Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The Bling Ring": Thou Shalt Not Covet

The Bling Ring”, directed by Sofia Coppola (and from American Zeotrope and the Francis Ford Coppola legacy) has gotten a lot of attention for its supposedly farce-like treatment of celebrity wealth.  Perhaps it does make further fun of the income inequality in America.
It also pokes fun at the teen mind.  A group of teenagers in an alternative high school in Los Angeles hit upon the idea of “going to celebrity homes” (especially Paris Hilton and Linsday Lohan) when they announce they aren’t home on Facebook.  The original ring leader seems to be Rebecca (Katie Chang) or perhaps Nicki (Emma Watson), but the enlist a troubled teen boy Marc (Israel Broussard) to lead the effort.  Now Marc has problems about his own rather soft and feminine body image.  All of the teens think they can become more popular by possessing celebrity’s clothes.
It’s easy to moralize about the teen values. The people they rob, some of them, don’t have the world’s best reputations either, “have” a not more things than they do.  Burt it’s really accomplishing something that matters.  If an actor or produce that I rather admire has  a big house (say Ashton Kutcher or Ben Affleck) has done a lot, the home and possessions are incidental.  It’s the accomplishments that matter.  Some younger actors (I know a few of them personally) are not necessarily rich or suitable targets for teen envy.  Thou shalt not covet.
As for Kutcher, by the way (“A plus K”) I remember he one time tweeted the location of a party of a friend to his million plus followers.  That was just before I went to California myself in 2012.  I could have gone to the party!  I think my hotel on the 405 was close to that Bel Air house.
The film, while sold as a comedy, progresses more like a docudrama.  It’s punctuated by home schooling by one of the new age moms, who seems blinded to what is going on.  The celebrities don’t lock their doors or leave keys under outdoor mats.  But they seem to have camera surveillance.  Eventually, the security companies help police track down the teens.
The scenes where the teens get arrested, one by one, are brutal and captivating.  So is the scene where the harsh judge sentences them to up to 4 years in prison.  They are tried as adults.  We finally see them in orange jumpers, chained as they get on Sheriff’s department busses to be taken to prison.
The official site is here. This film has a new indie distributor, A24, associated with FilmNation (is that FilmDistrict?)  Is this distributor part of the Coppola setup?

I saw the film at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA on a Monday night, a fair crowd.

There is controversy in Hollywood today as Jim Carrey has refused to endorse his new movie “K.A. II” because of apparently gratuitous gun violence.  Carrey has conscience problems after Sandy Hook.  Does he still earn income from it?  Has he broken his contract?  

Picture: from the Angelino Hotel on the 405, my trip in 2012 

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