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  |   October 28, 2014    1:54 PM ET

The following article is provided by Rolling Stone.


Many of us have random impulses, but Bill Murray is the man who acts on them, for all of us. Consider, for example, the time a couple of years ago when he caught a cab late at night in Oakland. Facing a long drive across the bay to Sausalito, he started talking with his cabbie and discovered that his driver was a frustrated saxophone player: He never had enough time to practice, because he was driving a taxi 14 hours a day. Murray told the cabbie to pull over and get his horn out of the trunk; the cabbie could play it in the back seat while Murray drove.

As he tells this story, Murray is sitting on a couch in a Toronto hotel. Wearing a rumpled shirt with purple stripes, he looks like he'd rather be playing golf than doing an interview. But his eyes light up as he remembers the sound of the cab's trunk opening: "This is gonna be a good one," he thought. "We're both going to dig the shit out of this." Then he decided to "go all the way" and asked the back-seat saxophonist if he was hungry. The cabbie knew a great late-night BBQ place, but worried that it was in a sketchy neighborhood. "I was like, 'Relax, you got the horn,'" says Murray. So around 2:15 a.m., Bill Murray ate Oakland barbecue while his cab driver blew on the saxophone for an astonished crowd. "It was awesome," Murray says. "I think we'd all do that."

Bill Murray Talks Turning Down 'Forrest Gump,' 'Philadelphia' Roles

In fact, most of us wouldn't (although we probably should). Most of us don't crash strangers' karaoke parties, or get behind a bar in Austin to fulfill all drink orders from whatever random bottle was handy, or give a kid $5 to ride his bike into a swimming pool. Murray has done all those things, and more. The world has an apparently bottomless hunger for true stories of Bill Murray making strangers' lives stranger, and he obliges, whether he's stealing a golf cart and driving it to a nightclub in Stockholm or reading poetry to construction workers. He makes our world a little bit weirder, the mundane routines of everyday life a little more exciting, or as Naomi Watts puts it, "Wherever he goes, he's leaving a trail of hysteria behind him."

When "Lost in Translation" was released in 2003 (Murray got an Oscar nomination for playing an aging movie star stranded in the same luxury Tokyo hotel as Scarlett Johansson), I asked director Sofia Coppola what her wish for the following year was. She looked startled. "My wish came true," she said. "Bill Murray did my movie."

Murray, 64, has not made it easy to get him to be in your movie. Unlike any other actor of his stature, he has no agent, no manager, no publicist. If you want to cast him, you get a friend of his to persuade him. Or you call his secret 1-800 number and leave your pitch after the tone. If he checks his voicemail, maybe he'll call you back. After he agrees to be in your movie, you may not hear from him again until the first day of shooting, when he'll show up in the makeup trailer, cracking jokes and giving back rubs. Sometimes his inaccessibility means that he misses out on films he would have excelled in – "Little Miss Sunshine," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?," "Monsters, Inc." – but Murray isn't particularly concerned. It's a worthwhile trade-off for him, considering that what he gets in return is freedom.

"Bill's whole life is in the moment," says Ted Melfi, who directed Murray in the new movie "St. Vincent." "He doesn't care about what just happened. He doesn't think about what's going to happen. He doesn't even book round-trip tickets. Bill buys one-ways and then decides when he wants to go home."

To persuade Murray to be in his movie, Melfi left a dozen voicemail messages, sent a letter, mailed scripts to P.O. boxes all over the country – and then on a Sunday morning, he got a text asking him to meet Murray at LAX an hour later. They drove through the desert for three hours, stopping at an In-N-Out Burger for grilled-cheese sandwiches, and by the end of the ride Murray had signed on. Melfi had one request: Please tell somebody else that this happened, because nobody is ever going to believe me.

In Pics: A Short History of Bill Murray's Offscreen Antics

Murray plays the title role in "St. Vincent": a Vietnam vet with a weakness for booze and gambling. He becomes the cantankerous baby sitter for the kid next door, in a relationship that feels like a reprise of 1979's "Meatballs," if Murray's counselor character, Tripper Harrison, had a few decades of hard living under his belt. The movie walks the line of mawkishness, but it works because of Murray's unsentimental performance.

Like all of Murray's best film work, it originates in his stress-free mentality. "Someone told me some secrets early on about living," Murray tells a crowd of Canadian film fans celebrating "Bill Murray Day" that same weekend. "You can do the very best you can when you're very, very relaxed." He says that's why he got into acting: "I realized the more fun I had, the better I did." On the set, the pleasure he takes in performing doesn't end when the camera stops rolling.

"It was sometimes challenging to get Bill to come to set," Melfi says, "not because he's a diva but because we couldn't find him." He would wander away, or hop on a scooter, or drop by an Army recruiting center. The movie hired a production assistant just to follow Murray around, but he was always able to lose her.

Murray's "St. Vincent" co-star Melissa McCarthy confides, "Bill literally throws banana peels in front of people." I assume she's using "literally" to mean "metaphorically," as many people do, but it turns out to be true: Once during a break in filming when the lights were getting reset, Murray tossed banana peels in the paths of passing crew members. "Not to make them slip," McCarthy clarifies, "but for the look on their face when they're like, ‘Is that really a banana peel in front of me?'"


Murray transforms even the most mundane interactions into opportunities for improvisational comedy. Peter Chatzky, a financial-software developer from Briarcliff Manor, New York, remembers being on vacation at a hotel in Naples, Florida, when his grade-school kids spotted Murray having a drink poolside and asked him for autographs. Murray gruffly offered to inscribe their forearms but ended up writing on a couple of napkins instead. Jake, a skinny kid, got "Maybe lose a little weight, bud," signed "Jim Belushi." Julia got "Looking good, princess. Call me," signed "Rob Lowe."

Murray grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the fifth of nine children. His father, a lumber salesman, died when Bill was 17. He spent his 20th birthday in jail, having been busted at a Chicago airport with eight and a half pounds of weed. After he got out on probation, he pursued acting; six years later, he broke through on the second season of "Saturday Night Live." These days, Murray spends a lot of his time in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is part-owner of the minor-league baseball team the Charleston RiverDogs. As "director of fun," Murray will dress up in a hot dog costume, or even run around the tarp-covered diamond during a rain delay, concluding with a belly-flop slide – safe at home. So many people in Charleston have Bill Murray stories and sightings that a local radio station instituted a regular "Where's Bill?" feature.

Recently, Murray attended a birthday dinner in Jedburg, South Carolina, invited by the chef Brett McKee. "My youngest daughter used to date his youngest son," McKee says. "The party was in the middle of freaking nowhere, with people Bill didn't know, and he was great – he was just hanging out like a regular dude. A couple of the guests were old country people, and they were showing him their moose calls." After dinner, there was dancing; Murray commandeered the remote control and was captured on video getting down to his selections: Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny," and DJ Snake and Lil Jon's "Turn Down for What."

In Pics: The 20 Greatest Bill Murray Movies

In April, Ashley Donald and her fiancé, Erik Rogers, were in downtown Charleston, posing for their engagement photos in front of historic houses. "As our photographer took a picture," she recalls, "we noticed a guy standing behind him, lifting his shirt over his face and rubbing his belly." Then he pulled down his shirt, revealing that he was Bill Murray. The betrothed couple were flabbergasted, but had enough presence of mind to ask him to take a picture with them. Murray posed, congratulated them and kept walking.

Murray made international news in May when he gave a toast at tech-startup manager EJ Rumpke's bachelor party, at a steakhouse in Charleston. Murray didn't technically crash – one of Rumpke's friends spotted him at the restaurant and invited him – but he took the opportunity to drop some bona fide wisdom, telling the guys that just as funerals are actually for the living, bachelor parties are actually for unmarried friends. He advised the guests that if they found someone they thought they wanted to spend their lives with, they shouldn't plan a wedding and book a caterer, but should travel around the world. And if they were still in love on their return to the States, "get married at the airport."

"He grabbed my leg and threw me up in the air," Rumpke says. "And then he snuck out." Rumpke got married without a global journey, but Murray says that one of his own friends tried the scheme – and it worked out terribly. "The next time I saw him, he leapt all over me, because he was on his way down the slippery chute and he found out that was really the wrong thing," Murray says with a grin. "He was very happy about it."


The website urban dictionary defines "Bill Murray Story" as "an outlandish (yet plausible) story that involves you witnessing Bill Murray doing something totally unusual, often followed by him walking up to you and whispering, 'No one will ever believe you.' " Ask Murray about his reputation as the master of surreal celebrity encounters and he grimaces, not eager to explain his motivations. But he will concede that he's aware of how his presence is received. "No one has an easy life," he says. "It's this face we put on, that we're not all getting rained on. But you can't start thinking about numbers – if I can change just one person, or I had three nice encounters. You can't think that way, because you're certainly going to have one where you say, ‘What did I just do?' You're a disappointment to yourself, and others, imminently. Any second."

Sitting at a table in the upscale Toronto restaurant Montecito, which he co-owns, filmmaker Ivan Reitman laughs as he remembers a day 40 years ago. He was producing a theatrical revue called "The National Lampoon Show," starring John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Bill's brother Brian – before "SNL." Reitman walked down the streets of New York with Bill, who was totally unknown, but was already treating the universe as his own private playground. Murray adopted what they called "the honker voice" – the obnoxious voice he later used in "Caddyshack." "As we were walking across the street," Reitman says, "he would yell at the top of his lungs, ‘Watch out! There's a lobster loose!' He would see somebody in the street and say, ‘Hey, get some hot butter, it's the only way to get 'em!' They would start laughing. They didn't know who this crazy person was, but they knew he was funny."

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In 1978, when Reitman was putting together "Meatballs," he spent a month persuading the 27-year-old Murray to do the movie. At that point, he had a phone number that you could actually get him on. Murray wanted to spend his summer off from "Saturday Night Live" playing baseball and golf, but Reitman pleaded, and Belushi advised Murray that it didn't matter what the movie was, so long as he was the star. "Meatballs" set the template for Murray's working methods: He closed his deal the day before the movie started shooting and routinely ignored the script. His first day, he improvised his way through a scene where he's introducing all the counselors-in-training – he showed up, read the pages and threw them away, saying, "I got this."

When Murray first saw an action scene cut together from 1984's "Ghostbusters," he says, "I knew then I was going to be rich and famous. Not only did I go back to work with a lot of attitude, I was late. I didn't care – I knew that we could be late every day for the rest of our lives."

Reitman leans back. "He lives his life to his standard, even though sometimes he's lazy and sometimes he's eccentric, and he's frustrating to other creative people, and, frankly, unfair, because everything has to go on his clock," he says. "But he's worth it."

Melfi says there's no difference between the public Murray and the private Murray: "What you see is what you get. He throws people in the pool in public, and he throws people in the pool in private."

Sitting in his hotel room, Murray gently disagrees. "The private me just gets lost and wanders, and is more easily bushwhacked and taken down for dreaming nonsensical stuff. The public me can get a bit more emotional because people are pushing my buttons. But when I'm at my best? The working part of me. I get a lot more done. By really getting into your work, the nonessential stuff drops away." Through this lens, Murray's ongoing adventures with the public can be considered an effort to make real life more like the movies.

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In 2011, Murray filmed a promotional video for the Trident Academy near Charleston; one of his six sons was a student there. (Murray has been married and divorced twice.) Director David W. Smith was working on the shoot. "He came in hot and a little grumpy," Smith says. "He was about 30 minutes late, and he complained that there were too many lights. He had a script, but he sat down in the school library and ad-libbed the whole thing. He got all these teddy bears and had a conversation with them. We're looking at each other – this guy is off-his-face crazy – but there was a method to his madness."

Murray loosened up as he played basketball with the school's kids, and stuck around for lunch (his request: a tuna sandwich with no crusts), ultimately signing autographs and taking pictures. Smith recalls, "As the shoot went on, he became more and more like the guy that everyone thinks they know, which I guess is who he actually is." Smith asked Murray if he would walk down the hall with the crew members so they could make a short film of it. Murray was confused, but he complied – when the camera cut, he kept walking, heading to his car without breaking stride.

Smith played the footage in slow motion, set an old Kinks song to it and had a short Bill Murray film that looked like an outtake from a Wes Anderson movie. Ultimately, about 2 million people watched an online one-minute film of Bill Murray (and four other guys) walking down a hallway in slow motion. Smith had internalized one of Murray's principles: Don't accept the world as it is, but find some way to inject life into its most mundane moments.

Another essential Murray principle: Wear your wisdom lightly, so insights arrive as punch lines. When pressed about his interactions with the public, he admits that the encounters are, to a certain extent, "selfish." Murray shifts his weight on the couch and explains, "My hope, always, is that it's going to wake me up. I'm only connected for seconds, minutes a day, sometimes. And suddenly, you go, ‘Holy cow, I've been asleep for two days. I've been doing things, but I'm just out.' If I see someone who's out cold on their feet, I'm going to try to wake that person up. It's what I'd want someone to do for me. Wake me the hell up and come back to the planet."

Doing a Q&A at a Toronto movie theater, Murray is asked, "How does it feel to be Bill Murray?" – and he takes the extremely meta query seriously, asking the audience to consider the sensation of self-awareness. "There's a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate . . . up and down your spine," Murray says. "And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile. So what's it like to be me? Ask yourself, ‘What's it like to be me?' The only way we'll ever know what it's like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself that's where home is." As the audience applauds, Bill Murray smiles inscrutably, alone in a crowded room, safe at home.

Movie Review: St. Vincent -- The Passion of St. Bill

Marshall Fine   |   October 9, 2014    9:19 AM ET


Bill Murray has had the most piquant of film careers, launching himself from Saturday Night Live into goofy comedies that eventually gave way to something deeper and more satisfying, appearing in everything from Zombieland (as a version of himself) to the films of Wes Anderson to wildly varied recent work such as Hyde Park on Hudson and Get Low.

With St. Vincent, Murray gives his most soulful performance since Lost in Translation. As Vincent McKenna, he gets to unleash a growling, dyspeptic misanthrope unlike any he has played before. He avoids the cliches inherent in the tropes of Theodore Melfi's script and gives the film its heart and its wicked edge.

Vincent initially seems like one of those rogues scrambling to stay a step ahead of disaster in his life. He's not a lovable rogue -- just a humorously crotchety guy with a drinking habit and money problems.

He's about at the end of his rope when a new neighbor moves in and her moving truck clips a branch off a tree and on to Vincent's car. But the neighbor is a struggling single mom (Melissa McCarthy) who winds up hiring Vincent to watch her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) after school.

This review continues on my website.

8 Restaurants Made Famous By The Silver Screen

U.S. News Travel   |   October 1, 2014   10:42 AM ET

Occasionally, the magic of TV and film will flutter over from the sound stages to the real world, allowing fans to briefly exist in these imaginary realms. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the restaurants and bars that briefly doubled as TV or film sets. Travel to Paris to the cafe "Amélie" made famous. Head to New York City for a slice of Louis C.K.'s preferred late-night snack. Trek over to Washington state for some "Twin Peaks" cherry pie, or journey to the top of the Tokyo skyline for a glass of whiskey à la "Lost in Translation." Get ready to reenact all of your favorite scenes while chowing down in these eight iconic eateries (and don't worry, that one from "When Harry Met Sally" isn't included).

See: Cafes Your Favorite Authors Loved

Café des Deux Moulins -- "Amélie"

The director of "Amélie," Jean-Pierre Jeunet, lived across the street from Café des Deux Moulins (which adopts its moniker from two nearby windmills -- Moulin Rouge and Moulin de la Galette). Realizing he wouldn't be able to replicate its charm via soundstage, he opted to film on location here. Today, the brasserie is just as charming as it is in the movie, celebrating its associated fame with "Amélie" artwork displayed throughout the Montmartre cafe. The menu pays homage to the film by offering Crème Brûlée d'Amélie Poulain, and yes, cracking the top of it with your spoon while smiling sheepishly is practically mandatory.

New York Bar, Park Hyatt Tokyo -- "Lost in Translation"

The evocative and decadent backdrop where Bob (Bill Murray) strikes up an improbable companionship with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in "Lost in Translation" exists in the Park Hyatt Tokyo's New York Bar. Film fans will recognize the panoramic views (the lounge is situated on the 52nd floor of the hotel), as well as the bar where many of the movie's iconic scenes took place. So famed is its vantage point that a trip to Tokyo is not complete without ordering a drink here. Just make it a Japanese whisky. After all, "for relaxing times, make it Suntory time."

Cafe Lalo -- "You've Got Mail"
New York City

With its floor-to-ceiling French windows, romantic lighting and European design, Cafe Lalo was a local NYC favorite long before "You've Got Mail" stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks filmed their endearingly rude exchange here. Cute as the crinkle in Meg Ryan's nose, the cafe's popularity rose after the film debuted in 1998 and is now filled with tourists and local artists alike who come here for its impressive array of desserts (more than 100 cakes to choose from). Luckily, smartphones have done away with needing to denote oneself by placing a rose in a book, however, in a place with such charming history, a little whimsical nod doesn't hurt.

See: How to Eat Like a Local... in NYC

Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery -- "The Sopranos"
Bloomfield, New Jersey

The final episode of "The Sopranos" was filmed at this unassuming soda shop and diner that's been in operation since 1939. Chosen because of its traditional atmosphere, it was at Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery that Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) waited for his family in the final scene of the series while listening to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" on the tabletop jukebox. Now a tourism mecca for diehard fans (the diner hawks "final epsiode" merhandise alongside its boxed candies), it hasn't lost its personable nature. When Gandolfini passed away in 2013, the diner placed a "Reserved," sign on his booth as a modest memorial. Grab a booth for yourself and order a plate of onion rings -- Tony's favorite.

Twede's Cafe -- "Twin Peaks"
North Bend, Washington

Fans of "Twin Peaks" and its prequel, "Fire Walk With Me," will recognize the exterior of Twede's Cafe as the series' Double R Diner. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed much of the original interior in 2000, but the show's ghost lives on through the photos that cover the back hallway and the cafe's peddling of filming location maps. The eatery also serves Agent Dale Cooper's (Kyle MacLachlan) favorite cherry pie and, of course, a "damn fine cup o' coffee."

Ben's Pizzeria -- "Louie"
New York City

In the City that Never Sleeps, one will inevitably need some late-night eats. Might as well take a cue from comedian Louis C.K., who stops at Ben's Pizzeria -- a Greenwich Village bar crowd favorite -- in the opening credits of his show "Louie." While it may not be the "Most Famous Pizza in the World," as its awning so audaciously states, it does draw in a sizeable crowd filled with hungry locals and tourists with good taste. Just don't try to eat the whole slice in three bites.

See: The Best Things to Do in New York City

Ashley Hardaway is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of "Other Places Publishing guide to Ukraine." You can follow her on Twitter at @ADHardaway, connect with her on LinkedIn or keep up to date on her travels at

Why All Men Should Carry a Murse

Aimee Heckel   |   February 28, 2014    6:21 PM ET

As we climb into my parents' Prius, we hear a frantic voice shouting from behind us. It's the server, flying through the front doors of Royal Wok. He waves something wildly over his head.

"Hey, mister!" he calls, his accent thick.

The waiter at our regular Thursday dining facility thinks my father's name is Mr. Ho. Apparently, the Japanese symbols for "harmony" and "change for the better" that my dad has tattooed on his upper left arm actually mean "Mr. Ho" in Chinese. My dad is totally cool with that and, in fact, now prefers to be called thusly.

"Mister Ho!" the waiter hollers again across the Longmont parking lot. "You forgot your, uh... "

He stops, looking down at the object in his hands: a black, leather satchel that contains my father's phone, Kindle, some pens, chapstick, loose change and a driver's license that does not, in fact, read "Mr. Ho." Said satchel has a shoulder strap.

The waiter eyes the object with concern and confusion, for the title of such an object has been utterly lost in translation.

The word he is looking for is "murse."

Yes, my father proudly totes a man-purse. A mandbag. How else can he carry everything around with him, he reasons. And I second that. I don't know how men can function in society without a fully stocked purse.

My husband explains that he has strict assigned seating in his shorts pockets for each must-have object. Keys in the left front. Wallet in right back. Phone in left back. Cigarettes in right front. He wears Dickies for the bonus fifth pocket, which belongs to whatever toy or trash our 3-year-old daughter forces upon him.

If a single extra object enters his circulation, it breaks the entire system. This includes loose change, which is why our daughter does not think money grows on trees, but she does think it rains from daddies. He leaves a pool of nickels everywhere he sits.

"My car is my purse," he explains. "I keep everything else in there. That's why men can never go more than 200 yards from their car."

Some men who understand the value of a "murse," but who are still afraid to make the full leap, wear small backpacks or "sling daypacks," which are single-strap, zippered pouches. Um. Tell me how that's different from a "murse," and I'll tell you how the Japanese symbol for "change for the better" is different from "Ho" in Chinese. Actually, I can't tell you that. I speak German.

My husband has to scoot and shuffle every time he sits down, to get comfortable sitting on a wallet or phone. Or he has to unload and reload. Seems like extra work to me. But as he sees it, it's worth it to have your hands free the rest of the time.

"But I'm hands-free with a purse, too," I explain. "It stays on my shoulder."

"No. It doesn't. It never stays on your shoulder," he corrects me. "I always end up carrying your purse."

Suddenly I get it. He doesn't carry a "murse" because he already is carrying a purse.

And suddenly I understand my dad, too. My wise, wise father, a husband of 40 years. If he's already carrying his own purse, his shoulders are occupied. And better to carry a lightweight black "sling daypack" than my mother's 70-pound, bedazzled, colorful, full-sized piece of luggage, bursting with lipstick and concealer and other mysterious feminine products.

No doubt, Mr. Ho understands how to "change for the better."

I think I'll get my hubby his own "murse." With a special pocket just for my stuff. All problems solved.

Read more tales straight from the strangest city on Earth, Boulder, Colo., here: Only In Boulder.

Is 'Her' A Sequel To 'Lost In Translation'?

Mike Ryan   |   January 7, 2014    2:17 PM ET

It would be a bit disingenuous and certainly unfair for me to call Spike Jonze’s “Her” an answer to Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film, “Lost in Translation.” Mainly, doing so would undercut what Jonze has accomplished with “Her.” (There will be an italicized “but” coming soon enough.)

“Her” (which finally opens nationwide this week) depicts a romance between a sad sack named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a highly advanced operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It’s presented in a way that’s not only believable, but I am now convinced that this will happen in reality, if it hasn’t already (I’m not judging, I just can’t imagine Siri providing entertaining conversation beyond the second hour of the relationship -- directions to the nearest Fazoli’s, notwithstanding).

But, it’s difficult to ignore the connection between these two films.

In 2003, Sofia Coppola released “Lost in Translation,” and most viewers pretty much immediately assumed that the characters of Charlotte (yes, Johansson) and John (Giovanni Ribisi), who are going through some serious marital strife in the film, were actually avatars for Coppola and then-husband Jonze, who were in the midst of their own marital discourse. (The fact that John was a music video director who sounded an awful lot like Spike Jonze didn’t really do a lot to dissuade people.)

Coppola addressed this conception in a 2003 Entertainment Weekly interview:

"It's not Spike," insists Coppola. "But there are elements of him there, elements of experiences. There are elements of me in all the characters."

That’s about as close to saying, “Yes, of course it is, are you insane?,” as Coppola can get without an actual confirmation. (Coppola and Jonze’s marriage ended in 2003.)

In “Lost in Translation,” Charlotte is in Japan with John for one of his video shoots when she turns her attention to an older man, Bob Harris (Bill Murray, in an Academy Award-nominated performance), for what turns out to be a deeply emotional, yet non-sexual relationship. It should be noted that Bob is married, has children and is also a famous actor. If Charlotte is thinking that she has a future with Bob, this is a very unrealistic expectation.

In “Her,” Theodore’s marriage is all but over, all that’s left to do is sign the divorce papers. The final meeting between Theodore and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) to sign those very papers feels so intimate that while watching it I almost felt guilty, as if I was eavesdropping on a private conversation.

In Mark Harris’ excellent profile of Jonze, he makes this same observation. “The protagonist of ‘Her’ and his creator are both fortyish men who are divorced from high-achieving women, and the decision to cast Johansson in a story of lonely-guy, emotional displacement places ‘Her’ in a kind of fascinating inadvertent dialogue with Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation.’”

It should be noted, Catherine is a published author and during the divorce-papers scene, the word “book” is easily exchangeable with the word “film.” Theodore and Charlotte even discuss her relationship with critics.

Does Jonze admit that there are at least “elements” of his relationship with Coppola scattered throughout “Her”? Jonze is certainly playing things a bit more coy than Coppola did. As Harris also notes, “Jonze doesn’t discuss his movies as if they were fragments of an emotional autobiography.” But, boy, it sure is difficult to hear Catherine tell Theodore, “You always wanted to have a wife without the challenges of actually dealing with anything real,” and not think that there’s something deeply personal there.

And, like Charlotte’s relationship with Bob in “Lost in Translation," Theodore’s relationship with Samantha in “Her” is even more unrealistic. These are both movies about married people finding a connection with someone or something that sure feels real -- but, in the end, isn’t.

“Her” and “Lost In Translation” would make an excellent and quite beautiful double feature. It would almost act as a real version of a movie like “He Said, She Said,” only without the shtick and with two directors working at the top of their game. It’s not only the relationship between the two directors –- and their use of Johansson in both films -- and how that forms the relationships in each film. It’s also that visually the two films are strikingly similar, with beautiful shots of forlorn cityscapes (Los Angeles and Tokyo, respectively) dominating the frame.

It’s just a shame that even if these two directors don’t belong together in real life, neither of them will ever admit that these two films belong together.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

Popcorn Preview: Her

  |   December 30, 2013    4:10 PM ET

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Christopher Rosen   |   September 12, 2013   11:25 AM ET

At the time of its release, there was no way of knowing that "Lost In Translation" would become such a revered cult classic. "I didn't think anyone was going to be interested, so it's really a surprise to me that that many people have seen it and that it did as well as it did," writer-director Sofia Coppola told The Daily Beast in a new interview to celebrate the film's 10th anniversary. "I felt like it was really indulgent, so yeah, it was a surprise. And it's still surprising to me."

After hitting the festival circuit in Telluride, Colo., Venice and Toronto, "Lost in Translation" opened in limited release on Sept. 12, 2003. (The film's wide release happened on Oct. 3, 2003.) Coppola's film, her second as a director, cast Bill Murray as famed fictional actor Bob Harris and relative newcomer Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, the young woman who strikes up a relationship with the aging star during a trip to Tokyo, Japan. Their tender, chaste romance is filled with longing glances and knowing silences. Also, karaoke.

Johansson and Murray both won acclaim for their performances, but it was Murray who basked in the glow of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, earning a nomination for Best Actor. He would lose the award to Sean Penn.

"I didn't know it at the time, that I had gotten a little caught up in the possibility of winning," Murray said about his Oscar nod during press rounds for "Hyde Park on Hudson" last year. "So, shame on myself for getting caught in it. But I won a lot of the prizes [for 'Lost in Translation']. So I thought it didn't seem unnatural to expect that I would be rewarded just one more time. So when it didn't happen, I thought, 'Well that's kind of funny.' But it's a funny thing and people get prizes. People don't get prizes. That's not why you work. It's nice when you do." (Coppola, for her part, did win a prize: the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.)

Following the release of "Lost in Translation," much was made of the film's ambiguous ending, where Bob whispers something to Charlotte before heading off to the airport. Years later, the content of their conversation was revealed with the help of some digital whiz-bang, but the details won't be spoiled here. (Feel free to ruin the moment for yourself by watching this video.)

Instead, we'll just post the ending of "Lost In Translation" in its heart-melting entirety. Watch below, make it Suntory time, and leave your thoughts about the film in the comments section. (For more on "Lost In Translation," read Marlow Stern's anniversary interview with Coppola over at The Daily Beast.)

10 Famous Movie Characters You'd Like to Drink With   |   September 5, 2013    4:18 PM ET

We love cocktails and films. The only thing that's better is a movie character who likes to drink.

From James Bond sipping his signature cocktails to Frank the Tank putting down a beer bong in record time, we've come to appreciate just about every type of boozy movie moment there is. (Perhaps the Academy should consider a new Oscar category...)

So we've put together a list of the top 10 male movie characters we'd like to have a drink -- or a night out -- with. Who would you add to our list?

When You Can't Read the Original, There's Always.... In Translation

Christopher Atamian   |   June 28, 2013   11:24 AM ET

What (and how much) gets lost in translation? How does the translator operate the difficult task of rendering an author's words and stylistic choices into often completely different languages? How do politics, aesthetics and culture influence and affect translation? The answer to these and other fascinating questions are presented in this new anthology of diverse and enlightening essays by some of the world's leading writers and translators including Haruki Murakami, José Manuel Prieto, Eliot Weinberger, Peter Cole and David Bellos. Readers may be surprised to find out for example that translation has alternately been considered a sign of divine grace for its exactitude (as in the Greek biblical translation known as the Septuagint), or instead punishable by death for changes deemed to be unacceptable or sacrilegious. The Italian witticism "Traduttore, Traditore" ("Translator, traitor") sums up the historical view of translation as a subversive or treacherous practice.

The anthology is intelligently edited by Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky and also presents pieces on and literary history that will be of interest to the general reader as well. In one of her two essays here ("The Will to Translate: Four Episodes in a Local History of Global Cultural Exchange") Allen, a noted translator of Spanish and French and a tenured professor at Baruch College, ties in the history of English language translation of Latin American texts to President Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy in fascinating ways.

Allen's co-editor Susan Bernofsky, perhaps the world's most noted German-English translator also makes a sensible contribution with her essay on translating Walser: "Translation and the Art of Revision." In it, she reviews her own process of translation in some detail: Bernofsky admits to producing no less than four edits of any text. Maureen Freely's essay on translating Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk amidst threats from the so-called Turkish "deep state" is enlightening for the politics involved as well as the difficult linguistic choices she has made over the years. Perhaps the most playful read comes at the end of the anthology in the form of Clare Cavanagh's witty essay "The Art of Losing: Polish Poetry in Translation."

Cavanagh introduces Elizabeth Bishop's villanelle One Art and its translation or "re-creation" into Polish by her sometimes co-translator Stanislaw Baranscak as a starting point for an extended commentary on the necessary "losses" and creative metamorphoses that the translator must employ in order to create any noteworthy new text. Good translations it turns out are almost never entirely "faithful to the original" -- the whole art form can turn in fact on knowing instead when to move away from an original and seemingly immutable sentence structure or etymological choice -- it's the translator's own artistic license, one might say.

There's a little bit for everyone to enjoy when reading In Translation. If you have ever wondered exactly what a translator does beyond the obvious (i.e. translate): what choices he/she must make, how he or she chooses between one word form or phrasing rather than another, but also how translators often resolve (or not) often difficult relationships with editors, writers and even readers at times, then you are most likely to find this a most useful volume. Granted, these types of questions may not keep the average American up late at night, but they are fascinating nonetheless.

In Translation, Edited by Esther Allen and Susan Bernoksky, Columbia University Press, New York, 2013 is available at: here

Lost in Translation: What I Say vs. What They Hear

Mackenzie Lawrence   |   June 13, 2013    6:17 PM ET

I need a translator. Even though my kids and I speak the same language, apparently, we don't speak the same language.

What I say: "Let's go, please, we're running late."
What they hear: "We have all the time in the world. Yes, you can watch six more shows. And please, definitely take an hour to pick out your clothes. While you're at it, don't forget to dump your milk on the table, ask for three more breakfasts and tell me you have to poop as I'm opening the front door to leave. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there."

What I say: "It's time to clean up."
What they hear: "It's time to play and make an even bigger mess around here. Don't worry, I'll clean it all up later when you suddenly develop a sick tummy and a leg that feels like it's going to fall off. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Please be quiet for two minutes while I'm on the phone."
What they hear: "Please scream at each other in voices that should only be used if you're being chased by a bear, and use this time to ask me 101 questions about why we have fingernails. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "What would you like for lunch?"
What they hear: "Please tell me everything in the entire world that you do not like to eat, and make sure that you include everything that we actually have in the house and that you liked yesterday on that list. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "We're going to the store to pick up a few things for dinner."
What they hear: "We're going to the store so you can run around like crazy people and beg me to buy you everything you see because even though we just had lunch I know how incredibly starving you are, so a donut sounds like a great idea. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Oh you look so cute, please hold still so I can get a picture."
What they hear: "Immediately stop that cute thing you're doing and make the most horrendous faces you can think of while wiggling and jumping around and looking everywhere but at the camera. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "The baby is sleeping, it's quiet time."
What they hear: "It's time to get out all of the toys that make noise. And be sure to drop everything imaginable on the hardwood floors and slam all of the doors in the house. And yes, now is the perfect time to pretend you're in a rock band. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "I'll be right back, I need to go to the bathroom."
What they hear: "Grab your food and all of your toys and come with me. I love having company in the bathroom. The more the merrier. Please also take this opportunity to ask me how it is you came out down there and unroll the entire roll of toilet paper. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Quickly, please go get me a burp cloth from the closet."
What they hear: "Please walk around the house at a snail's pace looking in every possible closet but the one where we keep the burp cloths and then get distracted by a shiny object and never bring me anything because I like it when spit up seeps into the carpet and dries on my clothes. It makes for a nice aroma. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Please play nicely."
What they hear: "Yes, you two are mortal enemies and should treat each other as such. Everything in the house actually belongs to just you and no one else, so I completely understand why you're screaming bloody murder and acting like that toy you haven't played with in four months is your most prized possession. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Let's try to keep those new clothes clean."
What they hear: "New clothes make the best play clothes. Yes, you should absolutely go paint me a picture and then go outside to search for worms in the mud. And if you can manage to get some ketchup and chocolate on them, that'd be just swell. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

What I say: "Goodnight, sleep tight."
What they hear: "It's party time! After you throw all of your stuffed animals off your bed to make room for all of your jumping, please make sure you get out of bed no less than five times each to come and tell me that you are hot. Or cold. Or hungry. Or thirsty. Or have to go to the bathroom. Or that you hear a witch outside. Oh, and why don't you go ahead and throw an epic tantrum in there?"

This post was originally published on Mackenzie's blog Raising Wild Things. You can also find Mackenzie on Facebook and Twitter.


Emma McLaughlin   |   February 14, 2013   12:09 PM ET

A friend recently shared that for his upcoming birthday, he's asked his wife to put him into a medically-induced coma. I just didn't see our thirties having quite so much in-ten-si-ty, to quote Lost in Translation, the film featuring a girl with too much time on her hands. Remember that feeling? Jet-lagged from childhood, drowning in fear we wouldn't find our place? My slate was as overwhelmingly open as it's now full.

Between finishing emails, loading the fridge, unloading the dishwasher, getting our son to eat his chicken nuggets and my dog to swallow her pill, it takes approximately 32 days for my husband and I to complete a discussion and 46 to wrap up a fight. Now, having pulled off the seasonal hat trick of hosting Thanksgiving, getting the tree up, decorated and down, staying conscious and, pine needles still in our socks, kiss worthy at midnight -- we get Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day: Rubbing singles' noses in their lack of a mate and the noses of couples in their lack of time. I once ran this heart-festooned gauntlet with White Russians and Mary J. Blige, but success as a married eludes me -- and not for lack of trying.

In the beginning, I'd rush from work to squeeze on the prix-fix conveyor with those who'd made their reservation a month earlier to BE ROMANTIC -- GO! But after chewing one too many chicken breasts with a frigid draft blasting my ambitious garters, a ban was declared. As one observant friend put it, "My husband does not find me attractive when I'm cold."

Next, I did what a good wife is supposed to: cook a chic meal and serve it on the living room floor. He even attempted the Good Husband version to the same unfortunate end. Rich, sexy food does not lead to the romance, it leads to the toilet. I'm sorry, but anyone who tells you otherwise is a functional alcoholic. Which brings us to the bubble bath. Fresh from a harrowing you-have-to-eat-at-least-two-bites throw down (see 'chicken nuggets' above), not smarting like the candidate who got her ass handed to her requires mind alteration. And parenting hungover just feels disgusting.

The marketplace astutely ensures anything remotely pink and involving two is quadruple the price, ruling out getaways, spas and hot air balloon rides. Flowers are so jacked I could eat them and still not enjoy them enough. A Hallmark card with paragraphs about my beauty written by a stranger is vaguely depressing.

So here's what: We've finally said FU to V-day.

I've been with my husband for seventeen years. And regardless of what the greeting card Lords ordain, I still have a crush on him- - maybe not 365 days a year -- but most. In the moments we catch eyes across a playground, I still swoon. His skin against mine is still a hot shock of luck. And when he finds my hand under the covers, I still feel a piece of myself click forever into place. We steal our moments where we can and if we are so blessed, I'm told before I know it everything slows way down. God willing, we'll have the luxury of rattling around together and it can be V-day every day.

In the meantime we're really hoping somebody takes on this medically induced coma thing--couple-style. They figured out Karaoke club rooms and Heattech thigh highs... a girl can dream.

Amanda McGowan   |   November 14, 2012    6:01 PM ET

This scion of film royalty ("The Godfather" director, Francis Ford Coppola, is her dad) has certainly made a name for herself in the movie biz with Academy Award-winning films like "Lost In Translation," and cult favorites like "The Virgin Suicides" and "Somewhere." As one of the few reigning female directors in a gender-biased industry, Sofia Coppola is something of an anomaly. She has made even more of a statement by putting complicated female protagonists (played by the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning) on the big screen.

When it comes to her personal style, it is just as feminine as her films. Sofia, who interned at Chanel as a teenager and started her label, Milkfed, just out of college is the epitome of effortless cool -- she prefers little black dresses, barely there makeup and minimalist pieces with unique personal touches like cat-eye sunglasses. She might be BFFs with Marc Jacobs and have a closet full of Louis Vuitton, but don't expect this chic girl to be a showoff.

This 1991 photo shows a twenty-year-old Sofia already mingling with the fashion elite at the Valentino Fashion Awards. She went for a basic-but-beautiful makeup look that could totally work today. With glamorous winged eyeliner, nude lips and glossy hair she looks just as polished as she does today. Will you try Sofia's look at your next party?

sofia coppola


Shop the look and check out more from our A Look Back archives:

sofia coppola

Art by Raydene Salinas

Lauren Ralph Lauren Earrings, DCNL Hair Elastics, Bobbi Brown Lipstick, Tweezerman Mini Brow Kit, Stila Eye Liner, Bed Head Smoothing Serum

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Was it Lost In Translation? Blue Jays, Yunel Escobar Will Learn the Hard Way.

Julio Pabon   |   September 20, 2012    5:43 PM ET

Was it a joke, or was it "lost in translation? Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar learned that what we say and do in Spanish is not always interpreted the same way in English. Yunel thought it was a joke to write, "TU ERES MARICON" (You're a faggot) on his eye-black stickers that are sometimes worn under the eyes to reduce the sun's glare. His action has led to a flurry of criticism and actions including a press conference to apologize, a three-day suspension and three days of docked pay that will be donated to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Yunel Almenares Escobar is a 30-year-old Cuban born who is single and who resides in Miami, Florida. He attended Matires de Barbados School in Havana, Cuba. Like many young men his age I have been with in Puerto Rico and in Cuba, I can attest that the word, "maricon" is many times used to describe many other things other than its official derogatory meaning. It can be used to mean, "Dumb, Idiot, Weak," or to add emphasis when you want a friend's undivided attention.

In fact I have a close Puerto Rican friend that I have known for over 30 years that still to this day will leave a voice mail, "oye maricón te llamado mil veces y no me devuelve mi llamada." Literal translation: "Hey faggot I've called you a million times and you have not returned my call." I laugh and at no time do I feel offended because I know he is not calling me a faggot, he uses the word to show his displeasure with me not returning his call in a joking matter. Throughout my 24 years covering baseball I have heard that same word many times in a clubhouse, dugout and on the field, but only among Latino players and only to each other in a joking manner.

Growing up in the South Bronx 'hood I can remember countless descriptions used to call someone with that word and a few others that if translated for their meaning would also make non-Spanish speakers react. Therefore, I believe that Yunel has learned his lesson, just as my friend will probably not say 'maricon" to a non-friend who has not returned his call, or use it in a business meeting to get someone's attention. Yunel should have never written his personal cultural "joke' for the world outside of his intimate Spanish speaking world to see.

Perhaps this is one of the many "lost in translation" words and actions that will continue to occur as our growing Latino community begins to spill over into the rest of the English speaking society.

What do you think?


7 Movies To Get Over A Breakup

Mike Ryan   |   September 20, 2012    3:33 PM ET

eternal sunshine

It seems that music playlists dominate the "breakup" genre. (If you're reading this from 1992, please insert the work "mixtape" in place of "playlist.") As in, "Here's a playlist of music that will make you feel better about your pathetic life," even though it never, ever does.

When I go through a breakup (which may or may not have just happened), I watch a series of movies, in a certain order. Together, they -- at least temporarily -- manipulate my emotions for the better. I am not saying that these are the "best" movies for getting over a breakup, but I am saying that these are the best for me -- kind of like when people have their own strange cures for hangovers that never, ever work for me, either. (If you have better suggestions, please, share in the comments. Yes, for both breakup movies and hangover cures because both may or may not be applicable.)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

When I first saw Eternal Sunshine in theaters in 2003, I was also going through a recent long-term relationship breakup. You know, looking back, I can't imagine watching that movie in any other state of mind. I was Joel Barish. (I am Joel Barish.) I wanted more than anything for the ghosts of the memories to disappear. Why won't they disappear!? Watching Joel fight for every last single memory -- memories that he willingly vanquished -- because no matter how lousy emotions make a human being feel, it's also what shapes us. And it's self-defeating to not remember the good times. When I'm not thinking clearly, it's nice to be reminded of this. (Even though I don't always believe it myself.)

Lost in Translation

Perhaps it's just the fact that nobody is happy in this movie that somehow inspires happiness. Both Bob and Charlotte are in different stages of marriage, yet both are miserable. I will say, no movie inspires me to visit Japan by myself more than Lost in Translation. Unfortunately, I know how this story goes: Leaving the airport with that strange sense of adventure and anticipation, almost screaming out loud, "Look at me! I am on an adventure by myself. I will learn something about myself." Smash cut to a week later and I haven't left the hotel bar in four days because it's kind of terrible to travel by yourself. (I may or may not have experienced this exact same scenario after a breakup in 2005, which resulted in me being by myself in Dublin for reasons I still don't understand.)

Leaving Las Vegas

Because, if nothing else, things aren't this bad. (Unless they are. And if they are, this list won't help you or me anyway.)

Brewster's Millions

For no other reason than to offset the depression from Leaving Las Vegas. Though, I do always wonder what Montgomery Brewster did with the $300 million he inherited. I mean, if I were Spike Nolan, I would have done everything in my power to have Monty committed before he plows through his $300 million, too. And, later, when Monty was making out his will, do you think he set up a family member to have to play that same sick, twisted game. Also: How has this movie not been rebooted with Anthony Mackie and Kevin James?

Star Wars

(This one probably only applies to me. Moving on ...)

(500) Days of Summer

(Look, I know including (500) Days on this list is cliché, but I can't help it. Though, in honor of this inclusion, I'm going to write this entire paragraph in clichés.)

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know some would say (500) Days of Summer is pitch perfect. In fact, the film is uneven at times, but it also resonates. Revisiting (500) Days recently, the craftsmanship of the story is cumbersome. If had a nickel for every time someone said that the story is told too much from the male perspective, I'd be a very rich man. And I was taught to never take wooden nickels. But, as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. However, it goes without saying, in this day and age, (500) Days of Summer is one for the ages. Even in the worst of times, it will leave you on cloud nine. So, put the pedal to the metal, with your best foot forward, and watch this toast of the town.

Almost Famous

I know how lucky I am to be doing what I love for a living, especially right now. You see, in movies, usually the breakup is followed by a job loss, or vice versa -- so that the character can truly hit rock bottom. Here's the thing: I don't want to hit rock bottom! I am perfectly content at being at mud middle for now. Perhaps it's just the profession that I'm in, but, boy, watching Almost Famous is an uplifting experience. It can't help but remind me of all of those late nights, busing from city to city while trying to write a cover story on Stillwater for Rolling Stone. (I am fully aware that I am confusing myself and Patrick Fugit's character -- just let me have this one.)

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He's been listening to a lot of The Postal Service lately. You can contact him directly on Twitter.