Travelling to Japan and getting paid $2 million to endorse
a whiskey might sound good but for aging movie star Bob Harris (Murray),
he couldn't be more bored. He doesn't understand the language, he is away
from his family and friends and he is really suffering from jet lag. Charlotte
(Johansson) thought that coming to Tokyo with her photographer husband (Ribisi)
would be the trip of a life time but she didn't count on him working all
the time and being too tied to do anything when he got back to the hotel.
Not able to sleep, the two weary travellers meet in the hotel and quickly
form friendship that will see them having fun for the first time since they
got to the land of the rising sun.
After been bombarded with "event movies" for a very long time,
it is refreshing to just sit down and watch a character driven comedy/drama
that has more to say about life than most of the films released at the moment.
Lost in Translation is a movie that captures the feeling
of many in western society at the moment, "What am I doing with my life?"
As more and more people become disillusioned with the way their lives are
turning out, up and coming filmmaker Sofia Coppola emphasises this feeling
even more by transplanting our weary characters into a completely alien
culture. So consumed by their own disillusionment and personal crisis's,
Bob and Charlotte fail to see the new world of wonders around them until
they come together and discover what life and Japan have to offer.
At the heart of this movie are two extraordinary performances.
Scarlett Johansson cements her name in the category of "destined for superstardom".
This purely natural performance brings a sense of reality to the character
as she deals with the questions of young adulthood and her fears for a future
she cannot even envisage. Bill Murray is at last getting his career back
on track with his best leading role since Groundhog Day in 1993. Coppola
gives Murray the chance to shine as Bob Harris, a once big time actor who
is struck in a rut in both his career and personal life. Maybe seeing a
lot of himself in the part, he grabs the role with all of his comedic conviction
and provides some of the biggest belly laughs to grace the silver screen
in a very long time but then complements these with some tender moments
that show his true acting diversity.
Its when the two characters come together however, is when
the movie really shines. These are two people going through a similar life
crisis, who would have never have even met if it wasn't for their location.
As they both feel like outcasts in a completely different world, it was
fated that they should meet and get along so famously. Like any holiday
friendship or romance, it is the need to have someone to share the experience
with that drives them together and kindles a connection that would have
never have even crossed their minds back home. By the end of the movie you
have the feeling that they have both become so dependant on each other to
make their current situation feel secure.
The support is limited but good. Anna Faris gives a hilarious
take on the dumb American film starlet abroad. Filled with her own self-importance
and her quest for attention, this is a great performance from Faris that
might get her noticed by more influential filmmakers. Giovanni Ribisi is
as good as ever in a very small part. The other main support is Japan itself.
As well as providing an amazing backdrop for the movie, with Coppola capturing
the essence of both modern and historical Japan, the people are also the
stars of the film. From an overly enthusiastic masseuse to the world's worst
translator, the fish out of water scenes with Murray and his Japanese colleges
are hysterical but if you think that these scenes are patronising to people
involved, Coppola then throws in a respectful look at a country drenched
in culture and tradition.
Lost in Translation is a triumph for Bill Murray and Scarlett
Johansson and an astonishing achievement for Sofie Coppola. As both a writer
and director she excels, mixing complex issues about life with brilliant
observations of cultural differences and diversity. This movie re-ignites
Murray's career and propels both Scarlett Johansson and Sofie Coppola into
the big leagues.
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a choice of
Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts soundtracks, the transfer is very good, as you
would expect from a modern film. Sofia Coppola's visionary journey through
the neon lit streets of Tokyo is recreated superbly with bright colours
and deep blacks. The sound is also good with the surround coming into its
own during the nightclub scenes. The inclusion of both a Dolby Digital and
dts track is also an added bonus.
'Lost' on Location (29.56 mins)
Behind the scenes video footage shot by Sofia Coppola and her husband, fellow
director Spike Jonze. The featurette includes interviews with producer Ross
Katz and the Japanese crew and documents the most of the shoot in Tokyo.
It reveals the secrets of low budget filmmaking and some of the risk you
have to take to get your required shot. Bill Murray is on top form throughout
and watching him use of his only Japanese phrase is extremely funny.
Matthew's Best Hit TV (4.38 mins)
Your chance to see the full Bob Harris interview with Matthew Minami on
Japanese TV. What makes this even funnier is that Matthew's Best Hit TV
is an actual show in Japan that gets huge ratings. Here is your chance to
find out what was in the box and how Bob reacted to it.
Kevin Shields "City Girl" Music Video
Kevin Shields's song from the soundtrack is accompanied by the video that
includes many clips from the movie.
Deleted Scenes (10.23 mins)
Five extended or deleted scenes with the highlight being the extended scene
with Bob speaking to the small Japanese man in the Hospital waiting room.
A director's commentary on why some of these scenes were removed would have
been good as some scenes; especially the one with Charlotte and the Robots
could have been easily added into the final cut. So why were they cut?
A Conversation with Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola (9.45
Recorded in Rome in October 2003, the pair talks about their experiences
making Lost in Translation. Sofia and Bill reminisce about the cast and
crew, shooting particular scenes and talking Japanese. They also talk about
the look of the movie and Sofia mentions the fact that the role of Bob Harris
was only to be ever played by Bill Murray.
The final theatrical trailer is available to watch.
An absolute gem of a movie is packaged with some interesting and funny extras.
The "Lost on Location" is a must watch aspiring moviemakers as it gives
you an insight into the world of low budget filmmaking. The inclusion of
the full interview with Matthew Minami is also great and very funny. The
inclusion of an audio commentary would have been nice but this should not
distract you from what is a well packages and nicely presented DVD for a
low budget feature. Besides the movie makes it a must purchase anyway.
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