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Kino Korner April 5, 2004
Sofia's A Bad Choice
By Mark Ames Browse author Email

Lost In Translation

When I was an undergrad I recall this happening to me on more than one occasion. You're at a party or a bar, and you're snaking on some reasonably fuckable sophomore humanities student. The first 30 seconds go fine, but the next couple of hours are a descent into hell. She's one of those girls who's seen a lot of foreign movies, who has studied some film theory, and she wants you to know all about it.

Your problem is that, as a heterosexual male student in Berkeley, you get about as much snapper as an oligarch in Matrosska Tishina. Less, even.

So you sit there listening to her, cuz beggarz can't be chewzerz. And you're nodding your head as she talks pseudo-profound humanities platitudes about authenticity, the death of the auteur, signs and signifiers, and how language alienates us from each other. By this time a shrill voice in your head is screaming, "Lunge for her throat! Twist her neck! For the love of God, stop her now, for all of humanity's sake!!!"

The problem is that your unit has a different agenda. "Fake it like you're interested, and shut your trap," your unit says.

"But she's a pretentious fucking bimbo! She's the next Hitler! She's worse! I'd give anything to be in a cattle car now!"

"You'd keep your mouth shut if you knew what's good for you, mac."

Your unit sneers, pulls a black French beret onto its head, lights a Gauloise, then prods you into continuing the conversation -- a one-way conversation, in which she blabs, and you nod your head and agree, with the unspoken assumption that this is the price you'll have to pay in order to bed her later. And you look across the room into a mirror and see, to your horror, your nodding shameless head, which suddenly transforms into a horrible likeness of your unit, in French beret, smoking a Gauloise, laughing, literally laughing at you and mocking you:

"You stupeed Americain," it says. "Shut ze hell up zis complaining in your tete. I am ze penis, I have ze culture and ze world-weary savoir-faire. Let me handle zis, you stupeed, stupeed Americain."

And really, who can argue with an arrogant French-speaking penis?

The real joke is that these art girls never let you bed them. Listening to your unit in this situation is as foolish as Dulles taking De Gaulle's advice about why America should "save" Vietnam. See, the thing is that these pretentious art-bimbos don't like sex, at least not sex as we humanoids know it. For art-bimbos, a good lay is cornering some desperate fool like your humble movie reviewer and making him listen to her stupid ideas on film and the human condition. That, and occasionally hunting down people higher up on the social/art scale than they, who will later become conversation fodder fired, you guessed it, at suckers like me they'll corner at parties.

So they just talk to you, giving you a false sense of hope, and you foolishly give them your time, when you could just be home happily jerking off into your sink. At the end of the night, she leaves you to go home with her asexual photographer partner. You're left with nothing but bitterness and shame. Some girls use you for cash, which I think is perfectly fair; art-bimbos use your ear canals to reinforce their vanity, mistaking your nodding head for interest in her ideas rather than her body.

Why am I on my high horse about the awful cornered-by-an-art-bimbo scenario? Because this is exactly what spending two hours watching Lost in Translation felt like. It is truly the dumbest and most pretentious movie I have seen in at least a year -- in fact, I can't remember a movie as truly stupid and pretentious as this, because it's a really special combination of stupidity and pretentiousness that I didn't know existed outside of second-rate university cafes or dorm rooms. The experience of watching Lost in Translation was one of those rare moments in my seven years with the eXile where I genuinely felt like I was working at a job, a shitty job. I even called myself up to warn myself that I'll never allow myself to make me watch a movie like this again, then hung up on myself to prove a point. That'll show me!

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