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A triumph of art direction over narrative, but what art direction! Writer-director Roman Coppola's feature debut is a love letter to Euro-pop exploitation movies of the '60s which, unlike the similarly designed AUSTIN POWERS movies, doesn't spoil the tribute with juvenile jokes. The slim story finds oh-so-serious aspiring American filmmaker Paul Ballard (Jeremy Davies) living the expatriate life in Europe. He's cohabiting with French cutie Marlene (Elodie Bouchez) and making a 16mm B&W diary of his life, heavy on long takes of ashtrays and mopy musings about the meaning of life. This exercise in autobiographical tedium is being bankrolled by Paul's job as a film editor on a sublimely silly, Italian-financed sci-fi/sexploitation picture called "Dragonfly," whose director, Andrzej (Gerard Depardieu), thinks he's making a trenchant political statement about radical youth culture. It's clear to everyone else that "Dragonfly" is a showcase for stunning starlet Valentine (model Angela Lindvall) to disport herself in (and out of) a series of sexy costumes, amid a panoply of inventively cut-rate special effects. Since Andrzej's attention to the film's subtext has led him to neglect such details as finishing the script, volatile producer Enzo di Martini (Giancarlo Gianinni) fires him and recruits cheesy vampire movie maker Felix De Marco (Jason Schwartzman) to complete the project. The hard-partying De Marco promptly breaks his leg, so Di Martini turns to Paul, whose immersion in the film leads him to hallucinate that "Dragonfly's" fictional universe is invading his day-to-day reality. The ideal audience for this feature length in-joke is a small one, made up largely of movie buffs equally familiar with DAVID HOLZMAN'S DIARY (1968), BLOWUP (1966), BARBARELLA (1968) and cult curios like DANGER: DIABOLIK (1967), MODESTY BLAISE (1966) and THE 10th VICTIM (1965) — the kind of people who will recognize both director L.M. Kit Carson and actor John Phillip Law. Mellow's hazy psychedelic soundtrack is an impeccable pastiche of period pop sounds and, with the possible exception of Davies (who always plays the same irritating drip but looks great in late '60s clothes and hair), the entire cast seems to get the joke. Giannini does a subtly hilarious impersonation of Dino DeLaurentiis; Depardieu and Schwartzman evoke the opposite extremes of pretentious auteurism; Lindvall swanks around in her pearly pink-leather catsuit as though to the manor born; and Billy Zane is ripely knowing as "Dragonfly's" villain, who's training student revolutionaries on the far side of the moon but would rather make love than war.
Date Added: 04/21/2013 by Wasabi
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