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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2010

ARTICLE INDEX

"Lost in Translation" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-december-2010-lost-in-translation

Synopsis

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a movie star who is in Japan to film a commercial for a whiskey company.  Surrounded by a culture and language he doesn't understand, he feels disoriented and isolated in his surroundings.  Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson) is a recent Yale grad, newly married to John, a photographer for bands and movie stars, who is left to explore Japan by herself while he shoots photos of a band on tour.  After running into each other a couple of times in the hotel, Bob and Charlotte meet and form a bond in the bar, both feeling isolated and apart from the rest of the world and needing someone that they can talk and relate to.  Eventually they will set out to explore parts of Tokyo together and their relationship grows.

Specifications

  • Focus Features
  • 2003, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 42 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlet Johansson
  • Directed by Sofia Coppola
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Minor
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

One of my favorite recent films, Lost in Translation is a film that many people will find slow, or boring, but I always found completely entrancing.  The music and plot help to set up the feeling is isolation and loneliness that Bob and Charlotte both feel in this strange land, and it's completely exciting to watch how they relate to each other and their lives.  It's a film that I've come back to and watched many times in the past, and now on Blu-ray was happy to watch it again for the first time in a while.

Technical

While I have not seen the previous HD-DVD transfer of the film, I suspect that this is the same one used here.  Shots of Toyko, or any shots outside, look wonderful with great detail, a fine presence of grain from the film, and good color and blacks.  However, as soon as you move inside it's a totally different story.  Whereas outside you can see the individual hairs on someone's head, inside their hair seems to be a undistinguished mass on top of their head, with no detail to it at all.  It almost appears as if the interior scenes were upsampled from a DVD where the outdoor scenes look great.  The brightness level can change during interior scenes, faces lack detail and are blotchy at times, and it really looks bad on the interior scenes.  Additionally, many of these scenes seem to be overly dark as even the initial frame of the film is far darker than when I originally saw it in theaters, and I'm not sure if this is a conscious choice (the vinyl release of the soundtrack uses this frame for the cover, and it is dark as well), or if it's just a poor transfer that didn't get the balance correct.  Whatever it is, half the film is great, and half is bad.

The soundtrack fares better, with lossless audio that does a great job with music and use of the surrounds, though sometimes can falter with dialog.  I think this is more an issue with how the soundtrack was recorded, as the hard to decipher parts of dialog were there in the theater and on the DVD release, but it's still a bit annoying to have to pay that close of attention at times.

Extras

It features deleted scenes, a couple featurettes, music videos for some of the songs, the theatrical trailer, and a preview of Sofia Coppola's next film.