Tony Takitani (2004) is an impressive adaptation of a short story by Haruki Murakami and directed by Jun Ichikawa. It stars Issey Ogata as Takitani, a loner who falls in love with a woman, Eiko (Rie Miyazaki), who is obsessed with buying clothes. When she suddenly dies, Takitani struggles with her memory and coming to terms with loss. The film's style is reminiscent of that of Yasujiro Ozu in there are ellipses of major life events such as weddings and funeral and Ichikawa employs still life scenes as transitions throughout. There are several medium and long shots throughout the films as well. The tone is set by the melancholy piano score by Ryuichi Sakamoto and static shots that have little movement throughout the film. However, there is significant voice over narration that calls to mind the short story and is something that Ozu never employed in his films. The film clocks in at just 75 minutes, butt it feels very poignant and true to the feelings of loneliness, memory, and the pain of loss. I was inspire dot go back and read Murakami's shot story and I was surprised to see that Ichikawa simplified the short story even more and I can see why-however, I think he did capture the essence of the story's style and sentiments.
I noticed there was a day trip that I hadn't done yet, Oudong and I felt like getting out of the city-so I hired a tuk tuk driver to take me there. It is about 44 km northwest of Phnom Penh-and the roads are atrocious-they are trying to rebuild the road one section at a time. It is the former capital so there are some impressive temples there.
I am a big fan of Robert Mitchum and turned to David Thompson's Dictionary of Film to find some titles of films I have yet to see and one of the earliest films he singled out was Raoul Wash's (White Heat) Pursued (1947). It is a genre-busting film that is noir and western all at once. Mitchum is the orphan war hero, Jeb, who is in love with his stepsister (Teresa Wright) and the object of scorn from his jealous stepbrother (Dean Jagger). Things get complicated and Jeb has to go on the run and is pursued. Another fine performance from one of my favorite leading men of the golden age of Hollywood.
I'm going to be writing for an online website, Truly Tokyo, and my first piece will be a restaurant review of Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima, a Michlin one star kaiseki (traditional small dishes) restaurant. The 10 course dinner set includes one drink and is ¥15,000 per person.
The first dish was asari short necked clams steamed in nihonshu.
The second dish had a variety: squid, octopus, zuiki (taro stem), and scallops wrapped in cabbage.
The third course was sea bream soup with minced kabura (turnip) from Kyoto.
The fourth course was sashimi and sushi: tuna, hirame (flatfish), uni (sea urchin), and squid.
The fifth course was New Zealand King Salmon sakioyaki (marinated in white miso).
The sixth course was tempura shrimp balls and sansai (mountain vegetables).
The seventh course was crab and spinach ohitashi (cooked with soy sauce).
Jin nihonshu at ¥1620.
The eight dish was yubamushi (steamed soybean skin) with foxtail millet and sea bream topped with wasabi.
The ninth dish was Ochazuke: bonito (mackerel) and konbu (kelp) broth Kansai style over rice with hirame (flatfish) with shaved oboro kobu (dried kelp).
The tenth course was green tea with chestnut ice cream. It was one of the best dining experiences of the year so far-every course was inventive and delicious.
I think Hirokazu Kore-eda is the finest Japanese film maker today, and he showed it again with his latest film, After The Storm (2016). It is very Ozu-esque in that he often focuses on simple family dramas. In this story a failed novelist/private detective Ryota (played by Hiroshi Abe) struggles to make child support payments due to his obsession with gambling,which would allow him to see his son. In Japan there is no joint custody and the mother, Kyoko (played by Yoko Maki), can withhold visitations at her whim-to her credit she does not even when he cannot come up with his monthly child support payments. Ryota is still in love with his wife and does not want to be divorced and while visiting his mother (another great performance from Kirin Kiki) the get stuck in staying overnight at her apartment as a typhoon approaches. The family gets to spend time together and while nothing is resolved-it feels as though something has been establishes among them. It is a subtle charming film that recalls the simple family dramas of one of Japan's great masters of film-no small compliment.
I recently saw the Robert Mitchum film version (1975) of Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely (1940), and realized that I hadn't read the novel yet. So, since I was planning on visiting Los Angeles, I thought it would be ideal background reading for the trip. The movie followed the plot of the book pretty closely, but that's OK. Because the thing that makes a Chandler novel most enjoyable is the dialogue and narration style of Philip Marlowe. He's such a wisecracking tough talking hardboiled archetype:
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”
“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.”
“The coffee shop smell was strong enough to build a garage on.”
“She’s a nice girl. Not my type.” “You don’t like them nice?” He had another cigarette going. The smoke was being fanned away from his face by his hand. “I like smooth shiny girls, hardboiled and loaded with sin.” “They take you to the cleaners,” Randall said indifferently.”
That's just a sample of Chandler's excellent style, the noirish plot line adds to the enjoyment of course. Anyway, I deiced that this year I'll finish the rest of the Marlowe books that I haven't read. I've got some good reading ahead of me.