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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » CQ
CQ
MGM // R // September 10, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 2, 2002 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:


"CQ" delighted me from open to close. It's not a film that fills out all of its ideas, but it's about as original and fun as it gets these days. It's also well-acted, made with good spirits and beautifully filmed. The film, which barely got much distribution and had little marketing, is directed by Roman Coppola (brother of Sofia and son of Francis). While it's not as remarkable a debut as Sofia's "Virgin Suicides" was, "CQ" still shows the makings of a richly talented and imaginative filmmaker.

The film stars Jeremy Davies ("Saving Private Ryan") as Paul Ballard, an American film editor living in Paris in 1969. By day, he's using a b & w camera to film the life of himself and his girlfriend and by night, he's editing a wonderfully cheesy sci-fi movie (think "Barbarella") called "Dragonfly".

As the film opens, we're shown the growing rift between Paul and girlfriend Marlene (Élodie Bouchez). Marlene is patient, but has her own opinions of Paul's personal film - "Just because you film every possible thing in your life doesn't mean you'll understand yourself any better". He responds with, "but I just want to capture what's real, what's honest." She comes back with, "what if it's boring?"

Meanwhile, problems are growing on the set of "Dragonfly". Paul watches as the film's producer (a wonderful Giancarlo Giannini) gives director Andrezej (Gérard Depardieu, in one of his best performances) the boot. Director Felix DeMarco (Jason Schwartzman of "Rushmore", in a brilliant little performance) comes in to save the picture, only to head into an accident. All eyes turn to editor Paul to complete the picture, as he's the most familiar with the film and can finally give it the kind of ending everyone thinks it needs. All the while, while his involvement with his own personal film is pushing away his girlfriend, his work on "Dragonfly" is drawing him closer to Valentine (Angela Lindvall, a real find who reminded me of Canadian actress Jessica Pare), the starlet of that film.

"CQ" could have been silly, ridiculous and forgettable (think "Austin Powers" goes indie), but several elements made it memorable. There's several scenes that smartly, lightly examine the boundaries between film and reality, as well as commericalism vs. art. If anything, I would have liked the 88-minute picture to be expanded to fill out some of the film's ideas in those catagories. The cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman (Wes Anderson's "Royal Tenenbaums", "Dogma") is often downright stunning, affectionately capturing some of the film's remarkably beautiful locations. Production designer Dean Tavoularis (who also worked father Coppola's "Godfather" series) captures the era spectacularly, right down to the most minor detail. The performances, as I mentioned earlier, are right on-target - even Davies, whose too low-key performances I've never really cared for, fits in perfectly. Above all, I really got the sense that the filmmakers not only loved and respected these characters, but love everything about the era.

"CQ" isn't going to appeal to all audiences or is it a perfect film, but I loved it. It's funny, smart, genuinely sweet, well-crafted and superbly acted. While maybe not in the top 5, I'd be surprised if "CQ" doesn't end up finding a spot in my top 10 for the year.


The DVD


VIDEO: "CQ" is presented by MGM/UA in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan on one dual-layer side of the disc (additional supplements are on the other side, similar to what MGM did with "Legally Blonde"). The picture quality is generally very good, although there are a few flaws that aren't related to the somewhat rough appearance of "Dragonfly". Sharpness and detail are usually very good throughout, as the picture remains crisp and clear, if just the slightest bit on the soft side.

On the negative side, some edge enhancement did appear on occasion, as did a few slight traces of pixelation. Some minor print flaws did show up as well, but weren't as much of a distraction. The film's warm color palette was generally well-rendered here, aside from a little bit of smearing in a couple of the darker scenes.


SOUND: "CQ" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by MGM. Keeping with the era and feel of the film, this is certainly not an active soundtrack, focusing mainly on dialogue. The surrounds do offer a few minor sound effects, but they mostly do a subtle, effective job of providing the score. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue and other elements remained crisp and clear.

MENUS: The menus are non-animated and use basic film-themed images, but the score does play out in the background.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Roman Coppola and cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman. The duo provide an informative, low-key chat about the making of the picture, discussing a lot of the technical details of the shoot as well as some of the film's influences and what it was like to work with the cast. The track is a little slow and a little quiet at times, but it very rarely narrated the on-screen events and provided some good information and insight.

Codename: Dragonfly: The full "Codename: Dragonfly" film from "CQ" is offered here, in both the "Paul" and "Andrezej" versions, with optional commentary from actress Angela Lindvall. Also included in this section: the "trailer" for "Dragonfly" as well as a short "making of" featurette.

Featurettes: A handful of "behind-the-scenes" docs are offered, including: "Actors Acting", where director Coppola discusses casting and some behind-the-scenes clips are shown, including Lindvall's screen-test; "Chronique D'un Cineaste", which offers a short "personal film" of Coppola's own, as he documents his preparation to leave and the production of the film itself; "Cinematographer" offers an interview with Robert D. Yeoman, who discusses the inspirations for the look of the film and the techniques used; "CQ: A Cinematic Odyssey", which provides a look at production design, sets and other aspects of the production; "Music and Sound" finishes off the group, offering information about the film's sound design and score. All of the featurettes last between 7 and 8 minutes and are certainly worthwhile viewing, as all of the featurettes are small, intimate and informative looks at the production instead of slick, promotional featurettes.

Personal Documentaries: Short documentaries about the production from: Eleanor Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Mathieu Tonetti and Xavier Martin & Sebastien Alouf.

Also: The film's theatrical trailer and stills gallery.


Final Thoughts: While "CQ" might not appeal to everyone, I think those who enjoy it are going to love it. I highly recommend checking it out as at least a rental. MGM's DVD edition provides good audio/video and a few fine supplements. A definite recommendation for a really entertaining film.

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