lost in translation (2003)
I HATED this movie ten years ago, living in Japan. It portrayed the Japanese as moronic, Bill Murray was the worst kind of American asshole, Scarlett Johansson was a whiny shut-in, the script featured too many old gags about R’s & L’s (“lip my stocking”, etc)… it screamed close-minded unworldliness.
Also it felt soooo sloowwwww.
But that was ten years ago. Over the last couple years I’ve been getting into mellower, more contemplative cinema, like Woody Allen’s recent ScarJoey movies (Match Point, Scoop, and esp. Vicky Christina Barcelona).
Feeling nostalgic for some Japanese scenery, and it being a decade and all, I went back and re-watched Lost in Translation late last night.
Bill Murray came off as less of a jerk this time, and I was less defensive about the ridiculous Japanese directors and businessmen and their portrayal, this time reading it as an injunction against ALL shallow and/or dippy creative and business types regardless of nationality (witness Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris also being portrayed negatively).
I understood Murray’s tired point of view more, his feeling lost or stuck. I resented his being morose while earning $2 million for a couple days’ “work” less.
I saw Bill and Scarlett hanging out as more realistic, as two people who clicked, and overcame the “old man want sex, young woman want money” angle that seemed to subconsciously drive the relationship on my first viewing.
And the pair did go out quite a bit — a couple parties, a strip club, karaoke, Kyoto temples, shabu-shabu.
I still didn’t see it as a romance so much as a couple souls connecting in a strange place (a connection I still think would completely evaporate once the isolation and alienation they were feeling vanished — their entire bonding relied on them being “them against the world” for the duration of their stay).
Also, the photography was rarely more than pedestrian; there’s maybe a dozen shots (golf with Mt Fuji in the background, a few shots looking out windows) that speak truthfully about the beauty of the country, and way too many handheld shots crossing streets in Shibuya or Shinjuku or wherever they were. I recalled the film looking better than it does.
So, all in all an improvement in my opinion of the film, but to my mind it’s still’s not ALL THAT like a lot of people think. But now, if you say you like it, I won’t immediately write-off your opinion of everything else.