Lost in Translation (2003)

"Bill Murray's acting in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies. Without it, the film could be unwatchable. With it, I can't take my eyes away. Not for a second, not for a frame, does his focus relax, and yet it seems effortless. Is he "playing himself"?"

“I just don’t know what I am supposed to be,” explains Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) to the washed-up movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) , two main characters  of Lost in Translation  – an atmospheric, melancholy, and at times a ( romantic)  comedy from director Sofia Coppola.

Bob Harris, an American movie star in Japan to make commercials for whiskey. "Do I need to worry about you, Bob?" his wife asks over the phone. "Only if you want to," he says. She sends him urgent faxes about fabric samples.
He is very tired, he is doing the commercials for money and hates himself for it, he has a sense of humor and can be funny, but it's a bother.

Charlotte, whose husband John (she 
has been married only a couple of years) is a photographer on assignment in Tokyo visits a shrine and then calls a friend in America to say, "I didn't feel anything." Then she blurts out: "I don't know who I married." She's in her early 20s, Bob's in his 50s.

 Despite their age difference they have something fundamentally in common. They both feel  lost in life, and  the frenetic Tokyo provides the perfect foreign backdrop for Bill and Charlotte’s dislocation as they struggle to communicate with the Japanese people and navigate this vast  overwhelming city .
Bob and Charlotte spend their sleepless nights bounded by a city that they do not understand, surrounded by people they struggle to connect with, locals and friends alike.
 In many ways Tokyo, the city itself allows Coppola to present the film’s complex themes so naturally and with such little dialogue. In moments of silence the city speaks, reminding us of these characters’ vulnerability as they attempt to cross through Tokyo’s bizarre urban aesthetics.

I can't tell you how many people have told me that just don't get "Lost in Translation." They want to know what it's about. They complain "nothing happens." They've been trained by movies that tell them where to look and what to feel, in stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. "Lost in Translation" offers an experience in the exercise of empathy.

So much has been written about those few words at the end that Bob whispers into Charlottes' ear. We can't hear them. They seem meaningful for both of them. Coppola said she didn't know. It wasn't in the scenario . 
Advanced sound engineering has been used to produce a fuzzy enhancement. Harry Caul of "The Conversation" would be proud of it, but it's entirely irrelevant. Those words weren't for our ears. Coppola (1) didn't write the dialog, (2) didn't intentionally record the dialogue, and (3) was happy to release the movie that way, so we cannot hear. Why must we know? Do we need closure? This isn't a closure kind of movie. We get all we need in simply knowing they share a moment private to them, and seeing that it contains something true before they part forever

Virgin Suicide (1999)

In a way, the Lisbon girls and the neighborhood boys never existed, except in their own adolescent imaginations. They were imaginary creatures, waiting for the dream to end through death or adulthood. "Cecilia was the first to go," the narrator tells us right at the beginning. We see her talking to a psychiatrist after she tries to slash her wrists. "You're not even old enough to know how hard life gets," he tells her. "Obviously, doctor," she says, "you've never been a 13-year-old girl." No, but his profession and every adult life is to some degree a search for the happiness she does not even know she has.

It is not important how the Lisbon sisters looked. What is important is how the teenage boys in the neighborhood thought they looked.
The movie is as much about those guys, "we," as about the Lisbon girls. About how Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett), the leader of the pack, loses his baby fat and shoots up into a junior stud who is blindsided by sex and beauty, and dazzled by Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst), who of the perfect Lisbon girls is the most perfect.

"The Virgin Suicides" is Sofia Coppola's first film, based on the much-discussed novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. She has the courage to play it in a minor key. She doesn't hammer home ideas and interpretations. She is content with the air of mystery and loss that hangs in the air like bitter poignancy. Tolstoy said all happy families are the same. Yes, but he should have added, there are hardly any happy families.

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