Rousseau, daily life involved a procession of curious sightseers who came not to speak with them as equals, but to nudge each other and point as if gazing at monuments, which made Rousseau so uneasy he built a trapdoor in his study to escape them. Souvenirs were an essential part of the experience, a sliver of the mundane snatched to unite oneself to the vast infinity of the sublime. Though fairly innocuous in the case of literary gardens, they could also be decidedly ghoulish.
The body of the novelist Laurence Sterne was dug up shortly after his death by resurrectionists at the behest of surgeons who prized the opportunity to examine the great wit’s organs. The body was recognized on the slab by horrified students also acquainted with literature. When the body of John Milton was exhumed in 1790 in order to locate the exact site of his grave, it was immediately ransacked for hair, teeth, and ribs and put on display for anyone willing to pay sixpence. The dismantled Milton was eventually put back together, but only after a scandalized antiquarian bought back the remains at an inflated price. The heart of Percy Bysshe Shelley was famously plucked from the flames of his funeral pyre on a beach near Viareggio and squabbled over by Leigh Hunt and Edward Trelawny, the former wishing to preserve it in a jar of wine, and the latter wanting to present it to Shelley’s widow, Mary, who eventually kept it in a drawer of her writing table. Lord Byron had wanted to keep Shelley’s skull, but Trelawny, “remembering he had previously used one as a drinking cup,” only preserved a fragment of it, which is now in the possession of the Pforzheimer Collection of the New York Public Library…. ( Stott)