Some recent treasures.
This did not disappoint! To quote the New York Times review:
Within seven days of its midnight release, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” sold over one million copies in Japan. I envision readers queuing up at midnight outside Tokyo bookstores: the alienated, the athletic, the disenchanted and the buoyant. I can’t help wondering what effect the book had on them, and what they were hoping for: the surreal, intra-dimensional side of Murakami or his more minimalist, realist side?…
Here is a taste, first from that review:
…The first [guide], Haida, also has a color — his name means “gray field.” He and Tsukuru swim laps together in a college pool. Swimming is precious to both men, just as it was a saving grace for Toru Okada in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” Haida enriches Tsukuru’s life, infusing it with imagination and physical energy. He draws him into the realm of classical music, striking a deep chord when he plays a recording of Liszt’s “Years of Pilgrimage.” A familiar passage in the first movement leads Tsukuru back to emotional memories of his four colorful friends. He envisions the ethereal Shiro (Miss White) at her piano and her delicate interpretation of the same piece. Kindled by the melancholy strains of “Le Mal du Pays,” he revisits his pain without turning his thoughts immediately toward death.
Haida recounts an extraordinary story about a dying pianist who sees the colors of auras surrounding every human. Tsukuru does not openly react. Instead, something hypersexual is awakened as he succumbs to the mysterious atmosphere of remembrance. In a “different sphere of reality,” one “imbued with all the qualities of a dream,” he has an intense sexual encounter with Miss White and Miss Black, somewhat orchestrated in this parallel dream state by Mr. Gray. Choked into awareness, he is finally able to connect with others and experience a physical release beyond swimming.
This friendship dissolves when Haida disappears — a further source of pain and self-evaluation for Tsukuru, who sadly wonders if he is “fated to always be alone,” nothing but an empty vessel for others to rest protectively within, then wordlessly fly away. Yet Haida serves an important purpose, filling Tsukuru’s postsuicidal days with companionship and shaking him out of his solitary torpor. He purposely leaves the three-record set of “Years of Pilgrimage” behind as a touchstone, a swirl of bittersweet memories connecting himself, Shiro and Tsukuru….
And from the novel:
“Have you ever had that kind of experience, Mr. Midorikawa? Accepting something, believing it, taking a leap beyond logic?”
“No,” Midorikawa said. “I don’t believe in anything. Not in logic, or illogic. Not in God, or the devil. No extension of a hypothesis, nothing like a leap. I just silently accept everything as it is. That’s my basic problem, really. I can’t erect a decent barrier between subject and object.”
“But you’re so gifted, musically.”
“You think so?”
“Your music can move people. I don’t know much about jazz, but that much I can tell.”
Midorikawa grudgingly shook his head. “Talent can be a nice thing to have sometimes. You look good, attract attention, and if you’re lucky, you make some money. Women flock to you. In that sense, having talent’s preferable to having none. But talent only functions when it’s supported by a tough, unyielding physical and mental focus. All it takes is one screw in your brain to come loose and fall off, or some connection in your body to break down, and your concentration vanishes, like the dew at dawn. A simple toothache, or stiff shoulders, and you can’t play the piano well. It’s true. I’ve actually experienced it. A single cavity, one aching shoulder, and the beautiful vision and sound I hoped to convey goes out the window. The human body’s that fragile. It’s a complex system that can be damaged by something very trivial, and in most cases once it’s damaged, it can’t easily be restored. A cavity or stiff shoulder you can get over, but there are a lot of things you can’t get past. If talent’s the foundation you rely on, and yet it’s so unreliable that you have no idea what’s going to happen to it the next minute, what meaning does it have?”
A top read! See also Roland Kelts, Lost in Translation?
And now DVDs.
Gus Van Sant, Restless (2011) – with an Australian actor on board, Mia Wasikowska. I haven’t watched it yet, and the critics are really divided: see Rotten Tomatoes. One of its haters says in relation to the image above:
A boy with a kamikaze pilot ghost for a best friend and a hobby of attending funerals falls in love with a girl who’s dying of cancer. Remaking HAROLD AND MAUDE as a teen romance with a hot Maude and a ghost sidekick sounds like a bad idea, but with some brain-dead acting and a script that’s sicklier than Mia Wasikowska’s character, it’s even worse than you would imagine.
But Roger Ebert disagrees:
Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” is an uncommonly touching romance about a young man and woman who essentially worship at the shrines of their own deaths. The girl with infinite tact and sweetness is able to coax the boy back into the world of the living, even though we learn cancer will allow her only three more months of life…
“Leonardo DiCaprio, in his first major role, stole this movie right out from under Robert DeNiro’s feet. A great coming-of-age tale based on a very good book.” – Rotten Tomatoes. “DiCaprio made his big screen breakthrough in 1992, when he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors to play the lead role in This Boy’s Life.”
Yes, he is REALLY good! “This Boy’s Life is a film adaptation of the memoir of the same name by American author Tobias Wolff. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Tobias Wolff, Robert De Niro as stepfather Dwight Hansen, and Ellen Barkin as Toby’s mother, Caroline.” — Wikipedia