Roman Coppola's first feature, "CQ," out now in more important cities, is a movie within a movie about a director torn between making his own art film and finishing a "Barbarella"-like sci-fi sexploitation flick. As he's drawn further into the B-movie he comes dangerously close to the beguiling charms of the sci-fi picture's seductive actress/heroine as the two, with the help of a hip and sexy accompanying soundtrack, navigate the colorful spectacle and mod trappings of 1960s Paris. "CQ's" song set is a combination of soundtrack and score, with real '60s French artists providing the former and relative newcomer Mellow composing the latter. Mellow is a marginal contender with Air (who composed "The Virgin Suicides" soundtrack) in their native country the Mellow trio being the lesser-known of the two. Virtually unknown is more like it, though they've released a handful of CDs full of spacey, psychedelic pop.
Sounds perfect for "CQ" and its French plot twists: the sexy secret agent debut of Angela Lindvall; the year 2001 as the setting for a movie set in the future; and eternal skinny boy Jeremy Davies once seen crying in the dirt as Corporal Upham in "Saving Private Ryan" cast as a leading man.
Working on his sister's set, Roman certainly noticed how Sofia scored big with "The Virgin Suicides" score by including Air. For a film that favored style over substance, Air's timeless electro-pop was a lot of the wind beneath that movie's retro-wings. By contrast, Mellow tries to make its contributions to the "CQ" soundtrack sound of a specific time, but the Air Lite sound falls flat.
The real French pop songs provided by Claude Francois, Paul Piot and others are the best parts. French pop, most notably Serge Gainsbourge's, is the frogs' answer to rock 'n' roll. Modish and outlandish at the same time, it is swaggering sexuality in a tapered suit. None of Mellow's music sounds like that. Mellow's best songs sound like B-sides from Air's "Moon Safari," but even those are variations on the same theme. They combine soft instrumentation and faceless female vocals over a shagging beat, and they often sound better suited for a much more American, Austin Powers-inhabited '60s.
There are enjoyable Mellow moments on this disc, including the spacey opener, the freaky male voiceover on "Rivolizione Sessantonove" and the Zeppelin-inspired riff on "CQ Theme." Suprisingly, though, this French film score by the French band Mellow isn't very French. Not surprisingly, it is very mellow.
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