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Old March 4th, 2004, 10:52 AM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matthew Groff : I tend to agree with you. The fact that it won best screenplay at the academy awards is somewhat of a farce. To me, Bill Murray is incomparable, but this movie is a short film dragged out to feature length and without Bill Murray's improv ability would have been boring as hell. It's beautifully shot and has some clever moments, but it's not a terrifically great film, as everyone seems to think. As a friend, who is not a filmmaker, said "It's like 'OK, we get the picture already.'"
mg -->>>

If the film hadn't been feature length you wouldn't have had the same pacing. The pacing was one of the major features of the composition.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:51 AM   #17
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What I mean by Toyko being a charcter in the film is that the young woman's interactions with the city -- by wandering around and observing -- are critical to her relaization of her own isolation. Hope that's not too abstract.

There are so many sequences that are glimpes of the city and city life that one has the sense that the city is also observing her too.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 12:08 PM   #18
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> This is the first film I have seen in awhile that does not knock
> you over the head with a lot of talking. I also like the use of
> Toyko as a character.

That's it. You usually see that kind of thing a lot in european features, but LiT has an 'american' feel to it while exploring a lot into dialogue-less territory. Then again I did get somewhat annoyed with the ridiculous portrayal of the japanese characters, especially the ad film director and the translatin thing... that part felt out of place in the context af a film which is in general very subtle. Of course, ridiculizing other cultures might actually be what makes the movie feel american. I too have not totally made up my mind about this film, but I sure did enjoy seeing it.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 06:36 PM   #19
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Ignacio,

The portrayal of the director wasn't that over the top really... and the "bizarre" TV personality shown? He's real... and he's really like that. The karaoke scene...been there and done that many, many times myself...etc. etc.

Living here... I didn't see anything too offensive in it. Almost all that was shown I could see or experience here without having to look too far.

Sophia Coppola lived here awhile and has close Japanese friends. I think her intent was to show a part of Japan that westerners don't see that much, that is very much real, and almost passé to the Japanese themselves, but outlandishly bizarre to outsiders. And she did this to further isolate the foreigners here (to bang you over the head with the "fish out of water" theme) and to also show how different the Japanese culture is to western cultures...not in a derogatory way...but just as a fact...for a glimpse into rarely seen Japan, to contrast the serenity and beauty with the bizarre thus showing the onion has many layers, and to relay some of her own past experiences.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #20
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"I also didn't like 21 Grams... it just kept pissing me off. I liked how the stories came together and how it was edited, but the plot itself... bah. But anyway, that's a whole other thread. ;)"

Wow. I don't really know to to respond to that.

IMO, Lost in Translation, 21 Grams, and Return of the King were the best movies of this year. Each had a very specific tone and presented a highly compelling vision. Two were plot-driven, and one character driven, but those are small differences. All of them resonated emotionally, and that's the whole point.

I was *very* skeptical of Lost in Translation until a few days ago, when I actually saw it. It's deliberately paced, but never boring. I loved how some of the shots lingered for a few moments after more conventional films would cut away.

Do I feel it's the best movie of the year? Definitely not. While a subtle and warm character study with some great non-verbal acting and beautiful cinematography, it's not the overwhelming achievement of 21 Grams or Return of the King. It doesn't redefine any paradigm, and it's not supposed to. The sheer reality of the interaction really made the movie great.

BTW, I have been to Japan extensively and I'm half Japanese. Any argument that the director "deliberately exaggerated/demonized" the Japanese is ridiculous, since it was a very factual interpretation. The TV shows, the society, etc. were all portrayed realistically.
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Old March 4th, 2004, 11:12 PM   #21
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Is this Evan Kubota... like... Evan Kubota Evan Kubota? The Evan Kubots i know?

Anyway, i'll keep watching LiT and maybe i'll grow to appreciate it. I find myself doing this with music. I'll listen to it once or twice and hate it, but then i'll listen to it again and again and again and sudden;y i can't get enough and i love it.

"The TV shows...were all portrayed realistically." Esh, too many bright colors for me...
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Old March 5th, 2004, 11:13 PM   #22
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Rost in Twanslation, my parody pronunciation of LIT. Was it a guy flick or a chick flick? Either way, it seemed ponderous. Failing to capture Japan in a non-stereotypical way, it is a far cry from any film that Takashi Miike has done. He knows the real Japan.

Where do we even slot the movie? It has none of the love angles of Accidental Tourist. As an abstract "in-search-of-something" film, it barely compares to Wings of Desire. The humor of If It's Tuesday, It Must be Belgium is missing. LIT has little to no depth. If you took Kieslowski's worst film (there weren't any), it would squash Sofia Coppola's film in just about every respect. Maybe films aren't meant to be compared, but there are several thousand movies that I would put miles ahead of LIT. If LIT were her first movie, and Virgin Suicides were the second, I'd be impressed. But she's stepping backwards, like Kevin Smith. Instead of a bright new star on the director's horizon, I see a director who seems to have shot her load. In the meantime, the only thing I have to look forward to in American cinema is the next film by David Lynch, the Polish brothers, or perhaps Todd Haynes.
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Old March 5th, 2004, 11:24 PM   #23
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So you can only review the film by trying to slot it in with several other much different movies? You really think it's at all interesting to compare Lost in Translation with Takashi Miike? Come on.
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Old March 6th, 2004, 09:20 AM   #24
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> The portrayal of the director wasn't that over the top really

Well, yes... actually I have done some work in the advert business and it's usually like that, in any language :D
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Old March 7th, 2004, 01:22 PM   #25
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Quote:
Failing to capture Japan in a non-stereotypical way
What are your "credentials" for this? Two other people who have
lived in Japan said it pretty much captured reality. So it sounds
a bit "off" that you are now claiming it is not.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 12:46 AM   #26
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : What are your "credentials" for this? Two other people who have
lived in Japan said it pretty much captured reality. So it sounds
a bit "off" that you are now claiming it is not. -->>>

Are they asian, and do they speak the language? This is a tourista film: Japanese love video games and cameras. Yes, but that's not all they like. This movie could have been written by a tourist on a 3-day junket. Why waste film repeating the obvious? Just because some people like this film too much, does it mean they can't take criticism? Name me a film made in Japan by the Japanese which just skims the surface like this one. Have you guys even seen Ringu? Are you aware of Woman in the Dunes?

As for not liking a film because it does not compare favorably with other films, tough luck. Movies do not exist in a vacuum. I hope some of you saw the Academy awards. Because Bill Murray's joking remarks about the indirection by Sofia Coppola had a certain ring of truth to it. She also caricatures American stay-at-home middle-aged wives, so the Japanese are not the only ones being jabbed and stereotyped in her film.

Capturing reality is what documentaries are for. I like fiction and the way it transforms reality, such as the film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Gong Show, anyone?
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Old March 8th, 2004, 01:15 AM   #27
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All you've done is reel off a list of Japanese films and say that Lost in Translation is not like them. For your information, I've seen Woman in the Dunes and Ringu. I can't speak for Rob. And I've been seeing lots of Japanese films in the past few years. Do you want to compare lists? That sort of analysis has no utility at all. This is why I laughed when you tried to compare it to Takashi Miike movies. If you take Takashi Miike's hugely varied filmography, you would get a billion different versions of Japan and some of it extremely outre. Is Japan the land of Yakuza or girls who torture their dates, for example? That is why I questioned your comparison. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate a story of these two foreigners and their impression as outsiders being in Japan. I don't know why you would think this is a statement on the entirety Japan when it is obviously a story of these two people and their isolation and reactions. When you travel to another country there is something laughable, funny and wonderful in the things you witness. At the root of all stereotypes there is a bit of truth. Yes, it is used for comedy material here but it isn't in the least mean-spirited. The Johansen character explores Japan. She goes to the places the tourists go. That is what tourists do. Even the Bill Murray character comes away from Japan appreciating what it has given him. Do you know the Japanese have cowboy bars? Is that mean-spirited of them to make fun of westerners? Or when they take photos with Mounties in Canada? Maybe they find it funny or charming.

You wrote:
//As for not liking a film because it does not compare favorably with other films, tough luck. Movies do not exist in a vacuum.//

All you did was say "oh it's not like Kieslowski, it's not like Miike", etc. That is a worthless statement just as it is. Kieslowski is not like Herzog. Miike is not like Godard. They make different films altogether. It's a useless comparison unless you can make it substantive. If you want to be a film snob back it up.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 01:40 AM   #28
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Keith, I'm not a film snob, but I have watched 8-10 thousand films. And yes, I own many of these (on vhs, laserdisc, dvd, and d-theater). If you do not feel it is "appropriate" to compare films, then you're at odds with the public, and most critics. Film is not as unique as poetry. It is far more universal, with an audience in the billions. Movies are far more referential than music, novels, etc. Movies do not exist without prior reference. You would knock out half of Woody Allen's movies if he could not allude to other films.

If you want to argue that LiT is a great film, then you should back it up. Because "great" means in comparison to other films, not that a film appealed to one's sense or sensibility. To some people, Jackass: The Movie is the greatest comedy in the past 10 years. They could use the same arguments as you do about LiT. My point is that someone who thinks LiT is not that great a film does not need to write a thesis about why this is true (in his view). It doesn't matter what I think. It's those who think it is one of the 1000 greatest films ever made who have to prove their point. Because, these people have to push off another time-tested film to get their current favorite into this elite group.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 02:08 AM   #29
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//Keith, I'm not a film snob, but I have watched 8-10 thousand films. //

Right. You just had to mention you've watched 8-10 thousand films.

//If you do not feel it is "appropriate" to compare films, then you're at odds with the public, and most critics. //

I didn't say that and if you honestly read that from what I wrote previously, you should re-read. I am questioning your manner of comparing unlike directors and their works with "Lost in Translation". You threw out Kieslowski without mentioning which one of his films you thought was useful for comparison. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like you are just saying: "these are masterpieces and this is not" as if it was just a linear value comparison. Instead, why don't you compare like works. And when you mentioned other Japanese works all you are doing is saying: "well these other films are about Japan and they are all better directors". Well, in what way? How can you honestly compare a film by Miike to something like this? Miike has indeed made better films but which one of his films has been like this one? Sofia Coppola hasn't made any films about Yakuza's cutting out their tongues either.

People in this thread have talked about its pacing, its direction and its focus on the two characters as reasons why they thought it was good. So they've already backed it up with something. Why don't you criticize it based upon something instead of just throwing out some pantheon.

I don't think it's a masterpiece for all time, either. But in this year, I think it was a good choice among those nominated.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 03:07 AM   #30
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Quote:
Just because some people like this film too much, does it mean they can't take criticism?
I don't know to whom you directed this question, but I certainly can.
The issue that I raised was not one of criticism or anything else
related to the movie. The issue was that your standpoint on
Japan seems to differ from people who I know live there (I don't
know if they speak the language, you should ask them that).

The only "credit" you have given thus far is that you've seen
(probably) a lot of japanese movies or movies about Japan. Have
you ever been to the country? Have you lived there? I haven't
done neither so I'm not commenting at all on whether this is a
good representation (re-read my posts if you want). I'm only
saying that your view is different from other people (who again
live or have lived there) and was thus only seeking for your input
on the matter.
Quote:
This movie could have been written by a tourist on a 3-day junket
Besides it not being true (not everybody can write movies), I'm
assuming you mean the scenes about Tokyo. So? That's exactly
the feeling the movie tries to give you. Two people are stranded
there, so it is only logical they should do the "tourist" things.
I would. And since I haven't been to the country I don't know for
sure, but wasn't a pretty large part shown: video games,
karaoke, huge markets, temples etc.?
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