December 10th, 2003

Stab Time

An open letter to whoever is responsible for Lost In Translation

First of all let me stipulate for the record that I understand how bitter you must have been that Football in the Groin had not only already been made, but as a cartoon instead of a faux heartfelt emo-y straight-to-Sundance piece. Like that infomercial about patents reveals, if you don't patent your idea right away someone else will make it first. I imagine when There's Something About Mary was released you were kicking yourself over just that fact, so I won't rub salt in the wound. Instead, I'll get to my points.

Prank falls. They're dumb in sitcoms, they're dumb in Weekend at Bernie's, and they're dumb in faux heartfelt emo-y straight-to-Sundance pieces. Sure, people in the theatre were laughing when time and again an entire scene revolved around someone falling down. Sure, these people bought coffee and scones in the lobby instead of popcorn and nachos. It's still fucking dumb.

Culture shock. At times, done well. Bill Murray's interactions with the natives, sure. Mostly. And I did like that driving-around-between-parties scene, although that might have been the My Bloody Valentine talking. At other times, not so bad. A lot of blandly done "these people are not at home" filler. (Not to be confused remotely with character development.) Then, there were times where I couldn't help but imagine Homer was sitting in the director's chair saying, "It's funny! Their clothes are different from my clothes! *Tee-hee-hee* Look at what they're wearing! *Tee-hee-hee*" Times when the previously mentioned time sinks turned instead into an ugly variant, something more like "these people are not at home, GET IT? GET IT?!?! They are TOTALLY not home!!" filler.

I did just say character development, didn't I? Incredibly forced, inane dialogued phonecalls are not character development. Mentioning a soul searching cd in passing is not character development. Dead scenes sitting there, ticking away, waiting to pass into the next flat nothing are not character development. With little exception, it wasn't even loneliness development, because it happens all through the movie; even when people are supposed to be out on the town enjoying themselves and coming together, it just drags on into a void. Using a cheesy, awkwardly sung, off-tune karaoke number as a method to mock the stupidity of one character is signifigantly less effective when you've already tried to use a cheesy, awkwardly sung, off-tune karaoke number to endear another character to the audience/other chars. Murray's char's loneliness came across fine. Murray came across fine. Johansson's char's loneliness was presented as petty whining. When the "Oh nos he slept with another woman!!~" scene happened, so little chemistry has happened between chars that it's almost surprising chicka got upset at all. (It would have been entirely surprising, if it wasn't so formula-ploty predictable.) It only serves to further the image presented of this char as a needy, trivial complainer. With all the lagging nothingness, I'd have thought there'd be plenty of room to fit character development and meaning into the series of senseless actions that seem to happen only because for as long as there have been movies, there have been plots that involve chars doing these things, so why not these characters, why not in this movie? It doesn't come together, they don't come together, there is nothing to care or think or wonder about.

Back to My Bloody Valentine. As I started to say above, I did perk up a bit when the MBV kicked in... but by the time the Jesus and Mary Chain rolled around, I was sick. I was angry. You cannot steal good music and stick it in your shitty movie and hope it'll make it good. You cannot use good music as a replacement for a decent script or engaging characters. You cannot use good music as a replacement for thought.

Maybe I should have written this yesterday, when my bile was fresh. Goodness knows on the way out of the parking lot, I could barely stutter my complaints out, so many were rushing into my mouth. Today I had to sit here and recollect just to hack this out. Maybe you should have stuck with "Music is tight. Family is tighter."
  • Current Music
    Placebo - Pure Morning (Kevin Sheilds remix)