Author Topic: Lost in Translation (2003)  (Read 2936 times)

Lost in Translation (2003)
« on: June 25, 2019, 01:31:36 PM »
I'm re-watching this film RIGHT NOW (well, I paused it to type this) and I'm genuinely surprised by how badly it's aged and how poor it probably always was.

The attitude to Japanese culture is reactionary. And the whole "we're the only clever people in the room and this makes us feel lonely" vibe comes close to the old "you're not like other girls because you can think" motif.

The characters lack the curiosity of real-world clever-cloggses. They don't want to know anything. They're afraid of new experiences and new knowledge. I could be wrong but I don't think this was intentional.

Worst of all, it's boring. And not even in the "so beautiful it hurts," slow-moving arty film way it obviously aspires to. It's a piece of hackneyed grot.

In 2003 it was hailed by critics as the film of the year.

Any thoughts? I appreciate that this is a bit out of nowhere.

Blumf

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2019, 01:34:40 PM »
Saw it at the time, thought it was a load of old toot then, never revisited it.

Clear work of a spoilt brat being backed up by some production team talent.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2019, 01:42:32 PM »
Clear work of a spoilt brat being backed up by some production team talent.

I fear you might be right on the money there.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2019, 03:10:44 PM »
I liked it a great deal when I first saw it, but I can quite believe it has aged like bad humous. It seemed to be quite progressive in its dealings with non-sexual relationships, and bridging of the age gap. But it does also seem like it is the problems of the white and rich.

Also, when I found out that it was based on Coppola's experience of being in Japan for the premiere of hubby Jonze's Being John Malcovich I kind of went off the entire thing.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2019, 03:15:46 PM »
I watched it on DVD around a friend's flat several years ago and thought that it was boring shite but was too afraid to say anything because everyone else was raving about how amazing it was.  So I just sat there, silently.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2019, 03:17:35 PM »
I got the American DVD (on the strength of Bill Murray alone) before it even came out over here in the cinema (that was about the tail-end of when that sort of thing still happened), so pre-hype, and I absolutely HATED it.

I've only seen it once since then - when it premiered on Film4 - and hated it still.

It still bewilders me how it ever ended up being thought of so highly.

But then I do wonder if the fact I'm so down on Coppola as an actress has anything to do with it, cos I've had similar reactions to most of her other films as director (not yet seen her version of The Beguiled).  I remember liking The Virgin Suicides, but haven't seen that since it first came out.  The Bling Ring actually made me angry.  Not the subject matter, but the film itself.  Similar to how I reacted to Oliver Stone's abysmal Savages.

St_Eddie

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2019, 03:22:25 PM »
It still bewilders me how it ever ended up being thought of so highly.

I think a lot of its popularity was due to people wanting to be seen as 'smart' and 'artsy'.  "Ooohhhh, look at me.  I like this quaint little film, which is set in Japan.  I'm so deep and intellectual".  It's the same thing that happened with Slumdog Millionaire.  They think that because it's set in a foreign country, it counts as foreign cinema.  I don't think that many people actually liked it, they just wanted to be seen to like it because they're vapid, hollow husks.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2019, 03:23:26 PM »
Never ever even wanted to see it. I always confused it with that Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet film for some reason, neither I want to see. They both just look like pretentious wank.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2019, 03:24:36 PM »
I think a lot of its popularity was due to people wanting to be seen as 'smart' and 'artsy'.  "Ooohhhh, look at me.  I like this quaint little film, which is set in Japan.  I'm so deep and intellectual".  It's the same thing that happened with Slumdog Millionaire.  I don't think that many people actually liked it, they just wanted to be seen to like what they think is foreign cinema because they're vapid, hollow husks.

I'd take Slumdog Millionaire over Lost In Translation any day of the week, though.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2019, 03:25:38 PM »
Never ever even wanted to see it. I always confused it with that Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet film for some reason, neither I want to see. They both just look like pretentious wank.

Nah, Eternal Sunshine is pretty good.  It certainly shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Translation.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2019, 03:25:49 PM »
It annoyed me when it came out and I've had it in for Bill Murray ever since.

The stench of sad alcoholic doesn't interest me in an actor.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2019, 03:26:46 PM »
I'd take Slumdog Millionaire over Lost In Translation any day of the week, though.

Fair enough.  I think that both are steaming piles of crap but I don't doubt that some people do genuinely enjoy them, which is absolutely fine.  I still think that an awful lot of people were being very disingenuous in professing how much they enjoyed those two films though.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2019, 03:27:03 PM »
Saw it in cinema as a teenager and it absolutely transported me. I just loved the mood of it all, the way it looked and sounded. Dreamlike and hazy in the best way.

Now I live in Tokyo and I've rewatched bits of it here and there. It's hard to know what to make of it. I live centrally and I've been to the hotel it's set in several times so it's odd viewing. Speaking a bit of Japanese now (eg enough to follow what the Japanese director is saying) certainly creates a different sense, too. The Tokyo I saw in Lost in Translation in 2000-whatever I can never return to.

The one bit I found truly objectionable is when Bill Murray speaks English at the sushi chef and says all sorts of horrible things to him about "are you eating human toes" or whatever. And there's still one scene I find truly baffling: why was a prostitute sent to Bill Murray's room? Surely that's not standard practice for commercial companies.

I'm still hesitant to condemn it as problematic but then I'm hesitant to condemn anything as problematic which is probably going to put me on the wrong side of history sooner or later. But it is frustrating how they don't even attempt so much as a konnichiwa.

It's fun showing it to Japanese people and seeing what they make of it.

Also: Bill Murray should have played himself. I don't get why he didn't.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 03:42:07 PM by popcorn »

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2019, 03:35:28 PM »
I am a sucker for that dreamy atmosphere that Coppola can create in her films. I haven't seen it since it came out but at the time I thought it was pretty great

And Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a near masterpiece

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2019, 03:35:47 PM »
I liked it a great deal when I first saw it, but I can quite believe it has aged like bad humous. It seemed to be quite progressive in its dealings with non-sexual relationships, and bridging of the age gap. But it does also seem like it is the problems of the white and rich.

Also, when I found out that it was based on Coppola's experience of being in Japan for the premiere of hubby Jonze's Being John Malcovich I kind of went off the entire thing.

Watched it for the first time in a few years a couple of months ago and yeah it did come across rather more as this which perhaps limits its depth a bit plus Japan is really just a somewhat generic "strange foreign place" for that story. Still I think if you accept that its a well made and well acted film that doesn't really have anything that objectionable in it.

As mentioned in the non new films thread though I would strongly recommend Edward Yang's Yi Yi from 3 years earlier, pretty clear that Coppola lifted a lot of the visual style from that film I'd say but to a rather different end as Yang's film is a lot more down to earth and actually involved with showing the location/culture its set in rather than just having it as an exotic backdrop.

Actually on Youtube in not bad quality....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U089cG2BqR8

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2019, 03:44:03 PM »
Watched it for the first time in a few years a couple of months ago and yeah it did come across rather more as this which perhaps limits its depth a bit plus Japan is really just a somewhat generic "strange foreign place" for that story. Still I think if you accept that its a well made and well acted film that doesn't really have anything that objectionable in it.

As mentioned in the non new films thread though I would strongly recommend Edward Yang's Yi Yi from 3 years earlier, pretty clear that Coppola lifted a lot of the visual style from that film I'd say but to a rather different end as Yang's film is a lot more down to earth and actually involved with showing the location/culture its set in rather than just having it as an exotic backdrop.

Actually on Youtube in not bad quality....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U089cG2BqR8

That's probably another reason I was so down on it, that I was by then already very au fait with East Asian art-house cinema, so Translation seemed like a bit of a lame cover version.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2019, 04:06:56 PM »
Saw it in cinema as a teenager and it absolutely transported me. I just loved the mood of it all, the way it looked and sounded. Dreamlike and hazy in the best way.

Now I live in Tokyo and I've rewatched bits of it here and there. It's hard to know what to make of it. I live centrally and I've been to the hotel it's set in several times so it's odd viewing. Speaking a bit of Japanese now (eg enough to follow what the Japanese director is saying) certainly creates a different sense, too. The Tokyo I saw in Lost in Translation in 2000-whatever I can never return to.

The one bit I found truly objectionable is when Bill Murray speaks English at the sushi chef and says all sorts of horrible things to him about "are you eating human toes" or whatever.

Thank you for your honesty about that first viewing. I think that's really cool and, actually, a defence of the film in a way. If it is/was capable of transcendence, then that's great. Thanks also for your insight as someone who actually moved to Tokyo. The "are you eating human toes" thing is, to me, emblematic of the whole film's attitude to Japan and otherness in general. It just isn't curious about otherness at all. It doesn't look at what makes another culture interesting: it just rolls its eyes. This would be bad enough on its own but it's the fact that it asks to be rewarded for it.

I have a high tolerance for pretentious wank. I really am one of those pretentious wankers. I think artists should try to do better. I love Being John Malkovich and I don't mind Eternal Sunshine (though tbh, it feels like an unnecessary expansion of what BJM managed in one sequence).

It's just the self-righteousness of this one. It has a Stewart Lee-like "we are smarter than the audience" attitude except it's not for laughs, really isn't smarter than the audience, doesn't know it's not smarter than the audience, and got lapped up for some reason by the critics.

Fuck it!

Arse!

Bollocks!

Grandma!

etc.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2019, 04:09:57 PM »
As mentioned in the non new films thread though I would strongly recommend Edward Yang's Yi Yi from 3 years earlier, pretty clear that Coppola lifted a lot of the visual style from that film I'd say but to a rather different end as Yang's film is a lot more down to earth and actually involved with showing the location/culture its set in rather than just having it as an exotic backdrop.

Sweet! Thank you. Will give it a go.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2019, 05:08:31 PM »
I don't find the film offensively closed minded about Japanese culture, its really more the product of its nature having two characters as unwilling tourists who are more concerned with their own lives that could have been set in many different places. Really though I remember even at the time(as with the Adam and Joe Tokyo series the same year)you were already at a stage were it was becoming harder to look on modern Japan as the kind of mysterious other it was in the 80's and early 90's.

Given all the underwhelming cinema that gets significant Oscar hype I don't think its a bad case at all, definitely a bit Wes Anderson upper middle class comfort blanket territory but nicely atmospheric and again I think well acted. Johansson really wasn't as good as she was here and in Girl with the Pearl Earring for quite awhile afterwards trying to be shoehorned into more standard sexy girl roles.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2019, 05:35:20 PM »
I loved it when it first came out. I saw it as two lonely people in a strange place who randomly meet and grow a quiet admiration and care for each other. The scene where they sing More Than This at the karaoke place was truly beautiful.

I was 17 at the time and naive about love and all that shite so I'm not sure what I'd make of it now but I hold a place for it deep inside my hollow husk of a heart.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2019, 05:38:01 PM »
It was on Mubi a while back and I watched it while a bit mashed. Quite liked the not really knowing what's going on in a strange place, but still found it a bit hollow and dull.

Other films have done the 'lost in Japan' thing better (Until the End of the World springs to mind).

Twed

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2019, 05:57:28 PM »
Saw it in cinema as a teenager and it absolutely transported me. I just loved the mood of it all, the way it looked and sounded. Dreamlike and hazy in the best way.
That's how I felt, and I just know that so much has changed with me and society in general now that rewatching it would ruin that.

kngen

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2019, 06:05:38 PM »
Found it reasonably watchable at the time, but the shitty cultural attitudes and the sneaking suspicion that this was really just Sofia Coppola's love letter to herself lingered long after watching. Watched it again a couple of years later, and couldn't get through the first half hour. Load of old pony.

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2019, 06:23:30 PM »
Saw it at the time, thought it was a load of old toot then, never revisited it.

Clear work of a spoilt brat being backed up by some production team talent.

Correct.  Congratulations for having the same opinion as me!

mothman

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2019, 06:24:12 PM »
But I think we can all agree that Johansson has got even better looking as she’s gotten older.

Twed

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2019, 07:12:18 PM »
I dunno. Opening shot...

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2019, 07:40:58 PM »
I actually went out with ScarJo and shagged her and she is fit but she thinks she is MUCH fitter than she actually is but she's only really like a 7.5/10 fit. I am so glad I dumped

kidsick5000

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2019, 07:44:31 PM »
I still like it.
After my first visit, it became clear it was a fairly touristy version of the city. But then that can be the case of any film that makes a feature of the city it's set in.
I still don't see it as snobby or 'we're smarter than the audience'. It's still an effective capture of loneliness.
The first time I went to Tokyo – very easy city to fall in love with – I don't think I spoke to anyone for days. Well, outside of basic p and qs. No conversations.
So if you aren't prepared for that, I'm sure it can be daunting.
But I've never experienced a city so busy yet so quiet. The sounds are beautiful, the train announcements are preceded by ambient melodies.
Going back again in a couple of months. No plans, outside of raiding stationery stores and seeing the Gorillas at Ueno.

Popcorn, I am immensely jealous of your location.

Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2019, 07:45:01 PM »
Find me a Scandinavian under 9/10 and i'll buy you a pint.

mothman

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Re: Lost in Translation (2003)
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2019, 07:57:46 PM »
Find me a Scandinavian under 9/10 and i'll buy you a pint.