movies: October 2003 Archives

I should add...

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...two things. First, before someone jumps me over it, I just found out that Lost in Translation is currently playing in Syracuse. Clever me, I didn't even think to check before assuming that I'd have to go to Ithaca. Fortunately, I was also going down there for the annual Friends of the Library used book sale, otherwise, I'd have done an hour in the dark, rainy cold for nothing.

Second, I forgot to mention what may prove to be my singlemost favorite movie scene of the year. There's a scene in LIT where Murray, Johansson, and some of her Japanese friends go out and karaoke. Murray does a version of the old Brian Ferry/Roxy Music tune "More Than This." It affected me enough that I came home and downloaded it over dial-up. I can still feel the ache as I type this.

Clearly the question is no longer whether I'll see it again in the theater, but when.

Lost in Translation

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I must admit that I was a little wary. First, there was the whole nepotism factor--Sofia's last name will always be Coppola, and with that comes the inevitable danger that a movie she both writes and directs will be an exercise in self-indulgence. Second, there was some kind of shift in the way that the movie itself was being sold. Bill Murray was laugh-out-loud funny in Rushmore, and I was getting the sense that the trailers/promos were shooting for that audience. Nevertheless, I was willing to bop down to Ithaca to take a shot. The last couple of movies I've seen haven't lived up to expectations, so I was willing to drive the hour to reverse the streak.

And Lost in Translation did just that for me. This is easily the best American movie I've seen all year, a movie that could not have been made by a major studio. The three characters are Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Tokyo itself, and with all 3, Coppola allows them room and time on camera to breathe and live. There are few scenes that I would describe as crucial, and the result is a collection of small scenes, lines, and gestures that add up to a poignant convergence. The direction is subtle and skillful, and the love story that results is unlike anything I've seen in a long time. It'll take several days, I suspect, for the mood that LIT builds to wear off. And Murray is flat-out outstanding. In Rushmore, there's a mature, almost cynical humor to his performance that was brilliant, but in LIT, he layers on a melancholy longing that I found dazzling.

I don't normally gush over movies, but Lost in Translation was a movie that was easily worth full price. If it comes up to Syracuse in the next month or so, I'll probably go see it again.



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This page is a archive of entries in the movies category from October 2003.

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