March 18, 2012

Lost in Translation

First, I apologize for not being able to post anything for the past weeks. I just finished college/university and things got busy for a moment there. I also spent the last couple of days resting, and of course, watching movies. I, again, apologize for the delay in posts; and hopefully, I'd be able to post more often now that's school is out of the way.

Lost in Translation is a 1999 film starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, set in Japan. I stumbled upon this film while trying to figure out how to do my research paper about how western filmmakers, particularly American filmmakers, integrate the Japanese in their films. I did not use the film in my research but watched it anyway to satisfy my curiosity.

First off, I think I still would have had sufficient material to write my paper had I chosen this film, mainly because, though none of the main characters was Japanese, it still presented vast depictions of the Japanese, their behavior, their habits/lifestyles, and culture. Some of them do not portray the Japanese in a very positive light(depending on your perspective), but some of them showcase how "fun" Japanese people can be. I found it particularly engaging because some of the characteristics portrayed in the film were things I have encountered reading the materials assigned for class, or through class discussions. To see it on the actual movie made me appreciate the film as it attempts to be genuine.

Focusing on the film itself, I can say that some people would find it boring, uninteresting, and appalling because of the slow pace, the "immorality", the lulls, or the over dramatic scenes. In my opinion, the development of the storyline was so slow, it almost made me lose interest. I felt like the movie was not moving in any direction;that it was stagnant and it does not attempt to appeal to the audience. However, I'm glad I stayed and watched the entire film, not because the pace suddenly changed or that it suddenly grabbed my attention with an explosion of the story. I think it was more of the subtlety of the story - that it took its time to nurture the growing relationship of the two characters. It took its time to develop itself.

I had no idea who Bill Murray was before the film. Maybe that was a good thing as his performance in the movie created my first impression of him. I also found it odd to witness Scarlet Johansson in this kind of role. Very quiet, dramatic, and still a little sexy. These two actors gave excellent performances; strong, dynamic and relaxed with a little angst, which were the things the movie demanded. In addition, Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Farris were stand outs in this film, considering their limited air time. The cast was strong and that made this film "bearable." It was refreshing to see these actors in a movie they made earlier in their careers.

The ending was the selling point for me. After a long journey, with a very slow pacing, it finally culminated in an ending open to interpretations. The ending was probably my favorite part of the film and it made sitting down, staring at silent moments definitely worth it. I think, as I always mention, a film is supposed to provoke an emotion. The ending of the film definitely did exactly that: I wanted to root for the characters, felt the sorrow of the thought that the characters would finally part ways, but also satisfied that the two had gone through it. It was a mixture of feelings, I guess, if that makes sense.

I don't think the film will ever make it to the American Film Institute top 100 films, or any list for that matter of the greatest films ever made. But this movie is still a damn good one. Again, this movie will only appeal to a certain type of viewers, and some audience will bash it and hate it. However, for those who would check it out, I hope you'd stick around til the end. Hopefully you'll look back and realize and recognize the artistry in this film.

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