Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 3, 2014

CALLERI: 'Palo Alto' offers a fresh take on those difficult high school years

Niagara Gazette — In “The Godfather,” after the argument between Michael Corleone and casino owner Mo Green, during which Fredo Corleone gives his two cents, Michael turns to Fredo and says: “… you’re my older brother, and I love you, but don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.”

Not only is family essential in “The Godfather,” but it seems to be extremely important in the life of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, himself the son of the noted composer, Carmine. Coppola is presiding over an extended family of people involved with making movies. His daughter Sofia is the Oscar-winning screenwriter and director, and now his granddaughter, Gia Coppola has made her first feature film. Her career began auspiciously. In her grandfather’s segment in “New York Stories,” she’s Baby Zoe. In “The Godfather Part III,” she’s Connie’s grandchild.

Gia, actual name Giancarla, is 27-years old, and she’s directed “Palo Alto,” a very observant exploration of the lives of teenagers and something much different from what we’re used to seeing on screen when it comes to chronicling young people.

For the record, Gia’s also related to actress Talia Shire and actors Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman, as well as other Coppolas and Schwartzmans working in the motion picture business.

However, the idea of family as vital doesn’t stop with Gia. The cast of “Palo Alto” includes Emma Roberts, daughter of actor Eric and the niece of actress Julia, and Jack Kilmer, son of actor Val. There’s more. Gia’s own mother, Jacqui Getty, is in the movie, as is a young fellow named Bailey Coppola, who fits somewhere within the family lineage. One more thing. Val Kilmer himself is in the picture.

And if all of this isn’t enough, the film is based on a collection of short stories entitled “Palo Alto,” which is by actor, director, producer, screenwriter, social media maven, poet, performance artist, and professor James Franco, who seems to be his own family tree. By the way, he’s in the movie, as well.

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