LOST IN TRANSLATION directed, written and co-produced by Sofia Coppola, with Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Giovanni Ribisi. Music by Kevin Shields. 102 minutes. An American Zoetrope production. Screens at the Toronto International Film Festival, Friday (September 5), 9:45 pm, at the Visa Screening Room, Elgin Theatre; and Sunday (September 7), 3:30 pm, at the Uptown 1. See review, page 63. Rating: NNNNN
Just as the star attraction of her debut feature, The Virgin Suicides, was the dreamy score by French electro-freaks Air, Sophia Coppola's Lost In Translation is getting a profile boost from the soundtrack contributions of My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. These are the first new songs he's released since 91's monumental Loveless album. When My Bloody Valentine, the post-boomer Velvet Underground, was put on ice as the result of a drawn-out record label wrangle, Shields kept himself busy doing remixes for just about anyone who asked (including Placebo and Yo La Tengo), when not living out his teenage fantasies as the guitar player for non-stop party machine Primal Scream and working on new songs at home.
Film soundtracks haven't been high up on his things-to-do list. But Coppola and music supervisor and ex-Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell made Shields an offer he couldn't refuse.
"Sophia and Brian were very accommodating from start to finish," says Shields from his London home. "They already had most of the songs chosen - including the My Bloody Valentine song Sometimes - so the mood of the movie was already set.
"They just needed me to come up with a few bits of original music to add the right flavour. There wasn't any pressure on me to score the whole film; they just said, 'Do whatever, and we'll see what works. '"
Easier said than done. Apart from hooking up with J Mascis to take $5,000 from the producers of Mission: Impossible 2 to demo a theme song, only to get beat by limpbizkit, Shields's experience with films has been strictly as a popcorn buyer. So the Lost In Translation project turned out to be a valuable learning experience.
"Before I started, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was involved in doing soundtracks, but I soon realized I didn't have a clue. Now I do. It's given me a much greater appreciation for the brilliance of someone like John Barry, who can make music that's emotionally powerful yet works in support of what's happening on the screen."
Collaborating with Reitzell on the music for Lost In Translation has not only left Shields seriously considering the possibility of scoring a film from top to bottom, but it's also got him thinking about releasing a long-overdue studio album.
"I've done a couple of interviews lately where people who've heard the lighter, more transparent songs I've done for the film have asked, 'So is this how you sound now?' Well, yes and no.
"It makes me want to release something myself to let people know what I've been doing at home. I've never stopped writing over the years. I'm going to try to put out a short album as soon as possible."
Perhaps even better news for My Bloody Valentine fans is that a reunion hasn't been ruled out.
"I've only just gotten free and clear of my previous label deals that had me tied up with Warner and Island/Universal. This might sound strange, but to get out of it I had to leave My Bloody Valentine. So, technically, Belinda (Butcher) is still in the band, but no one other than me can use the name.
"We've always intended to make another My Bloody Valentine record together; we just needed the right spirit, and we didn't have it in us after Loveless. There's a whole aspect of My Bloody Valentine that we never really had a chance to explore." firstname.lastname@example.org