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Directed by Roman Coppola.
Written by Roman Coppola.
Starring Jeremy Davies, Angela Lindvall and Gerard Depardieu.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  6/20/02 


After watching Sofia Coppola’s horrific debut film “The Virgin Suicides”, I wasn’t too sure that Francis Ford Coppola nepotism was such a great thing.  But, the director of “The Godfather” also produced a son named Roman, and Roman brings honor back to the family name with his debut film, “CQ.”

The film, which actually opened last year and did a run on the festival circuit (including a stop at the SF Film Festival earlier this year), is as hard to categorize as any film I’ve seen this year.  Jeremy Davies (“Spanking the Monkey”, “Saving Private Ryan”) stars as Paul, an American film editor working in Paris in late 1969.  The film he is working on is dubbed “Dragonfly” by the studio that he is working for, since the film-within-the-film stars a heroine codenamed Dragonfly (Angela Lindvall) that does top-secret spy work for the world’s various governments at a moment’s notice.  This sci-fi film within “CQ” is directed by an aging French director (Gerard Depardieu) but it doesn’t have an, the film’s producers fire the French guy and hire Paul to re-cut the film and shoot an ending.

“CQ” takes a look at futuristic films from the 60s point of view to hilarious effect, as Depardieu’s film showcases a landscape in the “future” of 2001 as one with flying cars, advanced space technology and laser guns.  Of course, since most of these things didn’t actually happen, it recalls other films from this era in the real world that envisioned a future with this and much more state-of-the-art technology that never happened either.  The film mixes black-and-white and color film stock quite well and overall is just damned cool to look at, with cinematography by Robert Yeoman (who did the shooting of Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums”).  The sound effects and music are pretty damned cool as well; the soundtrack by Mellow features lots of those mod-style British spy songs that you hear current electronic groups like Ursula 1000 and Thunderball, and like those two, you will want to own the tracks from “CQ.”  The pacing is excellent, there’s a cool little car chase in there, and in Lindvall and Elodie Bouchez, the film has attractive female leads for our hero Paul to pursue.

In essence, all of this is what makes “CQ” so good—it isn’t especially well-written in terms of plot or character development, but it’s all just so damned cool.  It’s a film-within-a-film about an American guy that globetrots between Paris and Rome while figuring out his relationship with a couple of girls while “directing” a film that he really just re-edits and adds an ending onto.  All the while, he’s making a film of his own with a 16mm camera at his house.  So, at times it’s a drama, then a comedy, then a fantasy, then a sci-fi film, then an action film.  Davies is not particularly good in this film, but then again, I haven’t thought that he is particularly good in any film in which he has been involved.  He has now perfected that emotionally-unreachable, socially-clumsy, quiet and nervous youth role that he started playing ten years ago, and his new territory this time around?  An emotionally-unreachable, socially-clumsy, quiet and nervous 30-something film editor.  And, as the film’s lead, we have to watch him for about half of this movie and he sometimes brings things down to a murmur and a bore almost by himself.

ALMOST.  “CQ” is a pretty good film despite Davies’ performance and is perfect for the summer market, since you can just roll into your seat and chill out for 100 minutes.  Good times.

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09