(2001) dir. Roman Coppola
Roman Coppola’s CQ is a highly self-reflexive meditation on the film-making process. This film seems to have a very personal side to it, suggesting that its reflexivity is perhaps all the more literal. Roman is the son of Francis Ford Coppola, the second of the famed director’s children to get a shot at directing a moderately-budgeted indie film recently (Sofia Coppola co-wrote and directed the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides.)
Set in Paris in late 1969, CQ is about the creative process and is centered on the production of a stylish, yet campy and ridiculous Barbarella meets James Bond sci-fi flick. Roman Coppola incorporates a lot of personalized flourishes, like using a framed portion of a door that his father smashed his fist through during the filming of Apocalypse Now (1979) as a prop for a director re-enacts the event one scene of the film, as well as featuring acting roles for his sibling and cousin. There seems to be some commentary and reference being given about the life and times of his father (who was on the brink of his biggest cinematic successes at the beginning of the 1970’s), though I think I would have to research a bit to give more solid support of this notion.
I think that it is interesting that both Coppola children chose to make films set in the period of their respective childhoods, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and both featuring distinctly retro-styled soundtracks by contemporary bands, Mellow (CQ) and Air (The Virgin Suicides), and both with a good deal of sentimentality for the periods. Both films also have a strong sense of production design, though perhaps more in packaging and extraneous pieces more so than in the films themselves. The CQ DVD contains numerous features focusing on design elements, such as the movie posters created for the fictional film within the film.
The result is a curious meditation on the film-making process, written and directed by someone who has never directed his own film before, but whose life has been surrounded by the world of cinema and film production. There are insights and there is cleverness, but not overly profoundly so.