Satirical Zone War meditations
in the allegorical Gia Coppola film, PALO ALTO (2013)
by Gary W. Wright
Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Francis Coppola-who did some voiceover work for the film-and her aunt, Sofia Coppola, and with the help of her nephew, Bailey Coppola-who played Seth-Gian-Carla ‘Gia’ Coppola implied that she was meditating on madcap antics of various tragicomic Zone Warriors in her twilit and allegorical freshwoman film, PALO ALTO (2013).
‘I see we got a wise one.’
Fittingly, PALO ALTO was based on Palo Alto (2010), a collection of allegorical short stories by James Franco, continuing the Coppola tradition of allegorical film art inspired by literary works. In one of the film’s narratives, Gia implicitly linked a middle aged Palo Alto high school teacher and girl’s soccer coach, Mr. B.-played by Franco-to Coppola clan friend and film artist, George Lucas. As Mr. B. failed in his attempt to kindle a relationship with his shy, sweet, implicitly film art linked and Natalie Portman evoking teen babysitter, April-played by Emily Roberts-Gia implied that she felt that Lucas had also failed in his attempt to use Portman’s Princess Padme Amidala to achieve success again with the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy, an assessment shared by most audiences. Thus, on one level, Gia implicitly continued the satirical roast of Lucas that her aunt implicitly finished in her own equally satirical Lucas Trilogy.
In a parallel allegorical story woven throughout PALO ALTO, Gia also implied that the slowly deteriorating friendship of teens Teddy and Fred-played by Jack Kilmer and Nat Wolff, respectively-symbolized the strained relations between Zone Wars ‘scholar’ Gary W. ‘Gardevil’ Wright and film artist Jason Reitman as a result of infamous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) lists and the allegorical and implicitly Gardevil bashing Reitman film, YOUNG ADULT (2011). Indeed, Teddy’s work in a children’s library evoked Wright’s work in a high school library, while Fred’s love of smoking evoked Reitman’s first allegorical film, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005), affirming the implicit link of the two teens to Wright and Reitman. Fred’s link to Reitman was reaffirmed by his friend Jason King, whose name evoked Reitman’s first name Jason and the fact that the new permanent headquarters of the TIFF was located on Reitman family donated land at King and John in Toronto. The white t-shirt and red jacket Fred wore as he played chicken by driving into the incoming lane in his red and white Oldsmobile, in the end, also reaffirmed the implicit link of Fred to Canada, as the red and white colour combination evoked the red and white Maple Leaf flag of Canada. Thus, the sight of Teddy leaving behind his community hour work in the children’s library and the self-destructive Fred for more artistic pursuits in a retirement home and a tentative linkup with April implied that Gia hoped that Wright would leave behind his TIFF with Reitman, grow up, get a life and devote himself to creating real art instead of ‘enlightening’ essays on film art-for fear of being trapped forever in a sadolescent and always Twilit Alto.
Franco, James. Twilit Alto. New York: Scribner, 2010.