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***Official LOST IN TRANSLATION Review Thread

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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted September 11 2003 - 07:40 PM

Admin. note: For the Official Discussion Thread for this film, please go here.

Lost in Translation Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of 5

Character studies are, for the most part, a tough sell to a wide audience. The same moviegoers who gripe about sequel after crappy sequel generally don't drop eight bucks for a ticket to a quiet little "people movie". And while it's true that films like Lost in Translation often work just as well on the small screen as on the large...it's important to donate a few sawbucks to the quiet little "people movies". If something like Lost in Translation makes some sort of profit...we may get more quality films somewhere down the road.

Everyone loves Bill Murray. Aging people with youthful minds (yes, like me) remember Murray with nothing but great fondness from his performances in classic comedies like Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes and Ghostbusters while newer fans are introduced to his back catalog by way of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Ed Wood. Hardcore Murray mavens will point to underrated gems like Quick Change, Scrooged, What About Bob? and Groundhog Day while general moviegoers may recognize Murray as the colorful character actor populating the background of flicks like Charlie's Angels, Wild Things and Little Shop of Horrors. Heck, even the kids might know his face, if only from diversions like Space Jam and Osmosis Jones.

Like I said...everybody loves Bill Murray.

Clearly screenwriter/director Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides) also loves Bill Murray. It's evident in every frame of Lost in Translation, a "people movie" so personal and touching that I suspect Murray starts earning some actual "Oscar Buzz" come December. Though this is hardly Bill Murray's first foray into "serious acting", it would take a hearty film freak to successfully recall Murray's turns in stuff like The Razor's Edge or Cradle Will Rock...but trust me when I tell you the guy's a damn underrated performer.

Plus we're currently living in a universe that credits Murray's old SNL alum Dan Aykroyd as an Oscar Nominee, so don't scoff when I mention Murray and the Academy Award in the same breath. Much of this could just be a lifelong admiration of the guy spilling forth, but Bill Murray is simply brilliant in Lost in Translation. Period.

Murray plays aging actor Bob Harris, a formerly-A list Hollywood presence who has traveled to Tokyo to perform in a series of liquor ads. Estranged from his wife, alienated from his children, and a thousand miles away from any familiar face, Bob spends his off-time (which is plentiful) holding down a stool at the dimly-lit hotel bar. In between bouts of drunkenness and insomnia, Bob becomes friendly with another supplanted American; a pretty young woman named Charlotte (as played wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson of Ghost World) who has traveled to Japan with her harried fashion photographer of a husband.

And plotwise that's basically it..but in a very good way. Lost in Translation is not even remotely concerned with the double entendres that seem to inevitably attach themselves to any story about an older guy and a younger gal. There are no conveniently push-button plot contrivances, no story threads telegraphed early on only to sprout up later and cause trouble, and none of the tiresome antics that would come were the film created by someone interested solely in yuks and smarm. Lest I leave you thinking that Lost in Translation is dry and bereft of fun, let me allay that suspcion; there are several effective moments of humor but they spring from moments of character and mood, not set-up and punchline.

Lost in Translation is a quietly involving and altogether beautiful little film; it deftly alleges that everyone out there has, at one time or another, become close friends with a faraway traveling companion - only to feel a sharp tug of regret when vacation time is over and "real life" must begin again. The emotions here are more deep than "Aw poor lonely Bill Murray needs a friend and I hope he finds one"; the film quietly speaks volumes about the importance of friendship and the universal need for a familiar face, an affectionate rub on the shoulder or a secret nod from across a crowded room.

Despite beginning her Hollywood career in infamously noteworthy fashion (many consider her Godfather Part 3 performance as some sort of sin against humanity), Sofia Coppola is now 2 for excellent 2 behind the camera. As one sits and enjoys her latest film, it's not difficult to imagine how the daughter of a world-famous filmmaker must have spent more than a few lonely nights at various hotels around the world. That she was able to translate this so pitch-perfectly while giving one of Hollywood's most underrated talents such a fantastic role could be a great argument for the filmmaking gene being hereditary. If she keeps this up, she'll soon have created as many excellent films as her father has...in a much shorter amount of time.

You'll see it because you love Bill Murray. But somewhere about halfway through you'll realize that you're watching something much more than a dramatic vehicle for Hollywood's clown prince. Lost in Translation should play on a continuous loop in every hotel room on the planet - as a bittersweet reminder that everyone gets lonely on their own.

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Jason Whyte

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Posted September 11 2003 - 07:45 PM

This is the official review thread for "Lost in Translation". Please post all reviews here.

For discussion of this film, please visit the official discussion thread which is located HERE.


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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted September 13 2003 - 06:11 AM

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Scott pretty much said it all (as he tends to do Posted Image ), so I'm just adding my personal accolades to the film.

Screenplay: a simple script that leaves the work to the actors and the direction, dealing with the timeless themes of loneliness and companionship.

Performance: Murray is indeed a great actor as well as a comedian. It took Wes Anderson's films for me to discover this, and that sort of subdued, straight-man humor is employed in this film.
Scarlett Johansson is as delightful here as she was in Ghost World and The Man Who Wan't There.

Direction: Though some of it was a little naive, it was honest and did a good job of conveying the emotions that it wanted. Its technical strengths and flaws matched those of the character's personalities. That sort of reminds of Sam Fuller.

On a personal note, I saw this alone and lonely in a crowded Manhattan theater and neighborhood, kind of like Murray's character in Japan. So the movie sure did work on me.

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Angel Pagan

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Posted September 13 2003 - 07:12 PM

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Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson were great in this film.

I even thought Anna Faris was funny in this as Charlotte's husbands movie star friend.

#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted September 15 2003 - 12:52 AM

I saw Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation last night, and well, wow! I rarely enjoy films that have been praised to death by the critics (unless I see them at some festival before all the praise), but Lost in Translation was impossible not to love. From the point of view of direction and performance (particularly Bill Murray), Lost in Translation is hard to top. It also gives pretty much the best portrait of contemporary Japan that I have ever seen. Through a very specific point of view of course, but IMHO a strong point of view, whatever it may be is always a good thing. So far as Coppola's direction, there a numerous shots in this film that just take your breath away -- she is a major talent. There is nothing flashy here, in the DePalma or Tarantino mode, it is all perfectly subtle, but perfect. The screenplay (which she also wrote) is quite minimalist, but is hard to criticize it on that basis -- its major strength is that it leaves so much unsaid, and that makes it rare coming from such a young filmmaker. A couple of reviews I saw favorably compare this film to Before Sunrise and In The Mood For Love. This brings up my only (slight) negative thought: Scarlett Johansson (to me) is not as compelling a romantic interest as a Julie Delpy and especially Maggie Cheung. This is no reflection on Johansson's acting, just her appeal, an admittedly very personal thing. Ted
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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted September 15 2003 - 01:48 AM

It's been a long time since I've been so horribly disappointed at the movies. Murray and Johannsen are both wonderful, and there are some individual scenes that are hilarious (mostly because of Murray's wordless reactions). But the script gives these fine actors far too little to do, and it makes the almost criminal mistake of separating them for long periods of time after they meet -- and most of the time apart is just a bore (if I wanted a travelogue of Kyoto, I'd buy one). By the time the end rolled around, I was too busy looking at my watch to be moved. M.
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#7 of 23 OFFLINE   LukeB



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Posted September 16 2003 - 12:28 PM

Great review, Scott. I liked the movie quite a bit. I agree that the movie gives the characters little to do, but I thought that was intentional and only underlined the two principles' conflicts.

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted September 20 2003 - 10:13 AM

I thought it was a nice film, driven by a sense of being at life's crossroads for both of the main characters, Bob and Charlotte, though physically, they are set adrift in the hustle and bustle of Japan as they find companionship for their search for their place on their life's map as both seem to be feeling a little trapped by life's circumstances. Bill Murray's charm is used to good effect to garner many of the laughs in the film, but he comes across a bit weary of the life he leads, and he isn't without faults and foibles, though he does appreciate a kindred soul when he encounters one, even if it is wrapped up in a young woman, Charlotte. I didn't mind the "only in Japan" sequences that were sprinkled throughout the film as the principal characters experience them. Their little adventures together are fun and involving. By the end of the film, the resolution gave me chills and goosebumps, but in a good way. I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
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#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Tom Brennan

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Posted September 21 2003 - 07:48 AM

I finally got to see this last night, and it exceeded my exceptions. I can't wait to see it again. For me, it's the best movie of the year, and I don't see it being topped. I loved this movie. I loved every single frame of it. The opening scene brilliant...its like waking up from a dream...and falling into another one. It's the best opening scene I've seen in a long time. Bill Murray's Bob Harris is a character that seems to be both happy and sad with his life at the same time. Career wise, his better days of being a 70's TV star are behind him. He's in Japan to shoot some whiskey ads. He's doing it for the big payday he's getting. You can tell it's not something he's proud of at all. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is also sad, maybe more so then Harris. She is in Tokyo while her husbad works. She has been married for two years and wonders if she married the right person. Her husband is oblivious to her concerns. These two people find each other in their jet lagged, sleepless depression. Lost In Translation is very well crafted in it's writing and directing. Sofia Coppola does a fantastic job. She doesn't fall into cliches that would be so easy to fall into in a film like this. The characters are too smart for any of that. Coppola has too much respect for her characters (as do we) to allow them to fall into endless cliches. These are intelligent characters, ones that could easily exist in our world. There is just something so cool and brilliant that happens at the end of the movie. I won't give it away. It's a very small thing, it's more of a thing that Sofia Coppola does with the scene then the scene itself. When you see the movie, you'll what it is immediately. This is a funny movie, no question about it. There are some big laughs here. It's really so many things. It's introspective, it's a great piece on the cultural differences between two foreign countries, it's romantic (but not cheesy romantic) and it's tragic in many ways. Billy Murray proves without a shadow of a doubt just how talented he is. He can so easily go over the top here, go for more easy laughs, but he doesn't. His subtleness here is what wins you over. He doesn't have to say a word for you to enjoy him on screen. You can just read his expressions. They say so much, without giving away a thing. He doesn't have to be "ON" to make you love him. That is the key to his brilliance, and this is his finest work to date. This movie wouldn't have worked with any other lead actor. This movie was written especially for Murray and you can see why. I have to also say that Scarlett Johansson (Charlotte) is fantastic here as well. Perfectly casted. They are just a pleasure to watch together. I just had an ear to ear smile the entire time while watching Lost In Translation. I hope it opens in more theatres soon. It deserves a mass audience.
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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich5616



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Posted September 21 2003 - 08:45 AM

My wife and I both loved this film. We hope the Academy remembers the lead actors next January. Ann and Richard Jewett

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Peter Kim

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Posted September 21 2003 - 04:32 PM

9/10 A extremely rare trip to the theater proved to be very worthwhile. I really think Bill Murray is a highly underrated actor, one of the best from his class. S. Johansson's performance here and in Ghost World now makes me seek her out everywhere else. While the mysterious whisper pleasantly left the audience adrift, it was a most satisfying conclusion.
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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Brajesh Upadhyay

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Posted September 22 2003 - 01:53 AM

My wife & I really enjoyed this film. Bill Murray could just stand there & you'll get me laughing. I love the way he underacts & conveys so much with his facial expressions/body language. The movie was a good slice of life with realism you can relate to. It's quite funny to hilarious in parts. Scarlett Johansson is turning out to be a fine actress (having seen her in "The Horse Whisperer" & "Ghost World"). This movie has a good modern rock soundtrack too. Highly recommended!

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image (out of 5)

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#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Ray Chuang

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Posted September 22 2003 - 03:20 AM

I saw the movie yesterday and it was one of the most pleasant surprises I've seen in movies this year (along with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl).

Bill Murray was superb in his performance, and it'll be a major crime for him NOT to be nominated for an Best Actor Oscar early next year. And Sofia Coppola deserves a few Oscar nominations herself. Posted Image

I'll give it Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image .
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#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted September 26 2003 - 07:37 PM

sorry if this is already posted...couldn't find it via search

simply put, one of the best movies i've recently seen.

i'm not even a big bill murray fan, but he totally sold me this time. plus scarlett johanssen (sp?) was truly radiant.

the story of two strangers meeting in a strange city, exploring the place and eachother is nothing new, but sophia coppola has pulled it off. the dialog was truly fresh...not a single scene felt forced.

this movie evokes a mood as much as anything else. the visuals of japan were really amazing. there's a wonderful shot of murray on a golf course, with this huge mountain (mt. fuji?) in the background. it totally blew me away.

the insight into japanese culture was really fascinating. coppola managed to show several sides of japanese culture. we see how reverent they can be...but also what the youthful generation is like. in no way did i get a sense that she was poking fun at them.

did i mention that i'm not a murray fan? his performance here was truly inspiring. i think this may be my favorite role by him.

people...you owe it to yourself to try to see this.

i give it a solid A.

#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Arman



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Posted September 27 2003 - 01:16 AM

Lost in Translation (A+) is one of the funniest films and hands down the most poignant and inventive film of the year. It is so very simple, real and I agree it is a "minimalist Before Sunrise" in few spoken words. The puzzling ending is a masterstroke and blew my mind. So much has been said about Murray's great performance. Well, I never liked him in any of his previous films but in this one, he completely won me over. And by the way, Scalette Johnson's perfomance is the one that I will not surely forget in many years to come. Sofia Coppola is indeed giving the name a new twist. She is one of most exciting and young directors (along with Inarritu and Hanson) to watch. I'm so happy that she is getting all those wonderful accolades for her two great films. Hopefully, people will completely get over with their family's misstep on her Godfather III casting. Lost In Translation has now my vote as the best film of the year (so far).

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   AndyDC



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Posted September 28 2003 - 11:46 AM

Wonderful movie. Not a romantic comedy, so don't go expecting one.

I have a question for those who've seen it.
what do you think he whispered in her ear at the end of the movie?



(Admin note - discussion about that question can be found in the official discussion thread for this film. Please use that thread for followup questions. Thanks.)

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

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Posted October 01 2003 - 11:18 PM

I’m afraid Lost In Translation didn’t do much for me either and this is coming from someone who likes subtlety (i.e. In The Mood For Love, among others). I would echo Michael Reuben’s comments above for the most part. I was also constantly looking at my watch throughout the entire screening.

As soon as the situations of the two primary characters were laid out in its opening minutes, I knew exactly where the story was headed. It was so predictable that there was no element of surprise. I also think that it went a little too much on its travelogue portion of Japan, which I didn’t care for unless Sophia Coppola is trying to be in the same business as Fodor's.

There wasn’t enough back-story to the two main characters, specifically Charlotte’s, for me to surmise the situation that she is in especially only after two years of marriage. Production values are a little on the low side with the editing somewhat choppy and the cinematography leaving something to be desired. Overall, not a bad film, but not great either.

I know I am in the minority on this one, but that is fine.

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#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Joseph Young

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Posted October 02 2003 - 08:14 AM

Author Eric Alterman succinctly summed up potential disappointment with Lost in Translation when he said:
[quote] Well, okay for the acting, but nothing happens. [quote] The only problem with his assessment is, well, it's dead wrong.

I give it a solid Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image (out of 5)

I'll admit a bias because I've studied Japanese language and culture and was delighted by some of the sights, including the brief foray into Kyoto. While this is no pure representation of the culture, it's certainly an honest and representative portrait of Coppola's experience while filming it, which I find equally charming.

Thankfully Coppola's sweet meditation on loneliness and isolation has produced images and feelings that linger indellibly long after film's end. Because that's what this is, after all. It's a film charting the natural ebbs of two peoples' lives and their internal monologues: one barely begun and stopped dead, the other arguably dead for a while.

What happens in Lost in Translation? Nothing, you say? The movie is a sweet, minimalist's morsel of the human condition in this modern world. And it's a love story. If you come out of this movie convinced that nothing extraordinary has happened to these two people, then perhaps two hours of your wristwatch is more exciting. Go to town.

There is a lavish, heartbreakingly lively emotional subtext playing in full technicolor here. I owe that to the brilliance of everyone who worked on the film, not least of all the Director and her leads. Cinematographer Lance Acord (also known for his work on Adaptation and Being John Malcovich has done a phenomenal job.

I daresay that anyone disappointed with this film, aside from having absolute right to that opinion, is disturbed by its gentle tiptoe between the love and comedy genres and refusal to provide that satisfaction of doling out either one or the other in a more conventional format.

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Adam_S



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Posted October 11 2003 - 12:14 PM

Lost in Translation - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Behind Álex de la Iglesia's brilliant 800 Balas, this is the second best film of the year (though finding nemo will probably rise up to number two when I rewatch it soon). I was really surprised and didn't expect to like this film this much. What makes this film truly delightful is that it is not an 'older man has affair with young woman' movie. Instead it is a very honest film about friendship, marraige, and life. This is film that shows how ennui and listlessness can magnify problems far out of proportion to what they seem. How in the moments of our lives when we are the cusp of something new, when what is required is a firm decision and direction we often instead choose to merely float along and ride the crest, hoping things will work out for the best. The title is Lost in Translation, but it might well be Lost in transistion.

This is not a film that promises lies that love, sex, affairs can rejuvenate a life. These characters are so vastly more intelligent than that, instead it is about how necssary and powerful the bond and love of friendship is for someone. Bob doesn't really have any friends we meet, no bosum buddy or soulmate, he is cast adrift. When Charlotte reaches out over the phone to a friend at home, we see how unsatisfying that relationship is, while her busy friend brushes her off. And I'm not saying they're in bad marraiges, it seems evident that they're both in healthy marraiges, marraiges that are sometimes strained by the individual concerns and failings of one partner, but marraiges that seem strong, nevertheless. But marraige fulfills a different function in life, and we see that both Charlotte's husband and Bill's wife have very full lives, it is Bill and Charlotte that don't.

This is a very honest, open film about friendship that is beautifully acted and wonderfully directed. I do have a few quibbles, shaky cam was overused just enough to make me slightly queasy and the visit to the strip club seemed inserted so that this would have an R rating.
Bob's 'failure' late in the film felt unnecessary. It seems as though that sequence was added in to convince overzealous analyists from determining that Bob and Charlotte had sex when there is a fade out from Bob patting her foot on her bad to her riding in a train the next day. It seemed blunt and out of place to hammer into our heads that their relationship was not sexual by showing us another one that was (and it's a little sad these days that people will assume any friendship between opposite sexes must be sexual). However it didn't bother me too much, but made me disapointed in Bob

In the end, we're only sure that these characters are better for having become one another's friends and company. Maybe Bob has decided to go home and spend more time with his daughter and family, that's what I'd like to believe. And maybe Charlotte will have more confidence in herself, or new subjects to pursue thanks to a loyal friend. The film does not neatly tie up the rest of these characters lives, but it's clear that they're not quite as lost in transistion anymore.


#20 of 23 OFFLINE   steve jaros

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Posted October 12 2003 - 06:46 AM

I found it to be a sweet film, charming and well-acted, with great chemistry between murray and the young chick. Nothing classic, but well above average.

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