Taking a break from the heady (read: “self-absorbed”) stuff for a sec, I finally saw “Lost in Translation” last night.
(Yeah, when you work full-time AND try to Web design on the side and have a 6-year-old and a wife who works nearly full-time AND goes to school full-time, you don’t get to go see movies very often.)
I have a rule: No matter how bad or good a movie is, if it contains special effects, it’s better in a theater. Which means when my wife and I have the opportunity to see a movie in a theater it tends to be an action adventure. But, there are some non-action films that also benefit from the large screen, big sound theater experience, and “Lost in Translation” would likely have been one of these.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the movie! Loved it. I will own the DVD, I promise you. However, the movie was a bout being lost. Being isolated, being a stranger in a strange land (god I hate Heinlein. Sorry. Unrelated comment, but had to be said.) Sofia Coppola is confident enough of a director that she can tell of her story through silence. Being a theatre student, I can tell you some of the hardest but most rewarding moments are the silences. If you can convey pages on subtext in a silence, you have done your job well. And in every scene where you simply watch the character watching people or scenery or some action, you get a tremendous sense of who they are, what they’re feeling, what they’re thinking. And Bill Murrey and Scarlett Johanssen perfectly projected their characters in that way.
But I think the overwhelming sense of lonliness and isolation would have been more dramatic when you see it on a larger, bigger environment. When they’re looking at the cityscapes of Tokyo, the entire city reaching into the sky, cold, stark metal and glass disguised by gaudy neon and electric light and video, it would have had a much more effective…effect.
Saying that just now, I had a revelation. So subtly, so delicately the movie showed more about the Japanese culture and society than I think is readily evident, portrayed in their buildings. In the daylight, from up above, Scarlett’s character looks at the city below her in quiet contemplation, and we see a city very much like any American city, gray and bleak. Reaching up above the lives below, cold, hard, closed, isolated building among themselves. From below, walking among the buildings you are bombarded with lights and sounds and movement and LED and plasma, and it’s a techno circus. But, it’s a cover. All the lights all the video displays, are all affixed carefully onto the buildings to disguise and hide what’s underneith.
All people do it, I think Japanese culture as a whole has mastered the ability to hide what’s inside with a decorative outside.
Anyway, it was a beautiful, poignent movie. And I know a lot of people thought it was highly overrated. Well, it’s not “Citizen Caine”, sure. It meanders a little, but, then, so do the lives of the main characters. It’s about two people who have lost direction, lost focus. The movie follows them for a week as they try to find something. The feel, the tone, and whole mood and look of the film captures this theme perfectly. We really feel connected to these characters, with them in their lonliness and isolation. Hoping the best for them. Rooting for them.
It was a beautiful film.
Another film I got to see recently was Garden State.
That was a surprising film! It was written, directed, and lead acted by Zach Braff who you may know as the quirky goofball from “Scrubs”. Who the heck would have thought he could make a movie as quietly intelligent and dramatic as this (without it being a “drama” per se.) It reminded me a lot of “Good Will Hunting,” and I think comparisons to “The Graduate” are too obvious. While like “Good Will Hunting” it was a first film by a young actor, “Good Will Hunting” was directed by an accomplished director and “Garden State” but a first time director. Taking that into consideration, and “Garden State” is extraordinarily impressive.
“Garden State” is also about someone lost (I like lost movies it seems) who has the opportunity to find himself for the first time. Learn who he is and what he wants, and how he fits into the world and people around him. A world where until the week the movie takes place, you couldn’t even claim that he was an observer of. A lot happens around him that he’s been oblivious to, and he begins to really see things for what they are and what they could be.
“Lost In Translation” is a beautiful, exquisite film, “Garden State” is a smart, fascinating one. Both have incredible soundtracks (which I will be adding to my Amazon Wish List! *g*)