on February 20, 2014
I noticed that a lot of other reviewers described the main characters as boring, underdeveloped, vapid, and shallow. All of these things are true. That being said, they were MEANT to be that way...
I will explain. I lived in the place where the movie is set, Calabasas, from the age of three until I was twenty-one. I went to the same school as the characters/culprits, and frequented the same areas... and let me tell you, most of the teens/young adults in this area are exactly that: boring, vain, underdeveloped, vapid, and shallow. Most of these teens have spent the duration of their lives in the comfort of what we liked to call it, "The Bubble," with an obscene amount of privilege and zero adversity. So, the portrayal of the characters is actually an interesting commentary of the effects of affluence on teens.
If you have a particular aversion or distaste for this breed of human, then this movie is likely not your type. However, if you find the consequences of money upon adolescent development (or lack thereof) appealing, then you will find this movie to be an amusing commentary on that. I think many people considered this a drama, or action flick... when it is simply a comedy.
Had the characters been more developed the movie would have lacked veracity and rung hollow. I mean, what do you really expect from a group of over-privileged, vapid dropouts anyways?
on September 21, 2013
A quick scan of rotten tomatoes before this rental showed many criticisms hinged on a lack of character development and unclear meaning. This is why the film is good. Among all characters there were no facile attempts to create a plot or dialogue that goes beyond theft and the desire for fashion. No dumb love story. No developed background into the families that these kids are brought up in (aside from the mutual detachment of the kids and parents). This lack of development and depth seems to be an appropriate commentary on the thought processes that accompany this crime, there isn't much regard for forethought or consequence. Perhaps this is what I liked the most, is as a viewer, we are asked to simply watch and see what happens, which isn't a long shot from what the characters are doing themselves. It's mindless, but it's fun (and it looks good in the process). Aren't films allowed to be just that? If one wishes, there is plenty of substrate here for a commentary on the thinking that modern culture (I'm thinking mostly of social media) produces.
As a reference, the last movie I enjoyed watching was amour.
on February 14, 2014
...so I won't really try to explain it. It doesn't surprise me that people don't like this film. On a certain level, you shouldn't like it, because it strikes a chord in your soul which points to an appalling truth about our culture and the environment in which American children are raised.
If you want to actually enjoy the film as much as I did, you must realize that you are watching the work of a master filmmaker, and try to take the film as more than just a simple narrative about some idiot kids.
In conclusion, I'll just say that this film is hilariously sad in the funniest, most depressing way possible.
on June 17, 2014
This movie is a strong three star movie that does what it means to do; tell a story without making a judgement. Too many movies make obvious judgements and try to find a reason why when there is none. There is no side to take in this. Not really. A bunch of vapid teenagers rob a bunch of vapid celebrities. A bunch of people complained because there was no reasoning behind it; there was no "story" but really what was the reasoning behind the real life event? There was no reason why in real life so why should a movie be forced to fake one just so that the audience can feel better? This was not a perfect movie but it definitely does not deserve the one star reviews it is getting.
"The Bling Ring" (2013 release; 90 min.) brings the now-familiar story of how a group of teenagers living in suburban Los Angeles, with too much time on their hands and an insatiable appetite for "bling", decide to start robbing houses of celebrities while they are out of town. I am not spoiling the plot when I tell you that the "group of five" (4 girls and 1 guy), along with a couple of others, eventually get found out and caught. The first 50-55 min. of the movie deal with the break-ins and the remainder of the movie looks at what happens after their arrests.
Several comments: this is the 5th feature movie directed by Sofia Coppola, and as has been the case with her previous films, this movie is highly stylish in the way it looks at and brings the lives of these teenagers. In fact, the movie is eye-candy pretty much from start to finish. Coppola wrote the script based on the 2010 Vanity Fair article that exposed it all in details not seen before. As to the Bling Ring members themselves: it is perhaps somewhat understandable as to why Marc would get involved with this, as he is new to the school and desparately trying to fit in and make friends. But what about the four girls? There seems no rhyme or reason, other than the "need for greed", while apparently lacking any and all moral compass. Equally telling is the almost entire absence of parenting. Yes, there are parents, but they are too busy or too clueless. At some point we see Marc's dad asking Marc and Nicki what they are doing (while they are smoking weed in Marc's bedroom), and when Nicki simply says "sorry we made too much noise", Marc's dad simply walks away. An equally telling moment is when Nicki gets interviewed by a reporter towards the end, and she gets visibily irritated when her mom (played beautiflully in a small role by Leslie Mann) says a few words (interjects herself, in Nicki's mind), and she hisses "mom, this interview is about ME!" Yes indeed, the "me! me! me! culture is everywhere. The role of Nicki is played by Emma Watson, and she seems only to get better and better in her post-Harry Potter days (last year in the excellent "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and recently also in a minor role in "This Is the End"). Can't wait to see what she'll do next.
Coppola doesn't take a strong "social stand" as such in the movie. Instead, she lets the camera do all the talking, easily exposing the hollowness of the bling culture. "The Bling Ring" opened with a lot of positive vibes at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and the screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati this afternoon was reasonably well attended for a matinee. It might be the case of clever counter-programming, as it appears every week there is another superhero movie or some other mega-production movie opens (how many Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, After Earth, World War Z and other such movies can a person see in one summer?). If you are in the mood for something else, "The Bling Ring" may be just the thing for you. Slick and entertaining, yet exposing the moral vacuum that exists in certain environments, this movie flew by in no time. "The Bling Ring" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
on June 14, 2015
There are a couple of aspects to reviewing this movie: First, the actors and cinematography, and second, the importance and value of the story. The acting was OK - Emma Watson managed to give a reasonably good portrayal of a vacuous American teenager who's so coddled and excused by the travesty that passes for parenting that she thinks her crimes are an opportunity for publicity and launching herself as an online lifestyle guru. The other actors, similarly, played the part of the worst dregs of teendom effectively and vacuously. The cinematography was quite jagged - I'm sure Coppola intended this and it was probably meant to jar the senses of the viewer and keep your teeth on edge with a portrayal or raw idiocy and empty humanity. It certainly did that for me, but honestly I found the compulsion to turn off the 'garbage' on my screen hard to resist. The real question I found hard to answer was: Why was this movie even made, why was it even important to glorify these crass disgusting excuses for human-beings with expensive celluloid in the first place? I have no answer. The movie did not portray the individuals as they were because the actors were all bubble-gum-cute young Hollywood-darlings - come on, Emma Watson, really, what kind of casting was that? No offense Em., you're awesome, but there was no way under heaven right now you were going to be able to project the sort of sociopathic scum-sucking-bottom-dweller like the real perps were and all the movie really did was portray them as vacuous misguided teens at play. They weren't. This movie should simply never have been made. It makes light of the appalling violation of personal safety and space that burglary is, and it ignored the victims - sure, they were rich and mostly spoiled, but even rich mostly spoiled brats are terrified like the rest of us when they come home and find someone has not just broken into their space of safety, but have run-off with their stuff and probably soiled and tried-on what they left behind. These are not actions to make a glorifying or diminutizing movie out of, not like this. If I had that hour-or-so back, I wouldn't spend it watching this movie. Criminals are never as 'cute and cuddly' as these teens were made out to be, nor are they benign - there is always intimidation, aggression, and often violence, involved in the hiding of their criminal activity perpetrated on the peers and community around them. If there was any aspect of the movie which should have been played to and explored, it was the total inadequacy of the time-served-in-jail nature of the punishments. If you steal $3m worth of other people's possessions, 30-days in the county lockup is woefully inadequate a penalty to pay. The movie should have explored that, should have been outraged by that on our behalf, because the delinquents this movie would inspire will be in our homes, in our closets, in our cars, next, and then we won't think it so movie-cute after-all.
on September 25, 2015
Queued this up on Amazon Prime based on the generally favorable reviews online and out of the curiosity to see Emma Watson in something new and fun. Unfortunately there is nothing fun, new, or even entertaining about this vapid, monotonous, bore of a film. The movie revolves around a group of well-to-do teens living in Southern California who party, get drunk, go shopping, get high, and have sex. Because that's what teens do, right? But naturally, because everyone in the 13-19 age bracket acts like horny puppies with no concept of impulse control, it gets just so *boring*. So they decide to break into celebrities homes and steal stuff (clothes, guns, jewelry, and even expensive cars), play with their things, and use their money to... you guessed it: party, get drunk, go shopping, and get high. Eventually they get caught, and then the movie ends.
It's really a shame because the premise is one that has legs. Just because it's based on a true story doesn't mean you can't take liberties with it. Give us some tension, give us some interesting dialogue, give us something! There is none of that present in The Bling Ring. Instead, the scenes as they are written, show us how rich kids are terrible and that none of them have any moral quandaries in stealing things from people richer than they are. Even in writing this review, it's almost painful how interesting and (heaven forbid) entertaining this premise could have been under a different writer and director.
The right pairing could have taken this idea and brought in an antagonist to ratchet up the tension, provided some degree of roundness to the characters, or made the dialogue some level of interesting. It could be said the movie's tone reflects its players in their vapid, pointless, and conscience-free lives, but this isn't a documentary. A skilled team can show the worthlessness of the lives of their protagonists without making the movie a snoozefest. It doesn't work as a drama, crime-caper, nor action flick, and even under the banner of "comedy" it fails in virtually every way.
My advice? Skip The Bling Ring and maybe tidy up your yard or bedroom. Take a nap, maybe? Do a Google search for cat memes. Any of those things would be a better use of your time than to watch this film.
on November 13, 2015
Most of this film was unnecessary. I don't think I could say anymore that hasn't been said already, just... The best attributes of this movie are Emma Watson and Leslie Mann. Literally everything else felt forced.
What makes this movie so fascinating is that it's true. Five spoiled LA kids actually committed burglaries on the homes of rich and famous celebrities stealing designer clothing, jewelry, cash and drugs. These weren't kids who were from poor families or who were stealing to fund a drug habit. They were all from upper middle class households and the burglaries were more of a way to connect with the celebrities who were their idols. With the money and items they stole, they were given access to a whole lifestyle, one that they envied and practically worshipped through the constant feed of social media and celebrity websites. The group became celebrities themselves in their own social circles because they bragged about their accomplishments and showed off pictures of each other inside the star's private homes. Eventually, someone turns the kids in and they are all arrested. None, however, show real remorse for their actions. A few of the girls ended up getting a reality television show for a while solely as a result of their popularity and being part of the burglar bunch. This movie completely brings home the ridiculous nature of our country's obsession with celebrities and how that obsession affects young people. The film has its funny moments as well as moments that are really sad. The acting is all spot on. Emma Watson is dead on as one of the ring leaders and Leslie Mann as the cluelessly pathetic mother of three of the girls involved is hilarious but still sympathetic. Even the group members who ended up spending some minimal time in jail seem to have brushed it all off and continued their lives without ever realizing what has actually happened. The feeling of entitlement that they all have is still driving them and they fully capitalize on their notoriety without ever stopping to realize that they've been convicted of a crime, a bad thing. Are we becoming a world obsessed with fame and celebrity? The Bling Ring makes a strong case that we are, and with websites like TMZ and radar online providing that constant drip of photos and info into our veins, it's actually pretty easy to agree. Watch the Bling Ring. If nothing else, it will make you laugh but it might also make you think .
This could have been a better film. I have enjoyed other movies by Sophia Coppola. This one does a great job showing these kids as they really are: overprivileged, shallow, self centered brats (that's an understatement). Unfortunately the characters aren't developed any more than that. We don't know anything about the characters as actual people, their pasts, their home lives, etc. The most we get is a glimpse at the mom who teaches her daughter about the Secret. Everything else is them partying, doing drugs, stealing, and obsessing about materialism and celebrities. Then they get caught and serve a miniscule sentence.
Warning: The music in this movie is VERY LOUD and I found myself having to move the volume up and down over and over. And watching these kids and their shallow pointless lives with no morals whatsoever may make you want to kill yourself.