February 9, 2004

"Lost in Translation." I finally got around to watching the DVD that arrived last week, after thinking about going to see the film in the theater for months and never actually going to see it. I don't see what the huge fuss over this film is. I loved the photography of various Japanese locations, especially the neon-lit streets, including the neon lights reflected in the car window with the actor's face on the other side of the glass, like Keir Dullea in his space mask in "2001. The part in the middle where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson go out to various spots reminded me of the stock section in late 1960s/early 1970s films where the characters take drugs and then go running about doing various things. (The part of "Easy Rider" where they take LSD in New Orleans is the most memorable example of this sort of thing, which tended to be the most boring part of those movies.)

But I didn't think the characters were too interesting--even as an example of flat, bland people. Why is it in movies, when you're supposed to think of a character as highly intelligent, instead of having them say highly intelligent things, they just inform us about some paper credentials, like their IQ or their GPA or their SAT score? Does the Scarlett Johansson character ever say anything particularly intelligent in the entire film? Maybe not, but we're informed that she went to Yale and majored in Philosophy. Then she smirks at someone else who is made to be as completely stupid as possible (the airheaded actress). We're supposed to think highly of a character by contrast to a bunch of idiots. That's a lame set-up. Show me a film where even the minor characters do interesting things that make sense in their own ways.

UPDATE: I movie I saw recently on DVD that met this request (lots of characters doing interesting things that make some kind sense in their own weird ways) is "Amores Perros."

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