Tag Archives: fiction

‘Let Me In (2010)’, by Director Matt Reeves – review

71wrP9sh2IL._RI_SX300_Love is really everything except what it is.  In the moments of violent delights of the ecstasy, it creates synchronicity of the two minds by surrendering to each other and becomes inseparable from one another. Whether it is erotic or agapeic, everyone regardless of any biological, social, or existential plane deserves this sweet surrender of love. George Sand, the French novelist whose love story with Frederic Chopin is better than a fiction, affirms: “Everyone deserves to love and be loved.” That is everyone, even if that one is a vampire or a misfit.

“Let Me In” directed by Matt Reeves is a story about this love based upon his Shakespearean interpretation of ‘Love”. It is about friendship that develops into love because the word “Friend” is derived from a Proto-Germanic word “fraendi,” meaning “lover.” As it is a recurring theme of William Shakespeare’s plays, the meaning of friend and love is interchangeably conveyed on screen by the cinematographic recounting of the fateful love in the veneer of friendship between the two main characters, Owen and Abby, who are bound by loneliness and heartaches. In fact, the story of these two very young characters will conjure up the very young figures of lovelorn Romeo and Juliet by the side of the screen lurking in the corner eager to deliver their legacy of love that means to be forever beyond River of Styx. The only difference is that Abby, who is a vampire, never tells her love, but her concealment feeds on her crimson lips by devouring other people’s lives. She only sees Owen, the sensitive boy with a beautiful heart, for none other than a woman’s reason. Abby pines in thought, and with a red and gray melancholy, she watches Owen like Patience on a tree, smiling at grief for what she is.

There is an original Swedish version of this selfsame film, but this Reeves’ version is more intelligently rendered and is hauntingly riveting with its surrealistic imagery and the stellar performance of the cast beautifully alloyed in the alluring alchemy of cinematography. It is an innovative synthesis of  artistic European neo-realism and a burst of the American no-nonsense realistic pep in the straightforward screenplay. This is a kind of film that makes you walk on the borderline of fantasy and reality, revolt and conformity, fear and courage, and doubt and trust, all of which will make you long for everything that love can come by. Forget Fear. This film is at its most compelling when you follow it with your open mind and let it in.

‘A Harlot’s Progress (2006)’, directed by Justin Hardy – review

71+BMGiROqL._RI_Throughout human civilization, prostitution has been arguably something of a necessary evil, intentional or unintentional, an institution of erotic bartering between a client and s prostitute for wants of flesh and fortune. For a client, it’s all about releasing his rapacious libido in a brothel, whereas for a prostitute offering a pleasure of the flesh can be a means to a social mobility in a period when women’s place was confined by biological determinism. But that social mobility would be possible with the intervention of Goddess Fortuna. ‘A Harlot’s Progress’ follows a life of an unfortunate prostitute named Mary through the eyes of William Hogarth, an English painter and social critic renowned for choice of his subjects crossing the strata of the social class system for inspirations.

The painter Hogarth chooses Mary as his unofficial muse for various paintings depicting modern moral subjects as a series of picturesque statements of social criticism on the oppressed conditions of the poor whose lives are already determined by their biological and social statuses. Likewise, Mary’s downfall from a beautiful courtesan to a common, over-the-hill backstreet slut is already a foregone conclusion for the nature of the profession. Besides, she’s not exactly cut out for a fine prostitute with artful plans to forward her rank and condition; she has a pride but no courage. She yearns for a polite society, but her frailty of character prevents her from advancing in her career to a mistress of a high-birth man. In other words: Mary chose a wrong job that ruined her life.

The film is said to be based upon a true story with references to the famous figures of William Hogarth and his friend Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. It gives the veracity of the event with a charge of authority, rendering the story of lachrymose life of Mary emotionally powerful and factually unchallenged in the veneer of historicity. Yet, in terms of objectivity of the stance that the film takes, its view on prostitution in the 18th century London is clearly askew on the side Mary because she is cast as being a victim of the social evil with her purity of the soul torn apart by men’s rampant animalistic sexual desires as presented by all uniformly unattractive and perverted men on screen. In fact, the only pitiful character in the film seems to be Mother Needham, who is mercilessly abused on the pillory for three consecutive days and nights of stoning, defiling, and cursing from the public who were once or twice her clients and neighbors. The sight is sufficient to incite pathos because of her plea for life authentically delivered by the excellent performance of actress Geraldine James.

No one can throw stones at Mary for her life of “sin and depravity” because there’s no one who is immaculately cleared of guilt and sins to judge her character as arbitrator of morals. But then she is responsible for her own life with her own free will to choose to be a harlot. For not all destitute women driven by abject economic conditions are succumbed to the trade of the flesh. Nonetheless, this film is a good period drama that resurrects the ethos of the time with the parlance, habits, and costumes of different classes peculiar to the 18th century, well executed by a cast of classically-trained fine thespians.

‘A Pale View of Hills’, by Kazuo Ishiguro – review

A Pale View of HillsA Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being biliterate and bicultural gives a writer a magical third eye to look into the universality of truth of humanity, the commonality of the standard of sentiments and judgment, under a veneer of anthropological ramifications of tribalism. It’s something of a textual witchcraft of the writer to see through the minds of one culture and the other and to conjure up One Whole Mind in the peculiar alchemy of literature. However, it’s a tricky craft that requires consummate narrative skills without infelicity of awkward expressions. That is why A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, an English writer born in and moved from Nagasaki, Japan at the age of five, reigns supreme as a master storyteller in a class of his own writing that holds the curiosity of the reader throughout this mysteriously haunting and enduring story of a woman living in the blurry boundary of the past and the present.

Told by a first protagonist narrator named Etsuko, a Japanese woman living in an English countryside alone, it is a continual fugue of recollections, ironies, visions, and imaginations translated into an elliptical and atmospheric elegy of a woman with the feeling of being adrift on a life sea, trying to come to terms with a surrendering of the past that binds her to the memories of the calamities and absurdities all by herself in a land that shares no common history of her own. In fact, Etsuko’s narrative becomes her own story house, her own Mathom House, a museum of mental paraphernalia filled with the flotsam washed up by the past. All the apparatus therein is the detritus of her convoluted residues of all the memories of Japan, devastated by the calamities of World War II that has become part of her. The result of her story is a spiritual effect of exorcising a knocking spirit in the house that wanted to possess her body and mind altogether locked up in the feelings of guilt, regret, disappointment, and frustration.

Drawing on a wealth of imaginations based upon his own cultural backgrounds, Ishiguro creates a polyphonic work that elegantly interweaves multiple strands of historical, spiritual, and cultural contexts into a wholly solipsistic experience with his cracking narrative skills worth the reading. The best of all, Ishiguro writes with an intention to tell a story of an individual with whom the reader can associate or is familiar in daily life. His characters are felt real, and the words he employs are fluid and elliptical. Which is to say that his world of literature is quite existential but also imaginative. Just as Charlotte Bronte pronounced her identity as a”writer” not as a “woman writer” on her authorship of Jane Eyre, Ishiguro is an English writer whose subjects are universal and common to all as regards the principle of sentiments and reason. Nothing is alienating but everything is encompassing, which is why this book is appealing to the reader.

weekend sojourners

Author’s Note: Time is like a fashionable host that flies with his arms outstretched and welcomes a new guest. Pleasure and activities make the hours seem short. Forget the finiteness of time and live for today. Carpe Diem. Enjoy the moment, for your thought about unknown tomorrow will build your own prison.

 

‘Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa’ translated by John Bester – review

Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji MiyazawaOnce and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa by Kenji Miyazawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The worlds of fairy tales, folk tales, and fables spring from a poetic association between imagination and nature as inscribed on a mind tablet of the visionary, the dreamer, the innocent, and the humanitarian in the embodiment of the Writer who composes a continual fugue of dreamscapes, visions, imagery, and nature in a phantasmagorical display of such fancy worlds. In this peculiar context of regarding the fairy tales or folk legends anchored in everyday world, Kenji Miyazawa’s tales are full of imagery that bestows a touch of magic on every thing however trifle and insignificant it may seem to the eyes of the melee. The result is a riveting twilight world of legends and folk tales where nature becomes primary world, Reality on its own in a very mystifyingly pretty way.

Notwithstanding the subject of the book, it merits a classic literature aisle in nationwide booksellers because it contains all the characteristics of profound yet catholic themes of nature of humanity that are illustrated in the works of Hans Christian Anderson, The Grimm Brothers, and Aesop. In fact, this book is strikingly scarcely a false or childish note but strangely not depressing. If Miyazawa does not provide the reader with a sense of jostling braggadocio or a promise of ever optimistic view on reality of the world that are accustomed to and taken for granted as literary license in the Western minds, he presents a prospect of innocence, so ethereal and quaint that it almost feels physical when reading. This tangible feeling of the visions is delivered by Miyazawa’s wonderful storytelling skills enveloped in poetic expressions devoted to evoking the images of a rural Japan prior to the Meiji Restoration in the mid 19th century that no longer exists.

Kenji Miyazawa (1897-1933) was a Japanese writer who was first and foremost poet at heart concerned with particular beauties and universal truths transcending time and culture. This book, translated by the late renowned English professor John Bester, is a collection of short folk tales of the bygone eras that Miyazawa seems to fantastically incorporate with his contemporary world of reality in which whims, inconsistencies, and follies of humans are everyday occurrence. The tale of “The Earth God and the Fox” shows how love and friendship are destroyed by betrayal and misunderstanding in a blight of jealousy and fury, which then eventually leads to destruction. In the case of “Wildcat and the Acorns,” Miyazawa pokes fun at parvenus and upstarts who suddenly found themselves in the wealth of western-influenced cultural artifacts in denigration of the traditional Japanese customs and values regarded as outdated and culturally backward. However, even such acerbic, poignant criticism of the Nouveau Japan is enticingly swiveled in poetic prose with musicality and choice of the language – simple but visionary- he employs.

The tales seem to speak to our world of confused syllogism bloated with inordinate wantonness and inflated egotism, decorated with selfies in Facebook and Instagram, and vehement subjectivities, all fragmented and adrift, full of sound and fury. The tales bring the reader to another time out of this evolutionary scale and 24-hour clock, and they can take the reader to a different place of innocence that seems to be out of touch in this existential world of reality. In this regard, this book is a quaintly pretty – or twee even – marionette play, fusing Miyazawa’s poetic words with his cast of interesting characters ranging from a beautiful birch tree to wise foxes, to graceful fawns, to talking acorns, and to deities living in streams and mountains and everywhere, all in the beautiful rural landscapes as picturesque stage backgrounds. It is a fascinating read that matches its fanciful title.