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Episode 111 - Lost in Translation vs. Marie Antoinette (w/ Stephanie Zacharek)

Episode 111 - Lost in Translation vs. Marie Antoinette (w/Stephanie Zacharek)  

58 members have voted

  1. 1. Should "Lost in Translation" or "Marie Antoinette" enter The Canon?

    • Lost in Translation
    • Marie Antoinette


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This week, Time film critic Stephanie Zacharek joins Amy for a Sofia Coppola-directed head-to-head between 2003’s “Lost in Translation” and 2006’s “Marie Antoinette.” They discuss what “Lost in Translation” has to offer up in the way of Coppola’s unorthodox techniques with the cast and its themes of taking seriously the problems of the privileged. Then, they get into how “Marie Antoinette” tells story through its costumes, explores perceptions of class, and what it reveals about the nature of fame.

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what the hell is going on at the end of this episode?

 

Yea, somebody definitely missed an edit point there.

 

I'm voting Marie Antoinette, because it feels like the purest distillation of Coppola's obsession with the weirdness of being a rich girl. The bit in the Petit Trianon scene where it shows the servants cleaning the eggs so that Marie and her child can pick them later is probably the moment that sticks out to me most out of anything in Coppola's catalogue. I enjoy Lost In Translation a bit more, but if we're judging which Sophia Coppola movie is the most Sophia Coppola, Marie Antoinette is the clear winner.

 

Also on a brief tangent: Somebody needs to make some kind of "goofus and gallant" style compare-and-contrast between Sophia Coppola and Kevin Smith. Both are writer/directors with highly specific viewpoints and subjects rooted in where they came from (Coppola's rich girls to Smith's schlubby nerds). Both have stuck to telling stories around those subjects. But we're all kinda sick to death of Smith's inability to grow up while Coppola remains intriguing. It can't just be because she's better on a technical level (though she clearly is much better on a technical level).

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Somebody needs to Nobody should ever make some kind of "goofus and gallant" style compare-and-contrast between Sophia Coppola and Kevin Smith.

 

Fixed it for ya <3

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what the hell is going on at the end of this episode?

 

Yeah the end was really bad. I don't know how that was missed in editing.

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I hope that the Australian doesn't listen to this episode.

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I'm sad that one of the options is Lost in Translation as it makes it inevitable it'll win. Step one to being in any western cannon is "White man has poor social skills, is sad." Advanced level is "White man has poor social skills, also no redeeming qualities, is sad." But what will launch anything into immortal classic status is "White man has poor social skills, also no redeeming qualities, is sad, is therefore jailbait magnet."

 

Because Coppola's gift is writing female characters I wish the movie representing her in the canon reflected that and I were voting for Virgin Suicides, but I'll take Marie A.

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I adore Marie Antoinette so much, but I had to vote for Lost in Translation. Here's why, I rank Sofia's films in this order:

 

1. Lost in Translation

2. The Virgin Suicides

3. Marie Antoinette

4. The Beguiled

5. Somewhere

6. The Bling Ring

 

So, since Marie Antoinette is my third-favorite Sofia film, I gotta go Lost in Translation, even though Marie Antoinette is a 5-star (out of 5 stars) film for me.

 

I loved this episode so much. My favorite ever.

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I only watched Marie Antoinette because it was nominated for the Canon, and I was expecting to dislike it. I was surprised by how much I didn't. It's a costumed period biopic which looks expensive, but we've had many of those. It is somewhat unique for its use of music, anachronisms and pleasing refusal to force American actors to use different accents. But Lost in Translation is the more unique, the more personal, the film that really put Sofia Coppola on the map so she could make something like Marie Antoinette.

 

The discussion of the opening scene reminded me of an anecdote I recently heard involving Scarlett Johansson: she really disliked the bra Michael Bay had her wear in The Island and tried to argue him into letting her do the scene topless instead. He prevailed, and the film stayed PG-13.

 

Stephanie refers to Harold & Maude as an example of a non-sexual love story, but they actually do have sex.

 

Are the things that we respect not to be "scrutinized"? I think great art tends to reward scrutiny.

 

The beginning of Marie Antoinette is depicted as strange and alienating for the title character, but after a while she settles in and seems to enjoy that environment, without really "breaking free".

 

I haven't heard of any radical small-r republicans who still insist on decapitating aristocrats. Perhaps because aristocrats aren't really in charge (outside of the Gulf states) any more.

 

Amy is right that people in the past wore color. Even the poor.

 

I've found some more of the text from Joseph II's letter describing Louis XVI's missing steps in his attempts to produce a child. You can search for the reference to "complete fumblers" here for the explicit details.

 

There's something darkly comical about the attempt by revolutionaries to raise the heir to the throne to adhere to republican ideology (after killing his parents).

 

I know Sofia has a terrible reputation for her performance in Godfather III, but I don't think she's that bad. Partially it's because she's not asked to do much, and she's playing the privileged daughter of a wealthy Italian-American family anyway.

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Hey folks

 

I saw both films for the first time last week, in preparation for the episode. And eventhough Lost In Translation is a great film, I'm going to vote for Marie-Antoinette. Now, before you start throwing rocks at me and burn down that european castle I am clearly living in (as far as you know), hear me out:

Lost In Translation is a nice film. It's technically impeccable, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. However, when it comes hard-on-hard, think about that the Canon is about the movies we want to preserve as a society to tell our ancestors about our films, our culture, our history and our lives. And Marie Antoinette cleary wins in my books. There are dozens of films about the lonelyness of travelling in a foreign land, of being stranded in a culture you don't quite get to understand. That's a theme that has been chewed before. However, to me, Marie Antoinette was truely a revelation: Not only is it an entertaining enough farce and well-crafted, it's a revision of history that tells the story of a woman that was blamed for much stuff a man in the same position would have never been blamed for. It opened my eyes about a difficult subject, and in the end made me re-think and question much of the history lessons we had in school. It is, in the end, a powerful lesson of faked news and rumors defining a historic narrative, and, considering that after that revolution came a couple of years known as the reign of terrors, how fragile and important knowledge about the situation outside of your comfort zone truely is. Even if you disagree with the film's goals, terms and conditions, you must admit that this film and the things it portrays are slightly more important for the big picture of our world, than two Americans with an age difference in Tokyo. It might not be the film you like more, but it's definitely a film that we need in our times.

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I'm sad that one of the options is Lost in Translation as it makes it inevitable it'll win. Step one to being in any western cannon is "White man has poor social skills, is sad." Advanced level is "White man has poor social skills, also no redeeming qualities, is sad." But what will launch anything into immortal classic status is "White man has poor social skills, also no redeeming qualities, is sad, is therefore jailbait magnet."

 

Because Coppola's gift is writing female characters I wish the movie representing her in the canon reflected that and I were voting for Virgin Suicides, but I'll take Marie A.

Except that Lost in Translation is every bit Scarlett Johansson's movie. We see her disillusionment as much as we see Murray's. And The Virgin Suicides might be about women, but it's from the perspective of a bunch of dudes.

 

Anyway, yeah. People who dismissed Coppola for the access she had for her movies is silly. A good movie is a good movie. Also, coming from nothing doesn't mean your movie is going to be better. It might be impressive on a meta level, but that's about it. People just want a good picture.

 

Anyway, yeah. Marie Antoinette is good, but it's not quite the experience of Lost in Translation. I get why Amy prefers Marie Antoinette, but it's an argument that comes around a lot, which is the ambition and impressive nature of the production itself. I can respect that, but what am I actually going to watch? Lost in Translation is a no-brainer.

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This choice was very hard. Both of the films are in my list of personal favourites, and I think both could be considered important in the history of cinema. Lost In Translation is a higher regarded film, more widely acclaimed, and perhaps more universal and relatable. If The Canon is about universality, cultural impact, Lost In Translation would probably need to win. It was the birth of Scarlett Johansson, and the re-definition of Bill Murray, two of our most beloved actors. It was the real flowering moment of Sofia Coppola, who is now a film legend. It does seem more like a 'film history textbook' kind of movie.

 

But my favourite Sofia Coppola film is Marie Antoinette by far. Marie Antoinette is actually in my top 5. There's no other film like it that I've found. The soundtrack is unimpeachable, the design and colours are breathtaking, the story is fascinating. It's a period piece that seems really young and en vogue. It's a little more controversial and experimental. It's got the charm of being a little bit underrated. I think it appeals to a narrower audience due to its uniqueness and quirkiness, but it's precisely the uniqueness and quirkiness that make it fit into a film canon, because it's nothing like anything else you could put in the list.

 

Frankly the choice is bullshit and I resent being asked to make it.

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I am white, male, and generally useless. I am gay so I guess I get those diversity points, but I still have to go with Lost in Translation.

 

One big useless thing I have is a history degree and some radical leftist politics that such a degree helped nurture. Marie Antoinette and the entire monarchy had it coming, deservedly so I would add. It's a fun movie with its juxtaposition of punk/art rock and high society (such contrast!) but I can't stand an attempt to rehabilitate the ghouls that held society's chains, whether they knew they held such sway or not.

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Did David Lynch direct the end of this episode? Those sounds were creepy.

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Frankly the choice is bullshit and I resent being asked to make it.

 

welcome to the canon

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I first saw Marie Antoinette during its original theatrical release and came away vaguely disappointed, feeling like it was a relatively shallow take on a historical character. After a re-watch last week it played much better: the shallowness of the character is clearly the tragic point here. As Amy and Stephanie say on the podcast, she doesn't know what she doesn't know. I've also attained a greater appreciation for Kirsten Dunst as an actress in the intervening time (thanks to Melancholia and Fargo), so again the "shallowness" of her performance here feels more like a deliberate choice than any vacancy from the actress herself.

 

I also re-watched Lost in Translation for the first time in a while (it was one of my favorites of the year when it originally came out). Some of the comedy bits have aged poorly (the "lip my stocking" scene being the most egregious), but by the time Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson go out on the town in Tokyo, the film just hits a groove and never lets up; it's still absolutely entrancing from that moment on. I'd also argue that the charges of "racism" or "insensitivity" tend to fade out during this segment, as our lead characters start to find things they can enjoy about this place they previously felt "stuck" in. I think it becomes pretty obvious at this point that the discomfort of the early scenes is less about race and culture and more about the lead characters feeling adrift. (Full disclosure: I am half-Chinese by heritage though American born and raised, so I am sensitive to portrayals of East Asian characters on screen, but don't necessarily have any special understanding of Japanese culture.)

 

So which do I prefer? Both are good films, but to me the message of Marie Antoinette feels more intellectual than lived-in, perhaps a consequence of making your film primarily about the superficiality of a bygone era. Lost in Translation pulses and throbs with its central themes: the visual style and music seems perfectly married to the characters and situation at nearly all times. As I mentioned in the "homework" thread: it's the kind of cinematic alchemy that doesn't come along very often.

 

Some have argued that Marie Antoinette is more representative of Sofia Coppola as an artist. If you're looking at it strictly on a textual level, I can see that (lead character as stand-in for Sofia herself). But I'd say that what makes her unique is really her presentation of the text, not the text itself: the audio-visual approach that only she can bring. On that level, I'd say Lost in Translation is more representative. On a stylistic level, I'm not sure Marie Antoinette is all that differentiated from a lot of other period costume dramas, save for the occasional music-video flourishes (and it's not like Scorsese didn't already do some of this stuff in his period films). Lost in Translation feels like all-Coppola, all the time. That gets my vote.

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Marie Antoinette I can watch over and over. It has wonderful forward momentum, and Dunst is perfect in all stages of Marie's life. Lost In Translation is also great, but MA is a more impressive and distinctive work.

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I was so happy to hear Stephanie Zacharek on the show. I've been a fan of her writing for a long time and was one of my favorite critics to read with when I disagreed with what she was saying. But I certainly didn't disagree with her today. I too really love Coppola as a director, and find myself staunchly defending films like The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring to those who find themselves a bit down on them. For the record, I didn't much care for Somewhere, but there were lots of things about it that I appreciated. Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette are my two favorite Coppola films so this was a difficult choice. I lament that Coppola hasn't been able to return to the scale and budgets she was afforded on Marie Antoinette. It's always exciting to see what a small filmmaker can do when given considerably higher budgets and resources, and I feel like she didn't lose a bit of her voice in telling the grand story of "Queen Kristen." (for the record, Amy, I do really look forward to a Queen Christina episode sometime in the future.) I really love Marie Antoinette but I think I have to vote LOST IN TRANSLATION into the Canon just because I have a stronger personal connection to it. My love affair with Bill Murray has been fading in these recent years, but for a time he was one of the my favorite comedic performers and this is a wonderful performance. The kind of role he seems to be chasing ever since. And Johansson was often accused of giving "blank" performances at this point of her career, in this and films like Ghost World and Man Who Wasn't There, but I think she tells so much about her character and emotions even when presented with minimal dialogue. This is one of the great relationship movies ever made. Last year my wife got to go to Japan on business and she must have watched this film (which she had never seen initially) about 5 times to prepare, so I got to see this film with her through her eyes, with her attempts to fall in love with Tokyo before she even left. So because of that personal connection, and just because this is a great film, I'm voting LOST IN TRANSLATION into The Canon, but this was something of a tough choice because I love them both.

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Pretty simple for me: Lost in Translation is good, but I believe is overrated. It's not terribly deep, although I've experienced this same sort of magic work trip escapism and intimate connection. Marie Antoinette brought the historic story into a magical present that we could understand, and the soundtrack is impeccable.

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Marie Antoinette is one of my desert island movies so obviously voted for it. It's a visual delight and i stan for Kirsten Dunst. If you haven't read the book by Antonia Fraser and are interested it is terrific. But they made me think i should rewatch Lost in Translation. I was not impressed when it came out. It just didn't catch me. but I'll give it another shot.

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This is going to end up being a much closer vote than I expected.

 

I also watched Marie Antoinette just for this Canon episode, and I was surprised at how great it is. It's the technically superior of the two films. I loved how the soundtrack choices were used to reflect Marie's feelings at any given moment, with the orchestral swells in the bits where she's around other royals and participating in the pomp and circumstance, and the modern music in the bits where she's just behaving as a normal (albeit spoiled) teenager. The direction in those pomp and circumstance scenes is so great, as Coppola films them like parodies of Barry Lyndon or Tom Jones. Simply put, Marie Antoinette deserves to be in the Canon as an example of how score, photography, and costuming can tell a story even better than acting or dialogue at times.

 

The problem is that although I appreciated those technical aspects, I really didn't connect to the story (perhaps because I've never been a teenage girl?). Meanwhile, Lost in Translation is also technically stellar, but made the story seem much more human and relatable, despite the fact that I've never been in any of those characters' situations either. It's a movie that stayed with me much longer than something like Marie Antoinette could.

 

So in the end, this is a tough call. If either of these movies were in a solo episode, I'd vote for either. But in this versus, I have to go with Lost in Translation.

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Lost in Translation is, overall, the more pleasurable visceral experience. But it has "concernful" parts that do make me feel kinda bad while watching it. Marie Antoinette is occasionally distracting, but it really strikes at my sweet spot when it doubles-down on the historicaly-accurate filmed-on-location gorgeousness.

 

I want to vote for them both. They're both wonderful films. But...ultimately, Lost in Translation left the bigger impact, even on re-watching. I won't say it's necessarily the better film, but it's the one that hits hardest, and is thus the more impressive. I love film as escapism above everything else, and Sofia Coppola has already made two masterpieces in that genre. But one delivers the full Sofia Coppola experience a little more than the other, and is thus a little better as an example of what's she's done so well.

 

It's very close, but I gotta go with Lost in Translation. And, as penance, I will buy a Blu-Ray of Marie Antoinette. It's too good for mere streaming. These are both HIGHLY dreamy films.

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I haven't seen Lost in Translation since it was in theaters. The 'other' visual jokes made at the expense of the Japanese put me off although I acknowledge these may have been a commentary on rude american tourists. I also felt no empathy for Scarlett Johansson's characters disorientation in her golden cage having traveled extensively with a fraction of her financial means.

 

Marie Antoinette on the other hand cannot be interpreted as a commentary on French 18th century politics with its rabid consumerism and post punk soundtrack, it is pure fairy tail without the fairy tail ending. I think Marie Antoinette accomplishes all the sophisticated character analysis of Lost in Translation without any of its cringe worthy aspects by going harder and not bothering to be historically accurate. Marie Antoinette has a more mature vision then Lost in Translation, it knows what it wants and takes it.

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I've never enjoyed Lost in Translation, but I assumed after this versus was announced, and even after I watched and enjoyed Marie Antoinette for the first time this week, that I would vote Lost in Translation in based on cultural importance. However, Amy's argument really won me over. Antoinette all the way.

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