In the first in TFR’s Beginnings series, two of our contributors discuss the films that inspired their love for cinema.
Lost in Translation
Written by Nina Cullen
It was the start of TY English class. I was introduced to Sofia Coppola through The Virgin Suicides (1999) and fell in love with the score by Air. With Lost in Translation (2003), every frame was a still I would pause on my laptop, softly rendered. A score with the range of Roxy Music to Squarepusher. The film fixated on the exposed shots of Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), in her ethereal and daze-like introspection against the stark backdrop of an early 00s, vibrantly emerging Tokyo.
I owe my interest in colour-grading and cinematography entirely to this film. Cinematographic feats aside, there’s understated yet accomplished character development that relies wholly on our identification with Charlotte and Bob (Bill Murray). So, when someone mentions how ‘nothing happens’ in Lost in Translation (yes, unnamed male film student in the smoking area), I tend to judge them. Did we see the same film? The magic of Lost in Translation is that, in its ambiguity, the narrative becomes something that only Johansson, Murray, and I understand. The rest of the world is simply blurred out of focus.
No one does this kind of enigmatic ambiguity like Coppola. Two characters, worlds apart in every regard, sharing one of the most powerful yet complex relationships I have ever seen on screen, all told through the director’s masterful vision. To call it a romance is too conspicuous. To call it platonic would be superficial. The intimacy of the whisper in the end sequence is fitting; speech would have felt too heavy-handed for the subtlety of Coppola.
The Hudsucker Proxy
Written by Ruby Thomas
The sheer vitality and zaniness of The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) makes it one of the Coen brothers’ best films. Packed to the brim with stunning set design, hilarious characters, and remarkable montages, it comments on the 1950s New York business world while parodying screwball comedies of the 30s.
Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) finds himself a job at the mailroom of Hudsucker Industries, just as the chairman, Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning), jumps from the 44th floor of the building. Vice President Sidney J Mussburger (Paul Newman) appoints Barnes as proxy CEO of the company in order to buy back their stock. But Barnes has ideas far above his station – ideas in the form of a circle. Jennifer Jason Leigh steals the show as fast-talking career girl Amy Archer, an undercover journalist determined to get a story at any cost. A battle of wills follows in which there can be only one winner.
An elegant riotousness pervades this film, as we watch the story unfold with increasing theatricality in jaw dropping backdrops – all with a rotating set of fantastical character actors. The lack of relatability with any of the characters is somehow unimportant as we witness the utter spectacle of the film and magnificence of the plot. The Hudsucker Proxy is a (kind of) modern masterpiece.