music, opinion and technology

lost in translation, again

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Typical: a day after taking the order, the camera supplier emails me to say that the lens is out of stock, 2-3 weeks before they get more in. I can live with that, as long as they get the body to me next week, so I can use my current lenses.

If they can’t do that, or if they want to charge me extra for splitting the order, they can forget it – their “shipping charges” are already higher than the real cost will be, even for two deliveries. A quiet evening with nothing to do for a couple of hours, so I took another look at Lost In Translation.

I can’t help thinking that Japan is just a character in the movie, and not a very good one at that: the typical Western fascination with the differences, such as karaoke and attitudes towards sex. Look past that, and the story is a universal one, where the language barriers are the ones you carry around inside you, and it’s often easier to talk to a complete stranger than anyone else. The “climatic” scene, if you can call it that, has Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson lying on a bed, fully clothed, just talking. Their only physical contact between them is when she rests her injured foot against him, looking for … relief?

Such subtleties are what makes this a remarkable film, and listening through headphones immerses you in the claustrophobic environment of a hotel, where the silence is not silent. The noise from the air ducts, and the streets, many floors below, is pervasive and will not let you sleep through the jet lag. As before, it’s not hard to see the relevance to my own life and work, where I am surrounded by the buzz of computer fans, and things that just don’t work as they ought to. In this virtual, air-conditioned, mediated world, you hope that the people, at least, are real.


Written by brian t

January 6, 2005 at 10:00 pm

Posted in japan, life, movies

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