18 June 2008

Lost in Translation

This overrated Oscar-winning middle-aged male fantasy written and directed by Sofia Coopola featured Bill Murray, he of the one-expression acting, though admittedly he managed more than that dourful Nicholas Cage face in this movie, he smiled, and a nubile Scarlett Johanssen. The premise was two unsympathetic characters, lost in an alien environment*. Yes, pretensions of alienation, oh dear oh dear. Yet, another fantasy of a middle-aged male and a listening sympathetic young female. How typical. With Murray's character making smart alec quips throughout, for instance, highlighting of the Japanese inability to distinguish between 'l' and 'r', and also taking the piss out of them, this movie set a condescending tone in more ways than one. Japan was depicted as an alienating environment of childlike and oblivious others, the outgroup. I would not be surprised if someone thought that this movie reeked of racism. The ugly American tourist anyone? The saving graces besides a nonexistent plot and acting? The direction, the Japanese urban landscape as an unusual backdrop, and parts of the soundtrack. 5.5/10


Lost in Translation wasn't funny, it reeked of pretentiousness and self-indulgence. Bill Murray the deadpan comic genius? He hadn't been funny since Stripes which wasn't very funny either.

Addendum II

I did a swift search of the many reviews online. Most were favourable, however, there were also charges of racism. I could not say that I was astonished.

*Yes, it is alien to me as well.


Ole' Wolvie said...

Someone commented to me when this movie premiered:

"You could change the backdrop to Shanghai and the movie'd still be the same - tacky"

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

True, the Japanese were useful serving as the other, as a backdrop, as figures of fun. Beyond that...

It was terrible. I had high expectations.