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A Film Within a Film

For years I have been enjoying Roman Coppola's music videos and was eager to see his first full length motion picture, but when I heard it was an homage to the films of the 60's and 70's, particularly films like "Barbarella," and "Danger:Diabolik," I could barely contain my excitement.
MGM, in it's usual thick-headed way, dropped the ball on promoting "CQ" theatrically, but has given on us a beautiful DVD full of everything we love in a DVD, including a director's commentary and extensive behind the scenes features and a lot of cool hidden features.
"CQ" is a movie within a movie, about a movie editor, Paul (Jeremy Davis), and his pursuit to make a "personal film" about his life while working on a sci-fi movie called "Codename: Dragonfly". Like many movies about making movies, Paul's life falls apart in the chaos of a life immersed in art and his quest for truth is mired in the fact that he is constantly lying to himself about how he feels about his work, his French girlfriend, and the beautiful actress (model Angela Lindvall), that he obsesses about. The movie "Codename: Dragonfly" is shown in two slightly different versions as an extra feature and is terrific and truly the movie I wanted "CQ," to be. Dragonfly runs in slow motion, fights with faux karate moves and beds the leader of a rebellion, (a splendid Billy Zane,) and all the while holds a raised eyebrow and a smirk. The inclusion of Diabolik himself, (the eternally cool John Phillip Law), will make his fans slam their fists on a table and scream "why isn't anyone else using John Phillip Law more?" He looks amazing and gives a fun but brief performance, giving a nod to his "Diabolik" performance.
My favorite aspect of "CQ" is the "Codename: Dragonfly" movie, but I also loved "CQ" for it's soulful look at the hardships and struggle involved with making movies. The line between what is real and what is a movie often get blurred, and those involved in the process cannot be comfortable in a conventional life, and in "CQ" we see this reflected in a time period that is sadly gone forever no matter how desperately some of us want it back.
Roman Coppola probably draws a lot of what is in the movie on the experiences of his famous dad, and his friends, but there is probably a lot of him there as well.
"CQ" is admittedly for a select audience. Those who hated the films of the 60's and 70's and prefer big budget special effects movies are not likely to appreciate the references, but we fans are going to cherish this movie for a long time. Still, "CQ" seems, like Roman Coppola's music videos, like a great talent getting ready to unleash a masterpiece. I would have preferred to have had a full length "Codename: Dragonfly," but I look forward to what this talented visionary has planned for us next.
Performances from Gerard Depardieu, Jason Schwartzman, and Giancarlo Giannini really make this a special movie to behold. It is a love letter to the fantastic films of a highly experimental and innovative era that has been replaced by high-tech, mindless assaults on our senses. "CQ" is a subtle, charming little movie and shouldn't be missed.

Terry Osterhout
October 2002


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