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Discuss the fabulous movie Lost In Translation!

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#41 Post by Cryogenic » Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:02 pm

I know this is a super old thread, but I found something juicy I wish to comment on:
jml2 wrote:Sofia Coppola conceived and wrote the whole thing with Bill and Scarlett and Tokyo in mind. The pre-conceived scenes, visuals, dynamics, atmosphere, colours, sounds, etc, will have been built on and around them, playing on their specific strengths in many subtle ways. There is a base level where Bill and Scarlett are there, and not as performances. Sofia has said she would not do the movie if Bill were not available. This does not take away from the director at least, in this case, but makes her role the most important, because the whole thing was from her mind, using the actors and locations like a painter using paints.
I completely agree. And I think the "painter" remark is an exceptional analogy.
Beery wrote:Sorry, but my whole personality reneges against the idea that things cannot be improved upon, or that what exists is by definition the best it can be. If Sofia was gonna dump this movie if Bill wasn't available I fear she would have been making a big mistake, because I'm sure she could have found someone somewhere who was able to do Bill's job effectively. Steve Martin could probably have pulled it off. Then there's Harrison Ford (who I'd think might be made for a role like this, since the one issue I had with the movie was in believing that Bill Murray could have been an action movie star). Michael Keaton is another who I could see in this role.
Of course, "things" can always be "improved" -- but art is art and art is its own thing. The normal patterns of thinking do not apply. As Rutger Hauer said: "Film is about small details". And I think it's in the small details that Bill Murray really sells Sofia's faith in him. Consider the early shot of a fatigued and slightly pissed-off Bob riding the Hyatt elevator amongst the shorter Japanese businessmen. It's not merely funny for the height difference, but because of Bill Murray's drawn face; that's BILL MURRAY's face. His complexion, combined with his expression, sell it in a way that no other person could. A similar occurence is a little further into the film when Bob is watching a chimp on his hotel room TV and he looks incredibly dour; again, the glibness is uniquely in the subtle Bill Murrayness of it. Then there's the cool-as-a-cucumber-yet-slightly-mischievious glance enshrined on this forum as Bob sits with Charlotte outside the karaoke apartment. There's a sublime nonchalance that Bill Murray alone possesses. I can't explain it in much greater detail than that; it's one of many things "Lost In Translation", which rather explains why SC wanted Bill and nobody else. Steve Martin and Michael Keaton could have done very credible jobs, but credibility is different to perfection. I believe SC sought and attained the latter.

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#42 Post by Beery » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:16 pm

My knee-jerk reaction when I just read that quote of mine (for the first time in 3 years) was to agree with you and say that that Ian Cooper guy is crazy. Having written that response so long ago I felt somewhat removed from it. But when I thought about it a bit more, what that Ian Cooper guy said makes a lot of sense. These are, after all, top quality actors we're talking about, and there are actors who have pulled off masterful performances. Sure, Bill plays it wonderfully, but had it been another top drawer actor I'm quite sure we'd be saying the same things about his performance - and that no other actor could fill his shoes. Yes, Bill Murray is unique and he brings things to the role that are his alone, but another actor would have brought his stuff to the role also, making the role uniquely his. This idea that there's only one actor possible for a role strikes me as a little insulting to the actor's profession - after all, making a character both believable and charismatic is the whole point of the profession - if an actor can't do it, he's in the wrong business. Sure, there are many actors who ARE in the wrong business, but there are a few at the top who ARE good at their job.

In short, yes, Bill pulled off a difficult role - walking a razor's edge (a little Bill Murray in-joke there) with his characterization. But all I'm saying is that other actors have caught lightning in a bottle too. Who's to say that an actor of the calibre of a Pacino or a DeNiro - or a comedian/actor of the calibre of Steve Martin could not have pulled it off too.
You want more mysterious? I'll just try and think, "Where the hell's the whiskey?"

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