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Sunday, January 11, 2004
SO NOT "LOST" IN TRANSLATION

So, it's safe to say that Sophia Coppola got the family filmmaking genes. I am late to the party in recommending her new film Lost in Translation, which has been nominated for several Golden Globes, and will probably earn Oscan noms for stars Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannson.

The film is very controlled and probably establishes Coppola as the strongest artistic female director out there right now. We are so overdo for a great female director. When I was in grad school, I had to take a whole class just on female directors, and we ended up concluding that the greatest female cinema director of all time was well, Leni Reifenstahl, who worked for you-know-who at the Reichstag.

Lost in Translation is a fascinating and humane film about many things - all of which will sound pedestrian if I try to name them here. Borrowing from Flannery O'Connor, "If I could say it in a sentence, I wouldn't have needed to write the story." A few things that ran through my mind while watching...

...Flannery O'Connor was once accused by a critic of not having any business writing about love becuase she had never been in love. O'Connor replied, "The truth is, I am falling in and out of love every other week."

...Pacing of Lost in Translation is deliberate (ie. not plodding, but close...shows directorial talent in keeping it this side of plodding), which is good because it lets the viewer think while watching.

...Scarlet Johannson will be a household name.

... I don't like this film just because so much of it reminded me of my own recent trip to Seoul, Korea. But the film certainly captures the unique awkwardness of Americans in the Far East. It's a bit like looking through the glass at a zoo - and then realizing you are the one in the cage...

...Bill Murray is amazingly talented.

...The scene in the Sushi bar after Bob disappoints Charlotte was fabulous dialogue writing... even though it doesn't have words.

Lost in Translation is a film for grown-ups. There is one really gross scene of naked women in a strip club being completely objectified for some leering Japanese customers. The scene is not erotic, but is rather a pretty harsh commentary about the perception of women in Japan even today. Other than that scene, there are only a few gratuitous Scarlet in her underwear shots, particularly the opening shot of the film.