As I waited with my friend Ed and the lovely Miss Lolita, I noticed a number of dorks wearing down jackets with their baseball caps backwards on their head. The pseudo-director look, appropriate for the Angelika Film Center and its approximate closeness to New York University and its film school, most of the crowd trash talking Roman Coppola and how the only logical reason he was even allowed to make this film was that his father currently sits on the MGM/UA board of directors. This was sure to be fun.
So Ed and Lolita and I get our seats before Ed grabs some snacks and I take a moment in the washroom. Now, normally, I would not mention going to take a leak in a review, but who should I run into in the can but Wes Anderson. Which was weird because, from what I understand, he lives closer to the other theatre in the city playing the film. But there he was, in his suit which I can only guesstimate as being orange and corduroy, taking a squirt next to me. Despite my public appearance as a sick fuck, I am not a pervert, so I didn’t take a moment to check out his smooth hobbit action. Maybe if I were still in Los Angeles, I might look over, but that kind of action is frowned upon in the Big Apple. We’re too cool for that kind of stargazing here. So I finish my tinkle, wash my hands and rejoin my group inside the theatre… where Wes and his crew have set up camp right behind us. I really dig Wes as a filmmaker, although I hate the bastard because he’s two years younger than me and has more latent talent. Lolita won’t let me buy another Wes Anderson film because they have Owen Wilson in them, who she considers to be the single most annoying person on the face of the planet. I’ve tried to introduce her to Bottle Rocket, but she totally refuses to watch. It’s not just the nose either. It’s the voice. That California rich kid constantly wasted on chronic nasal twang. I can understand where she’s coming from. It does get annoying after a while, which is why I like Luke Wilson much better as an actor.
So after some totally forgettable previews, the movie begins. Well, the movie within the movie begins. Well, more to the point, the first movie within the movie begins. Paul Ballard (the perpetually greasy Henry Thomas substitute Jeremy Davies) has borrowed some camera equipment and film stock from his job to shoot a “real” film in which documents every possible moment of his life as an American ex-patriot in 1969 Paris, along with his French stewardess girlfriend Marlene (Elodie Bouchez) when he not working on Dragonfly, a sassy and sexy Barbarella-ish sci-fi romp. Paul finds himself becoming the director of Dragonfly after the original director Andrezej (the ubiquitous Gerard Depardieu, whose appearance in any movie that is shot in or about France is assured in the French Bill of Rights) is fired from the project and initial replacement director Felix DeMarco (Jason Schwartzman, the director’s cousin and the first of two mandatory Clan Coppola appearances) opts out of the production following a suspicious car accident. With little time and money, Paul must figure out a better ending to the film with little time and money on his side.
CQ works best when it focuses on its Dragonfly sequences. Newcomer Angela Lindvall is heartbreakingly stunning in her beauty, and seems to be having a great time both as the title character of the sci-fi film as well as Valentine the actress. Joining in on the fun is Billy Zane as the mysterious Mister E, Dragonfly’s main adversary and leader of the revolutionaries training on a secret moon base who aim to overthrow the world in the name of bohemia, and John Philip Law as the head of the secret government outfit who hires Dragonfly for her mission.
The story loses some momentum when we are taken away from Dragonfly. Jason Schwartzman is basically wasted in a throw away cameo as a hip young filmmaker (who seemingly took his wardrobe cues from the aforementioned Wes Anderson). The few moments with Dean Stockwell, as Paul’s father who makes a quick stopover in Paris on the way to another lecture, are wonderful but sadly would not exist if Coppola could move his story along without resorting to guest characters popping in to give Paul the direction he needs. And the short bursts of energy from Giancarlo Giannini as Dragonfly’s Dino DeLaurentiis-like producer Enzo are far too short and spaced far too apart from each other. Some might recognize Sofia Coppola in her blink and you’ll miss it shot as one of Enzo’s mistresses and Paris, Texas writer/Bottle Rocket co-producer L.M. “Kit” Carson as one of Paul’s fantasy critics.
This is not to say CQ is a bad movie, for it is not. The film is often filled with a sense of pure wonderment and excitement not often seen in today’s cinema du sarcasm. I give CQ, on a whole, an A- for effort and a C+ for execution, with a special understanding that the Dragonfly sequences get two A+ ratings.Rating: C+