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Quote of the Day

“If you must count on a narcissist, count on him to act in narcissistic ways.”


Funny, I had no trouble finding a picture of Scarlett Johansson’s ass on the web (and indeed I am  now the #1 authority on the web for it), but for some reason I can’t find a picture of the skinny naked guy fixing his window blinds in Goodbye Lenin.

Reunification of Germany Humor

Goodbye, Lenin!  had a naked shot of a man, full-frontal, fixing window blinds. Not a mere shot though, he was just part of a scene. Others were fully clothed. Nothing sexy about it, though my American mind, trained to never see naked men in the movies, did giggle at seeing a penis wiggling around onscreen. This is the main difference between nudity in European and American films, I think–in European films the body is treated as a whole body, not always carved up and displayed for your pleasure as it nearly always is in an American film. In America we get a lingering shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass in closeup, in Germany we get full shot of a skinny naked guy fixing his window blinds while his roommates are arguing. (Very reductive, I realize, but I’m making a point.)

The movie wasn’t bad. A little comedy, a little drama, a lot of history, a little preciousness. A few inside jokes that were beyond me, but having a German in tow helped clear much of that up.

Spicing Up Cinema Studies

I think I’m gonna submit a proposal to next year’s Society for Cinema Studies conference for a panel titled “Scarlet Johannson’s Ass: A Roundtable.”

Boring Ben

The best explanation I’ve ever seen for the non-screen-appeal of the real-life charming Ben Affleck:

What’s interesting is that very rarely does all of that charm make it to the screen. I’m trying to figure out what’s missing. Part of it, I think, is something that you can’t control. It’s the way his face is made. It’s almost like there aren’t quite enough planes in it. There are certain actors‹Meryl Streep is a perfect example‹who can let you know exactly what they’re thinking by the slightest flush of their skin. Ben can’t do that.

Excerpted from a dialogue between Kevin Smith and the entertainingly blunt David Ansen of Newsweek. Via Deep Focus.


The T/A (i.e. ME) had it wrong, we didn’t watch Stalker tonight. We watched Round-Up. I have no amusing stories about that one. And now when we do watch Stalker, I’ve already blown the story. Oh well.


Ponderous Film Screenings

We’re watching Tarkovsky’s Stalker tonight in class. My last experience with this film was when I assisted with a film screening series at BU and made up a flyer for the film based on descriptions I found on the web…I hadn’t seen the film yet, and the descriptions made little more linear sense than the film itself, so my description had pretty much nothing to do with the film. It described it as sort of a sci-fi thriller, which got lots of people into the theater, but also spat out a lot of angry viewers who felt misled. Ooops! Ah well, it was a free screening, and if I have to trick you to get you to see Tarkovsky, all the better. Like tricking a dog into taking its medicine by hiding it in his food. And then he spits it out. Much like the huffy filmgoers did that night.

(i also must add how EXCITED i am that i finally figured out how to do text-wrap around images on this goddamned blog. it was just a simple macro! wheeee!)

Boston Underground Film Festival

…will be bigger and badder than ever. We got Zombies, we got George Romero, we got Mission of Burma, we got the Bentmen, we got the craziest films you’ll never see anywhere else. Prepare to be shocked, offended, aroused. End of April.

Big Fish Blows

Could Big Fish be a more boring waste of millions of dollars? I really wanted them to find out in the end that the old man was a complete fraud and huckster and liar and thief. That would’ve made it good. But no, it didn’t go there. The film’s only redeeming quality was the presence of Jessica Lange, who is so beautiful. So beautiful.

Movie Thug

Oh this is too funny. Letter from Harvey Weinstein to Errol Morris. What a hilariously reliable asshole. Or is he a reliably hilarious asshole? Via Filmbrain.

I’ve just gotten a copy of Down & Dirty Pictures myself, so will soon be able to join the fun…

Another One Bites the Dust

I just learned from Out of Focus that Gary Sinise is going to star in a TV series. I’m sure it’ll make the series great, but it saddens me a bit…I love him as an actor and would much rather see him starring in meaty film roles.



Persona was the right movie for me to watch tonight. Oh was it right. It was a pretentious blur to me in grad school but now, today, watching a film about a total mindfuck puts my own traumatic experience of a total mindfuck in perspective.

See for Yourself

This is an academic exploration of Scarlett Johansson’s ass. Do not view it as salacious material. Do not! Stop it! Scroll down to see the argument.

Amelie Needs a Baseball Bat to the Head

Oh yes yes yes. Add “every female in a Sofia Coppola film” to this list.

“Decorous females who insist on playing up their capacity for child-like wonder help to make an already anodyne universe that little bit worse. Both untouchable and non-threatening, they equate to air fresheners: up against such fragrance, how can natural smells not seem nasty?”

Link stolen from Greencine, as always the best film site ever.

More on the Ass Shot

Je’ points out that this person’s photos were inspiration for the ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. I could rationalize Sofia’s use, but not his. His seem like pure posed-for-male-pleasure cheesecake. That ass is jutting out and on display and wearing a baby-doll negligee. And if Coppola admits that his work was the inspiration, it beefs up all the reasons I’m uncomfortable with her depiction of women in her films. That she had to convince Scarlet to do the shot makes it even worse. She’s treading a very, very fine line here.

Carried Away With the Netflix Queue

Got the mail and found a Netflix copy of that Luke Perry classic, 8 Seconds. What the hell was I smoking?

Ass Shot

The ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. My first reaction: groan of disgust. Why is this necessary. Why would a female director start her film this way. What does this have to do with anything. Why do I suddenly want to *shake* Sofia Coppola.

But now I think it may be beautiful. The film is very much about a girl having trouble growing up. She is a girl in a woman’s body. Her panties are little-girly-pink, yet see-through. Childlike and adult, at once. It’s not a thong. We see that she’s wearing a sweater. Not naked, not just a bra, but a sweater. And she stirs, moving one of her legs. A woman resting, not a woman displaying herself for you. Her back is turned to you. She is thinking, she is in her world, she is not for you.

So the shot is appropriate. It fits. The friend I saw the movie with didn’t like the choice of actress, she said she was too young, that she couldn’t nail the part, she didn’t have the complexity. That a 19-year-old playing a 25-year-old was a bad move. You usually go the other direction in casting. Get a 28-year-old to play a 25-year-old. But the point here is that this girl is in some way still stuck being a little girl. An older actress would bring maturity, but the role does not want maturity. Maturity would ruin it.

And this leads into the daddyism. Bill Murray is not just a charismatic guy, he’s a daddy figure. A guy who treats her like his little girl. Makes a big deal out of the boo-boo on her foot, takes her to the hospital. Grabs the menu and orders for her when she can’t figure out the sushi menu. Gives her life advice.

This is a movie written by a daddy’s girl. Not surprising that in an interview Sofia Coppola said that her father starred in a Santori whiskey ad in Japan.


Sociopolitical rantings aside, I did really like Lost in Translation. I loved its small intimacy, its focus on the small thing that really is everything.

And I can’t help but compare it to Voyage in Italy; an updated and less-critical-of-wealth version…this one could be Voyage in Japan. The embrace at the end, especially. Sofia knows her film history, so I’m guessing it’s deliberate. Her daddy should be hella proud.

Lost in Translation

I’m very late on the scene, having just seen this movie today. And my opinion is evenly split between HATING it and LOVING it. What I loved:

1) Scarlett Johansson has belly rolls and cellulite and we see it

2) Bill Murray

3) The film’s small focus

4) Bill Murray

5) The scene where Bill Murray walks into the hotel and is immediately greeted with a fax from his wife sayng “You forgot Andrew’s birthday. I’m sure he’ll understand.” Fucking brilliant.

6) Bill Murray

7) Very good screenplay

8) Very fine images

What I hated:

1) Whitey in Japan thinks whitey’s ways are right, Japan’s ways are crayzeee..come on people, there are ways to register difference, even radical difference, with more respect. Buffooning the Japanese in their own country is ignorant and prissy rich-white-egomania. Watch Sans Soleil to see how it’s done right.

2) Opening shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass in see-through panties. What the fuck?

3) Rich bored people who have so much but don’t know what to do with it. If you want me to feel for them you can’t have them walk around feeling superior all the time. “I’m a rich bored princess who doesn’t have anyone treating me like a magical enigma anymore, I’m so sad. I want daddy.” Women are not magic, not enigmas. Magic and mystery can’t be sustained in a human being, and the stereotype keeps men wanting the ephemeral, the thing that DOES NOT EXIST.

4) The cruel portrayal of the lounge singer. Couldn’t you have given her just one small gesture, a look, to give her some humanity, some sympathy? Does everyone but you and the one guy you approve of have to be portrayed as a laughable loser? Do you have any respect for humanity? For your own goddamned characters? Heartless.

But I have to say that just as I predicted, Sofia Coppola is indeed proving to be an auteur, dealing with the same strains in each of her films. Pro-magic, pro-mystery, that’s her thing. We don’t hear what Bill Murray whispers to her in the end. Mystery. She sings “I’m special,” at karaoke. The sex club is garish–too much information, no mystery. Japan is buffooned but also made attractively mysterious, and she never wants to go back again–because it’ll never be so mysterious again. Familiarity ruins the mystique. Bill Murray’s wifey is obsessed with real-world details–carpets, cabinets, kids, birthdays–and therefore there is no mystery. (It was all the same in Virgin Suicides, the girls were mysteries even to themselves, and jesus fucking christ did that piss me off. Attempt some understanding, fuckers. Don’t preserve women in some fucking mysterious glass case. Especially if you’re a woman directing the goddamn movie.)

So I personally HATE this line of thinking, but while I hate her auteurial obessions, she at least has them. She is an artist, and this is an artful film.

I could go on, but I’m tired.

Bill Murray for president.