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CQ on DVD

Jeremy Davies, Angela Lindvall, Elodie Bouchez, Gérard Depardieu, Massimo Ghini, Giancarlo Giannini, John Phillip Law, Jason Schwartzman, Billy Zane. Directed by Roman Coppola. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 88 minutes. 2002. MGM. 1003757. R. $26.08.

I imagine it must be extremely difficult to create a film about filmmaking without appearing self-indulgent, pretentious, and egoistic. Roman Coppola (Francis' son), in his directorial debut, manages to do so. CQ is set in Paris in 1969, where a sci-fi movie called Dragonfly, about a saucy leather-clad babe named Agent Dragonfly (Angela Lindvall) is being filmed. Of course, everybody is obsessed with her, including the film's director Andrezej (Gérard Depardieu), who refuses to give the story a proper ending in order to prolong his time with Dragonfly. In a last-ditch effort to save the film, the producers fire Andrezej and choose Paul Ballard (Jeremy Davies), the film's editor, to finish filming. He, however, has problems of his own. He's an American in Paris living with a brutally honest French woman, who continually foils his attempts to document his life "with total honesty" by telling it like it really is. Of course, Ballard is also intoxicated with the glamorous Dragonfly.

The film is funny and witty, punctuated with some hysterical moments from Jason Schwartzman, who plays an eccentric producer, and Billy Zane, who plays Dragonfly's revolutionary enemy and love interest in the film within the film. CQ cuts between Paul's documentary moments, which are sometimes insightful, sometimes a bit boring, to the over-the-top sequences of Dragonfly, jetting around, looking for a secret ray gun.

The acting is superb, with Davies giving a quiet, saturnine performance as the confused, hopelessly-in-love editor/director, and Schwartzman stealing any scene he is in.

The DVD's audio and video are not overwhelming. The audio is rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, but does not make extensive use of the LFE and surround channels, which is fine considering that this film wasn't hugely budgeted.

The video is also slightly uneven. Sometimes it looks beautiful, with bright, saturated colors—especially in the scenes on the "futuristic" sets with Agent Dragonfly. On the other hand, the scenes at Ballard's home are often grainy, and colors are desaturated—probably to contrast his world with Dragonfly's.

The extras on this special edition are bountiful. They include an interesting audio commentary track from Coppola and cinematographer Robert Yeoman, Codename Dragonfly Films, four documentaries on filmmaking, six featurettes on various topics, a Mellow music video, deleted scenes, and more.

The DVD and the film are a great effort for a first-time director, no matter whose son he is.

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