HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of Lost in Translation, Broken Flowers


Title:  Lost in Translation

Release Date:  2003

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 102 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:   Focus, American Zeotrope

Director; Writer: Sofia Coppola


Cast:    Bill Murray, Scarlet Johansson


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Lost in Translation (2003, Focus/American Zeotrope) is a bigger film than it sounds, coming from Zeotrope and Coppola (directed by Sofia Coppola), and if nothing else, it provides an inexpensive way to see stunning shots of the world’s most expensive city to visit, Tokyo (as well as Kyoto). Other than that, it is self-consciously art-movie for its own sake. An aging actor now filming wine commercials in Japan (played by Bill Murray), falls for a nubile young woman (Scarlet Johansson), who is allowed to go on the loose by her own husband. It is kind of your basic George Gilder “sexual princess” scenario. Nevertheless, there are great lines about the rather pointless lives of the character: she isn’t making it as a writer (who is?) and his whole life changed once he had kids—wow!  His wife, on a phone call to the states, asks, “Can I trust you?” But the views of 21st Century Tokyo (even the airport) are stunning. What this movie proves, of course, is the existence of heterosexuality. (No male homosexual that I know, at least, would have short or written a film like this.)


Broken Flowers (2005, Focus, dir. Jim Jarmusch, R, 107 min) is the kind of film only Bill Murray could make work. Here he plays a heterosexual bachelor Don Johnston, who, at the prompting of  literary gumshoe Winston (Jeffrey Wright), and after receiving a mysterious unsigned pink letter telling him that he has a son from one of his earlier “relationships” goes on a quest to find him. He meets all four women, who provide increasing levels of confrontation. In one case, he stares at a fish patty dinner; then he communicates with a cat, and finally he gets beaten up by the last woman’s redneck protectors. Back home, The Kid (Mark Webber) shows up. He wants to study philosophy, and I find that interesting. Johnston buys him a club sandwich, and tries a final confrontation. The Kid, of course, grew up without a father. On Murray can turn self-indulgence into a provocative mystery. There is one early scene of total female nudity. The broken flowers, occasionally shown, provide visual metaphor.




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