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Lost in Translation

Posted by miguel on 2004-02-17 15:47:45
9 forum posts
So we just had a review of Lost In Translation offered up by Phduffy, and its a review that actually reflects the viewpoints of a lot of people who watched the movie. Boring, pointless, superficial and over-hyped are just some of the criticisms that have been thrown at this flick, but by and large most critics simply adore it (94% rating at rottentomatoes.com). Of course, critics also gooed over this one movie called Humanite.....and I'm not even gonna go into it. Anyways, this is a movie that for whatever reason you either love or hate.

If you saw my top ten reviews of the year (and shame on you if you didn't!) you would find that Lost In Translation came in second, only behind Kill Bill. So it's pretty clear that I like it, and I do need to defend it against some of the arguments thrown against it. Again, no fighting, just some defending of a movie that is near and dear to my heart.

"too much hype syndrome": This isn't really even something that needs to be debated, its only that sometimes a movie can get so built up that when you watch it your expectations are not met. But you should always judge a movie or anything really based on its own merits and not on what othe people say. I use critics picks as guidelines of what to watch, but I do like or dislike a movie based on it's own merits.

In fact, I have a strange confession to make....I'm not that crazy about the LOTR movies. Maybe its because I really don't like the books, but I find the movies beautiful to look at, with awesome editing and Peter Jackson is a genius director.... I just don't love them. They don't really make me happy or particularly excited. As another example of the unreliability of hype, Kill Bill was ridiculously hyped, and everyone loved it, so lets just ignore hype and leave it to the studio marketing departments.

"The good thing is that I don't have to worry about spoiling the plot, as there is none. "
Well, there is a plot to it, and its a pretty classic one: two people meet and fall in love. Now the reason most people think nothing goes on in this is because the plot is not developed according to most movie rules. Johansson doesn't have a hilarious memory problem that caused every date with Bill Murray to be her first, Johansson doesn't have 10 days to get rid of Bill Murray to win a bet, Johansson is not a plucky admin assistant who has to choose between a slick but mean boss or a gruff but goldenhearted family friend. And you know what? That is so fucking refreshing! People say nothing happens in this movie, I say everything happens exactly as it always should...this is a romantic comedy with subtlety, tenderness and true emotion.

Off the top of my head, here are some of the themes and plot issues that happen in the movie: Bill Murray is in a mid-life crisis, Scarlett Johanson is having issues with her own marriage and her direction in life, they are both conflicted about the relationship they are having and don't really know what's going on. They are also both homesick and experiencing culture shock, and Bill Murray feels like he is sacrificing his art for money.

I think that in North America, but all over the world really, we are conditioned to laugh at certain points and be excited at certain points in a movie. In short, we go into a movie knowing how it is going to play out . Lost in Translation doesn't copp out like that and it upsets people.

The Japanese stereotype argument (that was lifted straight from a scathing review in the Globe and Mail, Phduffy's favorite newspaper) has been dealt with quite well by Alltogethernow's rebuttal, but I will add that this is a very private movie, with the audience viewing and experiencing things from the main character's perspectives. So if you are seeing these Japanese people from the view points of culturally insensitive American's of course they are going to be stereotyped to a point.

And for what it's worth, I laughed out loud pretty much every time Bill Murray interacted with Japanese culture, especially on the movie and photo shoots. I thought it was quite funny...but humour is subjective.(The most extreme elimination challenge is funny for about half a show to me, for example).

And to argue that phone booth is a better movie than Lost in Translation? Let's just say that everyone is entitled to their opinions...but opinions can be downright wrong.

As for not knowing what was said in the end, this is just one of Phduffy's quirks that I don't really understand. Like I said before, this is a very private movie, with the relationship between the two characters developing subtly and slowly, so it is very fitting that at the end you do not know what exactly is said to Scarlett Johansson. Its their moment, let them have it. I for one don't need everything spelled out for me and I don't need explosions and belly laughs every other minute.

But at the end of the day, you just need to watch the movie for yourself and then decide. I think this is a unique character study with funny, sad and perfect moments sprinkled throughout.
  9 forum posts