“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”*
I was just reading about Peter Jackson winning the Directors Guild of America award for LOTR: The Return of the King. Now there are about twenty directors in Hollywood who could have directed the three movies as well, if not better, than Peter Jackson, particularly when you consider how much of the film was CGI. While I enjoyed all three movies in varying degrees, and I can appreciate the time that Jackson put into the project (to say nothing of the pressure of living up to the expectations of the Tolkein Cult) I never came away from any of the installments thinking I had seen something well put together. In fact, walking out of The Return of the King, I thought Jackson should have been smacked upside the head for the interminable scene of Gollum (the Jar Jar Binks of LOTR) being swallowed up by the lava at Mount Whateverthehellitwas. So I guess I can’t agree with the Guild on this one which isn’t too surprising since they tend to go for epics over the personal almost every year (although you have to give them credit for passing on Mel Gibson for the crapulent Braveheart).
Having said all that, I can’t think of too many directors who could have made a film as perfect as Lost In Translation. Like her earlier The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola demonstrates the gift of tone and pace. She can say more in a minute of silence than most directors can with twenty minutes of dialogue. Great performances. Static shots that could be art posters. A soundtrack that adds to the story instead of marketing itself (including new songs from Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Just Like Honey). And a brilliant piece at the end as Bill Murray leaves for the airport that would have turned maudlin in the hands of so many others.
Watching the movie made me marvel at the fact that we can communicate with each other at all.
Go see it, and then go rent The Virgin Suicides. Sofia Coppola may be every bit as great of a director as her father. Maybe even better….
*America- Paul Simon