Thursday, September 21, 2023

10 Things I Want to See in a Criterion UHD 4K Blu-Ray for Lost in Translation


Every September 21st (with the exception of the 2020 pandemic that temporarily destroyed any sense of time) which is Bill Murray’s birthday, I watch what I consider to be the greatest film of all time in Lost in Translation as I have written a lot about the film including an essay and a list of 10 reasons why I think it’s the best film ever made. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, I was hoping to do a massive project devoted to the film that would uncover some of its mysteries and other things about the film. Unfortunately, an essay that I was writing that was meant to be an introduction to this project didn’t meet to my expectations. Plus, I was hoping to do a lot of things on a visual level but I have no clue on any of those things I don’t know how to create backgrounds for a blog or anything to save my life. I also was hoping to present some visual stills from the film but I feel like my DVD copy isn’t good enough even though I did get the Blu-Ray recently but I feel like it’s not enough.

There is still this feeling that I want to do to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary just as Sofia Coppola has premiered her eighth feature film in Priscilla at this year’s Venice Film Festival to an excellent reception that won its star Cailee Spaeny the Volpi Cup for Best Actress. Of course the film can be seen in various streaming services though there are those who still prefer to have a physical copy of the film despite the fact that its Blu-Ray release from 2010 could do so much more. Even as there’s companies like Arrow and Kino that puts out amazing Blu-Ray releases with lots of extras and such for fans to get. Yet, I feel like Lost in Translation deserves more than that as its original DVD does have extras that are still worth watching. However, there’s more that a solid Blu-Ray release can do for that film and while Kino is set to release a 4K Blu-Ray release for the film sometime this year. It is probably best that a film like this should be given a release from the Criterion Collection.

The Criterion Collection has a library of amazing films (and a few duds) with its dedication to classic foreign films, American cinema of the past, silent films, cult movies, and anything else. While Arrow has done the same though it leans more towards some mainstream titles and notable cult classics. Criterion is the top place for home video releases as they do great work with not just the films they release but also in some of the extras and essays they put into their releases. Some which have been upgraded to 4K ultra-high definition format as one of those films that was released is Coppola’s 1999 feature film debut in The Virgin Suicides which came out in that format last year following a DVD/Blu-Ray release from Criterion four years earlier. Fans of Coppola probably would’ve expected the same for Lost in Translation yet nothing hasn’t been confirmed for this year.

Yet, let’s say there is a future Criterion release for the film that is to come out and what would fans of the film want. Well, here are ten things I want from a Criterion release for Lost in Translation:

1. A Newly Remastered 4K UHD version supervised by Sofia Coppola in Collaboration with cinematographer Lance Acord, film editor Sarah Flack, and sound designer Richard Beggs.
When the film was released in the U.S. on Region 1 DVD on February 3, 2004 at the time when the film was still in theaters after Oscar nominations were announced. It would be a film that was popular in rental and for purchase as the DVD was still sort of new since its emergence in the late 1990s. The DVD release was a popular release as it sold well and helped bring more money to the film as the DVD was a big thing at the time. Then in 2007 came the short-lived HD-DVD and three years on December 7, 2010 is the Blu-Ray release as home video technology would evolve and such with some filmmakers being involved with these releases to ensure that their films are given the best presentation for home video.

In June of this year, Kino announced a release for a new 4K release for an Ultra HD Blu-Ray release for the film set sometime late in 2023 yet there hasn’t been any word if this release has any involvement from Sofia Coppola. If it was to be released from the Criterion Collection, there would be a mention into the involvement on who supervised the new transfer as many films under these new 4K digital transfers often involved the filmmakers or those were associated with that filmmaker. Coppola has had involvement with Criterion for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of The Virgin Suicides when it was released in 2018 under the supervision of the film’s cinematographer Ed Lachman that was approved by Coppola herself as she also took part in some of the special features in its release including the most recent 4K UHD-Blu-Ray last year.

Now there are a lot of technical things that need to be involved in a 4K digital transfer for a film that was shot on 35mm as it wouldn’t just need to have Coppola’s involvement but also the involvement of cinematographer Lance Acord as well as film editor Sarah Flack who both played a key role in the film. There’s also the sound as longtime Coppola collaborator in sound designer Richard Beggs would also play a major role for the film’s sound as a Blu-Ray/UHD-Blu-Ray release would present the film in an uncompressed soundtrack that would do more for the film from an audio perspective. A casual consumer might not care for these things but for anyone that loves this film will want a lot to expect to recapture something close to what they might’ve seen when the film was released in theaters in the fall of 2003.

2. Retaining the Original Special Features from its 2004 DVD Release.
One of the key aspects of the film’s 2004 DVD release that made it so special were its special features as they’re something fans of the film wanted when it first came out. Among those features include a music video for the song City Girl by Kevin Shields that was directed by Coppola as well as a making-of documentary, a 10-minute conversation with Coppola and Bill Murray on the set of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, five deleted scenes cut from the film, and the full version of Bob Harris’ appearance on Matthew’s Best Hit TV Show. The only special features that was added to the 2010 Blu-Ray was a trailer for Coppola’s 2010 film Somewhere and a promotion for the film where Coppola, cast, and crew members talk about the film (as it was an unnecessary extra).

With the exception of promotional stuff relating to Somewhere, many of the features of the original DVD release should be included as part of the release in a newly-remastered form as it will allow fans have something as they can watch these special features on their big TVs and such.

3. New Interviews with Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson.
For years ever since the inception of DVDs and the extra material involved with the film, one of those extra features would be the audio commentary as it is a fun viewing experience to hear a filmmaker talk about the film with the cast or crew members. Yet, Sofia Coppola is among those that has no interest in doing audio commentaries as she prefers to do interviews and not reveal too much about her work. A new interview with her on the film and its legacy would be a nice addition to the many interviews she had done about the film while it would allow her to close the book on a key chapter in her life.

Then there’s film’s lead actors in Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as getting the two to do new interviews would be a challenge. Notably as Murray is often elusive and doesn’t do a lot of interviews as well as the fact that he’s a target in the world of cancel culture due to his behaviors in the past which is just fucking stupid. Murray’s involvement would likely happen if he’s asked by Coppola as the two have collaborated on two other projects directed by Coppola. Then there’s Johansson who is currently one of the biggest film stars as of 2023 as the film was a major career breakthrough for her. An interview with is iffy due to her schedule and such though she is willing to discuss the film and her role while questions about why she and Coppola hadn’t collaborated since might be a question she and Coppola won’t answer. 4. A Perspective from the Japanese and Asian on the Film and its Polarizing Response.
Since the film was set in Tokyo and areas in Japan, the film had gained criticism from Asian audiences and film critics over the way people are depicted in Japan. While Coppola has maintained that her intentions wasn’t to insult the Japanese or Asians in general. A documentary about the response in Japan and why the film has garnered mixed reactions in the country is something that is needed where a balanced perspective of where Asians are coming from on their critique on the film but also a perspective on those who think the film isn’t trying to be insulting to the Japanese. It would be something that modern audiences will need without deviating into this realm of cancel culture which has unfortunately done a lot of damage in making people accept the ideas of what is entertainment and such.

5. New Interviews with Music Supervisor Brian Reitzell and Score Composer Kevin Shields on the Film’s Music.
The film’s music soundtrack was a key factor to the film’s success yet the film did the unthinkable in obtaining the services of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields in creating new and original music since the release of the band’s 1991 landmark album Loveless. With Shields being more available in recent years to do interviews, him having to talk about the soundtrack and what took him so long to create new music. Brian Reitzell should also be interviewed not just cultivating the soundtrack but also playing a key role in the music with Roger Joseph Manning as they also go into depth about the film’s soundtrack including the karaoke scene in the film.

6. New Art Work for the Blu-Ray release.
Criterion isn’t just regarded into the work they put into the Blu-Rays as far as extra features and the overall presentation but it is also in the packaging of these Blu-Rays. Criterion is lauded for their art work in not just the front and back covers but also in the booklets as they do a lot in creating packaging that is suitable for the film. Fortunately, there’s fans that have created ideas of what a Criterion packaging for the film should look like instead of just a bland recreation of the film’s poster as its DVD/Blu-Ray cover. It should look like the film itself as well as maintain a color scheme that is faithful to the film.

7. Anatomy of a Scene on the Commercial Shoot & the Mysterious Dialogue in the Film’s Finale.
The film is notable for 2 key scenes in the film as it adds a lot of intrigue for the film. The first is the commercial shoot where a director is talking to Bob Harris in Japanese as to American/Western audiences. They have very little clue in what this man is saying as the translator is telling Harris “with intensity” though Harris is aware that he’s saying a lot more. It was a scene presented without subtitles as it should get some insight into why Coppola chooses to shoot that whole scene without subtitles as it would then be re-presented with the subtitles. Then there’s the film’s ending as it relates to mysterious words that Bob whispered to Charlotte before he leaves to return to the U.S. as it is one of the great mysterious events in the film. Some insight from Coppola, Murray, and Johansson could divulge into what was said but it’s probably best if it remains a mystery.

8. A Documentary on the Film’s Famous Locations back in 2002.
Tokyo is a major character in the film as the many locations that Coppola picked out in the film are unique including the Hyatt Hilton Hotel that the characters were staying in. Tokyo is a city with some notable landmarks including the Shibuya walkway in the middle of the city as a documentary on some of these locations should be noted including the restaurants Bob and Charlotte went to as well as the key location in Kyoto where Charlotte made a visit there. It’s something that hardcore fans of the film should want if they ever decide to travel to Tokyo and Kyoto in the hope of seeing the places of their favorite film.

9. A Documentary on the Film’s Promotional Trip from Telluride to the Oscars.
The film’s theatrical journey from its premiere at Telluride in late August of 2003 that was followed by its screening at the Venice Film Festival that year where the film won two awards for Coppola and Johansson. It would be a documentary that should consist largely of archival footage and interviews from that time and the buzz it got into the Oscars.

10. Essays on the film from various film scholars (myself for consideration) and filmmakers.
One of the great things about Criterion are the booklets as they often have essays that are fascinating to read along with interviews and such from other publications. It is a film that has gained a lot of acclaim and love from a lot of people including filmmakers and film scholars. It’s not just film scholars and critics that have something but also various film bloggers including myself as I have written a lot about the film. I would also include an excerpt from Hannah Strong’s book on Sofia Coppola that was released last year as she had some great things to say about the film.

It’s been 20 years since the film has come out and it’s high time for a proper UHD 4K Blu-Ray release from Criterion. Hopefully, it would set the way for more films from Sofia Coppola to be released from Criterion as it is a great home video label. Until then…
Related: Lost in Translation - Lost in Translation OST - Favorite Films #1: Lost in Translation - 10 Reasons Why Lost in Translation is the Best Film Ever...

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