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Lost in Translation - Blu-ray Review

4 stars


Lost in translation Blu-ray Review

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There’s a sort of haunted loneliness that hangs around the four corners of the frame in Sophie Coppola’s Lost in Translation.  Yet, it doesn’t drag the film down into a painful excursion of self-pity.  There’s a rhythm to the picture; slow and natural and sugary pure.  It might not be the most welcoming of films, but once inside its narrative, the drum and bass feel of Lost in Translation is more alluring than it is alienating as an unexpected connection develops between an aging man and the wife of a Gen Y hipster.

Hollywood actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) finds himself alone in Japan to shoot some whisky adverts for a cool $2 Million.  It’s lame.  He knows it and treats it as such – even if it is only for a week’s worth of work.  Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson) is also in Japan as a tagalong to her husband’s photographic career.  She doesn’t know what she wants to be and she’s not entirely sure she wants to be someone’s wife.  John (Giovanni Ribisi) is clueless to her true desires; he’s also clueless as to her bouts of foreign insomnia and her loneliness – things she shares openly with Bob after a night of journeying randomness with him.

The two strangers, thanks to many sleepless nights, become fast friends and share their thoughts on life and hopes and dreams while traveling around the city.  There is a flirtation that develops between them – completely harmless, but real in chance and desire.  For Bob, Charlotte is a possible young fling in his 25-year old marriage and, to Charlotte, Bob is probably an equal temptation but the value in what he knows is much more important than a one night stand.

The screenplay, which (maybe unfairly) won Coppola an Academy Award, doesn’t really provide a complete narrative in that it completely relies on atmosphere and rich visuals to impart its emotion, yet it is sincere.  There’s an unknowing in where it wants to take its characters, but that’s part of the loneliness that marks the film.  In that manner, there is a genuine note of sincerity to it – especially in the film’s ending.  The use of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’ at the film’s emotional climax is both rousing (and fitting) for the film to fade out on.

Director of Photography Lance Acord has much to do with the power and overall impact of this film.  Sure, Coppola’s quiet guiding hand as director is there.  Evidence of this - for those who love The Virgin Suicides – is seen in all the minute details of each character’s hotel room.  That being said, Lost in Translation is completely urban and the filming of some of the key scenes of wild, wide-eyed abandonment through the streets of Tokyo is monumental.  Visually striking, the neon glow of that alien city is certainly felt and echoed by the camera; we are transported into another world – a very, distant and cold one.  It is the world of Bob and Charlotte.

While the two characters never make clear their desires for each other, it is certainly made clear to us that they are strangers in the strange land that is their life; Bob’s nagging wife (heard via phone) and John’s absence in Charlotte’s life don’t make matters any better either.  The pull they have toward each other might be hindered by Bob’s celebrity, but it’s very real.  Flaws and all, Lost in Translation is a beautiful film.  Not as unpredictably heartbreaking as it could have been, Lost in Translation certainly won’t leave you scratching your head in bewilderment, but its use of Asian stereotypes might be a little trying – even if it is completely harmless – at times.  Still, the poetic sensibilities of the film overcompensate for its flaws thus leaving its viewer with a sweet story about age and alienation in the modern world.


Component Grades
Movie
Blu-ray Disc
4 stars
2 stars
Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 7, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Mobile features

Lost in translation Blu-ray Review

This VC-1 encoded transfer, I hate to say it, has been recycled from the format wars for its Blu-ray debut. This isn’t a remastered print in any way. Although, I’m not sure a bright and glossy look is what the DP intended for the film.  It’s naturally lit and not as sparkly as I remembered some of the nighttime Tokyo shoots looking like.  It’s not too troubling considering the film’s budget at the time, but I would have expected a little bit of an upgrade in its presentation. Some scenes – especially the interiors – look downright out of focus. The film seriously needs to get some HD improvement and those hoping that the movie would get that prestige with this release should hold out a while longer before buying. This isn’t that release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Other than a quick look inside at Coppola’s newest film Somewhere, the features included with the Blu-ray have been ported over from the initial SD release.  Another disappointment is that we get no commentary from Coppola about the film.  The plus is the Making-Of featurette that shows Murray lampooning it up on the set of the film.

The features include:

  • Deleted Scenes (10 min)
  • A Conversation with Bill Murray and Sophia Coppola (9 min)
  • "Lost" on Location (30 min)
  • Matthew's Best Hit TV (4 min)
  • Kevin Shields "City Girl" Music Video (3 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
  • On the Set of Sophia Coppola's ‘Somewhere’ (3 min)
  • Somewhere Theatrical Trailer (2 min)

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