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Revisiting Lost In Translation

Someone landed at my blog on a google search for “women portrayal lost in translation” so I checked out what other results were out there, and came across a few that I liked. First this angry Japanese opinion of the film, which I agree with, and then this Texan’s angry opinion of the film, which I also agree with. And if you want to re-read my opinion of the film, see the link in the sidebar about Scarlett’s ass.

My friend Serpico also had an angry reaction to the film, but mainly because he dismisses it as an empty a collection of hipster references. And while I agree somewhat, this movie is no Napoleon Dynamite. It is using all those hipster tropes to try to say something, though what it’s saying may be even more reason to hate the film than its hipster formalism.

11 Responses to “Revisiting Lost In Translation”

  1. snjoseph
    May 20th, 2005 | 1:45 am

    What is the movie trying to say? I saw it a little while ago, and I didn’t get it at all. It almost like wasn’t a movie to me. Very strange.

  2. cynthia rockwell
    May 20th, 2005 | 7:44 am

    hmmm…well the texan says it’s a movie about nothing, but that’s not true. i refer you to my link in the sidebar, and if that isn’t sufficient we can discuss further. it occurs to me now, though, that lost in translation is a female twentysomething fantasy in the way garden state is a male twentysomething fantasy.

  3. snjoseph
    May 21st, 2005 | 12:35 am

    I read your piece where you said the movie was about a girl having trouble growing up, and in your comment you say it’s a female twenty-something fantasy. Firstly, if that’s true, female twenty-somethings need better fantasies. But the movie really didn’t seem about Johannson’s character to me; it seemed more about Murray’s character, to the extent that it was about anything at all. (Maybe all Texans think alike–although actually I thought the Texan’s review was sort of crude and reactionary.) The film made so little impression on me that it’s hard to remember it clearly, but it seems impossible that Murray didn’t have vastly more screen time than Johannson. I could just be reading it in a male-prejudiced way. Basically I can’t understand why the movie was considered a big deal.

    Plus it really was pretty racist.

  4. Michael Duff
    May 31st, 2005 | 8:20 pm

    Crude and reactionary? In Texas those would be compliments.

    But seriously, I cringed when I saw someone link that review. I’m afraid that maybe the movie isn’t BAD, I just wasn’t the target audience for it.

    One friend said it speaks to expats, and now our hostess says it’s a female fantasy. I am neither expat nor female, so apparently I wasn’t supposed to get it.

    And if it really is a female fantasy, then I clearly have no idea what women want.

    I think it has something to do with being listened to — something about being able to talk to strangers, when the people we love have tuned us out.

    I was disturbed by the notion that love can only exist between strangers, and that any relationship that goes on too long is doomed to end in angry silence.

    Maybe our heroes just made bad choices, but I got the feeling that they related so well, not because of WHO they were, but because of WHERE they were, and that says something about human nature that I am not prepared to accept.

  5. Nick Rhode
    June 1st, 2005 | 2:58 pm

    No, he’s right Michael. All Texans DO think alike. Any large group of people gathered together in one area become homogenized due to their proximity. It’s a basic tenant of sociological theory. You know, how the French are assholes, every Asian knows kung-fu, Australians travel across the broad plains of the outback nestled inside the pouches of kangaroos. In fact, I was lucky to squeeze in this computer time in between pouches of Copenhagen. Perhaps you can help me out with something Michael; how can we keep the brims of our ten-gallon hats out of our eyes while our hands are busy typing?

  6. cynthia rockwell
    June 1st, 2005 | 3:54 pm

    hey snjoseph is a texan, he’s allowed to say such things

  7. Jason Rhode
    June 1st, 2005 | 4:50 pm

    Hear, hear, Nick. We in Texasland all are really grubby half-men, sort of like evil hobbits, I can’t see how we’ve managed to cloak it from the Academy for so long.

    But I kid. Congrats on finding one member of the province who was willing to tell it like it was, Cynthia. I can only thank the eminence grise running this show for getting one member of my beloved province, so far away from sunny Cambridge, to give voice to the truly original notion that Texans are stupid and vile. Well done! It’s like having a second Galton around. Michael, would it be okay if I saved this page, so that future generations have the ability to pore over this truly novel taxonomy?

  8. Jason Rhode
    June 1st, 2005 | 4:55 pm

    The above: all in good fun. Actually, I really hated Lost In Translation. I’m not sure why so many people liked it. I thought it was a really neat idea, just that it would have worked for say, 15 minutes, but failed and boggled me at 2 hours of it. There are two lame fantasies really going on here: Murray’s sad, lonely middle-aged man one and Johannson’s all-meaning-for-me-is-superposition-why-can’t-I-get-a-fix-on-it one. I’ve said it a billion times before, if you wanna see how bad something fails, look at something that’s a lot like it that works. In this case, another movie that was quiet, long, had little dialogue and maximal subtlety, was a romance between a befuddled older celebrity male and a young woman (in this case ALSO played by Scarlett Johannson — well done! although I may be SIC’ing her last name), and most importantly, works, see “Girl With The Pearl Earring.” I kid you not. “Girl” worked, and “Translation”, didn’t, for me.

  9. Jason Rhode
    June 1st, 2005 | 5:07 pm

    Oh, and the Scarlett ass shot bother me too. I’m not sure why. It just…did.

    “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.'”

    Hahaha. I offer two cosmological explanations for this:
    1) As you well pointed out, this Elektra complex is basically Sofia Coppola’s in disguise.
    2) Seeing these superior bastards suffer gives me a Hohn-schadenfreude of the greatest level.
    It’s like when Duff pointed out in an earlier post that Ashley Judd is a lot more — to be frank — shallow, stupid, and naive than any of us would have believed. I know it warms everyone’s secret heart to know that the powerful and rich are as banal and trivial as we imagine them to be, and what they have does not necessarily bring them happiness.

    And SJ’s character is a philosophy major? Pleeeeeease! As one of that upstanding company of unemployables, her whiny “I don’t know what I’m supposed to beeeeeee” is not only, well, whingy, but should have been drilled out of her after Introduction 101 and Aristotle (“We are what we repeatedly do”) — i.e., if you act like a bloom’s-off-the-flower magickal princess, well, er, that’s who you are.

  10. Michael Duff
    June 1st, 2005 | 7:34 pm

    Hey guys, be nice! My post was an attempt to open diplomatic relations across state lines, not an invitation to war.

  11. Jason Rhode
    June 2nd, 2005 | 1:50 am

    Er, sorry, I’m just defensive of you since you pulled my ass out of that foxhole back in ‘Nam, Mike. Or should I say….Captain Bloodfox?