Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mystic River Vs Lost in Translation.

It was Lord of the Rings that stole all the Oscars, but the debate amongst people with brains lay between these two films. Admittedly, 2003 was a pretty crappy year for films, but which film deserved to reign?

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Direction
As indulgent as Sofia Coppola is, I do think that she is one of the stronger working female directors. Her work on LiT is overrated, sure, but it is also laid-back, cool and assured. And not one of those is a bad thing. ***

Clint Eastwood has done Westerns, political thrillers and more Westerns, but he tackles the human drama with skill, little style, but a lot of substance. Assured filmmaking at his peak. I mean, hello, he coaxed a good performance out of Morpheus! This man knows what he’s doing. ****

Writing
This is where Lost in Translation falters. Sofia’s Oscar-winning screenplays is one of the biggest Inside jokes I have witnessed since Plawright’s on Thursday. Nobody blames her for resenting Spike Jonze for messing about with Cameron Diaz, but she’s only going to get over it if she doesn’t tell the whole world about it in a movie. And the “minimalist” dialogue between Charlotte and Bob? Basically, they didn’t have anything to say to each other. *

You’ll be surprised to know that I actually greatly favour Dennis Lehane’s novel, which offered a lot more insight into each of the characters. But the book was over 500 pages. For a 2-hour movie, Mystic River did well, telling the story and showing the behaviour of each of the characters, letting us decided whether they’d wronged, rather than telling us. I’m still not won over by the morals, but the dialogue was believable, at least. ***

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Acting
This gets one star for simply being a category. Never before in my life have I seen such laziness displayed on camera as it has been here. Bill Murray lounges about, eying up Scarlett, Scarlett sits around looking pregnant. Their performances would make Sofia Coppola in The Godfather Part III look good. Only Giovanni Ribisi puts in any effort here, but he’s adorable. *

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On the other hand, you’re spoilt for choice for good performances in Mystic. The women are great – Marcia Gay Harden is heartbreaking in her confusion and Laura Linney delivers a knockout Lady Macbeth speech towards the end. But the men are even better. Kevin Bacon has a touch of Clint in Dirty Harry as the policeman trying to do the right thing for everyone, and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins are amazing in their grief, uncertainty, anger and fear. One of the best ensembles of all-time. *****

Music
No question here, LiT has one of the coolest soundtracks of all time, from Air, to Kevin Shields, to My Bloody Valentine. Unfortunately, all that music detracts attention from the film. ****

Geh, the “theme” in this film is all the music we hear. It suits the style, but dang, can get a little repetitive. **

Cinematography, Editing, other stuff
Lost in Translation is a visual treat. The use of colours are gorgeous, but I can’t help feeling that pretty images of Tokyo isn’t what the movie is about. ***

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Mystic River is shot in moody blue. Efficient, but suiting to the style of the film. ***

Hype – Deserved or Underserved
Pretentious Art snobs simply love to parade Lost in Translation on their lists, because it incorporates a few things – Arthouse cinema, feminism, repressed emotions and foreign countries, all of which score lots of points on the pseud front. I mean, it came 4th on the They Shoot Picture’s New millennium list! It really has taken me Brokeback Mountain to forgive Focus Features for this. *

Well, it’s not as everyone says “the most important American movie” for years, but it does try. Crap film magazines give it ***/***** for “being too depressing and weighty,” and that can only be good, in my eyes. However, I am a little upset at it actually being in the IMDb Top 250... that tarnishes things somewhat. ***

Overall…
Mystic River – A-/B+
Lost in Translation – F

The winner is clear.

Any others you want me to do? Suggestions:

Rear Window Vs Vertigo
Brokeback Mountain Vs Crash
Some Like It Hot Vs The Apartment
American Beauty Vs Magnolia
Finding Nemo Vs The Incredibles
Bananas Vs Apples

Etc.

19 comments:

tyler said...

So you're saying anyone who likes the film is pretentious?

Surely you've forgotten the many millions of lonely girls who liked the film. They saw Scarlet as a role model or something

hanna said...

Agreed!

MysticFist said...

2003 was a good year! And I've had a strange love/hate relationship with Lost in Translation. First I didn't like it. Then I saw it again and hated it. Then I saw it again and loved it (all-time top 10 worthy). Then I grew to hate it once more (all-time bottom 10 worthy). Like you, I can't stand the hype surrounding it. I honestly preferred Mystic in just about every single way...

I hated, hated, hated Murray's performance. I hate his bored, nonchalant acting style. I also hated that he looked so mad when he lost to Penn two years ago. Loved every single performance in Mystic River, though. Penn's is like one of my ten favourites of all time and Bacon's is perhaps the most underrated of the bunch, delivering a strong, understated performance, effortlessly building an entire background of suffering to his character without the aid of words.

Loved everything about Mystic River... liked nothing about Lost in Translation. It's that simple. I don't think a film has ever bored me as much as this one, to be honest. But hey... if you kind of like LiT's score/directions, etc, why an F?

MysticFist said...

"Any others you want me to do?"

Eh, I doubt you'd be interested in doing "Bananas Vs Apples" though I'd be more than interested in seeing that, so... dunno, just do something you haven't done before. Like, no point in talking about BBM or Crash once again, wouldn't you say?

Matt said...

And here's another thing that was racist.

Caz said...

I couldn't disagree more with what you said!

Mystic River to me was THE lamest movie of 2003, in fact one of the worst I've seen! The only redeeming thing in it was Tim Robbins wonderful performance! But Sean Penn?? Me and my brother have never laughed more at a performance! I absolutely hated it! It was just... so awful! Compared to Bill Murray that was, and Scarlett Johansson... who ok their characters did just sit around and talk, not really doing much, but since when did that mean awful acting? They were Bob and Charlotte! They protrayed their emotions without saying or doing much or going over the top... they were wonderul performances! And ok you didn't say this, but anyone who says that anyone could have done those roles because they seemed to require nothing much are just plain wrong! (Sorry, it just bugs me when people say that!)

And I don't actually remember much about Mystic River because well, it's not exactly memorable! But I loved everything about Lost in Translation... and it's in my top 10... which apparently means I'm pretentious! Hmm!

Kamikaze Camel said...

Well, I do trot Lost in Translation as one of my all-time favourites. I completely understood it. Having said that, Mystic River was my #10 of the year.

Anonymous said...

Okay, you liked some of the direction, the music and the cinematograhpy, and yet you still gave it an F? LiT is the best movie of the decade, Mystic River was average at best. The best thing about the entire movie was Kevin Bacon.

Bill Murray won, what, 16 different acting awards for this? How many did Sean- Wish-I-Was-DeNiro- Penn win? Like...maybe, 5?

But ALL those people must have been wrong. You know...people who get PAID to know what acting is.

LiT's screenplay has some of the most honest, most funny, and most touching lines in recent cinema history. Mystic River is hammed up beyond belief. That thing with Bacons wife is just too lame to be believable. Penn crying and saying that he can't even cry for his daughter...total bullshit

LiT is more like real life, with people acting like real people. Mystic River was characters. Thats it. Eastwood is a hack director.

Lost in Translation- A+
Mystic River- B-

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