Coppola, Sofia 1971-
COPPOLA, Sofia 1971-
PERSONAL: Born May 12, 1971, in New York, NY; daughter of Francis Ford (a film director) and Eleanor (a filmmaker, set designer, and artist; maiden name, Neil) Coppola; married Spike Jonze (a film director), 1999. Education: Attended California Institute of the Arts.
CAREER: Writer, actor, director, fashion designer, business owner, and photographer. Worked as a fashion model; actor in films, including The Godfather, 1972; The Godfather: Part II, 1974; The Outsiders, 1983; Rumble Fish, 1983; The Cotton Club, 1984; Frankenweenie, 1984; Peggy Sue Got Married, 1986; Anna, 1987; The Godfather: Part III, 1990; Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, 1991; Inside Monkey Zetterland, 1992; and Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, 1999; costume designer for films, including The Spirit of '76, 1990. Owner of Milk Fed (clothing line) and Heaven-27 (clothing stores in Hollywood and Tokyo).
AWARDS, HONORS: Young Hollywood Award for best director and MTV Movie Award for best new filmmaker, both 2001, both for The Virgin Suicides; Lina Mangiacapre Award, Venice Film Festival, 2003, Golden Globe Awards for best screenplay and best picture, 2004, Independent Spirit Awards for best feature, best screenplay, and best director, 2004, Academy Award for best original screenplay, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), 2004, and Academy Award nominations for best picture and best director, AMPAS, 2004, all for Lost in Translation.
(With Francis Ford Coppola, and costume designer) "Life without Zoe" (in New York Stories), Touchstone Pictures, 1989.
(And director) The Virgin Suicides, Zoetrope/Muse Productions, 1999.
(And director and producer) Lost in Translation, Focus Features, 2003.
Photographer for periodicals, including Interview, Allure, and Paris Vogue; cocreator of High Octane (television series), Comedy Central, 1994; director of Lick the Star (short film), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Sofia Coppola is the daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola, a film-maker in her own right. Eleanor Coppola produced Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a documentary about the making of her husband's Apocalypse Now. Their daughter was with them in the jungle as that film was completed, as she was during most of her father's projects. With the making of The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, both of which were critically acclaimed, Sofia Coppola has also become a filmmaker with her own distinct style.
Coppola, who has acted in a variety of films, made her first professional appearance as Vito Corleone's newborn grandson in the baptismal scene in The Godfather. In the sequel, she was a child on a steamship. She appeared in more of her father's films, including The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, and Peggy Sue Got Married. During the filming of The Godfather: Part III, actress Winona Ryder fell ill with the flu, and Coppola was called on to fill in and play the part of Mary Corleone. Her work in the film was criticized, and she abandoned acting to concentrate on her other interests, including fashion design, photography, and writing. She had already collaborated with her father in writing "Life without Zoe," a segment in the anthology film New York Stories, and she also created the costuming for their contribution.
Coppola was a cocreator of the television series High Octane, a news magazine for Comedy Central. After it was discontinued, she contributed to her brother Roman's music video projects. Coppola lost her older brother, Gio, when she was fifteen. He was twenty-two when he was killed in a boating accident.
After reading Jeffrey Eugenides's 1993 novel, The Virgin Suicides, Coppola began writing a screenplay based on the story. Muse Productions, which had bought the rights, scrapped their more violent and sexual version and used Coppola's. With production assistance from her father and mother, the haunting tale of teenage sexuality set in the 1970s was completed with a cast that includes James Woods and Kathleen Turner as the repressive parents of five beautiful daughters who commit suicide and whose lives are seen through the eyes of the boys who desire them. The cast also includes Josh Hartnett, Hayden Christensen, and Kirsten Dunst.
The film premiered at Cannes to critical acclaim, and was then picked up by Paramount Classics. At about the same time, filmmaker and Spiegel catalogue heir Spike Jonze was shooting his first feature, Being John Malkovich. Coppola and Jonze met at a video filming and soon married, increasing the talent pool in the star-studded family. Coppola is also the cousin of actors Nicholas Cage and Jason Schwartzman.
She was the third woman, and first American woman, to be nominated for an Academy Award for best director for her very personal Lost in Translation. Although she didn't take home that Oscar, she did win one for her screenplay, as well as an impressive number of Independent Spirit and Golden Globe Awards. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, the film was shot in Japan, much of it in the Tokyo Park Hyatt Hotel, in just twenty-seven days, on a $4 million budget, with a crew that for the most part didn't speak English.
"Part of the movie's distinctive look comes from the mirrored surfaces that are everywhere in a skyscraper hotel, as well as the panoramic city views out the windows," noted Thane Peterson in Business Week Online. "Most of the rest of the movie has the feel of a documentary because it was shot with a lightweight camera in Tokyo's streets, bars, restaurants, and apartments."
The film was shot mostly at night, because the two central figures are insomniacs. Coppola convinced Bill Murray to play Bob Harris, an aging American film star who is in Tokyo to shoot an ad for a Japanese whiskey distiller. He also agrees to do a publicity appearance on a Japanese television show and so delays his trip home to his children and his nagging wife. Bob meets Charlotte (Johansson), a young woman who is killing time while her fashion photographer-husband (Giovanni Ribisi) finishes a shoot. The two, each at a crossroad in life, connect to form a friendship that never becomes physical.
Several reviewers praised the movie's soundtrack. Of its overall impression, Christian Century's Steve Vineberg wrote that at first, he "found the picture unsatisfying. The scenes felt like beads on a string; they didn't link up. But the movie got under my skin, and I kept rerunning scenes in my head. So I went back to check it out. I discovered that the links of the story are indeed there, only they're not typical cause-and-effect connections. They're formed by the emotions that gather at the end of one episode and pour into the next—emotions shaped by the restlessness and unidentified longing of these two people."
Financial Times reviewer Nigel Andrews felt that Coppola "directs as if she has thrown away the script and relied on intuition and epiphanic serendipity. But I bet she didn't. There is nothing accidental, on closer look, in the movie's supple collision of barely eventful scenes. And there is nothing unresolved, just sweetly, achingly suspended, in a May-December friendship."
Ella Taylor wrote in an online article for Guardian Unlimited that Coppola's "spare style could hardly be more different from the baroque grandiloquence of her father. And yet she has taken from him the risky art of personal filmmaking. . . . If The Virgin Suicides distilled the hopeless longings of adolescence to their essence, Lost in Translation is about how the most unexpected, even temporary human bonds can make you take stock and grow up. In the best possible sense, the movie is the work of a director finding her way, and finding herself as she goes along."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 30, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Christian Century, October 18, 2003, Steve Vineberg, review of Lost in Translation, p. 60.
Entertainment Weekly, April 28, 2000, Owen Gleiberman, review of The Virgin Suicides, p. 75; September 19, 2003, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Lost in Translation, p. 65; October 3, 2003, Karen Valby, review of Lost in Translation, p. 51; February 6, 2004, Karen Valby, "Sofia Coppola: Lost in Translation" (interview), p. 94.
Financial Times, January 8, 2004, Nigel Andrews, review of Lost in Translation, p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter, January 28, 2004, Chris Gardner, "American Original: Coppola Nom a First," pp. 1-2.
Los Angeles (magazine), October, 2003, Steve Erickson, "Karaoke for Two: In Sofia Coppola's Fine Lost in Translation, Wanderers Collide," pp. 220-223.
Time, September 15, 2003, Kate Betts, "Sofia's Choice: Once a Dilettante, Sofia Coppola Has Become a Director with a Distinct Vision," p. 70.
USA Today, January, 2004, Wes D. Gehring, "Along Comes Another Coppola," p. 59.
W, September, 2003, Christopher Bagley, "Sofia's Choice: Four Years after Adapting The Virgin Suicides, Filmmaker Sofia Coppola Tackles a Story of Her Own," pp. 350-351.
Business Week Online,http://www.businessweek.com/ (October 21, 2003), Thane Peterson, "A Lot to Be Gained in Translation."
Guardian Unlimited,http://film.guardian.co.uk/ (October 13, 2003), Ella Taylor, interview with Coppola.