‘Quirky’ and Hollywood: Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson

Guest blogger Sophie Stephenson writes:

In Sofia Coppola’s films The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, themes of troubled adolescence, nostalgia, romance and distanced family relations are present throughout them all. Other aspects which mark her out as an auteur are trendy music, such as the 80s pop soundtrack that accompanies Marie Antoinette; shooting on location – Versaille in Antoinette and Tokyo in Lost in Translation, the pastel colors which are present in all the above movies; and casting the same actors, mainly Kirsten Dunst.

I think in Bree Hoskin’s article on The Virgin Suicides, the observation by A.O Scott that the film looks as though it has been filmed through a layer of gauze is also true of Lost in Translation. Both films have a certain hazy look about them. In one specific scene in Lost in Translation, we see Bob (Bill Murray) playing golf on a course with a Japanese mountain behind him, the mountain can barely be seen and is very dreamlike. The bright lights of Tokyo are also used to great effect, and the pastel pink colors are evident in Charlotte’s (Scarlett Johansson) lipstick, the flowers she hangs in her hotel room and the wig she adorns when singing karaoke.

The film also in a way includes Hoskin’s theme of nostalgia, as Bob is an aging movie star who is now doing TV commercials in Japan to make a living. I think this also can be considered ‘ironic casting’, as this may be an accurate portrayal of Bill Murray’s career today.

This film is hard to categorize into a certain genre. It contains elements of romance and melodrama, but all of these are very subtle. This could also be said of Wes Anderson’s films, such as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. Instead of being put into a specific genre, these films have fallen into the category of ‘quirky’. Films which have been deemed quirky may be considered ironic, artier than most mainstream Hollywood and contain actors cast against type. Although quirky is hard to define, this word seems a good fit for the films of Anderson and Coppola.

What’s your favorite quirky film or filmmaker? Let us know in the comments!

Sophie Stephenson is a 23-year-old student from Edinburgh, Scotland, currently studying a degree in English and Film. It is her ambition to pursue a career in film journalism, and she started her blog to enable people to read her writing. She has a keen interest in crime and fantasy films. For more information, visit Literally Geeking.