Tag Archives: Japanese

The only novel that has made me cry

“Norwegian Wood”, a film adaptation of the international bestselling novel by my beloved Murakami, opens in cinemas in Japan today. Even though I have not yet seen the movie I am already dreading that it will not be successful in capturing the essence of the book. Having seen the actor and the actress who play Toru Watanabe and Naoko respectively, I am slightly put off by the director’s choices. In the book, Toru comes across as such an ordinary guy which in some ways is akin to the author. On the other hand, Naoko is seemingly a tormented soul who, in her anguish, struggles to express her inner feelings. I know that I should not prejudge the movie, but I am not expecting that it will be nearly as good as the novel. Hopefully that will not prove to be the case. I am looking forward to seeing it. I hope upon hope it will turn out to be acceptable.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Aqua”

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Ryuichi Sakamoto – Solitude

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Vengeance Is Mine

Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s true-story drama starring Ken Ogata as a con-man and serial killer who preys on women.

Vengeance Is Mine is Shohei Imamura’s troubling film about Akira Nishiguchi, the son of a devout Catholic family, who went on a murder rampage in Japan between 1963 and 1964.

Released in 1979, it was considered by many as ‘the Japanese In Cold Blood’. However, while Truman Capote’s novel and Richard Brooks’ film adaptation offered motives for only a heightened sense of the disturbing complexity of human nature.

Throughout 140 minutes, Imamura lays bare the possibility of man’s dark and violent inner-self, denying his audience what he knows they desire the most ‘ an explanation for his protagonist’s irrational brutality. Approaching Nishiguchi, renamed Enokizu, with moral ambivalence, Imamura portrays the murderer from a number of perspectives; as humorous, violent, passive, evil and charming, never allowing him to be pigeon-holed as a simple psychopath.

His murders too, are depicted with objectivity. Neither siding with the victim nor the killer, Imamura keeps his camera at middle distance, filming violent scenes in documentary-style, with no shock-cuts and no rapid camera moves, just cold impartiality. Ultimately the protagonist’s motive is probed with one unsettling answer ‘he hasn’t one.

Beginning with a squad car crawling up a mountain road and unfolding as the police draw the past out of their arrestee, Vengeance is Mine won every major award in Japan during the year of its release. Starring Ken Ogata as the alluring, fascinating, yet repellent Nishiguchi, it also stands as a reminder of its late director’s talent and significance in Japanese New Wave cinema.”

From Sky Arts.

My comment: the film explores the dark elements of the human character. Despite the subhuman nature of the lead character, knowing that he is a psychotic killer, I could not wait to see what he was going to do with the people who happened to cross his path and was gagging to know how he was going to carry out his murderous acts. There is no doubt that Iwao Enokizu, the protagonist, is the most atrocious character in this violent film. On the other hand, those around him, be they Iwao’s wife or his father, could not be deemed decent in their behaviour either. There is a subplot involving these two engaging in an indecent relationship. In a nutshell, Vengeance Is Mine is highly charged, brutal and aberrant yet it is watchable and engrossing.

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‘Winter Sleep’ almost literally put me into a slumber

The story centres around a guy named Nakagi, also known as Sensei, who is a painter and who has been staying at a mountain cabin in order to cultivate his art. He was once a committed murderer. The man spends every morning running up the mountain pass and back to his cabin and does nothing else particularly important. One day a woman named Natsue Kosugi comes to the cabin with the intention of reserving a painting. He tells her that he does not want to make a promise that he might break and to buy it after he has finished it. The two of them converse for a while and before she leaves, the woman says she will return another day. One evening when he goes into the dining room he comes across another young woman, whose name is Akiko. She aspires to be his student, whether he likes it or not. After that he sees her every day and spends some time with her. These two women, one older than him and the other far younger, are going to disrupt his seclusion.

So far, I have read just over fifty pages and nothing very much has happened. Hopefully, as I read on, the story will become more engaging. At the moment, I am finding “Winter Sleep” by Kenzo Kitakata slightly arid. Someone compared the author partly to Spillane and partly to Dostoevsky, but always ‘hard-boiled’, according to the blurb on the back of the book. We shall see.

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Lovely threesome

I have been reading this Japanese novel for a week. I first read it many years ago as a Thai translation and even brought the book with me to the UK.  I very much adore it. I decided to ask someone to buy the English translation, called “Twinkle Twinkle”, for me when it was published in 2003. The story is about two people who were wed into a marriage of convenience. The wife is an emotionally unstable alcoholic and the husband is a doctor who happens to be gay and has a boyfriend.

The story was told by Shoko and Mutsuki, the newlyweds, who commented on one another alternately from chapter to chapter. Despite their bizarre relationship they, including Kon, the husband’s male lover, managed to accept each other’s imperfections and fill in the gap that had been missing in their lives. For these three people, merely to be together with the ones they cared about, although difficult from time to time, enabled their lives to be dazzling.

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I・NEED・TO・GO

But where to? In this music video, Nong May, as usual, is so kawaii.

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