From Filmsnobs 10/03
Then, there's Tokyo. Several have complained that Lost in Translation takes stereotypes of the Japanese culture and plays them for laughs. This, dear reader, is a tad bit narrow. And when I say tad bit, I really mean a lot. Tokyo is meant to be seen as an impression of these two character's world view. In a state between where things do not make sense and when they become understood, the same image can mean different things.
Cold Bacon 11/03
Yes, your Coppology (apology + Sofia Coppola) is probably right, since that's probably what she was trying to do. But the problem is the film doesn't really do that. It doesn't give us enough reason to see the real Tokyo beyond or through what the two protagonists are seeing, other than obvious visual beauty. Those of use who like Graham Norton will see the good in the Johnny Carson of Japan character, but most audiences watching the film will simply be annoyed and think the guy is a moron, as did Bill Murray. Admittedly, Coppola tries to show the other side of it when she glorifies that one kid playing that weird dancing arcade game. But this is not integrated. It's almost after-the-fact and too obvious. It needs to be integrated throughout the whole film rather than dropped in like red cross rescue packets. Also, the film is too plainly sympathetic to its main characters, and this doesn't compute according to your theory. If indeed only the characters, but not necessarily those of use watching the film, are to be so thoroughly amused and confused by Japan, then the film cannot remain so squarely in the corner of Bob and Charlotte. Perhaps the film does finally begin to question Charlotte's infallibility toward the end, but never does it question Bob (except perhaps once with the lounge singer). And in never questioning Bob, we are never questioning his red, white and blue reaction to the hotel windows, the hotel shower, the Ad director, the strip club, the reception line, the prostitute and the Johnny Carson of Japan among other things. In fact, according to your analysis, Charlotte is the only character in the film who deserves our sympathy, simply for being clueless, whereas Bob should know better. And when does anything, and when i say anything, i really mean anything become understood? Coppola may indeed be deeper than I at first gave her credit for, and she may understand what she needs to do. But she hasn't done it yet, although marrying Spike Jonze was definitely a good first step.
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