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Critics reviews
Palo Alto
Gia Coppola United States, 2013
Coppola’s depiction of the adult world is especially effective, with their loud, overbearing voices and opinions sneakily taking the viewer out of the haze of the contemplative teen state of mind. More than anything, Coppola impressively evokes the ennui and uncertainty of teen life and her exquisite world-building skills coupled with the atmospheric music provided by Dev Hynes and Rooney ensure this dreamy piece remains captivating throughout.
October 16, 2014
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The short stories that make up Palo Alto – though connected – never feel like anything more than fragmented sketches thrown together. That is, untilGia Coppola fleshed them out with faces and an unflinching camera that conveys, in lingering just a little longer than usual, so much pathos that in the book reads as nihilistic, rambling prose.
July 11, 2014
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Maybe it’s because everyone except Franco, who was born in Palo Alto, hails from Hollywood, but the movie rarely feels authentic, offering up a generic suburbia populated by walking clichés: the overly sensitive dreamer, the opportunistic lecher, the secretly insecure party animal. If Franco has talent as a prose stylist, it doesn’t translate to the screen, and Coppola demonstrates little of her aunt Sofia’s gift for woozy atmospherics.
June 04, 2014
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The druggy and drunken parties, games of truth or dare, casual sex, and violent amusements are recklessness-by-number; the catalogue of petty derelictions and frustrated yearnings is anchored by no inner world, framed by no context, and there’s nothing distinctive in the twenty-six-year-old Gia Coppola’s direction.
May 12, 2014
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Though it might seem unfair to compare a late masterpiece [A Time to Love and a Time to Die] by a Hollywood great with a crowd-funded indie debut, Sirk excelled at precisely the thing Palo Alto reaches for: revealing reasons and motivations his characters didn’t want to express… But [Coppola’s] work here exhibits an identity of its own… Her sense of visual composition, which betrays a Gus Van Sant influence, ensures that Palo Alto remains interesting to look at even as it runs out of ideas.
May 08, 2014
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…This incompleteness gives way to a sense of wholeness, if not closure; these stories, after all, are just beginning. And however familiar, they are ones that Ms. Coppola — working with her director of photography, Autumn Cheyenne Durald, and under the obvious influence of the cinematographer Harris Savides, who shot some of Gus Van Sant’s most beautiful films — pulls you into with color, light and feelings as lovely as caresses.
May 08, 2014
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Parents are mostly absent, stoned, or sinister; the kids are left to play with fire; Jack Kilmer is styled and shot like a mid-Nineties River Phoenix; Francis Ford Coppola supplies the voice of an off-screen judge. This family affair is so faithful to Gia’s inspirations that it often feels like an exquisite visual essay on the cinema of dreamy troubled youth. Whether this is homage or undigested source material, we stay at one remove from human feeling.
May 07, 2014
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The film is empathetic to a fault, seeing beauty in each character’s struggle even if it can’t always sell them as flesh- and-blood human beings… Fortunately Coppola’s sensitivity is always evident, especially in the open-hearted performances she gets from Roberts and Kilmer (whose father, Val, has a funny, pot-addled cameo). Hopefully she’ll hone this raw humanism into something grander.
May 06, 2014
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One misty night in northern California (played by SoCal’s San Fernando Valley) bleeds into another in Palo Alto, our grasp on these characters just as tenuous in the end as it was in the beginning. Are kids in the wealthier ZIP codes really this dull and opaque?
May 05, 2014
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…Allowing realistic characters to flounder in hackneyed dramatic situations only makes them feel wasted. As a portrait of modern angst, the film isn’t as incisive as Gia’s aunt Sofia’s equally chilly The Bling Ring, which positioned its young principals as hollow cogs within a reflective system of copycat narcissism. Palo Alto smoothly depicts a similarly vacant world, but does little to fill it with much of interest, coasting along on melancholic ambiance.
April 24, 2014
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You can always make discoveries at TIFF, and the biggest one this year was Gia Coppola, a worthy addition to her family’s filmmaking dynasty, who scored a knockout with Palo Alto… Coppola’s direction is amazingly free and relaxed, with a loose, lyrical visual style, and a firm sense of what’s at stake for her characters that finally becomes genuinely suspenseful.
November 12, 2013
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The locale of Palo Alto, as shot by cinematographer Autumn Cheyenne Durald, comes across beautifully under cool, often autumnal light. But the soft glow and the chill soundtrack don’t set the characters apart in another realm—these ordinary teenagers feel palpably real, with access to pools, cars, and pot, but not fixed on a predetermined path. It’s a formidable debut that shows amazing promise, and care.
November 12, 2013
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Beautifully shot by the ostensibly unexperienced Autumn Durald… Gia Coppola’s debut is awash in a dreamy haze similar to the textures which have come to define the films directed by her aunt Sofia. And while the soft lighting and laconic mood will doubtlessly draw lazy comparisons between the two, “Palo Alto” reveals itself to be unique in both style and story, Coppola’s approach informed by her characters rather than levied upon them.
September 13, 2013
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