Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Translating the Soundtrack

Sifting through our shelves of movies last night, everything (as always) seemed like it had already been watched 12 times in the last month. Just when I was going to suggest we play rock-paper-scissors for the duration of the night, an old goody was suggested that my friend had never seen. A great idea, as I couldn't remember the last time I had thrown on Sofia Coppola's critically-acclaimed Lost in Translation (2003).

I've seen the movie dozens of times (I even, for some reason, had a poster in my room at one point), so I wasn't necessarily fascinated by the plot line to the point of needing to contemplate every detail. I finished contemplating this movie about four years ago when I first fell in love with it - deciding that it was a wise storyline consisting of so much nothing that it ends up meaning a lot of something. The concept of the film, which is set in Japan and stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, lies exactly in the title of it. It's about being lost, at any age, and searching for some type of meaning - only to find bits and pieces of it in a truly unexpected place. Anyway, in not needing to pay attention to the entire dialogue, I found myself remembering how breathtaking and practically flawless the soundtrack is.

Assembled by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine (who contribute their song "Sometimes" to a scene where Murray and Johansson cab through Tokyo at night - a perfect script/music match), the soundtrack is so eclectic and different in it's composition. Featuring everything from Phoenix (my first ever listening experience with one of my now-favourite groups) to Sebastien Tellier to Air, each song is a painting of a person looking for their place. The instrumental pieces range from dark and haunting ("Fantino" by Tellier) to airy and transcending ("Ikebana" by Shields). Even the characters' on-screen musical moments are thought-provoking, like Murray's karaoke-singing of Roxy Music's "More Than This" ("You know there's nothing more than this") - a hefty spoonfeeding of thematic indication from Coppola and Shields, if I do say so myself.

But possibly the best moment - causing this to easily be (actually) one of my favourite songs of all-time - is the ending. Untwist your panties, I'm not going to spoil it. It's as simple as the romantic opening beat and chords of "Just Like Honey" by the Jesus and Mary Chain kicking in during the final exchange between Murray and Johansson. A truly memorable moment in film, and as often is the case, I think we can safely say it has to do with what captures our attention from the background.

Watch it! You'll either love it forever or decide you don't know what happened to two hours of your life (I've heard both verdicts but side with the former, obviously).

The old poster!

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