April 03, 2004

Lost in Translation

Please see ¶1 of this post and my comments on David Mamet's comments. They apply directly to Lost in Translation.

Visuals -- stunning Visuals -- dominate this treatise from Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford's little girl. Sparse, barely essential dialog, between two Americans lost in Tokyo. One older, male, married with children. The other young, female, married to a flighty photographer who leaves her in their hotel room in her transparent pick underwear to look out the window at a huge, vast city.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are perfect together in this film. There are not only grandiose visuals of the city of Tokyo, there are equally stunning visuals of Bill & Scarlett together. Their chemistry is magical and mesmerizing. Bill owes half his Oscar nomination to Scarlett.

They don't talk much, but they don't need to. This movie is striking in this similarity to the Earring movie I wrote about here, which also features Scarlett not talking much but saying it all with her eyes and face. She is a truly remarkable actress. I hope she doesn't get too spoiled by all the attention she is getting now. I'd hate to see her turn into Judy Garland. I first saw Scarlett in Ghost World, a really good comic book movie with Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi. She showed promise there, and again, she didn't have much dialog. But I digress.

My wife says that had this not been the year of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, then Lost in Translation should have been the one to get best picture and all that. And she says that Bill Murray should have gotten best actor instead of Sean Penn. I agree. LiT is more of a visual story than Mystic River.

The story draws you in hypnotically. I actually have a desire to sing karaoke now, having seen Bill doing his darnedest on a Roxy Music song. It takes a lot of gall to be so sparse with dialog and so reliant on imagery and pull it off. We'll have to check out The Virgin Suicides, Ms. Coppola's first film.

Posted by Wayne at April 3, 2004 12:09 PM

Totally agree on Lost In Translation! And we both go to the Madstone, we're like, simpatico.

Oh, just had to get it out there, Scarlett J and David J are in no way related. He's Johansen, and she's Johansson.

So no chance of the Judy thing happening. :)

Posted by: drew at April 3, 2004 05:12 PM

Where did I get that about David and Scarlett? Maybe I made an assumption. Oh well, thanks for the correction. I'll honor you by not editing my post since I'm hurting for comments here.

Posted by: Wayne at April 3, 2004 07:56 PM

I found this movie so hypnotic that I fell asleep half way through. Even after reading your post, I don't see the appeal. Oh well, different strokes.

Posted by: Emily at April 5, 2004 10:52 AM

I can understand that reaction to Lost in Translation. I don't mind working a little bit, like you have to do when there isn't much dialog to carry you along. Usually I need the words too, but LiT impressed just because it kept me involved without them. I just loved the images.

Posted by: Wayne at April 5, 2004 11:54 AM

As much as I like Tokyo, Bill and Scarlett individually...this movie was just a really boring story that could have been shot on a sound stage anywhere. How much time do you need to spend on such a peripheral topic like jet lag?

I have no idea why people think this is entertaining, much less that it's a special work in the movies. The shots around Tokyo were not terribly special. I thought much of the shot composition was really poor: often too cluttered, with poorly thought out movement and just badly lit-and-colored throughout.

Tokyo is such a huge, beautiful city. This movie could have been Cleveland with extras. And the story really had nothing to do with Tokyo. Did the title come first, then they pulled a name out of a hat filled with places that didn't speak English?

And the cliches Sofia chose to exploit about Japanese people and things were SO old-fashioned. Way beyond overdone. Japanese people speak English funny...hahahaha!!! They eat raw seafood...hahahaha!!! We can't read what they write...hahahaha!!! Jeez.

Matthew Minanmi was even under a fog (and he has an incredibly funny TV show)...probably so depressed that he was just another curiosity to be exploited in an American movie where no one would begin to appreciate his schtick.

When the best remembered moment in your movie is Scarlett's panties...Sofia, you didn't make much of a movie.

Posted by: seaweb at April 5, 2004 07:03 PM

I didn't think they were making fun of Japanese people at all. I thought they were simply portraying Japanese life with Bill and Scarlett mixed in. Apparently you have spent time in Japan, which I and most Americans haven't, which could account for the descrepancy in our respective perceptions. Yes, you could probably port this story to a different location, but Tokyo provided a more starkly different culture, and the racial difference allowed the yanks to stand out more in the context of the local population. Thanks for commenting.

Posted by: Wayne at April 5, 2004 08:40 PM
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