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HTF HD-DVD Review: Lost in Translation



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted September 15 2007 - 04:36 AM

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Lost in Translation




Studio: Universal Studios.
Year: 2003
US Rating: R - Some Sexual Content
Film Length: 1hr 42 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English and French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English SDH and French




US Release Date: May 29, 2007

The Film - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

“You're probably just having a mid-life crisis. Did you buy a Porsche yet?”

The way we experience loneliness, isolation and feeling completely out of place, is the engine that drives Sofia Coppola’s sensitive and genuine film that provides real glimpses into the world of two strangers in the frenetic and colorful city of Tokyo who manage to find each other and a little of themselves.

The film is a slice of out of the lives of two people. The first is Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a film star whose best days may very well be behind him, has traveled to Tokyo to shoot a commercial for Suntory whiskey. Even though he is pampered by his hosts, he chooses to frequently retreat to the relative comfort of the Hotel Bar to wash away the taste of his life. Bob is lost amidst the dizzying energy of the city and the embers of his marriage. The second is Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a beautiful, young lady who is staying at the hotel with her photographer husband John (Giovanni Ribisi). Disconnected from her husband, and the strange world around her, she is struggling to understand what she is doing and what she is supposed to be.

These two strangers run into each other enough times, during their stay at the hotel, that a friendship is sparked. This friendship is based as much on the familiarity each of them brings to each other, amongst the strangeness of their surroundings, as it is the connection they have of sadness and longing.

Sofia Coppola, daughter of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, wrote and directed ‘Lost in Translation’, winning herself an Oscar for the screenplay and numerous other accolades. She shows an instinct for the human connections we each find ourselves making unexpectedly. With a tactful, tender and almost dreamlike treatment of the material, she elevates Lost in Translation, a story about strangers in similar crises of life, into a thoughtful, serious, funny and outstanding success. Coppola has captured a rich and remarkable performance from comedian Bill Murray as he delivers the performance of a lifetime, taming his more exuberant antics for a mellower, more natural presence onscreen.

Scarlett Johansson is a very natural actress. Her skills on screen capture loneliness and aching solitude with an understated flair, and as the relationship with Bill Murray’s character deepens, Johansson cleverly keeps her character with one foot in the shade, remaining slightly reserved and shy. By not allowing the fun she has to wash away just how out of place she feels in the life she has built, she is believable and evermore endearing. Giovanni Ribisi’s role is brief, but he seems exactly perfect as the loving but naïve husband to Scarlett’s listless Charlotte.

Lost in Translation portrays an experience to which many can relate. Like showing up at a party where you don’t know a soul. It’s loud and disconcerting and you feel completely out of place. As much as you want to leave you can’t and then you run into someone who feels very much the way that you do. You connect; you laugh and you begin to feel more comfortable about where you are because of who you are with. Lost in Translation is remarkable in how it depicts exactly how that feels, filled with all the funny, awkward, nervous and scary feelings that come with those experiences.

The film has a wonderful feel to it; angst and amour in equal measure and often at the same time. Director Coppola has imbued this delightful film with an indisputable charm and sense of humor. Each of her actors climb into every inch of their characters and make flawed, lost people shine with sadness and beauty.

Lost in Translation stays with you for days. Slices of Kevin Shields ethereal score, more a musical echo than traditional score, linger in the mind as this film filled with conversation and quietness, plays itself over.




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Universal Studios has released this HD-DVD version of Lost in Translation in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p High Definition and encoded VC-1. I am not quite sure what to make of the video quality. The unusual nature of the film seems to beg of a slightly stylized look and feel and I wonder if that is the reason the image comes across a little washed out at times. Grain and noise is evident in various places throughout and is far from a striking transfer. But with that said, much of the film remains crisp, with the grey of the high views of the cityscape from the hotel windows and the bright and busy street scenes coming across very film like. A bit of a mixed bag at the end of the day.




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With both a French and English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track, Lost in Translation sounds quite nice. A film that addles between conversation, hectic city noise and the almost dreamlike music that accompanies the characters facing their own solitude, each soundscape comes across very natural and with great balance. The story doesn’t offer the audio many chances to shine, but what we do have is an audio that delivers just what the film needs but without any ‘wow’ factor.





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Lost on Location: Behind the Scenes Documentary - (29:39) – Filmed entirely by a hand-held camera, without any real production value, this is perhaps the most enlightening and revealing ‘making of’ special features that I have seen. A fascinating glimpse into several scenes, the production staffs routine and location shooting.

Matthew’s Best Hit TV - (4:39) – This is the footage recorded for the scene in the film were Bill Murray’s character visits Tokyo’s Jonny Carson. Silly stuff.

Kevin Shields ‘City Girl’ Music Video – Clips from the film playing over one of the many songs used in the film.

Deleted Scenes - (10:39) – Over ten minutes of interesting deleted scenes. Each has the same tone and feel of the film from which they were removed.

A Conversation with Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola - (9:47) – An easy conversation with the films star and director. Bill Murray does most of the talking but by Sofia’s choice it would seem. Filmed in Rome after principle photography on the film had wrapped, the two seem comfortable as they reflect upon the film they had made.

Theatrical Trailer





Final Thoughts

Lost in Translation is a wonderful accomplishment. Extremely well written characters and performances that live and breathe, have helped mold a strikingly genuine piece of modern cinema. Coppola is clearly an apple that fell close to the tree, making a film with sublime intimacy and stunning acknowledgement of real people. As a story of two people struggling to find their way when they are out of place, it sinks into the heart with an unassuming skill and there the characters stay until the final reel. And long after the film has ended, you will find these two sweet and flawed people, lost on the other side of the world, occupying your thoughts.

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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   chris_clem

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Posted September 16 2007 - 06:27 AM

Nice review Neil Posted Image

This is one of my all-time favorite films so I am a bit disappointed about the perceived poor image quality. However, I seem to remember quite a few threads about this very issue back when the DVD was released and having seen this in the theaters 3 times I can attest that this film has always had a "soft" look to it. Could it be that this is the washed-out look you mention? Is it really a mediocre transfer or is this the best it could look because this was how it was shot?

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   MattGuyOR

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Posted September 16 2007 - 06:41 AM

Great review. I can see your point about the video quality, but I think it looks quite nice. I think it's a good representation of the film as seen in theaters. I think they were going for a more stylized look, and with the low-budget nature of the film, I think this is about as good as we're going to get. Great movie, I wouldn't hesitate to get it if anyone's thinking about it.

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted September 16 2007 - 11:37 AM

Hi - Glad you both liked the review. The picture quality on a film like this is a tough one to judge, as it most often has more to do with a desired look for the film than the quality of a transfer. The representation of a film on home video needs to look as close as possible the theatrical presentation so it would seem (since you saw it in the theater) that this film does a pretty good job with that. Thanks for the info! Posted Image
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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