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Tag Archives: Sofia Coppola

Scene of Awesome: “Do I need to worry about you, Bob?”

One of my favorite observations from the late great Roger Ebert appears in his review of Lost in Translation. In it, he wrote: “you can only say ‘I feel like I’ve known you for years’ to someone you have not known for years.” It’s the irony of how sometimes you’re able to have deeper conversations with people you’ve only just met than with those you’ve known all your life. With no mutual baggage, discussion is free to soar between you. This is of course an important part of Sofia Coppola‘s masterpiece, in which Bill Murray‘s Bob and Scarlett Johansson‘s Charlotte encounter one another in a hotel bar in Tokyo and together discover how lost they are in their lives. The two connect is a wonderful way, but they know it’s a temporary thing. Perhaps that knowledge is what allows the connection to happen at all.

The other side of the coin is that we can feel distant to the people we have known well for a long time. This too is part of the film for both main characters. With Charlotte, it can be seen in how little time she and her husband (Giovanni Ribisi) get to spend with one another, but it’s also shown in an early scene where she phones home to a friend and talks about how visiting a shrine didn’t make her feel anything. The conversation reaches an abrupt end. She has a need for deeper discussion, but it feels awkward.

Skärmavbild 2013-07-03 kl. 09.53.36

Similar ground is explored with Bob later on in the film, and it’s one of my favorite scenes of Lost in Translation. Bob is in a bath, getting a phonecall from the woman he has been married to for the past 25 years. Bob is going through a midlife crisis; he has probably been aware of this himself for a while – he seems prone to introspection – but spending time with Charlotte has made it more tangible to him. He wants to change things in his life. He tries to communicate this to his wife, and you can really feel how he’s struggling to get the right word out. But he can’t do it. All he can muster up is how he wants to eat healthier food, to which he gets a snippy response about how maybe he should just stay in Tokyo if things are so great there. Then he asks how their kids are doing, to which he gets the reply that they miss their dad but are getting used to him not being around. Ouch.

And then this wonderful exchange happens.

“Do I need to worry about you, Bob?”

“Only if you want to.”

Nothing dramatic. No anger. No tears. Just calm resignation. This is Bob’s life.

 
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Posted by on 3 July, 2013 in Scene of Awesome

 

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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 1999

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the 10 films on this list is the abundance of directing newcomers on it. 7 of the movies were made by people who made their feature film directorial debuts, and while not all of these film-makers would go on to lasting greatness, it still makes for an impressive class of 1999. The other three films are made by two well-established masters and one quickly rising star. There’s also, as usual, a lot of comedy on here. This shouldn’t surprise you with my lists any more.

So far in this series of blog posts, I have chosen to largely abstain from making honorable mentions. This has largely been due to a stubborn adherence to principles; if one sets out to make a list of 10 films, one should not name 20 films. I have now realized that this is counter-productive to the aim of these lists, which is to give people an idea of what movies I like.

With that in mind, here are some 1999 films I really like that didn’t quite make my list. Honorable mentions, if you will. In alphabetical order:

Arlington Road, Beyond the Mat, Bringing Out the Dead, Girl Interrupted, The Green Mile, In China They Eat Dogs, Magnolia, Office Space, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Toy Story 2

Now on to the list proper. As usual, I’m going by IMDB’s year of release.

10 – EYES WIDE SHUT (Stanley Kubrick)

“No dream is ever just a dream.”

Equal parts nightmare sightseeing tour through New York City and meditation on infidelity, Stanley Kubrick finished off his career in great fashion with Eyes Wide Shut. Impeccably designed and shot – as is to be expected from Kubrick – and with one of Tom Cruise‘s best performances in the lead, this film is also helped by having a strong story, one that might seem simple and straight-forward on paper but that reveals more layers with each watch.

9 – THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez)

“I’m afraid to close my eyes, I’m afraid to open them.”

While this movie didn’t invent the found footage genre of film (Cannibal Holocaust from 1980 seems to be the agreed-upon originator), The Blair Witch Project popularised it, paving the way for films like REC, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and many others. When I first watched it at home alone one night as a teen, it had me rattled to the core. Even today, it remains a highly effective horror film by making us fear what we can’t see, rather than throwing a monster right in our faces. A picture might say more than a thousand words, but in horror, so does a sound that shouldn’t be there.

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Posted by on 5 March, 2012 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2003

Would it be unfair of me to say that 2003 sucked movie-wise? Yes, of course it would. Not even going into how I’ve only seen a small percentage of all films released all over the world during the year, just looking at what I have seen tells me that there were plenty of good movies out there and no disproportionately large number of stinkers. I’m sure the average 2003 movie I’ve seen isn’t much worse than the average of most other years.

But this list is still… weak? No, not weak. These are all very good films. That might be the problem, though. Most of these are indeed very good. It’s just that there are few truly great ones on here. Movies I love. Compared to most other years from the decade, 2003 was a bit lacking at the upper section. Some of these films would have a hard time finding spots on previous top 10 lists I’ve made.

It’s all good, though. I’ll gladly take more years like 2003 as long as I get one film as good as what’s at #1 here.

As usual, to avoid international confusion, I go by years listed on IMDB to determine what is and isn’t “a 2003 movie”.

10 – AMERICAN SPLENDOR (Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini)

“Why does everything in my life have to be such a complicated disaster?”

Two things are key if you want to make a good biopic. 1: Find an interesting character to make a film about. 2: Find the right actor for said character. American Splendor accomplishes these two steps with gusto. Paul Giamatti plays Harvey Pekar, notorious underground comic book writer. A complicated character with plenty of odd quirks and a vitriolic personality, Giamatti nevertheless finds the human being within and offers a nuanced and believable performance. A lot of the film’s success is due to the actor. Without him, the movie might have been just as interesting, but probably not as good.

9 – MATCHSTICK MEN (Ridley Scott)

“She said you were a bad guy. You don’t seem like a bad guy.”

Of course Roy (Nicolas Cage) doesn’t seem like a bad guy. He’s a conman. It’s his job to appear trustworthy. And he’s doing good for himself, despite having to combat his OCD and other mental hang-ups. But then his daughter (Alison Lohman) whom he has never met before enters his life, and things get complicated. Matchstick Men tells an entertaining story with twists and turns a-plenty and features one of Cage’s better performances of the decade. Also: Pygmies!

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Posted by on 20 December, 2011 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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