‘CQ’ is one of those movies that’s SO underrated, overlooked and forgotten about that it makes me like it more than I really should to make up for the people who slept (and are still sleeping) on it. These days Roman Coppola’s name is commonly associated with music videos (the strokes, Daft Punk, Wycleff, Moby, etc) and co-script writing (he co-wrote two of Wes Anderson’s last two films). But he isn’t the only Coppola child to direct a feature film. Everyone I come across who’s seen ‘CQ’ either doesn’t like it or thinks its just “eh, ok”. Maybe it was just released at the wrong time and got overshadowed by his sister’s success with ‘Virgin Suicides’ less than a year prior as well as being released in 2001, which is one of the best movie years of the last decade (Its kinda hard for a small film like ‘CQ’ to stand next to films like ‘The Piano Teacher’ & Mulholland Drive’). Roman didn’t try to be like his father at all (in fact, ‘CQ’ has more in common with Robert Altman’s ‘The Player’ and Olivier Assayas’ Irma Vep’ then it does with anything Francis has done). No epic mafia drama or 3 hour war film. For his first feature he took on a smaller, semi-auto biographical, yet fun & entertaining project about what goes on behind the scenes of a B science fiction movie. And he still managed to keep things kinda personal and somewhat “all in the family” by including his cousin (Jason Schwartzman costars in ‘CQ’ as a trashy horror movie director), his sister (Sofia Coppola has a cameo) as well as make a few references to his father who also produced ‘CQ’ (Gerard Depardieu’s character was apparently partially based on his Francis Ford Coppola). I’d even go so far to say that Francis Ford Coppola drew inspiration from his son’s film on his more recent work like ‘Tetro’ (the playfulness, the movie references, the idea of a movie being inside of a movie, the mixture of color with black & white, etc). And outside of his father, Roman pays homage to Roger Corman, Bridget Fonda and European cinema as a whole (specifically French & Italian). In ‘CQ’ Jeremy Davies plays an American film editor (“Paul”) living in France in the 1960’s. His mentor is veteran director; “Andrezej” (played by Gerard Depardieu) who treats his films like works of art when in reality they’re just cheap movies that get churned out fast and quick. On Andrezej’s latest film, a barbarrela-esque/danger diabolik homage called; “Codename: Dragonfly”, he gets fired and has his production shut down for going over schedule & disagreeing with the producer over the ending and is eventually replaced by Paul which makes his life extremely hectic. Aside from dealing with taking over a project from his mentor, Paul is having some serious relationship problems with his girlfriend, trying to make his own film on the side (a personal documentary about his life in Paris) and is starting to fall in love with the female star of “Codename Dragonfly” (played by Supermodel Angela Lindvall). And to make things worse, Andrezej comes back to try and sabotage the production of the film to get revenge for being fired.
Roman Coppola used his talent and personal experiences from growing up on movie sets and made a fun film on the subject. Coppola really drives home that chaotic yet “behind the scenes” feel of being on a movie set. He shows the audience little tricks that directors in the 60’s use to do in order to get around working with little to no budget when special effects where in order. In fact, there’s a few special effects tricks that Paul does in ‘CQ’ that real directors like David Cronenberg did in their early sci-fi shorts.
Like ‘Im Gonna Git You Sucka’ & ‘Pulp Fiction’ before it and ‘Black Dynamite’ after it, ‘CQ’ is another perfect example of a “movie mixtape” (lifting various scenarios, scenes, characters, music, etc and putting them together in one film collage). In ‘CQ’ Coppola also blurs the line between fantasy and reality more than once as the scenes from “Codename Dragonfly” start to seep in to Paul’s real life making ‘CQ’ a movie inside of a movie. And through various dream sequences, Paul is visited by fictitious filmmakers and critics who question as to whether or not he sold out for accepting to direct a silly sci fi movie instead of working on his more personal documentary. Sorry, but like i said at the beginning of this write-up, ‘CQ’ is criminally underrated. Its fun &entertaining and anyone from a movie snob to an average moviegoer cam enjoy it. Roman Coppola made a pretty interesting character in Paul. I’m sure there’s some of Roman inside Paul, just like I’m sure there’s some of David Lynch inside of Justin Theroux’s character in ‘Mulholland Drive’ & Jeremy Iron’s in ‘Inland Empire’ or some of Tom Dicillo’s actual personality inside of Steve Buscemi in ‘Living Oblivion’. This is also a theme that his sister often explores in her films in that I’m sure there’s a little bit of Sofia Coppola in the girls of ‘Virgin Suicides’ & ‘Marie Antionette’ as well as the obvious Scarlett Johanson character in ‘Lost In Translation’. In addition to the actors already mentioned, ‘CQ’ features a multi-national cast of supporting actors like Billy Zane, Giancarlo Giannini, Elodie Bouchez and a quick appearance from Dean Stockwell. But Jason Schwartzman completely steals the show.
I highly recommend this…