Sunday, September 28, 2003

Superior translation
I can't recommend highly enough Sofia Coppola's new film Lost in Translation, a bittersweet, touching, and hilarious romance starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson (who you may recognize from another superior independent film called Ghost World). Murray plays Bob Harris, a bored middle-aged movie star ensconsed in a fancy Tokyo hotel while he shoots a commercial for a whiskey company. He crosses paths with Charlotte (Johansson), a woman half his age, staying in the same hotel with her celebrity-photographer husband, who seems more interested in sucking down drinks and flirting with brain-dead starlets than paying attention to his wife. When Charlotte's husband disappears for the weekend on a trip, she pals around with Murray, zooming from drug bars to karaoke joints to the hotel lounge. Neither can sleep, and both crisis-ridden souls are at once fascinated and overwhelmed by the bizarre and sublime nightlife in the Japanese capital, rendered stunningly by Coppola's firm direction.

But unlike most Hollywood cheapies, where the liver-spotted old man gets the ravishing young woman, the film refuses to give in to the easy plot twist. Watching Murray, in the performance of his life, and Johansson, who should be a star after this one, negotiate their sexual tension while trying to remain true to their spouses, is the most enjoyable experience I've had at a film since You Can Count On Me. Don't miss it.

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