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|Virgin Suicides-Dvd |
Previously criticized for her marginal acting skills, Sofia Coppola made her directorial debut with The Virgin Suicides and silenced her detractors. No amount of coaching from her director father (Francis Coppola) or husba... more »
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Remarkable Debut for Director Sofia Coppola!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 12/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The Virgin Suicides' is a beautiful, understated, and tragic drama, punctuated by great rock music of the late '70s, and featuring terrific performances, particularly by Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartlett, and a nearly unrecognizable Kathleen Turner. What makes the film even more remarkable is that it is the directorial debut by Francis Ford Coppola's daughter, Sofia, best known prior to this by her less-than-stellar performance in 'Godfather 3'! Her sensitivity with this material establishes her as a director to be reckoned with, and a true talent!The film focuses on the five Lisbon sisters, beautiful, yet repressed by a religious and overly protective mother (Turner), who encourages their intellectual growth, but tries to block any sexual or emotional stirrings. The girls turn their passions into other channels, bonding tightly with one another, and viewing the world as outsiders. When the youngest attempts, then succeeds at killing herself, the family gains an unwanted notoriety, and a group of local boys begin to worship the remaining sisters from afar, gathering materials, and creating a fantasy world about them. Lux, the most beautiful and free-spirited of the sisters (Dunst), attracts the attentions of the most popular boy in school, Tripp (Hartnett), who confuses raging hormones with love, and begins a campaign to 'have' her. Winning the respect of their father (James Woods, in another excellent 'against-type' portrayal), he succeeds in wearing the mother down, and arranges 'dates' for the sisters, so he can take Lux to the Homecoming Dance. The party provides the springboard for the tragedy that gives the film its name, and catapults the girls into icons that the boys who admire them can never forget.There are many reasons to buy this film; Coppola's understanding of how boys and girls interact, and her sure touch with their issues about sexuality; Kirsten Dunst's best performance to date, conveying both sweetness, and barely suppressed erotic desire; Kathleen Turner's breakthrough as a character actress, sacrificing her glamorous persona for a stocky and frumpy matron. There are some excellent cameos, as well, particularly Danny DeVito as a clueless psychiatrist, Scott Glenn as a family priest who offers platitudes instead of comfort, and Michael Paré as an older Tripp, reminiscing about Lux, and their 'love'.This is a very special film, one that you will not soon forget! I highly recommend it!"
The Loss Of Innocence
Kayla | Meridian, MS USA | 06/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Virgin Suicides is Sofia Coppola's directorial debut, and its effectiveness illustrates that she's better behind the camera than she is in front of it. (Most movie-goers will remember her ill-fated attempt to portray Michael Corleone's daughter in The Godfather III.) Tragic, haunting, and sometimes darkly comedic, this movie leaves a strong impression in its telling of a story about the destruction of innocence. The film is based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides, which happens to be Coppola's favorite novel. As a result, she felt that, in bringing the adaptation to the screen, she had a strong responsibility to be faithful to the source material. The time frame is the mid-'70s and the setting is an upper class suburban community in Michigan. The film tells the sad story of the five Lisbon sisters - Cecilia (age 13, played by Hanna Hall), Lux (age 14, played by Kirsten Dunst), Bonnie (age 15, played by Chelsea Swain), Mary (age 16, played by A.J. Cook), and Therese (age 17, played by Leslie Hayman) - all of whom come to a bad end before finishing high school (this much is revealed during the introductory voiceover, which is provided by Giovanni Ribisi). Unhappy, neglected Cecilia is the first to give up on life - after surviving one suicide attempt, she is successful on the second try. In the wake of that event, the atmosphere surrounding the surviving sisters becomes grim, and their parents' overprotectiveness threatens to suffocate them. For most children, mothers and fathers set boundaries; for the Lisbons, it's iron bars. The Virgin Suicides is filmed as a memory looking back through 25 years, and the point-of-view is that of a boy who was in love with one (or perhaps all) of the girls. As a result, the events recounted here offer a filtered perspective of the sisters and the complexities of their lives. Presenting things in this manner, The Virgin Suicides manages to be both poignant and touchingly nostalgic. Also, Coppola's style is such that she avoids turning the film into a sudsy melodrama that glamorizes self-destruction. One of The Virgin Suicides' strengths is its ability to effectively capture the nuances of teenage life during the '70s. Coppola gets all of the little things right: the awkwardness of a chaperoned boy/girl party, the thrill of first love, and the nervousness of the pre-dance ritual (in this case, the homecoming dance, not the prom). The film also boasts a solid soundtrack featuring a few songs that haven't been endlessly recycled in other, recent, set-in-the-'70s features. In one key scene, music provides a link between the Lisbon girls and the outside world - it becomes their only viable means of communication and free expression. Most of the cast is comprised of fresh faces, all of whom do solid jobs. The more recognizable names include Kirsten Dunst as Lux (the girl with the most visible role), James Woods (as the girls' father), and Kathleen Turner (as their mother). Josh Hartnett (last seen as the guy who loses the girl in Here On Earth), who is slowly building a reputation in Hollywood, plays heartthrob Trip Fontaine, whose poor treatment of Lux sets off a chain of events that leads to one of the movie's tragedies. The Virgin Suicides also includes excerpts from a modern-day interview with a forty-something Trip (played by Michael Pare), who clearly has regrets about his treatment of Lux. By using occasional bursts of humor and setting up the film as a collage of reminiscences, Coppola establishes a mood that is wistful and sad, but not funereal. There are a few instances when the film gets a little heavy handed, but, for the most part, the tone is well modulated. Although Coppola almost certainly gained more than a little help from her famous father in getting the production off the ground, the talent evident in her debut argues that this is not a case of unwarranted nepotism. The apple has not fallen far from the tree."
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 01/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was amazing. The entire piece comes off as being a dream or memory(which is what it is), it's so wispy and cryptic. Like memories, the pieces aren't all there. The criticisms I've heard mainly reflect that there is no motivation for the suicides, or that the three 'Non-Lux, non-Cecilia'(i.e., Bonnie, Mary, and Therese) aren't developed. That's the point. The girls aren't intended to be individual characters, but a collective symbol of unobtainable beauty and desire always out of reach. The only reason Cecilia and Lux are as developed as they are is that Cecilia killed herself first, and Lux played a vital role in one particular boy's memory. If another boy had told the story, he may have recalled a version where Bonnie played a key part.Also, the nature of the suicides was meant to be unknown. That's the premise of the movie. The movie is shown from the perspective of the neighborhood boys, who have never found out why it happened. The movie retains the voyeuristic sense by not letting us know anything the boys never did. In fact, the only time we see inside the house(with the exception of Cecilia's initial attempt, but that is only because the news spread regardless) is when another character is in there whose story eventually gets back to the boys.The film works best in the first half, when it is virtually without a main plot, and is made up only of fantasies, dreams, and memories. Once we get to the present-day(in the narrator's sense) storyline(the dance), it becomes more like a normal teen flick(while still holding true to the dark suicide theme) and loses the surreality that keeps you captivated in the first forty or so minutes. However, by the time of the sisters' final act, the film has descended back into its incredible feel of 'this-isn't-happening', and the Virgin Suicides pulls off exactly what it promises: a mysterious, seductive tale we can't hope to understand."
70s Gothic yet utterly tender... you won't forget it
Miguel Cane | Mexico City, Mexico | 01/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The Virgin Suicides' is one of the most beautiful and underrated films of the past year.It is most of all a tragic drama, punctuated by a great soundtrack and a just-right reproduction from the mid '70s, and featuring outstanding performances by its mainly young and then-little-known cast, filled with fresh faces. These come from Kirsten Dunst (as doomed and lovely Lux Lisbon), estremely good James Woods, and in a look-again performance, an unbelievably deglamorized Kathleen Turner. Oters that deserve mention are Noah Shebib (as Parkie Denton), Hayden Chritensen (whom will soon be seen in Episode II) and Hanna Hall as Cecilia Lisbon, the opener of the way.Another remarkable aspect of the film is that it is the directorial debut by Sofia Coppola, reviled by many for her less-than-stellar performance in Godfather III. It is amazing the rapport of sensitivity with this material established by her as a director with many ideas and visions.Like its source, the acclaimed novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the story focuses on the lives and eventual deaths of the legendary five Lisbon sisters (Mary, Therese, Bonaventure -- aka "Bonnie"- Cecilia and Lux) growing up in an elegant, tree-lined upper-class suburban enclave near Detroit, circa 1975. They are fabulously beautiful, yet oddly repressed by their well-meaning but stifling parents. In more ways than one, the Lisbon girls become a some sort of single entity, and with the spectacular suicide of the youngest sibling, they take a step in a strange direction that will transform them into history for a group of boys in the neighborhood, who, in their adult years, keep their obsession alive.In a more mundane aspect, we have the seeds of tragedy sown in a most commonplace way, and yet it is disturbing for it has happened to many of us before. Lux, the most beautiful and free-spirited of the sisters, attracts the most popular jock from their private school, Trip Fontaine (a lukewarm Josh Hartnett), who has all the wrong reasons to "woo" her, pulling the touching stunt (but nevertheless, a stunt) of having his chums as support to take Lux & Co. to the Homecoming Dance. The party (which provides a nostalgia look as the Carrie prom gone ok), is in a way the catalyst for the tragedy that'll ensue.There are many reasons to watch again this film; Sofia Coppola's assured touch on human relations and the reaction upon the screen; it also features Kirsten Dunst's best performance to date, Kathleen Turner's turn as a character actor, and the superb recreation of "Stepford Country". Definitely one of the year's best, a top-drawer recommendation."