Lost In Translation

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Lost In Translation
Lost In Translation

Lost On Location might be described as a Making Of doc and yet, typical of eveything to do with this film, it's so much more. A hand-held camera weaves through the crowds, as the producer, director and crew make their first tentative steps towards the creation of an American low budget independent movie in the Japanese capital. For once, you get the feeling of what it's like - those first day nerves - before the rhythm of production sets its own pace.

Writer/director Sofia Coppola looks slight, shy and uncertain.

Copy picture

"Bill's coming today. It's like Christmas morning."

She looks up at the camera and her eyes are sparkling.

"I can't believe he's coming," she says. "It's my dream."

What's so good about this visual diary is that it lacks polish and feels honest. No one is trying to prove anything, or sell anyone, and when the star arrives, he can't help being funny. Unlike other actors, he's neither demanding, nor aloof, and appears to be a genuinely nice person, who takes the trouble to put the foreign crew and bit players at their ease.

Sofia is enchanted. During the first take of his Santori Time commercial, she can't stifle her giggles.

He has brought along an old Japanese phrase book and starts practising, "Who do you think you're talking to?" in the native tongue, to hilarious effect.

There's talk of a typhoon, the worst since WWII, and everyone makes a pretence at taking cover. The rain comes down like stair rods and they go out into the street to shoot umbrellas.

Scarlett Johansson is noticable by her absence. There's masses of Murray, which is great, because "everybody loves Bill," but Scarlett is glimpsed only once, a tiny figure, chewing gum and looking so young, like a schoolgirl. No one talks about her, either. It's odd.

This is the most relaxed, enjoyable Making Of featurette that I have seen. It reflects the athmosphere of a happy, creative, seat-of-the-pants production, where the vibes are as good as the jokes.

Matthew's Best Hit TV is an uncut version of the peroxide camp Japanese TV presenter, putting Murray's character through a series of absurd, humiliating hoops, which includes an encounter with live eels. This is another example of why "everybody loves Bill." He enters into the spirit and gives as much as he gets in what becomes an unscripted free-for-all.

Kevin Shield's Music Video: panning shots of Tokyo at night, with Scarlett in a taxi, observing the city. It's quite beautiful, the city and the Johansson.

Deleted Scenes: the trouble is that no one explains why they've been left out, or what's interesting (not?) about them. There are five, all of which deserve to be included in the final cut, although two need trimming. They are a pleasure to watch.

The Conversation with Bill Murray & Sofia Coppola was filmed much later on a roof in Rome. Bill has a white beard.

Although you have noticed this before, it appears particularly striking here: Bill Murray is a tall man. He dominates the interview, not out of choice, but because Sofia Coppola prefers not to be the centre of attention.

He talks about working with a small crew on a small budget ("If we panic, we're really in trouble") and calls Lost In Translation "my favourite movie," which, surprisingly, you believe.

The Conversation is not long and you don't learn much, although Sofia, talking of growing up around her daddy's film sets, presents a lovely personal touch, which displays the same qualities of truthfulness that the Making Of doc has.

It's fun being with these people and you wish them well, which is not necessary after their BAFTA and Oscar triumphs.

In the end, the only word that doesn't fit is "lost."

PS: the trailer is terrific!

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2004
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Lost In Translation packshot
Two lonely American tourists in Tokyo find solace in each other.
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Read more Lost In Translation disc reviews:

Nicky Falkof: DVD

Product Code: MP319D

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Lost On Location featurette; Matthew

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