CHAPTER 2: Welcome To Tokyo

Discuss Lost In Translation in a more structured way. We follow the DVD chapters and create a new thread for every chapter. This is an ongoing project.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Cryogenic
Mr. Kazu
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:08 pm

CHAPTER 2: Welcome To Tokyo

#1 Post by Cryogenic » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:01 am

CHAPTER 2: Welcome To Tokyo

DVD Time Index: 0:01:01 - 0:06:08*
*PAL Timing

Image

Image


Image


Image

SYNOPSIS: Night time. A man is resting in a moving car. He rouses to the sight of steel and glass, flashing neon, people milling about, life. The man looks dazed and confused. This isn't home. He's being driven through a big city. And not just any city: Tokyo, Japan. The car arrives at a trendy hotel and the man is escorted out. He's greeted in the lobby by a Japanese congregation which formally welcomes him to Tokyo. He is here on business and the head of the congregation tells him that they'll pick him up in the morning. As he walks away, he is handed an envelope. It's a fax from his wife. He has forgotten his son's birthday. He cordially thanks the business people and parts their company. He takes an elevator to his hotel room. On the way, he is formally greeted several more times by members of the hotel staff. He sits in his room, pensive. Classical music is playing from tinny speakers. There's an image of a flowers swaying in the breeze on a TV screen. It feels very placatory. Then light jazz fills the air. Clinking plates and glasses, the swirl of light conversation, a woman's singing voice. The man has gone to the bar. As he puffs away on a cigar, drink in hand, head down, a surprised voice, an American voice, calls his name. The man is Bob Harris. The voice is an excited fan. Bob Harris has been recognised. The man is with a buddy and they fawn over a macho incident in Bob's movie past. Bob quickly excuses himself and retires to his room. Bob is now lying in bed, trying to sleep. It's 4:20 AM. Suddenly, a machine whirs to life. Bob leans forward to see what's happening. His fax is printing something. It's another message from his wife. A hand-written note, followed by diagrams. Bob slowly sinks back into the pillow, his face a mixture of pain and disbelief.

ANALYSIS: If the above synopsis reads as very Bob-oriented, then that's exactly right. I now understand and appreciate just how character-driven the chapter is -- how rapidly, efficiently and thoroughly Sofia Coppola, a young female director, takes us into Bob Harris', an aging male movie star's, world. After the vague and impersonal teaser, the filmmaker cleverly shifts gears, framing her story in strictly human terms. It's significant that this chapter starts and ends with a shot of Bob's face. In the former chapter, Sofia Coppola enticed viewers with a depersonalised image of seduction, a young girl's fetishised buttocks, and an arousing sense of vulnerability; here, she transposes arousal for sympathy, as a particular person's face, a worn, tired male face, moves us from sexual desire to empathy. In short, we are beginning to learn that this film is about individuals and multi-tiered feelings, not merely concepts or moments with no sense of personality behind them. We are also getting our first and most significant impressions of Tokyo through "Bob's Eye View". The chapter is called "Welcome To Tokyo", referencing both Ms Kawasaki's first words to Bob (and the first words spoken by any character in the film), and the broader introduction we get, via Bob. Thus, there is something a little sardonic, like Bob, about the pronouncement and title, "Welcome To Tokyo". "This is LIT's Tokyo", Sofia might as well be saying, and no other. We had better expect a unique blend of bewilderment and frustration, awe and indifference, if Bob's initial reactions are anything to go by. Unfortunately, for Bob, he seems to begin and end this chapter the same way, comically implying a nightmare for him with no end. In the first shot, he looks shattered and is trying to rest; the last shot finds him in the same physiological and mental place. He has only swapped the back seat of a car for the flat surface of a bed, and, as Sofia shows us, neither location is all that private or comfort-inducing. For now, to echo a later character's comment, Bob Harris is stuck.

Of course, one of the most striking aspects to this chapter, and maybe one of the top five most striking parts of the entire film, is Bob's journey through the Shibuya district of Tokyo. There are many places one may fall in love with LIT -- but few offer a better, more compelling reason than this dynamic introduction to the streets of a city bursting with colour and intrigue. The use of "Girls" by Death In Vegas, set to jaw-dropping shots of shop fronts and advertising signs, makes this a memorable, and, by rights, iconic, sequence. As the film cuts between Bob in his slow-moving vehicle, and the mesmerising, ageless promise of Tokyo before him, around him, beaming at him, it feels as if Bob is undergoing a synesthetic experience -- that is, it feels as if the multitude of flashing, whizzing lights are singing to him, as his brain makes sounds for the visual information flooding in. In many ways, he is undergoing a rebirth. Even Bob's cynicism cannot contend with this. It is the first in a series of regenerating tricks that Tokyo has in store for Bob. And the enraptured viewer. One thing I really like about the editing and cinematography here is that Tokyo doesn't immediately come into focus. The first two shots show a blurred set of streaks; only when Bob wakes up do the tendrils and blobs become distinct. In this passage, an odd moment occurs when Bob sees a billboard of himself, even though he hasn't been photographed yet. Immediately after, the reaction shot is of Bob rubbing his eyes, as if he feels he couldn't have really seen what he just saw. Did Bob imagine what he just saw? Is he constantly returning to Tokyo in a sort of cyclical reality a la Bill Murray's earlier work "Groundhog Day"? Has he already done some photography for Suntory? It's rather odd.

The following scenes are, of course, well-rendered, but they must, by definition, sit in the shadow of the gloriously cinematic arrival sequence, yet there is so much from this point on that LIT becomes remarkably dense remarkably quickly. I think this is one of the longer chapters in the film, but none are particularly easy to parse. LIT is a film so packed with nuance and subtlety that it is a work of art rich beyond measure. Trying to scrutinise it in any kind of all-encompassing analysis is simply impossible. The way a person blinks their eyes, the way the camera goes out of focus for a moment, the timing of one moment juxtaposed with another, the depth of meaning in each shot, each frame -- it is staggering and then some. From here on in, the analysis gets messy and unsatisfying, but I hope we can each contribute and work our way through various interpretations and ideas. One useful approach (and it really is just one) is to consider the film for its depiction of Japan and its people, which is still a minefield. I think it's important to spend some time on this, however. Humour is a major mechanism in the machinery of this motion picture. Without it, LIT would be witless, listless and soulless. It's a shame that the film's attitude to its characters and the situations they find themselves in has provoked such negative reactions, but I think that that's the price you pay when you're honest as an artist, doing things that others either haven't thought or have only achieved a tenth as well. The human art of projection, combined with jealousy and ignorance, is a powerful thing. Where to start?

I've actually heard some criticism of the meet-n-greet scene. It has been called too informal by Japanese standards, but I don't know. Personally, I find it amusing, and reasonably accurate. For example, the congregation not only hands Bob a gift, but each person presents a business card, which is correct for Japan. The editing at this part, particularly the close-up of the cards being handed out, adds a subtle air of humour; of the strangeness of the necessity of things being done a certain way, which inflects the personal journeys of Bob and Charlotte and underscores their desires to "buck" expectations. Incidentally, I'd like to know what's written on the box that Bob is given, and what it contains. Complimentary sake, perhaps? Or something more exotic? Bill Murray's deadpan humour is wonderful here. "I need that!" ... "You're all really tired, I'm sure!" ... "Short and sweet, very Japanese, I like that!" There is potential cause for finding this sort of humour juvenile or offensive, but I see it as totally consistent with Bill Murray's style, and one of the reasons Sofia Coppola cast him. Ms Kawasaki's reaction only makes the scene funnier. For example, when Bob tells the Japanese to get some sleep, Ms Kawaski responds, "OK," and laughs, while continuing to wish Bob goodnight. You have to watch the scene to get all the timing, which is part of LIT's brilliance, but if you do, you'll notice that she keeps saying it, because Japanese etiquette mandates extreme politeness in this kind of social dealing, but there is the tragicomic sense that she doesn't really understand Bob's humour, or, at the least, cannot acknowledge it, per the dictates she is behaving under. In essence, these are two sets of people using each other, though not in any malevolent sense, and Sofia's wry direction allows us, I think, to laugh at the absurdities of this arrangement, which is common in different contexts, all around the world.

From an early stage, it is made clear that LIT doesn't shy away from mining its setting for humour. Bob's short journey in the elevator elicited a few chuckles when I saw LIT at the cinema -- and it is a very effective composition. Although derided by some as a "cheap shot", I don't think Sofia Coppola set out to offend. The joke is done at the expense of Bob, not the Japanese. As LIT unfolds, we learn that Bob feels edged out of his own marriage, admitting to Charlotte that his wife, in his opinion, doesn't need him to be around, and, with his movie career fading, he feels edged from his own career, too. Ergo, this, to me, is a joke about incongruence. Bob is no more "at home" in that elevator than he is in the equally cramped confines of his life. It's a bleak sentiment, but it's leavened by humour. Japan is a place that *exposes* the incongruity of Bob's life. If the gag were offensive, Bob should surely be smiling and lording it up over these other men; instead, he looks to the ceiling, hair rumpled, the reality of this awful grind of a business deal now setting in. If the scene can still be considered contrived, it's still for no malignant reason. For example, we can probably agree that Sofia Coppola manipulated the scene to her own ends (e.g. by using old, short people for the joke), but the charge that Sofia Coppola went out of her way to emphasise that the Japanese are short is totally wrong (e.g. consider her casting for *other* businessmen, especially Mr Tanaka, in the very scene before this). The funniest moment, however, is at the end of this sequence. When Bob emerges, he is greeted no less than five times, and he seems a little awkward and overwhelmed. First, when greeted, he just nods his head. But he's distracted and puts more into his subsequent greetings. The next time, he shakes the person's hand. The time after that, he shakes hands and bows (to two people). Finally, he just bows. When a group of three young Japanese guys goes by (possibly the "skinny and nerdy" band that John is shooting), Bob takes this streamlining to its natural conclusion, choosing to anticipate the next bow, or set of bows, before they happen. Unfortunately, the group is of a different generation and social standing, and totally oblivious to Bob's presence, let alone his greeting. It cracks me up every time I watch Bob start to initiate a bow and then stop. Just when he thought he was mastering it! Again, he's the fish out of water and the butt of the joke.

Straight to Bob's room and the humour continues. The shot of Bob in a kimono, just sat there at a loss for ideas, is hilarious. Is this a joke at the expense of the Japanese? Once again, it is not. Strike Three. I believe that Sofia Coppola has said it was one of the images she had in her head and wanted to put onto celluloid. The humour is greatly aided and abetted by the pin-sharp editing. Rather than showing Bob arriving at his room or unpacking, all intermediate steps are omitted in favour of having Bob simply appear as he does, finally alone, relaxed yet awkward. When Bob bails and hits the bar, Sarah Flack's editing is, again, superb. We get an evocative wide shot, followed by a medium shot of the singer and her group, then a series of shots that get closer with every set of patrons, transporting us to the Hyatt, good and proper. Incidentally, I enjoy the presence of Sausalito in LIT. There is something a little kitsch and pretentious about them, but they're genuinely talented, too. After these shots, we arrive bluntly at Bob, and it's a magnificent shot, so striking with Bob being sideways on, the lamps successively fading into the distance, like the glow of his life. Bill Murray's acting is flawless throughout, but he brings an added competency to this scene. He completely conveys the sense of a man who is desperately trying to forget everyone and everything. Of course, his palliative is insoluble, and any hopes of a quiet drink are quickly ruined by a chance encounter with two Americans who know his face. A later chance encounter will be much more favourable. In the meantime, I like these guys. They're OTT, cocky yuppie types, but with only a few lines of dialogue, they leave their mark. The tie over the shoulder is a nice touch. Of course, this encounter is doubly annoying for Bob. Not only is he being admired and hassled by people he wishes not to know, but they're reminding him of an earlier, happier time, and objectifying him for something he likely never was, and certainly isn't now. I love Bob's final gesture after he lies and tells the guys he's in Japan to see friends -- it seems, to me, to be a cheesy American "pistol" gesture; a rather pointed dismissal of people obsessed with his masculine persona.

With the barfly routine aborted, Bob already shown to be bored just sitting in his room, and the hour late, Bob tries to get some sleep, to no avail. Not only is he battling jet lag/insomnia, but a fax machine. One thing that really comes to the fore here, and works tirelessly throughout LIT to give it significant beauty and realism, is the sound design. The sound on this film is a true marvel. Often subtle and intricate, it can also become more dominant, when necessary. The fax machine is perfectly captured in every sonic detail and given full attention. We palpably understand that it is an intrusive device. At this point in the story, it's Bob and the fax machine. And the fax machine wins. Bob cannot escape his wife, even half way around the world. It is the opening chapter's final statement on Bob Harris, the man. Coming after the blow to Bob's ego in the bar (to recap: he is reminded of a more sensational past, just when he least wants to be), this is a firm kick to the groin. Bob has not only left a happier past behind (making movies), but has now stooped so low that he has prostrated his sanity to a piece of electrical equipment, which dutifully obeys the merciless cheer of his wife. If there is any virility left in this man, we are left waiting to see it. The second chapter concludes with the closest shot of Bob's face thus far. Bill Murray's expression tells us everything we need to know. Never has a facial expression screamed, "You have GOTTA be kidding me!" louder than this. It is the abject expression of a character who feels trapped and powerless. This is Bob Harris. This is his life. What else can he do? Who else can he be? LIT has just begun.
Image

User avatar
Bob_san
Site Admin
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 3:55 pm
Location: United States
Contact:

#2 Post by Bob_san » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:12 am

AHA! Finally Chapter 2!!! Thanks Cryogenic!!!! Believe it or not we have a bunch of new members in the last few months so lets see if they bite! :)

User avatar
wiggle
Lounge Singer
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:02 pm
Location: Gloucester, UK

#3 Post by wiggle » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:08 am

It's been a few years since I last watched LiT but I may have to dig out the DVD and explore ithe film's subtleties once again. Thanks for posting!
Where the hell's the whiskey?

User avatar
SaitamaSteve
Awake
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 9:30 am

#4 Post by SaitamaSteve » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:56 am

Perhaps one of my favorite chapters, and one that defines a very prominent theme of the movie...I will put it on this week with a glass of Suntory, and then discuss what has always been brooding in my mine up until now. I want to do the series of scenes justice, so I'll take a little time to muster my thoughts--just letting you know that you'll get them!

User avatar
Pitman
Suntory Time
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:12 am
Location: Toronto

#5 Post by Pitman » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:17 pm

Very nice indeed. I loved reading this Chapter analysis. Brought me right back into the movie. What else is there to add? At this point, I have nothing. Thanks!!

User avatar
LostCalls
Lounge Singer
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:34 am

#6 Post by LostCalls » Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:34 am

I'm keeping this short for now as it's 3:00 AM here (yes, I am awake)...
In short, we are beginning to learn that this film is about individuals and multi-tiered feelings, not merely concepts or moments with no sense of personality behind them.
Yes, I largely agree. Yet, Bob and Charlotte both experience and convey this sense of potential emptiness--or, to borrow a phrase used by Jason Sperb in an article on the film Ghost World, "fear of depthlessness"--throughout the film. I realize my referents here are later than Chapter Two, but consider Charlotte's telephone lament to Lauren that "these monks were chanting...and I didn't feel anything" or the alienation Bob feels when faced with all that neon that envelopes the image of his own face in the advertisement. Early on, we as viewers can recognize that what we are seeing and hearing in the film has a "sense of personality behind" it; I think, though, that the characters within the film struggle to recognize this very detail. While Bob is content to find almost no meaning in Tokyo upon his arrival (he'd likely prefer just to get in and get out ASAP--or be doing a play somewhere) and Charlotte is seemingly attempting quietly but doggedly (to no avail) to extract some meaning from the silent cityscape panorama, neither character initially identifies any "personality behind" the city's facade. It seems to me that Bob and Charlotte ultimately recognize the "behind" (the "depth") when they can use one another as a lens--that is, once they've established a sincere relationship. How else could Charlotte later attend and seemingly reflect genuinely upon the marriage procession she witnesses in Kyoto when her previous temple visit early on in Tokyo left her existentially cold? Simply put, Japan (and maybe even foreign-ness itself) begins to mean something to Bob and Charlotte when viewing through each other. To quote Vertigo, "Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere."

Regarding the synesthesia, I definitely agree. The moment that always strikes me in Bob's bleary-eyed arrival is the shot of the large neon sign that completely fills the screen (directly before the shot in which Bob's car arrives at the Park Hyatt). This sign has Japanese text in the center, around which radiates out illuminated concentric rings, which almost seem to undulate as they sequentially glow. Corresponding to this visual radiating effect of the rings around the text is an aural electronic swooshing (a sound that, in my imagination, approximates what a guitar would sound like if you played it with a Slinky) in the music of "Girls." The sonic reflex in the otherwise yet unpunctuated fabric of the music seems to mimic aurally what the illuminated sign provides visually. Now, the question is to what end. Strictly speaking, the music is non-diegetic; that is, Bob does not hear "Girls" playing. Therefore, the congruence of sound and image as described must necessarily be lost on him. But not on us viewers. Perhaps this is an early, subtle way that the film suggests depth or meaning--through synchronicity. We as viewers understand that the image and sound tracks at this moment have been carefully assembled to create a specific, desired effect; perhaps that effect is one that tells us "There is some logic, some warmth, something holding this whole place together. There's some little coincidence to smile about...if you can notice it." (It's this very type of quiet notice for small details that, I think, ends up uniting Bob and Charlotte; they both "get" and revel in what they grow to see as small jokes.) More synesthesia: the refocusing of the shots that open and close the first scene in which we see Charlotte attempting to sleep; Charlotte comes into focus as the cityscape through her window goes out of focus in perfect synchronization with the sound of John's snore.

OK, I've rambled.

User avatar
Pitman
Suntory Time
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:12 am
Location: Toronto

Re: CHAPTER 2: Welcome To Tokyo

#7 Post by Pitman » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:48 am

Cryogenic wrote:I'd like to know what's written on the box that Bob is given, and what it contains. Complimentary sake, perhaps? Or something more exotic?
I always thought it was obvious what was given to Bob from the people at Suntory. No less than a complimentary bottle of Suntory whisky.

User avatar
LostCalls
Lounge Singer
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:34 am

#8 Post by LostCalls » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:59 pm

I thought it may have been iced tea...

User avatar
Cryogenic
Mr. Kazu
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:08 pm

#9 Post by Cryogenic » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:08 pm

LOL @ LostCalls!

Thank you for the contributions, guys. This place is so quiet, but a few are still managing to whisper. :D
LostCalls wrote:OK, I've rambled.
In the words of Nat King Cole: ramble on, ramble on ... !

Some very provocative thoughts.

"Fear of depthlessness" is an interesting concept.

At this point in the story, I think I would describe Bob's state as surrender to fear of depthlessness. He seems to put up with his assignment and do things with a minimum of effort, just as he puts up with the fax machine and lets it print to its heart's content. Without a kindred, guiding spirit, there's no attempt to even break the mold. He is totally passive. By contrast, Charlotte is agitated to explore, perhaps because she is younger, perhaps because her circumstances (she's already there while Bob has just arrived) compel her to rise above the deepest levels of boredom and do something.

I suppose, as many a person has said before me, that conquering your fear means first facing it. Neither Bob nor Charlotte are ready to do this, but Bob is truly the worse for wear. The lines of regret are etched across his face; Charlotte still has youth on her side. But they're both coming up empty, as you have eloquently articulated. Thus, it becomes imperative that they find each other -- even though they don't know it, yet. If film is about contrasts, then LIT succeeds so resoundingly because Sofia Coppola exploits her contrasting elements and ideas to their fullest, especially between her protagonists. Young, old. Girl, man. Long marriage with children, marriage just starting out. Spouse present, spouse not present. A person on business, a person supporting their husband on business. And so on.
Image

User avatar
LostCalls
Lounge Singer
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:34 am

#10 Post by LostCalls » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:27 am

Cryogenic, we can even add another to that great list of contrasts you started:

Those who photograph (John explicitly--his photography work drawing him away from his wife--and Charlotte herself, at least previously--"you know...horses, dumb pictures of your feet") and those who are photographed (Bob, reluctantly, of course, by Suntory and maybe even also by the likes of "Sunset Odds"--even though I did hear he did his own driving...)

Based on a few responses I got to a post elsewhere on here about the role of photography in the film, I think this common thread of taking or being in photographs makes the Polaroid Bob takes of Charlotte ("Cheezo!") all the more touching and poignant of a souvenir.

And then of course the whole film is being photographed, and so we devolve into metatextual analysis!

But I think your point that the power of this film resides, at least in part, in its contrasting elements is a great one. I'm reminded of why I think finding a moment of peace in a big city--like New York, where I'm from, or maybe Tokyo, where I've just once visited--is somehow more rewarding and potentially special than finding a moment of peace in, say, the countryside somewhere. I'm not knocking the countryside; I'm just saying that there's something I find potent about the nature of contrast itself. It's the at first apparently out of context moments that can leave the strongest mark--at least for me...maybe in part because these moments later make me feel that there's some context for everything and that the rewarding task is to catch even the briefest glimpse of that context. That moment. Synesthesia...synchronicity...the shared inside joke that neither party could sensibly articulate to the other laugher but that both somehow intuitively find funny...a knowing smile.

A light tap on the foot.

Yikes! Sorry for steering this thread both out of the designated chapter and out of the realm of sanity.

User avatar
Cryogenic
Mr. Kazu
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:08 pm

#11 Post by Cryogenic » Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:47 pm

LostCalls wrote:Cryogenic, we can even add another to that great list of contrasts you started:

Those who photograph (John explicitly--his photography work drawing him away from his wife--and Charlotte herself, at least previously--"you know...horses, dumb pictures of your feet") and those who are photographed (Bob, reluctantly, of course, by Suntory and maybe even also by the likes of "Sunset Odds"--even though I did hear he did his own driving...)

Based on a few responses I got to a post elsewhere on here about the role of photography in the film, I think this common thread of taking or being in photographs makes the Polaroid Bob takes of Charlotte ("Cheezo!") all the more touching and poignant of a souvenir.

And then of course the whole film is being photographed, and so we devolve into metatextual analysis!
AHA!

Yes.

I have also noticed this very prevalent "photography" motif.

Consider Bob's words to Charlotte at the bar: "I'm sure you'll figure out the angles".

Also, the last shot of the film (post-credits) is of Hiromi Toshikawa AKA "Hiromix" (Google her) waving to the camera. She can also be seen in the apartment scenes (she's the girl next to Charlotte during Bob's "Cheezo!" and the girl that he dances with).

Her inclusion is significant because she's an award-winning photographer in Japan, and her work features candid, girlie pictures of herself, her friends and her surroundings -- not at all unlike Sofia Coppola's movies, right?

LIT has a sweet surface and yet there's even more under the hood. That's a big reason I started this project and hope to see it bear fruit.
LostCalls wrote:But I think your point that the power of this film resides, at least in part, in its contrasting elements is a great one. I'm reminded of why I think finding a moment of peace in a big city--like New York, where I'm from, or maybe Tokyo, where I've just once visited--is somehow more rewarding and potentially special than finding a moment of peace in, say, the countryside somewhere. I'm not knocking the countryside; I'm just saying that there's something I find potent about the nature of contrast itself. It's the at first apparently out of context moments that can leave the strongest mark--at least for me...maybe in part because these moments later make me feel that there's some context for everything and that the rewarding task is to catch even the briefest glimpse of that context. That moment. Synesthesia...synchronicity...the shared inside joke that neither party could sensibly articulate to the other laugher but that both somehow intuitively find funny...a knowing smile.

A light tap on the foot.
Yes, very true -- and very poetic, too!

In fact, that might also be the true genius behind seemingly out-of-context moments like Matthew Minami or the Pachinko parlour. Sofia creates tone poems within tone poems, I think. Maybe I should reserve these ideas for the relevant chapters (and, hopefully, they will materialise!), but the pachinko parlour creates a sense of noise and excitement that's probably coursing through Bob and Charlotte's veins for the first time (especially after they've just hit the town and been shot at), while Matthew's bright colours somewhat reflect Bob's broadening mind; a mind that's still trying to make sense of it all, just as Bob is overwhelmed by Minami's antics but lets himself be swept up in them anyway. It could be said that these moments are not just about connection with other people, but connection with one's own feelings.
LostCalls wrote:Yikes! Sorry for steering this thread both out of the designated chapter and out of the realm of sanity.
Really? And here was me thinking that the Chapter-By-Chapter threads were created for mundane, predictable discussion! Steer away! :D
Image

silentguest
Evelyn Waugh
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:23 pm
Location: California

#12 Post by silentguest » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:18 pm

A man wakes up. Was he dreaming about the woman in the opening shot? Or is she dreaming about him? Later on Catherine Lambert offers a clue: "You stepped out of a dream..."
But who stepped out of whose dream?

Opium or acid? The beginning of "Girls" reminds me of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" plus all the bright lights and the billboard hallucination. But those ethereal floating vocals imply that it might be the former. Does Bob enter some altered state of consciousness in order to visit this place?

The doorman guides the limo into the front entrance, but his hand waving seems to go on for longer than it should. Then it occurs that many of the people Bob and Charlotte contend with often communicate with very expressive hand gestures. Suggesting mimes or Kabuki performers.

Sofia employs the music and songs to express the characters' thoughts and feelings, and to comment on or even foreshadow the action.
Catherine Lambert sings:
"I'm in your arms and you are kissing me,
But there seems to be something missing..."
Cut to Bob who looks like he is cradling himself in his hands while "kissing" the scotch and cigar. A little bit later Charlotte is in John's arms but there seems to be something missing between them.

A man finds himself in a strange world searching for something or someone, it's an old story.....specifically I'm thinking of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. LIT might be a modern version of that myth:

Orpheus is considered the greatest musician.
Bob is an "awesome" movie star.

His new bride Eurydice is pursued by one of Apollo's sons, in her attempt to escape she steps on a snake, is bitten on the foot and dies.
Charlotte possibly contemplating an escape from John bangs her foot on something.....a slithering camera case???

Inconsolable, Orpheus descends into the underworld.
Burned out/depressed, Bob lands in Tokyo.

Hades, lord of the underworld, and the other denizens are profoundly moved by Orpheus' singing and permit Eurydice to return to the world of the living.
Charlie, lord of the nightlife, and the fashion people are moved by Bob's karaoking and "permit" Charlotte to leave with him.

Hades places one condition on Orpheus: he cannot turn around and look at Eurydice until the have reached the upper world. They nearly reach the light, but Orpheus can't resist, he glances behind and his love is quickly taken away back into the darkness....leaving him with a whispered "farewell". He returns to the land of the living by himself.

During the final goodbye scene Bob turns around to look at Charlotte and she disappears into the crowed, leaving him with a whispered "bye". As he is driven away the atmosphere becomes ever more gloomy until Tokyo fades into darkness.


YES....OF COURSE....IT ALL MAKES PERFECT SENSE NOW....SOMEONE NEEDS TO WRITE A LIT OPERA!


ormaybei'mexperiencingaLITfeverdream

User avatar
Cryogenic
Mr. Kazu
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:08 pm

#13 Post by Cryogenic » Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:55 pm

Very philosophical, silentguest! I first came across that mythological tale a few years ago, during an especially long analysis of "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones" (all the prequels are very underrated, by the way). Anyway, I think I'll add a philosophical nugget of my own. Well, not literally my own:
Emile Vuillermoz (1917) wrote:The thousands of tiny frames in a moving filmstrip act like the cells of the human brain: the same overwhelming rapidity of perception, the same multiplicity of many-faceted mirrors which effortlessly juxtapose the farthest horizons, suppress distances, abolish the bondage of time and space, embrace all the cardinal points [of the compass] simultaneously, and transport us in a fraction of a second from one extreme point of the universe to another!
Image

User avatar
Pitman
Suntory Time
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:12 am
Location: Toronto

Billboard

#14 Post by Pitman » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:04 pm

I love reading this Chapter by Chapter. As you can see, I'm behind in my reading here. I want to comment on this part in the film:
In this passage, an odd moment occurs when Bob sees a billboard of himself, even though he hasn't been photographed yet. Immediately after, the reaction shot is of Bob rubbing his eyes, as if he feels he couldn't have really seen what he just saw. Did Bob imagine what he just saw? Is he constantly returning to Tokyo in a sort of cyclical reality a la Bill Murray's earlier work "Groundhog Day"? Has he already done some photography for Suntory? It's rather odd.

This sequence has always challenged me with: what was the director thinking here?

My observation is that no, Bob has never advertised for Suntory in the past. What brings me to this conclusion is that when he is greeted at the hotel, the whole Suntory contingent introduce themselves for the first time. I think it's highly unlikely that all of them would have been new employees at Suntory since the last time Bob came to advertise for them. Also, the look in Bob's eyes when he sees the lights of Tokyo on his way to the hotel also suggests to me that this is his first visit to this wonderous city.

So then, if this is his first visit the only other explanation is that Bob is imagining the billboard. I can't think of any other reason for this. The billboard also appears later in the movie when Bob and Charlotte are on their way back from Orange. In this case, it's real because they both see it.

So was Sofia subtly saying something about Bob's character in relation to Tokyo about him seeing something that wasn't there? Was he already filled with a sense of anxious anticipation over this advertising job when he could have been doing a play somewhere else? He's clearly not comfortable in Tokyo. His first shot in the room sitting on the bed is very telling of this. His whole experience with the Suntory job was stressful and uncomfortable. So maybe he was imagining/hoping that the job was already done? It could have been he was in that half-asleep mode where the mind plays tricks on you.

User avatar
LostCalls
Lounge Singer
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:34 am

#15 Post by LostCalls » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:10 pm

Hmm. While I think the dream interpretation theory is interesting, couldn't it also be possible that Bob did some publicity shots for the sake of Suntory back in the States and had those images sent over for use in Tokyo in advance of his arrival there? That's what I'd always assumed is going on. The video shoots are continuations of the same gig Bob has with Suntory. This would further emphasize the prolonged (and frustrating) nature of his relationship with Suntory. Surely by now he should have been doing a play somewhere...

User avatar
Pitman
Suntory Time
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:12 am
Location: Toronto

#16 Post by Pitman » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:59 am

Seems unlikely he would do a photo shoot in the US for Suntory. And even if so, why would he then have to fly to Japan to do yet another photo shoot? I don't believe there are any Suntory offices in the states. It's doubtful they would send over a whole camera crew from Suntory to the US just to take some pics. It would be easier and less expensive to just fly Bob over to Japan for the promotion. Interesting idea though.

Post Reply