For many years, Sofia Coppola has acted as the patron saint of a certain kind white affluent girlhood. Her films celebrate and commiserate with the awkward time between child- and womanhood, that brief, precious and painful moment on the cusp of knowing yourself and what you want from life.
On the Rocks, Coppola’s seventh feature film, stands out in this very distinct cannon as the work of a filmmaker trying to reimagine her identity as an artist. On the surface, it’s a father daughter romp around New York, lighter in tone than your typical Coppola film. But underneath that bubbly ode to city lights and old booze haunts lies a serious artistic existential crisis, combined with a tender — if bittersweet — exploration of family.
Laura (Rashida Jones) is worried. A successful author, she can’t seem to write anymore, instead spending hours staring at a blank page, grasping at any excuse to get out of the house. Her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans) has been staying out later and later promoting his new startup, and recently came home from a business trip with his attractive colleague’s toiletry bag in his suitcase. (She had no room in hers, he claims when confronted.) Motherhood, marriage, and regular life feel overwhelming. So, when her charming art dealer and serial cheater dad Felix (Murray) flies back into the picture, Laura is relieved. Finally, someone she can be completely honest with. What follows is part detective story, part screwball comedy as the two try to suss out whether Dean is being unfaithful. Enjoy with an ice cold martini and a side of caviar, to keep things classy.
On The Rocks the kind of movie that might have been overlooked had we all had lives to lead, and places to be. But in the vacuum of the pandemic, the chance to take a tour of Coppola’s rainy New York City (with a car and driver, obviously) is too good to pass up. Stream it on Apple TV+ starting October 23, and once you’re done, travel in style through Coppola’s full oeuvre, all of which is available to stream. Oh, and it’s always cocktail hour in her films, so cheers!
Virgin Suicides (1999)Starring:
James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh HartnettStreaming on: TubiSignature cocktail:
Virgin Bloody Mary
There’s no one quite like the Lisbon sisters. Growing up in the affluent Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, MI, in the 1970s, Trip Fontaine (Hartnett) and his friends’ dreams were filled with Therese (Lesley Hayman), Mary (A.J. Cooke), Bonnie (Chelse Swain), Lux (Dunst), and Cecilia (Hanna R. Hall). But after the latter tries to die by suicide, the Lisbons existence becomes more and more confined and constrained, ultimately ending in tragedy. More than 20 years later, Coppola’s first feature, based on the Jeffrey Eugenides novel of the same name, remains a must-see, especially in quarantine
Lost In Translation (2003)Starring:
Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Giovanni Ribisy, Anna FarrisStreaming on: Peacock TVSignature cocktail:
Japanese whiskey highball
Nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay (which Coppola won), Lost in Translation
remains the director’s signature film. Based on her own experience traveling to Tokyo after dropping out of college, the movie centers around former movie star Bob Harris (Murray), whose attempts to salvage his fading career include advertising for Japanese Suntory Whiskey, and Charlotte (Johansson), a recent Yale graduate who followed her husband to Japan on a photography assignment. Both are bored; both are in crisis, but together, they feel just a little less alone.
Marie Antoinette (2006)Starring:
Kristen Dunst, Jason Schwartzmann, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Rip Torn, Steve Coogan, Molly Shannon, Jamie DornanStreaming on: Amazon Prime VideoSignature cocktail:
Champagne and raspberriesMarie Antoinette
is a decadent feast for the senses. The clothes, cakes, shoes, music — all are designed to stimulate and fascinate, a glossy veneer underneath which our heroine, the Queen of France, may hide her inner pain. The court of Versailles is one big high school, and though Marie Antoinette (Dunst) may appear to be head of the Plastics, she feels like an outsider. Think of this movie as Mean Girls with macarons
Elle Fanning, Stephen DorffStreaming on: HBO MaxSignature cocktail:
The story of 11-year-old Cleo (Fanning) who spends a weekend crashing in her actor dad’s (Dorff) hotel room at the Chateau Marmont isn’t exactly
based on Sofia Coppola’s life as the daughter of famed director Francis Ford Coppola. But it’s not not
based on that either. Think of this as a loose true story, a magical fable of Hollywood childhood, and the disappointments that come with it.
The Bling Ring (2013)Starring:
Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Taissa Farmiga, Claire JulienStreaming on: NetflixSignature cocktail:
Yes, this is the movie where Watson croons, “I wanna rob!”
Yes, this is the movie based on the true story of the group of teens that broke into the houses of Paris Hilton and other early aughts celebrities, stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. Yes, this is the movie that will make you somewhat nostalgic for Sleigh Bells. But it’s also a film with incisive, brutal commentary about celebrity tabloid culture, fandom, and social media.
The Beguiled (2017)Starring:
Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kristen Dunst, Colin Farrell, Oona Laurence, Addison Riecke, Angourie RiceStreaming on: Amazon Prime Video (Cinemax Add-On)Signature cocktail:
Sticky, steamy, and sexy is the vibe of this Civil War gothic drama. When a wounded Union soldier (Farrell) wanders into a mostly abandoned Southern boarding school for girls, he’s unprepared for the raw, visceral emotions he elicits among the staff and pupils. Based on Thomas P. Cullinan’s eponymous novel and a remake of a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood
, the film earned Coppola the Best Director prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, making her the second woman ever to win.