(United Artists) I am young and poor and sometimes unfocused. When you have money and age or accomplishment on your side, there is also usually order. This kind of laissez-faire existence without a governing body on time or direction gets extended, oftentimes, to the smallest decisions. This universal law is evidenced in CQ, a little-seen indie from 2001 by Roman Coppola -- son of Francis, sister of Sofia -- and his debut. It is the work of someone who's hungry, and it works as a rewarding meal and a quickie snack.
CQ is an intriguing piece of work for the discerning film fan, and a more challenging go for the casual viewer. It's an inside movies-movie and an inside artist’s piece of art. It follows a film editor in France in 1969 (played by Jeremy Davies), hollowed out by what he thinks is his work on a trifle of a sci-fi action pic, who tries to redeem himself by making an artsy cinema verite exploration of his own life while failing to see that it's really the film that’s washing him away. By investing all his spare time filming his spare time, his cups of coffee, his draining bathwater, his girlfriend's naked form over there in the bed, he disconnects himself from all of it, most of all the girlfriend. She's a delightful, honest thing, even as he claims to be making this film in the interest of honesty, that wishes only to engage his emotions even as he hides them all behind a camera.
CQ is a flick slightly ahead of its time, as in the past decade, culture has grown only more voyeuristic and open -- "real," if you will, even if that reality is more often than not subverted. We are all now more, to one degree or another, the wizards behind our own curtains, as is the Paul character is in this movie from 2001, set in 1969. Paul spouts thoughts, musings, and observations into a willing lens, not much different than Pauly D on Jersey Shore, but functions in life like a bramble being blown around in the background of a Western. Tell YouTube and Facebook statuses all you want, but is telling your feelings the same as showing them? Is talking about life living it?
So Paul gets diluted between his "film" that is his personal work and the "movie" that is his job, just as CQ dilutes between the two. CQ is not just a period piece; it's shot in period. That is to say Amadeus is a period piece, but a discerning eye tells you it's from the '80s. CQ carries all the aesthetic, not just from set dressing and costume, but to quality of film and style of shots of the 1969 it depicts so that the only giveaway is the presence of Davies, Billy Zane (playing the villain of the movie-in-the-movie), Gerard Depardieu (playing the director of the movie-in-the-movie) and Jason Schwartzman (playing the second director of the movie-in-the-movie).
Roman Coppola is capable and his ambitions are clear -- the mirroring and colluding of Paul's life and art are evident without being heavy-handed and are sometimes unexpected, down to a spy plot in Paul's real life revolving around someone sabotaging the set and stealing film, but it all gets to be, just like for Paul himself, less than lucid, a little less penetrable for the audience. CQ does a better job than most at capturing the mirages and fun-house mirrors that can be a life in the biz, and that was the point, along with astute observations about our constantly expressive world. It is effective…and made me want to get off the Internet and go outside.
For Fans Of: Living in Oblivion, S.O.B., Blow-Up
Why We Like It: Coppola, Jeremy Davies, Team Buzzine Hearts Neo-Psychedlic Satirical Self-Examination Flicks