The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 26, 2004

Some movie reviews

I have been going to cinemas a lot lately, and as no other exciting stuff is happening in my life (still no sign of a Taurus woman), I thought I'd write a couple of brief reviews.

Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation was one of the winners at the Golden Globe ceremony yesterday, and quite rightly so. It's a very tender movie, an excellent portrait of two displaced characters (displaced both geographically and emotionally) who seem to be looking for their place in life. This is perhaps Bill Murray's best role to date, which allows him to combine an intense depth of character with Robert Mitchum-ish ironic detachment. As for Scarlett Johansson, I don't know if she's had plastic surgery yet, but I certainly hope she never gets any. It's her minor imperfections that make her so perfect, and it's totally stunning how totally this 18 year-old girl gets into the skin of her character. This movie will be one of this year's high points.

Also enjoyable, if on a totally different level, was Calendar Girls, the story of a couple of middle-aged women who pose for a nude calendar for charity. It's a good picture that lacks the brouhaha of The Full Monty, but towards the end it goes totally awry when the screenplay enforces a conflict between two characters that may be kind of credible, only the way it's acted out between them is totally out of character and doesn't really make sense. Still, it was a good movie with likeable characters, and Helen Mirren is a prime example of a good actress aging with grace.

Clint Eastwood's Mystic river was also a pretty good movie with profound acting from Sean Penn and Tim Robbins that concentrated a lot on the inner conflict of the two characters. However, I'm not sure if I get the last five minutes; what makes the Laura Linney character suddenly turn into Lady Macbeth? If anything, it's ultimately a statement about the immorality of the world and the lack of any justice, but somehow this is at odds with the rest of the movie. I'm somewhat confused about this.

Ram Gopal Varma's Company is one of the most dense, compelling gangster movies I have ever seen. It's also one of the best Bollywood movies I've seen so far. In fact, Ajay Devgan's gangster boss is on par with any gangster boss that Robert de Niro has ever played — and he's a lot cooler in what must be his best performance that I've seen so far. This film is just one further example that Indian films are unjustly underrated.

I've also seen what must be one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen (only slightly short of Harold and Maude actually), but as it's not romantic in the conventional sense (well, neither is Harold and Maude), I won't mention the title, or you'll think I'm seriously twisted, which might easily happen because I've mentioned the words "bizarre fantasies" on this weblog far too often lately. Not that this movie was all that bizarre, mind you.

Posted by Horst on January 26, 2004 05:18 PM to reviews | Tell-a-friend

dieter said on January 27, 2004 12:20 PM:

It seems that we still have quite the same taste in movies (well, let's leave Bollywood apart ;-). I simply adored Lost in Translation, although I chose the wrong time to watch it, since I was in quite a similar situation of displacement, and the film enforced my uneasiness. I do not really like Bill Murray, but in this film he was simply great. As to Scarlett Johansson, she was indeed great, and I didn't think she was *that* young. I got the impression that either Sofia Coppola or the camera was in love with her, and I also agree with Horst on his position on plastic surgery. I wanted to see the other films (lest the Indian one, and I don't know about the romantic movie) but unfortunately I did not manage.

Bonnie said on January 27, 2004 01:56 PM:

oh, I loved Lost in Translation... it's such a beautiful film.

Megan said on January 27, 2004 04:31 PM:

Have you seen "The Station Agent?" It's my favorite recent movie.

laura said on January 28, 2004 06:29 AM:

Warning: This comment reveals key plot points of "Lost in Translation".

While "Lost in Translation" is an excellent movie, I had a problem with the unresolved sexual tension. Are we supposed to believe that these characters, obviously attracted to one another, thrown together day and night, sophisticated world travelers no less, are not going to take advantage of their situation? Watching them wearing robes and making dumb small talk in their hotel room was torturous. A party girl like Scarlett's, closing down every nightclub in town with local male pals, isn't exactly holding out for a "Leave it to Beaver" housewife role. Aside from the prudery, I enjoyed the film very much, particularly the cultural insights into Japanese urban life.

Scarlett did a great job in "Girl With a Pearl Earring," too. Two other movies I really enjoyed lately are "In America," and "House of Sand and Fog," with "In America" coming out on top, in my book.

Horst said on January 28, 2004 10:06 AM:

Oh, it seemed perfectly credible to me that they wouldn't have sex. The two of them just seemed to be too lost in their own preoccupations, and it was obvious that the Bill Murray character was much too decent to take advantage of her. And I don't think Charlotte was much of a party girl either. Party girls don't wear beige sweaters.

deb said on January 29, 2004 12:17 AM:

Enjoyed your movie reviews, Horst. They're all on my list of must-sees!

Annie Mole said on January 29, 2004 03:16 AM:

Agree on Lost In Translation - a truly wonderful film and made so much better because they didn't have sex. It sort of restored your faith in human nature.

Murray and Johansonn were fantastic, so was the guy who normally plays Phoebe's brother in Friends. But we shouldn't forget the Japanese actors too. I loved the Japanese Graham Norton character and the advert director and the Japanese call girl.

Excellent film.

laura said on January 29, 2004 04:59 AM:

To Horst:

Two items in the Jan. 30 issue of Entertainment Weekly might interest you:

"Bride and Prejudice" notes that Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha "is set to turn the world on to the song-and-dance-a-thons of India's Bollywood--by way of Jane Austen." They're redoing the classic P & P as a musical with actress Aishwarya Rai as Lizzie. British-born Naveen Andrews will play Mr. Bingley.


"How did an exotic rags-to-riches story spanning the slums of Bombay and the bright lights of Bollywood make its way to Broadway? Three words: Andrew Lloyd Webber. He and director Shekhar Kapur were seduced by a hip-shaking song called "Chaiyya Chaiyya," the work of South Asian composer A.R. Rahman. Rahman scored the play, merging South Asian sounds and DJ-style Indian bhangra beats. "Bombay" is still running in London's West End. It's being retooled by Broadway book writer du jour Thomas Meehan.

Horst said on January 29, 2004 11:33 AM:

Yep, I knew about the A.L. Webber/A.R. Rahman Bollywood musical, but haven't seen it yet (my usual London trip in early January was delayed this year).

Rahman's "Chaiyya Chaiyya" (from the movie "Dil se") is totally sublime. It's even better in the movie, where they are dancing to it on a moving train. I'll post a link to listen to it here later today, so watch this space.

dieter said on January 29, 2004 02:24 PM:

Back to "Lost in Translation" again.

I still think that having sex would have come rather naturally to the two figures. My suspicion is rather that it was avoided because it would have damaged the atmosphere of the movie, mostly by stripping this special relationship of it's innocence. So, the night with the bar singer can very well be interpreted as an Ersatzhandlung.

Horst said on January 29, 2004 08:08 PM:

Chaiyya Chaiyya is now here for a very short time.

laura said on January 30, 2004 06:06 AM:

Really enjoyed "Chaiyya". Thanks for posting the link. Effect was enhanced by sipping Sublime orange liqueur (product of France).

laura said on February 1, 2004 08:20 PM:

Having just seen Master and Commander, I must conclude that Russell Crowe must have really pissed off the academy members not to have received a best actor nomination. He was completely credible as a 19th century sea captain, had an impeccable British accent, exuded leadership qualities, and actually learned to play the violin. Bill Murray, meanwhile, stretched himself by not doing comedy. The role of tired cynic doesn't seem too far removed from real life.

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