The Couch Potato Report
This week in the Couch Potato Report a film that doesn’t get lost in translation and we’ll go under the Tuscan Sun.
Bill Murray has starred in some of the most successful, and funniest comedies of all time.
His resume includes STRIPES. GHOSTBUSTERS. MEATBALLS. QUICK CHANGE. GROUNDHOG DAY. And CADDYSHACK.
As he matured as a person and as a performer he slowly segued from out and out comedic roles to playing funny characters in the mostly dramatic films RUSHMORE and THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS.
If you look at his career trajectory the Oscar nominated performance he gives in this week’s major new release doesn’t come as a surprise.
If you know Bill Murray only from the aforementioned list of the most successful, and funniest comedies of all time then prepare to be surprised by LOST IN TRANSLATION.
Murray is Bob Harris, a once popular American actor who now finds more acceptance and money from the people of Japan than from his own country.
He goes to Tokyo to shoot some whisky commercials for a big payday.
Contrast this with Charlotte, a young wife who is staying at the same hotel while her photographer husband does a multiple-day photo shoot.
Both Bob and Charlotte are married people, but they are also very lonely people. And neither one of them can sleep.
The entire plot of LOST IN TRANSLATION is about these two people getting to know each other.
Bob, in his early-fifties, is old enough to be Charlotte’s dad, but that doesn’t matter here. It’s not about age. It’s about the place and time.
The two find each other, spend time with one another, and even sleep in the same bed together.
But while most filmmakers would have to include a physical love affair to round out a story like this writer-director Sophia Coppola doesn’t. She only allows Bob and Charlotte to go so far.
If they go any further is all up to you, depending on how you perceive what takes place.
LOST IN TRANSLATION gives us Bill Murray’s most understated performance, and he is superb. With just a smile, a frown, his body language, or just the look in his tired eyes, he lets us in on Bob’s emotions without telling us a thing.
His Oscar nomination for the film is well justified. His eventual victory might be seen as some as a reward for his body of work, but don’t let yourself believe that. He is that charming, that wonderful and that heartbreaking in LOST IN TRANSLATION.
The actress he’s working with is named Scarlett Johansson. She was in THE HORSE WHISPERER a few years ago and you might also know her from GHOST WORLD. She is equally impressive, playing Charlotte as a deeply troubled, yet intelligent young woman who just can’t make some of life’s most important decisions. Unfortunately she didn’t get an Academy Award nomination for her efforts, but she is just as good as whoever actually wins.
LOST IN TRANSLATION was my favourite film of 2003, so obviously I’m going to have nothing but praise for it. In an attempt to offer you a complete review, let me admit that this is a film that you might want to avoid if you are tired, feeling lonely or depressed. I could also see how the long, quiet scenes of isolation could bore a casual film viewer.
But if you are in the mood to meet two people who exist in the here and now, a here and now that is completely foreign, and then decide for yourself how their time together will end, then watch LOST IN TRANSLATION.
Personally, I’ve seen it over a dozen times and I can’t wait to watch it again.
I’m not sure I’ll ever watch UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN again, but I have to admit I’m glad I took the time to see this week’s other major new release.
After a less than amicable divorce, a woman played by Diane Lane – from UNFAITHFUL and A WALK ON THE MOON is persuaded by her friend to take a tour of Italy. On a whim she buys a rundown villa and sets out to renovate it.
The scenery in UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN is breathtaking. You may never look at a countryside, people or food the same way again.
Now, if I may have a word with all of the gentlemen out there. Ladies, look away for a minute. Guys, this will make a great Valentine’s Day gift! In fact, keep one handy in case you have a fight between now and then.
Okay ladies, I invite you to pay attention again so I can recap.
LOST IN TRANSLATION and UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN are available to rent and own right now.
COMING NEXT WEEK
INTOLERABLE CRUELTY – A woman falls in love with her ex-husband’s divorce lawyer in the Coen Brothers film that isn’t really a Coen Brothers film. (George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush)
IN THE CUT- Meg Ryan is a woman gets involved in a dark relationship with a cop who may or may not be a killer. This film garnered the majority of it’s theatrical hype because Ryan is naked in it. (Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Kevin Bacon)
SYLVIA – This is the tale about a true life love story between two influential artists. (Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Michael Gambon)
WONDERLAND – A murder investigation centers around porn star John Holmes. (Val Kilmer, Josh Lucas, Eric Bogosian)
That’s this week’s Couch Potato Report.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
This is CPR for your video heart.
The Couch Potato Report