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Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Dave!Well then... thanks to some help from people far smarter than me, Blogography appears to be up-and-running again. Here's hoping it stays that way for a little while.

Yesterday I was handed a movie meme and, since I had nothing better to blog about, I decided to fill it out. But after a few questions I realized it was just a variation on a half-dozen movie memes I had already done before, so I decided to toss it out and write about unclogging my shower drain instead.

But then, just as I was getting ready to take a photo of the bottle of Liquid Plumr that had saved my day, I noticed one of the movie questions was different. It asked: "Name three characters from the movies you can personally relate to and why." Interesting! That's pretty much an entry all by itself, so I'll blog about my shower drain another day.

And now, three people from the movies I personally relate to and why...

"Mark" from Love Actually (played by Andrew Licoln).

Love Actually is one of those films you either fall in love with immediately... or you despise because it is so contrived, manipulative, and filled with one-dimensional characters. On first viewing, I was firmly in the latter camp. I was disappointed that Richard Curtis would slap together a bunch of short bits from stories we've seen a hundred times before (including his own Notting Hill) and call it a film. The result is a patchwork of fantastic actors doing their best to add depth to characters that are so ill-defined that it's almost impossible to care about them.

But then it grows on you. You see it at the rental store and remember it had some funny bits so you watch it again. And again during the holidays because it's a Christmas film. And again because it happens to be on HBO. And soon you're watching it for no reason at all, when suddenly it dawns on you... the characters don't have to be three-dimensional, because the characters are you. Or your family & friends. Or people you know. You don't need the details of their lives to become invested in them, because you already know them.

This revelation dawned on me as I came upon the scene where Juliet has just discovered that her new husband's best friend is secretly in love with her. Mark is all at once overcome with the heartache, longing, shame, and the crushing disappointment of being in love with somebody he can never have...

Love Actually

Yeah. Definitely been there, done that, and can totally relate. Watching Andrew Licoln's brilliant, wordless interpretation of his character's agony is eerie, because it's as if he reached into my own experience and is expressing it on screen for everybody to see. Unfortunately, the director didn't allow his performance to stand on its own, and felt the need to blast music (Dido's lovely Here With Me) over the top... trying once again to manipulate the viewer unnecessarily... but it's still a scene that strikes me at my core every time I see it.

"Bob and Charlotte" from Lost in Translation (played by Bill Murray & Scarlett Johansson).

There are very few moments in Sophia Coppola's masterwork Lost in Translation which don't resonate with me. She managed to capture with almost supernatural accuracy exactly what it's like to be a foreigner in Japan... Being surrounded by millions of people yet feeling completely alone... The bizarre yet captivating world of Tokyo at night... Seeing your fellow foreigners over and over again because you're all stuck in the same loop... Not being able to sleep... Trying your best to fit into a culture which you will never, ever be able to fit into... The language barrier facing you at every turn... Feeling like an alien because you're so tall and freaky-looking compared to everybody else... It's all here. When I first saw Lost in Translation, I related so closely to Bob and Charlotte that I felt as if the film was speaking just to me. Like it was made just for me. Numerous subsequent viewings haven't changed my mind...

Lost In Translation

Scene after scene I find myself mentally going "that was me!" and the memories of my trips to Japan come flooding back. It's not often that a film so totally enters my psyche and consumes me, but this would definitely be one of them. Many people I know didn't care for this movie at all, and something in the back of my head is always wondering if the only reason I love it so much is because I relate to it so well.

And now, because I feel it's a public service to mention it, the Lost In Translation soundtrack is sublime, and available on iTunes. Each track is an atmospheric piece of magic that haunts you long after the last track has played. Of course, the song that everybody wants from the movie, Fuck the Pain Away by Peaches, is not on the soundtrack, but is also available on iTunes if you're looking for it.

"Joe" from Idiocracy (played by Luke Wilson).

Yeah, like a movie about a guy trapped in a world filled with morons is really that much of a stretch from my life of being trapped in a world filled with morons (present company excepted, of course). While not up to the impossibly high standards set by Mike Judge with his first film, Office Space, the not-so-implausible future depicted in Idiocracy is still brilliantly realized...


Everything run by dumbass politicians... Corporations taking over the country... Starbucks expanding into the sex trade... Tell me that this is anything but an accurate portrayal of the world of tomorrow! So yeah, seriously I can totally relate.

Brawndo. It's Got Electrolytes. It's What Plants Crave!

Categories: Memes 2006, Movies 2008Click To It: Permalink


  1. sizzle says:

    i really like this idea. hmmm, maybe i will borrow it for my blog if i ever write in it again. (i jest, i will, someday.) i haven’t seen idiocracy but heard it is good. the other two? love both.

  2. Suzy says:

    I agree with the Love Actually deal. Watched it more times than I thought I could. But the soundtrack is great. (Kelly Clarkson The Trouble With Love Is, Maroon 5 Sweetest Goodbye/Sunday morning. Wyclef Jean Take Me As I Am, The Pointer Sisters Jump, The Beach Boys God Only Knows etc.)

    I hated Lost in Translation. I found it so “Look, we’re in JAPAN!” And “No one has ever filmed this before and oh yes, we’re in JAPAN!”

  3. Chag says:

    Love Actually is such a great movie. It’s my favorite Christmas flick.

    I think I’m going to steal this too.

  4. Hilly says:

    I’m going to be one of the thieving whores as well because this is an amazing idea, mister!

    I absolutely LOVE “Love Actually”…there are a lot of identifiable characters in that movie for all of us. It breaks my heart just a little that you relate to Mark….just a little.

  5. Avitable says:

    I might borrow this, too. And I think I should watch Love, Actually again. I haven’t seen it since I saw it at the theater and enjoyed it.

  6. Brittopia30 says:

    I agree with all three movies but my ‘why’ is different. But also think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Joel), Love Me If You Dare (Sophie) and Elizabethtown (Drew & Claire) are worthy.

  7. kilax says:

    I wouldn’t have guessed you relate to Mark! But I definitely saw it coming with Joe 😉

  8. ~moe~ says:

    I totally loved “Mark” in that film, especially that scene. It’s not just guys who do that. The only thing I didn’t like was his line right before he walked out the door – he didn’t need to explain why he was leaving. Juliette knew, so it just seemed forced. But all of his emotions and the frustration were so real. I just wanted to hug him. (Of course he’s cute, so I’d hug him anyway.)

  9. Gosh, I ADORE Lost in Translation, and for the same reasons. It’s almost too intense for me to watch, but I do and I love it. Very cool.

  10. But I LOVE Mark with over the top “Here With Me”! That’s my favorite moment of the movie!

  11. So, yeah, I’m going to co-opt this as well.

    And Lost in Translation is heartbreaking and gorgeous.

  12. p.s. just call me CK – less alphabets to type. Unless you prefer typing 15 letters ‘stead of 2. 🙂

  13. Penelope says:

    Oh “Love Actually” is my favourite movie ever ever! I really don’t think it’s a chick-flick either. Every guy I have forced (asked nicely) to watch it has loved it too.
    “Is there anything worse than the total and utter agony of being in love?”
    (Reaches for the tissues)

  14. Miss Britt says:

    I was in the “loved” Love Actually camp. Although it hurts my heart to hear you associate so closely with Mark.

    You do the best Movie Reviews. Much better than my “meh, it sucked” or “OMG I LOVE THAT!!”

  15. Wayne says:

    I saw Lost in Translation but didn’t ‘get it.’ I know lots of people like it and herald it as something unique and masterful, so maybe I should give it another try. I don’t *mean* to be uncultured and blind…

    Idiocracy remains one of my favorite concepts. It would be funnier if it weren’t so potentially true.

  16. NYCWD says:

    Hmmm… I didn’t really get the whole Lost In Translation thing. I should watch it again.

    As the premier prophet of the goodness that is Love, Actually… I agree with your sentiments on it wholeheartedly… and surprisingly (or not) the Mark/Juliet story is my favorite just edging out the Prime Minister/Natalie story. There’s just something about the policeman breaking into the carol that ALWAYS makes me laugh.

  17. Absurdist says:

    Sadly enough, I have not seen any of these movies. I think I have Lost in Translation given to me by someone who said it was terrible. Guess I will need to watch it now.

    I completely am with you on the first one. Been there done that. Been there done that. Been….

  18. Haven’t seen two out of the three yet. Time to add these to the list.

  19. Göran says:

    Lost in translation was amazingly good. I´ve been planning to go to Japan for years but something always comes up that postpones it.

    One day…

  20. SJ says:

    I was in love with “Love Actually” by 15 minutes into it. ADORE that movie for exactly the reason you mentioned: I recognize myself and many of my friends in it.

    I need inspiration, so I too shall co-opt this idea.

  21. I thoroughly enjoyed Lost in Translation. I have always wanted to visit Japan and I think that’s why this movie appealed to me. That and Bill Murray. He’s comedic/acting genius. Did I spell comedic right?

  22. delmer says:

    People far smarter than you? What? You had a visit from the Q Continuum?

    (Technically they are just more powerful.)

  23. kapgar says:

    I always dug on Mark, too. I had friends (pre Katie) and most of them were women dating guys I knew or was friends with. Never fun.

    BTW, I am right there with you on your analysis of Love Actually. I hated it the first time I saw it. But Katie wanted to watch it again, so we did, and we loved it. And now we own it. Heh. Funny how that happens.

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