Thursday, January 15, 2004

Lost In Translation

I walked with Phil for almost 20 minutes to Time Square to see this movie Tuesday night because he likes to walk. Too bad neither of us could feel our limbs at the end of our little jaunt because of the unbelievably frigid weather. The wind cut through my leather gloves and jabbed at my hands mercilessly. I think I would have gotten frostbitten if we hadn't finally reached the movie theatre.

But it was all worth it. Lost In Translation is easily the best movie I have seen in the past year and now ranks among my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I knew I would love the movie when I saw the first scene, which featured Scarlett Johansson's lovely behind. Of course, the movie was much more than that (before Rita scolds me for being a chauvinist again). I hadn't seen Bill Murray in any movie recently, but I don't think he will ever top his performance in this movie. The only thing that's remotely far-fetched about his character is the fact that a former action movie star could be so subtle and could have such a witty, sarcastic sense of humor. The deadpan expressions he puts on are priceless.

I've heard about this Scarlett Johansson girl for quite a while. After seeing her in this movie, I deem all the hype completely warranted. It boggles my mind that a 19-year-old is capable of such a nuanced performance. It didn't hurt that she was heart-achingly cute and had charisma up the wazoo. I need to check out some of her other movies.

I think the movie really struck a cord with me because I totally understand how it feels to be lost in a totally foreign land unable to comprehend a single sentence uttered by people who don't look anything like me. This movie was able to capture that sense of complete bewilderment so effectively that I had no trouble at all relating to Murray's character, even though he was a white former action movie star undergoing a midlife crisis and saddled with a marriage that doesn't have much meaning to him anymore.

The wonderful chemistry between Murray and Johansson really made the film work. Their relationship is so much more complex and feels so much more realistic than any other cinematic portrayal that I have seen recently. I was rooting for them to be together at the end of the movie because I felt strongly that they belonged together, even if both were married already.

Now I will need to check out some of the other critically acclaimed movies, like 21 Grams, In America, American Splendor, and Mystic River.

As a side note, in the theatre lobby next to the concession stand was a huge ad. In this ad, 4 hot, teenage cheerleader-type girls with their arms fully stretched reached out in desperation to a good-looking boy showing off a sly smile. In the background, another boy appeared almost hysterical with excitement. What's all this commotion about? A freaking TI-83 Plus graphing calculator!! Apparently, the girls would have fellated Mr. Rocket Scientist if he would only let them touch his TI-83. It was one of the wackiest ads I've ever seen. I wish I had the presence of mind to steal that poster.