Kindly note the time stamp. Contrary to the suspicions of certain of my loyal readers, I do sleep from time to time, but Tuesday was yet another crazy-busy day, climaxed by a cultural double-header–I went to see Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation in Chelsea and the Bad Plus at the Village Vanguard, with sushi in between–from which I literally just returned. So instead of serving up a made dish, I’ll scratch down my first impressions of both events, followed by an item I wrote this morning and the latest almanac entry, in the hopes that the immediacy will excuse the haste.
About Lost in Translation I don’t have much to add to what most of the critics have been saying, which is that it is a thoughtful, elegant, amazingly self-assured piece of work. I’m as suspicious of bandwagons as the next guy, but anyone capable of writing and directing a film like this is the real deal, regardless of her last name.
(1) I love the way Coppola catches the strangeness of surfaces in Tokyo–the subtly disorienting quality of a city that looks Western at first glance, but isn’t.
(2) Bill Murray really is as good as everybody says, partly because he looks so nakedly middle-aged. The lines in his face are like the rings in a tree stump–you can read his age off them. (In another half-dozen years he’ll be a dead ringer for W.H. Auden.) I kept trying to figure out who he reminded me of, and all at once two names popped into my head: Jeff Bridges and Robert Mitchum, both of whom reek of that same barely penetrable disillusion. In fact, Murray’s performance is just inches away from film noir–I can almost imagine him playing Philip Marlowe, or Bridges’ part in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
As for the Bad Plus, about whom I held forth in this space just the other day, I can only say that there isn’t another jazz piano trio in the world that sounds nearly as fresh. Not that their music is “jazz” in any strict sense of the word, since it draws no less deeply from the wells of contemporary pop and 20th-century classical music. Ethan Iverson, in particular, has liberated himself completely from the impressionism-derived harmonies and blues clich