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The Bling Ring(2013)
THE BLING RING tells the story of a group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and celebrity that burglarize celebrities’ homes in Los Angeles. Tracking their targets’ whereabouts online, they break-in and steal their designer clothes and possessions. Reflecting on the naiveté of youth and the mistakes we all make when young, amplified by today’s culture of celebrity and luxury brand obsession, we see through the members of the Bling Ring temptations that almost any teenager would feel. What starts out as teenage fun spins out of control and leaves us with a sobering view of our culture today.
For more about The Bling Ring and the The Bling Ring Blu-ray release, see the The Bling Ring Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Gavin Rossdale, G. Mac Brown
Director: Sofia Coppola
» See full cast & crew
The Bling Ring Blu-ray Review
There for the taking.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 14, 2013
Now that Lindsay Lohan has (temporarily?) retreated from the front pages of the tabloids and the nightly "infotainment" extravaganzas populating television, only to be replaced by Miley Cyrus and the either hilarious or shocking (depending on your point of view) "twerking" episode, the only salient question some may be asking will be: who's next? Amanda Bynes has sadly been institutionalized, Justin Bieber, while a brat, only seems to make news lately when his monkey is involved, and erstwhile bad publicity magnets like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have gone relatively straight and narrow. There's little doubt, however, that some celebrity is bound to do something provocative sooner rather than later, instantly catapulting them to insta-fame, usually only to be replaced by a "new, improved" version of salacious content, sometimes within mere hours. Is this a sad commentary on our fame obsessed culture? Probably. But for those of us who have seen so many of these stories come and go, there's a repetitious, even boring, aspect to many of them that unfortunately seems to be lost on younger folks who are ineluctably drawn to this fare like a veritable moth to a flame.
While Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring is awfully light on some motivating factors— probably intentionally so—one thing it gets undeniably right is how so many youths are so fascinated by celebrity that they'll do virtually anything to achieve it—or at least experience it vicariously. Coppola's film is a slightly fictionalized account of the infamous gaggle of Los Angeles high school kids who managed to burgle a rather unlikely amount of celebrity homes over the course of several months in 2008 and 2009. This is actually the second version of this story, one which bears the same title as a Lifetime television movie which premiered in 2011. While Coppola's effort is bigger and glossier than the telefilm (and boasts a couple of star cameos as well as location footage at Paris Hilton's real Beverly Hills mansion), this big screen version has a few of the same problems as the small screen version, including a lack of real character analysis and a somewhat formless structure that never really totally delves into some of the subtext of what's really going on with these kids. That actually seems to be Coppola's intent here, though—at least to a to a degree—for this is a film centered on surface rather than what lies beneath, on kids who like the shiny baubles that indicate a successful celebrity life but who are content to merely purloin them rather than actually work to earn them.
As with the Lifetime movie, it's the newcomer male student to Indian Hills High School who gives us an entrée into the image obsessed culture of Southern California youth. In this version, the kid is named Marc (Israel Broussard), who has been sent to this "alternative" school after having been expelled from his previous academy for having had too many absences. While he isn't an especially social type, he almost instantly captures the attention of Rebecca (Katie Chang), in one of several plot dynamics which is never really explained nor explored. Rebecca is already ensconced in a variety of questionable activities (again, the back story here is left to the imagination), including rifling through unlocked cars late at night in order to get whatever booty she can find.
Soon, Marc and Rebecca have teamed up with Nicki (Emma Watson), a character whose "confession" actually begins the film, Nicki's kind of adopted sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Claire Julien), who utilize Marc's skill with Google Maps and online celebrity driven sites to simultaneously figure out what celebrities are out of town or otherwise occupied at the moment and where their homes are. And so a highly improbable—though of course factually based— burglary ring begins, with the group gaining absurdly easy entrance to the homes of the rich and famous. (One thing that repeatedly struck me throughout this film is how stupidly lax the victims were. While many, if not most, of them lived in gated, guarded communities, evidently not one of them utilized a home alarm system.)
The Bling Ring is content to merely document the insane activities of these drug addled and fame addicted youth, rather than to try to analyze them. It's a stylistic gambit that at least gives an almost sanguine distance to the proceedings, but some may be wanting more of the "why" buried within the story. Coppola hints at layers of isolation and low self-esteem but never totally exploits these facets. That's actually commendable in her portrayal of Marc, whose gayness is never explicitly mentioned but which is more than evident from some of his choices in the film. In other ways, though, a bit more interior knowledge might have helped the proceedings, especially with regard to ringleader Rebecca, who simply remains a cipher, albeit an admittedly very stylish one, throughout the film.
Coppola also just slightly hedges her bets with regard to the character of Nicki. The family dynamic at Nicki's house is actually one place that Coppola examines, at least a little bit, with some fantastically funny (in a very dry way) moments with Nicki's mother, who is an acolyte of The Secret and Religious Science and mentors her home schooled brood in positive thinking and the laws of attraction (while also doling out copious doses of Adderall). Nicki's "confession", which starts the film and which recurs in a slightly different way toward the end, provides a New Age bookending device that is self-serving and hysterically aphoristic. But while we're given a montage of sorts listing the sentences and fines for the various participants, and see a sad eyed Marc being hauled away in orange prison garb and chains, Nicki seems to have evaded her fate and gone on to the very sort of internet based fame she so cherished in others. Maybe in this brave new world of celebutantes and dot-com infamy, crime does pay.
The Bling Ring Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Bling Ring is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. Coppola shot this film with the Red Epic system, working with cinematographers Harris Savides (who died during production and to whom the film is dedicated) and Christopher Blauvelt. The film boasts an intentionally contrast boosted look quite a bit of the time, perhaps to emphasize the sunny bright climes of Southern California, which provides an ironic counterpoint to the characters' darker motivations. Light is therefore often rather effulgent, glowing rather remarkably, especially in the brightest daytime scenes (see screenshots 4 and 9 for two examples). This tends to lead to a slightly soft look throughout some of this presentation. Colors are generally very accurate looking and have some great popping hues, though the film is again very white in overall ambience, with a kind of blanched look which sucks a bit of color out of flesh tones. Fine detail is excellent, especially with regard to some of the high end clothes and jewelry shown, where textures are almost palpable. This boasts a pretty hefty bitrate (often approaching 40 Mbps) and is housed on a BD-50, offering an artifact free presentation.
The Bling Ring Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Bling Ring's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has some very fulsome low end courtesy of several source cues Coppola utilizes, including tunes by such artists as Lil' Wayne and Kanye West. Immersion is consistent, if subtle at times, relegated to some ambient environmental sounds in some of the quieter suburban settings, but becoming much more aggressive when, for example, the crew visits a nightclub and spots people like Kirsten Dunst and Paris Hilton. Fidelity is excellent, rendering both dialogue and score very effectively. Dynamic range is surprisingly wide here, due mostly to the source cues, but bolstered by a few roaring sports cars.
The Bling Ring Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Bling Ring Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Bling Ring leaves several central questions unanswered, and while that is most likely an intentional strategy on Coppola's part, it may leave some viewers feeling slightly empty inside—kind of like the characters themselves, who are all about image, not substance. The film is dryly humorous at times, especially with regard to Nicki's family, but it also has a palpable air of what these privileged, overly entitled kids seem to think is their birthright—namely anything they see on television or the internet and want for themselves. This Blu-ray features excellent video and audio and comes Recommended.
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• Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring Gets U.S. Release Date - July 16, 2013
Lionsgate Films will bring to Blu-ray director Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring (2013), starring Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, and Claire Julien. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the United States ...
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