The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Archive for the ‘Lost in Translation’ Category

Movie kisses are overrated – or why movie love is best when miserable

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“… and so they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.”

This was the way fairy tales used to end when I grew up, way before Disney realized that girls actually dream of other things than marriage.

Nowadays I find most love stories with happy endings quite unbearable. Is there anything more boring than to see a couple wrapped up in their own little bubble of happiness? They obviously don’t care for anything but themselves. Why should I care about them?

The movie bloggers in Sweden run a blogathon every month and the theme of February was “love”. (I suspect that the upcoming Valentines’s Day might have something to do with this).

And the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized how dark I want my love movies to be.

You have to push me hard to come up with a love movie with a happy loving couple that I truly love. I suppose there are a few in Love Actually, but my favourite one in that movie is the miserable guy who communicates his unfulfilled love with cards. Then there’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is a bit in-between and not very clear about the prospects of the future. One of my favourite love couples in a movie last year was Only Lovers Left Alive. If you think about it, their relationship is pretty great. But their overall life situation isn’t.

So let’s have a look at my current favourite movie couples:

10. Perfect Sense
Susan and Michael fall in love. Unfortunately the world is coming to its end meanwhile. It’s just a shame that I don’t know of anyone else apart from me who has seen this film.

roman holiday
9. Roman Holiday
Joe and Princess Ann fail badly in overcoming the class divide.

8. Never Let Me Go
As if a dystopian society wasn’t enough, poor Kathy and Tommy are separated from each other because of jealousy.

7. Bright Star
Fanny Brawne and John Keats, seperated by a wall of financial issues and disease. The further away they are from each other, the more I root for them.
brief enc

6. Brief Encounter
There isn’t much physical contact between Laura and Dr Alec during their brief encounters at a railway station café. But this means that every little touch will mean something. Oh, that touch on the shoulder – immensely more erotic than any intercourse possibly could be. The impossible love is the sweetest one.


5. Brokeback Mountain
Ennis and Jack. Do I really need to say anything? Isn’t this the most heart breaking love movie ever?


4. The Bridges of Madison County
Robert and Fransesca – competing with Brokeback mountain for the title “Most tear provoking love movie ever). It’s a shame that it appears so rarely on people’s top lists.

3. Lost in Translation

I’m not entirely sure of the nature of the relationship between Charlotte and Bob, what to make of the food holding scene and exactly what words that were uttered in their final meeting. Regardless what, they’re my favourite platonic love couple evs.


2. The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton and Mr Stevens. Every time I watch this movie I can’t help hoping that you’ll step out of your comfort zones, cross the barriers and confess your love to each other. Miracles DO happen, right?


1. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
Oh, Jessie. Oh, Celine. Unlike most couples on my top list, you aren’t doomed. Your relationship is worth saving, though it will require some effort. Please, please give it a try!

Separation, yearning, death and disaster, misery and melancholy. There you are, my favourite ingredients for love movies. And all movie kisses are overrated, unless they’re performed in a sense of danger and desperation.




Here are the takes on love in movies by my fellow bloggers (in Swedish):

Fiffis filmtajm
Fripps filmrevyer
Har du inte sett den?
The Nerd Bird
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

Talking a bit about my favourite movie

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Which movie is your favourite movie, and why?

It’s a tricky question, isn’t it? While it’s not all that difficult to put together a top 100 list (at least if you’re careless about it like me), the number one position is a different species. It requires at least a minimum level of thinking and consideration, which made me so indecisive that I almost gave up about it.

What eventually saved me was that I realized that it’s not as if we’re building a monument or throwing ourselves into a lifelong marriage. It’s OK to shift preferences, even on a day-to-day basis, depending on your mood and life circumstances.

The day when I sent my contribution to the top 100 movie ballot they’re running over at the Filmspotting forums, Lost in Translation happened to be my number one. Next year when they run this again, it could very well be a different movie.

I’m pretty certain though that it still will have a spot on my top 100 list and in this post I’ll try to explain why, in a brief and completely inadequate manner. I spot a curious connection by the way: the more I love a movie, the harder is it for me to put my thoughts about it into words. Can you ever describe love without killing it?

So bare with me when I give my reasons for falling in love with Lost in Translation

Capturing disconnection
Sometimes in our lives we reach a point when we’re feeling lost, disconnected and utterly lonely. It can happen in your twenties, paralysed at the thought of all the opportunities there are, worrying about making the wrong choices. Or the feeling will come to you as you middle aged stare into the mirror in disbelief, wondering if that old, tired, ugly person really is YOU, and you wonder if this was all there was to it, life, if it’s over now and why the hell didn’t you make more out of it?

Travelling to a strange country, spending times at those in-between-places like hotels and airports, enhances this feeling, which can be for good and for bad. Mostly for good I think, as long as you don’t get stuck in the time-out from your ordinary life.

I’m not sure if I manage to convey this feeling to you properly, but I know that Lost in Translation does it. But while it’s a movie of deep melancholy, there’s also something soothing about it. It’s as if it whispers to me somewhere: yes, we’re just a bunch of small, insecure and lonely people, regardless of how old we are, regardless of the size of our bank account. Life sucks to a certain extent and we’re all lonely wanderers, walking on a path that is our personal, which no one ever can share completely. But it also whispers to me that while we’re lonely, we don’t need to be it all the time. Sometimes we meet people who we recognize on a deeper level – what do they say? – like a thief recognizes another one as they meet on the street. We see their vulnerability and they see ours and while our paths are going in completely different directions, this moment of truth can stay with us, like the bottle of Galadriel to pull out from our memory storage, reminding us that we are not quite as alone as we feel.

At heart the movie is most about Bob and Charlotte of course, about their disconnection to their lives and about the nature of their friendship (oh, how liberating isn’t it that they never get closer to being intimate with each other than just holding a foot!). But I also liked it as a movie about travelling. I bet I would feel just as foreign as them if I ever visited Japan, but also as intrigued. That’s how travelling to far distant countries is. It’s enchanting and fascinating, but at the same time scary as hell and you feel so small and insignificant and it while it exhausts you it also make you sleepless, feeling strangely awake and alive.

I don’t know if this description of why I put Lost in Translation as my number one makes any sense, but I can’t find any way to put it better for the time being.

I love it, not because of a particular reason like the photo, the acting, the script, the music or the editing. I love it because it tells something about being me. And perhaps it makes me feel a little bit less lost.

Written by Jessica

August 30, 2011 at 1:00 am