Jun 15, 2011

Norwegian Wood (2010) : Review

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This Japanese adaptation of Haruki Murakami's bestseller is gorgeous and sensual, says Peter Bradshaw

Forbidden love is the sexiest kind, and love of death the most forbidden kind, in this emoish erotic tragedy from Franco-Vietnamese film-maker Tran Anh Hung, based on the bestselling 1987 novel by Haruki Murakami.





It is set in Tokyo in the late 1960s – a world of student dorms, going for walks, getting letters from your girlfriend, sitting in your student room looking at LP sleeves while the record is playing; it's a world of sexual and romantic excitement that is a cousin to widespread political unrest. Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) is a student who begins a relationship with Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), a beautiful, delicate young woman whom he knew a year before, in high school. But while Watanabe works towards his degree, Naoko is in a remote psychological facility, suffering from a breakdown, able to receive Watanabe only infrequently as a visitor.

What binds them together – in a dark ecstasy of despair – is an inexpressibly painful event in their past, a terrible, mutual loss. It is holding them back in life, and threatens to smother and paralyse them. But Watanabe and Naoko find themselves trying to forge a conjugal, sacramental bond with this past and, perhaps, with death itself. Attempting to fall in love with each other, as damaged souls, is a way of giving a narrative purpose and a moral grandeur to their lives, which another, more uncomplicated kind of dating could not possibly achieve. Their relationship almost attains the status of a suicide pact in which both partners are left alive.

As if the situation were not complicated enough, Watanabe also finds himself attracted to Midori (Kiko Mizuhara), a smart, sexy, free-spirited girl on campus who appears to represent a healthy and psychologically unencumbered future. However, Midori is cool, a little cruel – a flirt and a tease. She, too, has her secret world of pain. When she suffers a loss, she demands that Watanabe take her to a porn film to dull the pain. But for Watanabe, perhaps, this is not exactly the point. The pain is the porn.

This movie is gorgeously photographed by Ping Bin Lee, and has a plangent, keening orchestral score by Jonny Greenwood. It rewards attention with a very sensual experience, although there might be some who, understandably, find it indulgent. Having watched it now a second time since its premiere at last year's Venice film festival, I find the film that came into my mind – apart of course from Twilight – was Wong Kar-Wai's romantic classic In the Mood for Love (which Ping Bin Lee also shot), about two people drawn together by their respective partners' infidelities. That has the same tragedy, irony and romance which combine to create a doomy eroticism. Norwegian Wood ignites its own fierce, moth-attracting flame. [www.guardian.co.uk]

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Jun 14, 2011

Il Postino (1994): The Postman

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Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) is the gentlest of men, a lonely soul resigned to the monotony of life on a quiet Italian island. All that changes with the arrival of Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret), who suddenly becomes the island's resident celebrity. Exiled from his native Chile for political reasons, Neruda has a transforming effect on the ruggedly beautiful setting where "The Postman" ("Il Postino") takes place. He becomes an unlikely friend to Mario, who blossoms so beautifully under Neruda's influence that he discovers the idea of poetry as if it were new.

¶ As a rueful, warmly affecting film featuring a wonderful performance by Mr. Troisi, "The Postman" would be attention-getting even without the sadness that overshadows it. This Neapolitan actor, also a writer and director and much better known to Italian audiences than to viewers here, postponed a heart operation while he finished work on this pet project. He died (at the age of 41) the day after principal photography was completed.

¶ Succinctly dedicated "To Our Friend Massimo," "The Postman," which was directed by Michael Radford, is an eloquent but also wrenching tribute to Mr. Troisi's talents. The comic unease that he brought to this performance clearly has a component of real pain. But that hint of unease suits Mario's wide-eyed, wistful look and his slow, often dryly funny demeanor. When Mario is first hired to deliver Neruda's mail, he has so little else to do that he spends time breaking in his postman's hat so that it won't give him a headache.

¶ "That's a little trick of ours," he says knowingly to his father, a fisherman, who is one of the main reasons there has not been much poetry in Mario's life. They live together in bleak, drafty quarters, where Mario probably dreams of better things while his father slurps soup out of the pot.

¶ So the younger man is delighted to find a low-paying, not-too-promising job delivering mail to Neruda, who is the only local resident literate enough to be getting letters. Mario must bicycle to see Neruda at the remote hilltop outpost the writer shares with a woman, whom he treats grandly and addresses as "Amor."

¶ "He's a poet," Mario confides to his sole post office colleague once he overhears that. "That's how you can tell."

¶ At first, Mario's expeditions to see Neruda are cautious and polite, with Mr. Troisi engaged in amusing rehearsals for each brush with greatness. (Behind this handsome actor's hangdog expression and leisurely manner, there is slyly superb comic timing.) Then the postman begins to grow bold. He'd like a better autograph than the "Regards, Pablo Neruda" that his first request elicits. He'd like to know what makes Neruda tick. He might even like to be a poet himself.

¶ Naturally, this story is too good to be true. "The Postman" is based on a novel, "Burning Patience," by Antonio Skarmeta, in which the postman was a teen-age boy. Anyway, the postman is a fiction, and Neruda's real home during the early 1950's (when the story takes place) was on Capri, a less undiscovered place than this film's delightfully sleepy setting. But what's most clearly a fiction here is the effect that Mario's lovely naivete has on Neruda himself. Touched by the younger man's guilelessness, the writer is moved to show Mario that life on the island doesn't need the services of a visiting poet. It already has a poetry of its own.

¶ "The Postman" would be awfully cloying if it hammered home that notion too insistently. In fact the thought is expressed with gentle grace, and it is tempered by other, wittier effects of Neruda's presence. There's a sweetly romantic subplot about Mario's insistence that poetry have some practical application. He wants it to win him the beautiful Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), who's not much of a reader but likes being compared to a butterfly.

¶ There's the hilarious way Beatrice's aunt is scandalized by such tactics, which she doesn't quite understand but does know are dangerous. And there's the sobering moment when Mario grasps what he must look like to a man of Neruda's celebrity. "I lived in complete solitude with the most simple people in the world," Neruda eventually tells a newspaper interviewer. Those simple people aren't entirely flattered by that description. Mario's reaction is more complicated, with a disillusionment that is also the measure of how profoundly Neruda has changed him.

¶ Mr. Noiret, the superb French actor who is such a sturdy presence, has so much of the right lumbering gravity for Neruda that his performance is hardly hurt by being dubbed into Italian. He accomplishes the major feat of making Neruda's side of this tale plausible, and gives his love of poetry real immediacy on screen.

¶ And Mr. Noiret is magnetic enough to account for the villagers' debate about the essence of Neruda's appeal. Mario and his postal superior spend a lot of time noticing how many female correspondents this outspoken Communist poet and politician seems to have. Mario thinks this must make Neruda "the poet loved by women," but his boss finds that embarrassing and staunchly corrects it. Neruda, he proclaims, is "the poet loved by the people."

¶ Still, neither he nor Mario nor anything else about "The Postman" can resist the romance of Neruda. And those letters from the ladies just won't quit. The boss is finally forced to modify his position. "Even the women are interested in politics in Chile," he concedes.

¶ THE POSTMAN (IL POSTINO) Directed by Michael Radford; written (in Italian, with English subtitles) by Anna Pavignano, Mr. Radford, Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli and Massimo Troisi, based on the novel "Burning Patience" by Antonio Skarmeta; director of photography, Franco Di Giacomo; edited by Roberto Perpignani; music by Luis Enrique Bacalov; production designer, Lorenzo Baraldi; produced by Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori and Gaetano Daniele; released by Miramax. Running time: 113 minutes. This film is not rated. WITH: Massimo Troisi (Mario), Philippe Noiret (Pablo Neruda), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Beatrice), Linda Moretti (Rosa) and Renato Scarpa (Telegraph Operator). [source] check out this film at imdb

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Movies about Writers & Writing

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Are you a writer, or anyone who likes writing? Here are ten films that have something real to say about what it means to write. These following list was listed by a member of Amazon.

1. Sylvia DVD ~ Gwyneth Paltrow
"about the lives of sylvia plath & ted hughes"
3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

2. Il Postino DVD ~ Massimo Troisi
"Pablo Neruda"
4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (120 customer reviews)


3. Wonder Boys DVD ~ Philip Bosco
"A dysfunctional story of a writer suffering writer's block"
4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (198 customer reviews)

4. Henry Fool DVD ~ Thomas Jay Ryan
"About a writer trying to write an epic poem"

5. Elling DVD ~ Per Christian Ellefsen
"an agoraphobic finds his way in the world through poetry"

6. Mrs Parker & Vicious Circle [VHS] VHS Jennifer Jason Leigh
"about Dorothy Parker"

7. Kafka [VHS] VHS Jeremy Irons
"Soderbergh's film about Franz Kafka"
4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

8. Naked Lunch [VHS] VHS Peter Weller
"haven't seen this yet: Cronenberg's view of William S Burroughs's famed book"
4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

9. Barton Fink [VHS] VHS John Turturro
"haven't seen this yet, either"
4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

10. Beloved Infidel [VHS] VHS Gregory Peck
"about F. Scott Fitzgerald"
3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Jun 10, 2011

On the Road (2011)

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On the Road is a film adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel of the same name directed by Walter Salles and starring Sam Riley as Sal Paradise and Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty. It is being produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Filming began on August 4, 2010, in Montreal, Canada, with a $25 million budget. The story is based on the years Kerouac spent traveling America in the 1940's with his friend Neal Cassady and several other figures who would go on to fame in their own right, including William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Directed by Walter Salles

Produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Rebecca Yeldham
Nathanael Karmitz
Charles Gillibert

Written by Jose Rivera
Jack Kerouac novel)

Starring
Sam Riley
Garrett Hedlund
Kristen Stewart
Kirsten Dunst
Viggo Mortensen
Amy Adams

Music
by Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography Eric Gautier
Studio American Zoetrope
MK2
Film4

Distributed by
DreamWorks/Touchstone Pictures (US/Worldwide)
Icon Film Distribution (UK)
MK2 (France)
Country United States

Language English

Budget $25 million

more info please visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0337692/

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Jun 8, 2011

I Am an S+M Writer

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Based on a novel by Dan Oniroku, probably best known for Flower and Snake, I am an S&M writer tells the story of Kurosaki and his much younger wife Shizuko. Kurosaki, Osugi Ren, at one point during his writer career wrote a type of literature termed junbungaku, pure literature, which distinguished itself from taishibungaku, popular literature.



In Japanese terms Oe Kenzaburo would fall into the realm of pure literature while Haruki Murakami, although he straddles both types of literature because of the various themes in his body of work, would fall into popular literature.

For a more Western view think of Thomas Pynchon being in the realm of pure literature while Stephen King falls into the realm of popular literature. Anyway, although Kurosaki set out at the early point of his career to write important works of pure literature the sells were dismal so he and his young wife led a less than ideal existence. However, a door apparently opened for Kurosaki to write erotic S&M fiction and soon he and his wife owned a large, beautiful home and seemed to have all the material comforts that life had to offer, however, was he and his wife truly happy?

I am an S&M writer opens with Kurosaki and his assistant working in his home study. However, the type of work that they are doing might strike some as quite odd. Apparently Kurosaki is a very visual person, because within the confines of his study his assistant Kawada, who is also a master at erotic rope binding, has tied up a bargirl named Kyoko in a less than flattering position. Observing how the bondage effects both Kyoko's emotions and body, Kurosaki dictates his story to Kawada. All seems to be going pretty well until Shizuko walks in through the door. There is no great fight, but that night Shizuko states that she will begin sleeping in another bedroom away from the "pervert." However, things soon escalate and Shizuko strikes up a relationship with a foreigner and soon afterwards asks Kawada to her up also.

Despite the English title of this film, the Japanese title is Futei no kisetsu or Season of Infidelity, the S&M aspect of the film does not go beyond rope bondage, instead the film delves more into the power of the imagination. When Kurosaki learns that his wife is being unfaithful, he instead feeds off of this infidelity to feed his creativity and he seems to become more attracted to the conception of his wife as an adulteress instead of her actual blood and flesh being. This theory is given strength when Kurosaki himself engages in an act of adultery with the bargirl while listening to a tape of his wife with Kawada.

While no means a great film, I am an S&M Writer is a short glimpse inside the filmic world of Hiroki Ryuichi who also directed such films as Tokyo Trash Baby and Vibrator.

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check more about this movie at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266568/

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