interesting. im not going to bother disagreeing, because its fairly obvious your friend had made up his opinion before actually seeing the movie. my suggestion would be to go to japan for about a couple weeks, NOT do any of the tours, or anything where they pamper you with english, and see how he likes it. then watch lost in translation, and he'll discover that its about isolation. hence the word "lost." your friend is so caught up in his cynicism and self-righteousness that he completely missed the point. what he knows about japan is what he's seen in other movies, i guess he's seen spirited away and thinks thats representative. they're completely different. miyazaki's anime (SA) is a hopeful tale designed for children, to take them on an adventure and teach them something about themselves at the same time. LiT is a completely different animal. when you go to japan (and you're white), you are, in a word, isolated. from everyone around you, from the the food, even from the damn toilet! what they were trying to do was find something they could identify with, which in the end was each other. Not Cameron Diaz was not representative of Hollywood (well not really), but of americans in general. after living in japan for 6 months, and then coming back, i found that most americans were loud, obnoxious, and full of themselves. not everyone, but quite a few. i try to avoid american tourists in japan, because they piss the hell out of me.
your friend should forget about Sofia Coppola and whether she's good or bad or just a poser. he spent so much time trying to compare LiT to other films that he couldnt see what was right in front of him.
*shrug* then again, im hardly a qualified film critic. i just know what i like, and i really identified with the story. and nothing about it was over the top, or overdone, as your friend suggests. things like that are NORMAL in japan. have you ever watched extreme ultimate challange on spike? probably not. its a japanese TV show out of the 80s that puts regular people through this insane obstacle course, where they get the crap beaten out of them doing stupid little events, and they love it. _____ said she watched it when she was a kid, and never thought twice about it. but when americans see it, we all think "what the f....." because its SOOOO FRIGGIN weird. but to them its normal.
tell your friend to go to japan. sit around tokyo for a week or so, go to shinujuku, shibuya, and roppongi (at night), and then have him head over to kyoto. its like night and day. or even yokohama, which is kinda similar to san diego vs new york. let him see, first hand, what its like to be a stranger in a strange land, and we'll see if he can identify with the characters in LiT.
alright i seem to be repeating myself. i gotta call a bunch of places, take a shower, and then head over with _____ to pick up her friend from the airport.... wheee.... no english for a week.
happy new year! (almost)