Eric C. from SPRINGFIELD, MA Reviewed on 3/4/2010...
I found this movie to be possibly the most boring movie of all time. Yes, seeing what a foreigner in a different country has to deal with is interesting, but to make a movie out of it.....no thanks. I think the Coppola name made this movie go further then it would have. But, to each their own. If you get it, I hope you enjoy it.
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Lonely Days, Lonely Nights
Matthew Gladney | Champaign-Urbana, IL USA | 11/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bill Murray is Bob Harris, a once popular American actor who now, in his middle-age, has found more acceptance and money from the people of Japan than from his own country. He arrives at a prestigious hotel in Tokyo and is given a royal treatment by his greeters and hosts. He is by himself in the land of the rising sun, his wife and kids having stayed behing in the US while he travels across the globe to do some liquor commercials. This Tokyo excursion will take about a week, and the monetary reward will be quite handsome. Contrast this with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), who is at the same hotel tagging along with her photographer husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi), as he does a multiple-day photo shoot. John is at work most of the time, and so Charlotte is by herself at the hotel, her attempts to keep from being bored proving fruitless. Both Bob and Charlotte are married people, but they are also very lonely people, and that is what "Lost In Translation" is all about.Bob and Charlotte catch glimpses of one another at different places in the hotel, and finally decide to converse in earnest at the hotel bar. The entire plot of the film is about these two people getting to know each other. The story revolves around them. In fact, the story *is* them. Bob, in his early-fifties, is old enough to be Charlotte's dad, but that doesn't matter here. It's not about age. It's about the place, and the points that each of these people are at in their lives. Bob loves his children very much, but we do not sense he feels the same for his wife. We hear her on the phone when she calls him, and the same weary sentiment seems to flow from her voice. They are becoming a couple in name only. Then there's Charlotte & John. Both are young, and both are self-possessed. John is into his photography to the point of neglecting Charlotte. But we get the idea that even if gave her more attention, Charlotte might not really warm up to him. She has issues of her own. If Bob is going through a mid-life crisis, then Charlotte seems to be going through a young-life crisis."Lost In Translation" is about being alone. Loneliness doesn't always mean that someone is physically separated from loved ones or from people in general. One can be alone in the middle of a crowded room. Such is the case with Bob & Charlotte. They're in Japan for a week. They don't really speak the language. Bob's wife is in the US, and Charlotte's husband is always at a photo shoot. The two lost souls find each other at the hotel, spend time with one another, and even sleep in the same bed together. But we know that while this is providing a small comfort for the time being, it is not a lasting solution to their problems. And we also understand that both Bob and Charlotte -- even if Bob's wife were in Tokyo with him, and John was by Charlotte's side all the time -- would still be lonely. Their life struggles lie deeper than what one person can provide, especially the persons they have chosen to settle down with.This is probably Bill Murray's most understated performance, and it works brilliantly. He lets you in on Bob's emotions without betraying too much sentimentality. He conveys so much with just a smile, a frown, his body language, or simply the look in his eyes. He should get an Oscar nomination for this. Scarlett Johansson, who left me unimpressed in the movie "Ghost World" a few years ago, is excellent in her role here. She portrays Charlotte as a deep, troubled, yet intelligent young woman and, like her co-star, does it without overstating it. She spends much of her screen time walking around a hotel room in her pink panties, and does it so simply and matter-of-factly that it becomes both vulnerable and sexy at the same time. Johansson is definitely an actress to watch for in the coming years.Sofia Coppola has succeeded in creating a sliver of time & place with "Lost In Translation". It creates two of the most realistic characters to ever grace the cinema. You forget this is a movie, and start to really care for these people as though they really exist. And you get the feeling that this is a single, solitary moment that will be over with and then fondly remembered by the characters for a long time to come. This sweeps over you before the film is even over, much like when you are in the middle of a special occurence or event in your own life, and you stop and think about the fact that at one point - very soon - it will cease to be the present, and will instead become only a nostalgic memory.And there you have "Lost In Translation""
A classic for grown-ups
MartialWay | Sherman Oaks, CA USA | 10/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is slow paced. However I didn't find it boring at all. I loved the scenery and the small glimpses into everyday Japanese life, all meshed together with this love story of two people brought together by loneliness and uncertainty, with a musical soundtrack that brings out the best in all of it.
After watching this film, the first thing that sprang to my mind was that I'm so glad I don't rely on Amazon reviewers to make a decision about whether I am going to see a film or not. That's almost as dumb as asking a fifteen year old to sit through it and not go crazy or pass out. This film is too mature, dealing with grown-up questions, situations and problems that the kiddies here have yet to grasp.
Bill Murray's character is going through a midlife crisis; Scarlet Johansen's is tormented that she cannot seem to discover her purpose in life. Both are trapped in a place where they know no one, and understand nothing. They gravitate to one another and fall into a kind of love that is very unique, but also not at all uncommon under the circumstances. They don't pursue it physically, because they live in a real world with real consequences and have to respect the promises they made to people they both still love.
No kid fresh out of tenth grade will ever be able to comprehend these emotions... no wonder most of these reviews are from people who were bored stiff. "No sex? No violence? This movie SUCKS", seems to be the way it works with these Amazon reviews.
Too bad. Maybe when they all grow up they'll get it. I recommend this movie to grown ups who like minimalist dramas and romantic comedies. If you're expecting a samurai to jump out with a sword, pass this movie up. This film is about human emotions. "
Fantastic film, terrible DVD
Aaron Merriman | New York, NY | 02/04/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Seeing this film in the theater, I fell in love with it before it even ended. But my anticipation of it's DVD release has been rewarded with disappointment:
1. Universal's decision to bundle ten minutes of ads at the beginning, which cannot be skipped, is classless and grubbing.
2. The mastering is poor -- compression artifacts are evident in dark scenes, and the overall image feels slightly blurred.
3. The audio is poorly mastered, too, abruptly changing levels several times. Did anyone even supervise this transfer?
4. An insert of some kind would have been nice, even just a photo card. Opening the sleeve to just the disc is a mild letdown, and left me wondering if only my copy is like this.
It's a shame a movie this enjoyable was pushed through such a shoddy production process. Let's hope another distributor gets their hands on this soon and does it right."
Marvelous - subtle, moving; one of the great films of 2003
M. Burns | Columbus, Ohio | 01/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Translation for the first time and liked it, but didn't really know what they saw in the movie that was so beyond-belief spectacular. But alas, I believe that every movie deserves a second chance, so recently I sat down and experienced director Sophia Coppola's Lost In Translation again. Lost in Translation tells the story of Bob Harris (Bill Murray in a role tailor-made, if not even Heaven-sent for him), an American movie star that comes to Tokyo to film a whiskey commerical for which he will be paid 2 million bucks. Staying in the same Tokyo hotel is Charlotte (Scarlett Johanssen, radiant and mature at only 18), a newlywed tagging along with her rock photographer husband, John (a typically awkward Giovanni Ribisi). Along the way, Charlotte and Bob run into each other and begin a 'brief encounter' that profoundly affects them both. When the movie hits you right, it's a pure pleasure from its unassuming start (a beautifully lit shot up Johanssen's underwear-clothed behind) to its ambiguous but meaningful ending. It begins as a comedy of culture clash, Harris sarcastic and confused at the Japanese when entering his hotel, and even more befuddled in a hilarious scene where he shoots the whiskey commercial. Coppola delivers Bob into her movie with the impression that it'll be all about him, but Charlotte enters the story, and we're never quite the same. Scarlett Johanssen plays Charlotte with just the right amount of emotion that her initially morose and soul-searching character doesn't seem silly. At one point, she tearfully admits over the phone, "I don't know who I married." Bob, on the other hand, seems to have it made, but Murray lets a current of loneliness run across that memorable face. He gets comical faxes from his wife about bookshelves and carpet samples, but he gives off the impression that he's come to the point where he doesn't even care anymore. Bob is certainly alone for a time in Tokyo, but Murray alludes that things at home aren't too hot either.For the first third of the movie, director Coppola displays her first brave choice in filmmaking by keeping Bob and Charlotte apart. Upon my first viewing of Translation, I wasn't convinced of Coppola's choice to keep the movie so predominantly low-key, but I've realized that there's a reason for it. The movie sustains this amazing vibe that doesn't stunt its progress, but propels it with a driving fluidity. A few times, though, Bob and Charlotte do see each other without officially meeting. One time in particular occurs in a crowded elevator - the two glance at each other, faintly smile, and possibility is born. The first section of the film doesn't just serve to show its two characters completely apart - it makes you think of how many life-changing connections you've missed in the past by just being passive and solitary.The two meet and begin voyages out into the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and the film takes on a perspective that differs from its earlier view. Before, we saw Bob Harris and Charlotte, respectively, at their most private and vulnerable. While out on the town, the film seems to sit back and just let them have fun. Thank God, for Bill Murray's rousing rendition of Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" is a blast. During this time, it seems that Bob and Charlotte have forgotten their insomnia and loneliness, but it's not gone forever. Even during their night on the town, we see moments where they sit silently, pensive and confused. The movie is a comedy in some sense, but it escalates into a pervading tragic feel. At one point, Charlotte says to Bob: "Let's never come back here again, because it will never be as much fun." They had fun, but only in the sense of putting off more loneliness.It takes a while, but the motivations of each character become fully-realized in a marvelous scene where Bob and Charlottelay fully-clothed in bed together. Here, they handle the 'big' questions in life, and not "Where did you go to college?" or "What did you want to be when you were little?" but "What is my purpose?" and "Does marraige get easier?" I was amazed at the honesty of the character's responses. Bob relates to Charlotte the experience of having children and the ongoing struggles of marraige, but a tinge of fear and apprehension runs through his speech. Charlotte hasn't really figured things out for herself yet - she says she's tried just about everything but hasn't found that niche. Coppola's screenplay makes the statement that both are in the same exact emotional limbo. Charlotte is confused and worried, but Bob is regretful and washed-up. In a way, these two are some form of deeply odd soul-mates. That is the heart and soul of Coppola's amazing work.Translation has great comedic flair with Murray's wonderful work, but it's also perhaps one of the saddest and most moving films I've seen in a long time. It's some form of a romance, too, but it's not about when they'll kiss or when they'll hit the sheets. It also has that Affair to Remember vibe too, where the journey of two souls that find comfort will eventually have to come to an end. Its end, though, defies classification, as does the rest of the film. Coppola simply lets her two amazing leads do the work. When the film does arrive at its final, ambiguous moment, it all just seems perfect. The catchy Japan-pop soundtrack that runs brilliantly throughout the film begins to play, and I find myself with a huge regret: that I won't be able to savor the subtle chemistry of Bob and Charlotte, and that a flat-out masterpiece in American film is at its end."
Aaron Merriman | 03/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's interesting to see one of the negative reviews that says go look at people in a bar because if you enjoy looking at people in bars you might enjoy this movie. He's right. This movie IS for people who like looking at the human beings around them. It's for people who like human beings in general. And not for people who are uninterested in people but need something to explode to grab their attention.Personally I enjoy movies about real people. I enjoy movies where I can see individuals who I might actually meet and care about. I thought this one was very good.Perhaps much of the bad comment comes because some have been suckered into seeing a movie that's just not their cup of Java. More fool them. There are a lot of gentle, subtle, sensitive films like this that are loved by people who do not love standard lowbrow movies. Most of them come from Europe or Japan. Their usual audiences would not write such stupid comments. (Notice the general level of writing in most of the one star reviews?) One thing I am happy about with the success of this film is it sends a message to Hollywood producers who like to feed us cr*p like "Bad Boys II" - maybe one of the worst movies ever made.And that message is: "Hollywood we are not ALL stupid." There are not enough movies like this. Give us more."