A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Lost in Translation

October 8, 2011

Lost in Translation

I am fascinated by Bill Murray’s later career. Unlike so much of Hollywood he hasn’t really made an effort to appear constantly young. He’s always been self-aware and a little awkward, but he really seems to have embraced an outsider image that allows him to make oddball movies like this. I had this recollection before we started watching this tonight that this movie won an Oscar for Sofia Coppola for best original screenplay. This struck me as odd because my memory of the movie was that it felt largely unscripted, so I had to google it to check my facts. I was right, but it doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then.

The genius of this movie is that it so brilliantly captures a strange disconnected sense of isolation. It’s in the editing, in the camera work, in the soundtrack. It feels as if the whole movie takes place in an insomniac daze.It’s a film that doesn’t really have a plot, per say, having instead a couple of characters tossed into a foreign land to whom a series of inconsequential things happen.

It follows washed up seventies film star Bob Harris, who is in Japan to do ads for whisky, and a young woman named Charlotte at loose ends in the same hotel while her husband travels the country photographing a local rock band. The two of them are both alone in a strange land and end up spending time together mostly to fill the time. Bob is having a kind of midlife crisis (something Charlotte teases him ruthlessly about) and Charlotte is feeling some angst because she can’t figure out what she wants to do with her life. So the two of them bum around Tokyo, observing the unfamiliar strangeness of it. They’re both married, of course, and they know they shouldn’t do anything foolish, but there’s definitely a sexual tension between the two of them as well. If this were a Woody Allen creation (and he does really like to use Scarlett Johansson lately) they would sleep with each other and angst about it for the rest of the movie, but this is a different kind of film. It’s about taking comfort in the company of someone experiencing the same culture shock, and not about giving in to the temptation to do something that would never work out anyhow.

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October 8, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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