I’m growing increasingly disappointed with Sofia Coppola’s films, which seem to focus exclusively on passive, frustrated women living in beautiful glass houses. Disappointed, because, as a hugely successful female director (a rare enough thing to be, sadly), she is in a position to say so much more about her characters. Her protagonists’ continued muteness —and by extension, her own— is looking more and more like an unfortunate combination of artistic limitation and sheer directorial laziness.
I should reserve judgment —at this point I’ve only seen the Marie Antoinette trailer and read the comments coming out of Cannes, where the film had its premiere this week. And a gorgeous trailer it is too, with painterly colors (Delft blues, creamy whites, and eye-popping shades of poppy red and rhododendron pink), Kirsten Dunst’s coquettish vogueing, and New Order’s shimmering, magisterial “Age of Consent.” The first time I saw it I thought, “Oh, someone’s cut a bootleg trailer,” because the music was so bizarrely, marvelously anachronistic to a period piece like Marie. And then the credits flashed: “Marie Antoinette. Kirsten Dunst. Jason Schwartzman. 2006,” chunky sans-serifs clumsily angled for maximum Jamie Reid-esque affect.
The combination of anachronistic musical and graphic quotes struck me, initially, as cheekily amusing but then upon reflection as hollowly, lazily provocative —meant to bring a postmodern frisson to material that hardly required it. Of course, it has occurred to me that the film’s final graphic direction may be something completely different, so I should withhold judgment there too.
“Age of Consent” is a brilliant choice of music, however, because it confers warmth and much-needed emotional heft to a trailer (and, possibly, an entire film) that’s potentially a triumph of art direction over substance.
Unrelated: The Tom Waits/Robert Wilson/William S. Burroughs collaboration The Black Rider is currently playing in LA. Mary Margaret O’Hara —whose brilliant album Miss America  is seemingly a one-off, despite a subsequent film soundtrack, backing vocals for the Moz, and a Christmas-themed EP— plays the female lead. And she is fantastic. If you’re in LA between now and June 11th, SEE IT. (I’m not a huge fan of Robert Wilson, it must be said, but I really do think that O’Hara’s performance is something special and worth the price of admission. And yes, she is Catherine O’Hara’s sister.)
And, contrary to Pitchfork’s assertions, O’Hara is Canadian, not Irish. Jeez. Fact-check, much?
You can find New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies just about anywhere. Such is sadly not the case with Mary Margaret O’Hara’s Miss America —despite a Koch reissue a few years ago it’s increasingly hard to find. Try Ebay or your local used record emporium. “Help Me Lift You Up” is also covered on This Mortal Coil’s Blood. The original MMOH version can also be found on the THC box-set, now also frustratingly OOP.