Originally Posted by Tokyo Slim
Its a movie that works on so many different levels though, just because you choose to ignore, can't understand, or aren't aware of the underlying social context, doesn't mean that the movie is uncommunicative. It just means that you aren't receptive, ignorant, or incapable of understanding its subtleties.
I could, and probably will someday, write a dissertation on the multiple cultural veiwpoints espoused in the movie. I find it amazing, and if it was intentional or accidental makes very little difference, the effect is the same. Both cultures involved can watch this movie and come away with completely seperate ideas about what they just watched.
For example, from the more traditionalist Japanese perspective, Bill Murray's character can be the the focal point, and portrays a boorish, racist, American tourist, who at every turn mocks and disrespects his hosts, and tries to weasel out of every business obligation and promise he's made. His cavalier personal attitudes and disinclination to take anything seriously is a typical stereotype of Americans. Not only that, its a greater reflection of his life, failed marriage, poor decisionmaking, lack of personal control, and downward spiraling career, and only in such an alien setting can he realize that he has actually been the villian. Basically he is a mess, and not the sympathetic character that you see when you view the movie through western eyes. You can see that through his relationship with Scarlet Johansson's character, assisting in her coming of age, and discovery of different cultures and herself, he is trying to redeem himself through the mutual journey of undertanding and acceptance of situations out of their control.
This is completely different than what many people with more western ideals get from this movie, but it works just as well. It works this way because the movie is almost perfectly written, filmed, and edited. It allows the viewers personal biases and experiences to flavor the characters, instead of having your head beaten in by traditional story archetypes. Its trancendental cultural realism. It may not be your cup of tea, but its greatness as film is IMO, undeniable.
Not only that, its a beautiful movie.
If I don't appreciate this movie it definately isn't from ignorance. I just don't feel/draw the same sublime energy that some of you seem to from this film. If you take even a cursory glance at what I find aesthetically pleasing, you'll see what music I like is especially atypical, and I don't like most of the movies I see. Granted a lot of my favourites are from Hollywood, but I don't think that just because I'm not in complete ecstasy over Lost In Translation automatically means I'm camping outside the theatre for the next Wesley Snipes movie or whatever other idiot is about to release a flick with explosions and car chases.
A lot of the reason I dislike this movie is because I don't like Scarlett Johansson. In every film I've ever seen her in, I cannot stand how she delivers lines, I don't like her sexy pseudo anchor woman voice, and often, if I find myself hating an actor/actrice, it sullies the rest of the movie for me because I cannot personally connect with what is going on screen. Maybe why I hated Lost in Translation is a matter of projection... being in a cynical time of your life in a transient milieu can be offputting if it's shoved in film form into your face. I saw this when I was living at home during my first summer of university, and I hated being back so maybe it is afterall, a freudian defence mechanism. This is probably one of the films I've had the strongest reaction against. I'm finding it difficult separating those people who actually get this film and therefore appreciate it, and the many, many people who read on some blog what they think it means and therefore accept it as their favourite movie to impress some other film sophist. I think that this film is definately one of those, and that is another reason I have such a problem with it.
As someone who one day aspires to make films, I'm interested in what affects people. If this is it for you, then great and I'll even try to understand why. I'm just saying that you can't always expect other people to feel so strongly in the same direction as you on such a polarizing creation.