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Old March 8th, 2004, 03:16 AM   #31
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Marc,

I won't add fuel to the flame related to your arguments about the quality of the film. Although I disagree completely, it is, afterall, your opinion--which you're entitled to.

But as for your comments about being insulting toward the Japanese. You're wrong. It's as simple as that.

Keith hit the nail on the head... is it insulting for a Japanese tourist to want to have their photo taken standing next to a mountie? No? How about a photo taken by some big biker-looking guy? I've seen it done. You're confusing curiosity/difference/interest with something else entirely. Don't let your need to pick a fight cloud reality.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 12:00 PM   #32
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Also, later in the movie the Johansen character invites the Bill Murray character on a night out with her Japanese friends. This can hardly called racist or stereotypical. It's a bunch of people having fun in trendy nightclubs. I see those people all the time in Vancouver, both Japanese and non-Japanese in the same circles. Even if you look at the surface of the earlier depictions from the POV of the Bill Murray character and think they are just making fun of the Japanese, this is more than balanced when the two of them go out and experience the fun of Japan. And later in the film, Murray tells his wife that he wants to live more Japanese and she tells him, if he likes Japan so much maybe he should stay there!
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Old March 8th, 2004, 12:07 PM   #33
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I'm not sure I agree with Marc, but having read a number of reviews expressing similar sentiments, I thought I'd rush to his aid to point out that he's not alone in his evaluation of the breadth of the film's perspective.

This review by Yoko Akashi of Japan Today begins:
Quote:
I recently saw "Lost in Translation," and I must say that I was offended by it. The more I thought about this film, the more it made me angry.

The first shot of any film always speaks volumes to me. What was the first shot of "Lost in Translation?" It was a woman's ass. Through this body part, the director, Sofia Coppola, sees and shows Japan and her characters.
Myself, I was mildly amused by the film, but hardly thought it to be best picture/actor/director/screenplay material. Certainly it possessed neither novelty nor profluence. Worst of its sins was its title, wholly incongruous to the story, which dealt with two characters who had no problem whatever relating to each other, and treated its alien setting as a backdrop and nothing more. I wonder if an identical movie made sans name talent would have gotten the same traction.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 02:55 PM   #34
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That's not necessarily a fair query - the name talent is part of what made the film what it is. In fact Sofia wrote it from the very start with Bill Murray in mind (and of course was very relieved when he said yes). She has repeatedly called him her muse, even in one of the award shows - either the Oscars or the Spirit awards. So one could say Bill Murray was critical to the film, name or no name.

And Johansen (sp?) is only hot right now as a result of this and one or two other films, so her name isn't really a factor. As far as Sofia... well, her Virgin Suicides didn't get this much notoriety, though it did garner some critical acclaim. So while her name I'm sure paves the way to a green light for her, I don't think it gets her anywhere with box office results or award shows.

As far as the above quote from the review - well, it's a bit of a stretch to say that Sofia was showing Japan through Johansen's ass. I have a hard time with extremist views with any angle.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 05:17 PM   #35
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I knew this topic could spark a wildfire, but keep in mind, i'm wanting this to be a discussion and not an "i'm right and you're wrong" kind of a thing. Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion.

I am enjoying the issues being brought up and the interesting comparasons that are being made.

I have to say something about the "woman's ass" quote. Keep in mind, it could have been a lot worse... it could have been a man's ass. Women's bodies tend to express ideas of mystery, beauty, and seduction. I'm sure Sophia wasn't trying to make the comparason between an ass crack and Tokyo.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 05:39 PM   #36
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Quote:
The first shot of any film always speaks volumes to me. What was the first shot of "Lost in Translation?" It was a woman's ass. Through this body part, the director, Sofia Coppola, sees and shows Japan and her characters.
Ah yes... good ol' American values (something tells me that Yoko, the author of the review, is an American of Japanese heritage or has lived there). The human body is a dirty thing that needs to be covered, lovemaking is naughty, sexuality is for "trashy" people... but hey, let's blow up everything in the movie. In fact, let's not just blow things up... let's put the explosives in their mouths, and then blow them up in slow motion! Coooool, dude!

I've often thought that if the U.S. mentality had its way, we'd all be neutered to look like Barbie and Ken dolls (you know, with the "blank" bodies under the clothing)...except that they'd feminize Ken and masculinize Barbie to the point that you couldn't tell them apart. They'd be Pat and Pat dolls. Of course, they'd be blended in all ways and would avoid any sort of regional accent or distinguishing characteristics.

Personally, I'll take a shot of a woman's ass over a head exploding any day. Why cave to the thinking that you should NEVER show a woman's ass because some insecure, easily-offended types PERCEIVE any shot of a female body, or male body, as offensive?

Anyway, I don't think that was Coppola's intent either and intent guides us to the truth more accurately than perception.

But in that same line of thinking, I'm sure that some Japanese will be offended by parts of the film... and I have to wonder whether they'll be offended because they truly find the scenes offensive, or because any outsider's glimpse of them, especially view's of the more bizarre aspects of society, makes them feel uncomfortable? What if a Japanese filmmaker made a film about a Japanese woman in New York who sees some of the "bizarre" clubs there? Does that faithfully represent what all the U.S. is about? No, of course not. Should Americans be offended. No...why should they? It doesn't reflect what the same Japanese woman would experience in, say, Little Rock, Arkansas... but people from Arkansas would probably feel as much like "fish out of water" in New York as they would Japan. Besides, it can only truly be taken as offensive if it's amplified and/or has mean-intent (for instance, Mickey Rooney's depiction of the Japanese neighbor in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"-- now THAT is offensive).

I really don't think Lost in Translation has anything truly worth being considered offensive. What's always surprised me is how many films, especially U.S. films DO have derogatory comments and imagery related to the Japanese (you'd be surprised how many)... and these are films that are not only widely-acclaimed in the States... but here in Japan as well.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 05:55 PM   #37
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Wow, John... hitting a little below the belt there. I understand that stereotypical "American mentality" is not something to be proud of, but i think you're pushing it a little too far with those statements. I, personally, find nothing more beautiful than the female body (taking into consideration the fact that she is healthy and not obese). I find nothing more satisfying to touch than a woman's body. I would hate to have myself and my Barbie looking the same. It would just be... weird. And i, too, would rather enjoy a nice shot of a woman's ass over the visual horror of war. There are many more pleasantries to be said about a woman's ass than there are about warfare and i think you know more than a few American's feel this way.

The problem with sex is that its something that can be good or bad and parents wont know how their children will handle it until they are older whereas war and gore are "bad" no matter how you look at it. Its easier to explain than the innumerable definitions of sex and lust and beauty.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 11:35 PM   #38
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"Why cave to the thinking that you should NEVER show a woman's ass because some insecure, easily-offended types PERCEIVE any shot of a female body, or male body, as offensive?"

Not to defend the reviewer--I don't see it her way, I was just pointing out that Marc wasn't the only one who felt Japan was deprecated by the film--but I'm fairly sure the above by John wasn't her intent.

First shots in films, like beginnings to great novels--"Call me Ishmael," "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"--can be microcosmic of the film and its themes.

So what was Coppola saying by choosing the thinly scrimmed derriere of a woman in repose for the opening of her film?
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Old March 8th, 2004, 11:40 PM   #39
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Ah...that's the kind of question that needs to be explored at a cozy pub over a few drinks with friends that love to talk about movies. Hop on a plane, Robert.
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Old March 9th, 2004, 01:13 AM   #40
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It depends on how abstract you want to be. There are three possible meanings:

1) The literal view, "hmm.. some chick's ass. i hope we get to meet her face later in the film".
2) The poet's view, "Tokyo is like an ass... hmm... interesting comparason."
3) The abstract view, "A woman's body is full of mystery and seduction. Such is Tokyo."
4) The everything-happens-for-a-reason view, "This ass makes me uncomfortable. AH! I felt uncomfortable just like the characters must have felt!"

I'm sure there are a billion more, but these are the most general i can come up with.

/me calls Sophia to ask true answer.
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Old March 9th, 2004, 02:02 AM   #41
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"Hop on a plane, Robert."

I'm still on the fence as to whether I should come for the SKIP CITY festival that 2 + 1 is going to be playing at on the 22nd. Even if I don't make it this month, I will have to come visit you for that drink sooner or later!
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Old March 9th, 2004, 07:12 PM   #42
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As I've posted elsewhere, I liked this film for very personal reasons. I've been that lonely American sitting at a bar in a foreign country, wishing I was home, feeling very isolated and somewhat cynical. And in England at that. (it was at a bar at the Novotel Hotel in the Hammersmith area, I was the only english speaking person there). Unfortunately, the beautiful swede serving me drinks, only wanted to know if I could get her a job in America. No adventures, unless you count trying to figure out what the meat really was, at the French inspired breakfast buffet.
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Old March 20th, 2004, 01:36 AM   #43
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LiT has some really great music btw. It took me three watches to realize it.
Also, LiT is one of the last few romances that manage to be very watchable. All the rest simply arent original enough.
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Old March 20th, 2004, 06:54 PM   #44
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A "normal" close up would be of a face so I thought starting with a close up of a butt meant the point of view of the movie was starting at the "wrong end" or from a "different perspective", setting the tone for the rest of the movie.
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Old March 20th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #45
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<<LiT is one of the last few romances that manage to be very watchable. All the rest simply arent original enough.>>

Check out "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"...
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