Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth

“In had come out of the earth, this silver, out of his earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon. He took his life from this earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung fruit from it and from the fruit, silver.” ~ p31

In The Good Earth we follow the story of Wang Lung, a mere farmer at first, who strives to become more successful with wisdom and hard work. The book starts on his marriage day. Far from being extravagant, he has to pick up the bride himself who is a slave in a rich man’s house. His wife O-Lan is a plain quiet woman.

“Words were to her things to be caught one by one and released with difficulty.” ~ p44

O-Lan knows how to utilize everything that comes her way in any situation. She was sold to the big house when she was small and therefore learns all important things she needs to survive. I don’t think it was mentioned enough, but Wang Lung is incredibly lucky to have O-Lan as his wife. Behind every successful man there’s a strong woman, according to a saying, and this couldn’t be more true for Wang Lung and O-Lan.

The language is very simple. It reminds me of language that people use for folktales. Hence The Good Earth read like a very long folktale to me. But I don’t think this is caused only by the language. Wang Lung’s story is like a story of Every Chinese-man so to speak. You start poor, you work hard, you take wife, you have sons and daughters, you take care of your elders, building better life along the way, then you die. The story of Wang Lung and his grown-up sons rang very true to me. My father said, it’s all about cycle. One generation works so hard to be rich, the second generation does everything they can to spend the fortune, and the third generation must again work very hard to pay the debts and clean the mess. I have not read the sequels to The Good Earth, but my guts tell me it is going in that direction.

I love how everything comes down to the earth. The title of the book can’t be more fitting. It was a simple and humble life. Your life depends on the mercy of the gods, who bring rain or drought according to their fancy. What you can control is the land. The land you can work on, you can cultivate. The land gives you life. I think this notion of the importance of land is ingrained so much in the Chinese blood that even for the current day generation, land is still the most precious of them all. Wang Lung says, buy land, people can’t take land away from you. Did I just hear my elders talking? Invest only in land.

The part when Wang Lung buys more and more land reminded me of my dad. My dad started poor as well. We lived in 2 bedrooms house in which my parents, my two brothers and I stayed in the same room until I started high school. By then with my parents’ business started to get a lot better. The debt of the house was paid off. When he got more money, he bought a house next to us. More money, then the house behind us. Then the house next to the one behind us. Our house became this mishmash of different style of short buildings on a huge chunk of land, with holes on the walls to get through from one house to another. My friends got all excited everytime they came by. It’s like walking in a house of maze, they said. People could literally get lost.

For my dad, it was all about the land. Building could be burnt down. Gold could be stolen. Value of money could diminish into nothing. But land stays.

Overall I found The Good Earth to be enjoyable and easy to read. Considering time of writing, it has one hell of historical value. Pearl S. Buck presented China and its people with a broad stroke that has succeeded in its intention to reach a wide audience–the world.


1931,  316 pp

Interesting Facts about The Good Earth

  • The Good Earth is Buck’s second published novel, first being East Wind: West Wind, which was the one that had been rejected by many American publishers, on the old ground that people did not want to read about China.
  • After The John Day Company has decided to publish East Wind: West Wind, Pearl S. Buck returned to Nanking and wrote The Good Earth in 3 months, typing it herself twice.
  • When the film was made, The John Day Company did not permit the usual movie tie-in edition with photographs from the film. (Is that why until now we’ve never seen the motion-picture edition?)
  • The reason for the decision above was particularly because the main actors were not Chinese nor had Chinese features.

First line
It was Wang Lung’s marriage day.

Awards
1932 Pulitzer Prize
1938 Nobel Prize for Literature (the author for body of work)

Challenges
China Challenge (book #4), Book Awards IV (book #5), Read the Book See the Movie (pair #3)

For the Book Group

The rest of this post is for us who have read the book, so there might be spoilers ahead. Beware!

I posted an invite to you all to read The Good Earth together with our Asian Book Group. It is my pick for the first quarter of the year. I was delighted to find that four of us in the group had not read the book and would love to as it is one pivotal book that showed China to the foreign world. I’d like to thank you if you decided to participate. Please drop by and let me know if you wrote up something. I’m going to list and update the links to all your reviews so you can visit each other.

Rather than taking some book group questions off somewhere else, I’m going to just throw a few Q&As up in the air. Feel free to throw your own back!

What do you think about the characters? Do you have strong feelings for them?

My non-blogger friend Eeleng re-read the book when I told her about the book group reading. She mentioned that she hated Wang Lung. I can understand why, seeing it from modern eyes. But I think Wang Lung is just a byproduct of his time. The most appalling thing he’d done in the book I thought was when he got all obsessed about Lotus and took her as his mistress. I felt so much for O-Lan and the unfairness of it all. I was so mad at him for taking O-Lan’s pearls. He got so much money already. Why does he bother to take what little precious things that O-Lan has?!

Which scene was the most memorable for you?

Before this time around, I actually read the book about a couple of years ago, but didn’t finish it because it got too depressing. I stopped at the point when O-Lan gives birth for the third time and she has to eat a few beans to survive. I came into the book this time with the right mindset so I didn’t have much problem with all the hardness in the book. That scene though is still probably the one that will stay with me the longest.

How do you feel about the white American woman writing about China?

I normally do have a bit of skepticism and disapproval about author writing of a country or culture that is not her own. But reading Buck’s background about how she spent most of her lifetime in China, I think she should be as good as any Chinese writers to write about the people and the country. However my opinion is that the book is obviously targeted for foreigners. Would Chinese people appreciate the “mundane” life story of a Chinese farmer, whose life is probably not too dramatic in their eyes?

What do you think about the role of women in The Good Earth?

The absolute preference for daughters is quite maddening (though not surprising, since it’s one common topic for many old Chinese stories), but there seems to be a rather practical reason for it. These people had very hard life. Extreme poverty and starvation seem to be the norm. In their reality, girls would marry out and belong to another family. So the family must feed the girl until she’s of age for nothing, so to speak, while boys would stay with the family forever, supporting the elders until they die.

The Movie

The Good Earth filmThe Good Earth the film was released in 1937, with non-Chinese casts for the main characters. I was utterly surprised when I found out about that fact. The movie won 2 Oscars in 1938 for Best Actress (Luise Rainer as O-Lan) and Best Cinematography. As always, awards pique my interest.

Fortunately The Good Earth is a black and white movie, and that sort of disguised the ethnicity of the main characters. But I couldn’t help to be very conscious that they were Caucasians and wished there would be a remake of the movie someday, with proper Chinese casts.

I paid attention to Luise Rainer because she won Best Actress. I’m not sure though if I liked her acting. She often showed this faraway look that made her look rather dumb. It’s a bit weird to say this, but I wish the actress playing O-Lan were uglier. Rainer was far from being ugly and that took away a lot of  the sadness of O-Lan depicted in the book.

Overall the movie made a good effort for what they had at the time, though again it was obviously targeted for foreigners. One awesome scene was when the locusts attacked the village people’s fields and they showed what looked like millions of crickets. Some characters’ roles were gone or diminished, like Wang-Lung last twin (non-existent), his uncle’s wife and son, and Cuckoo.

I’m not sure if you mind about spoilers for the movie. So I’ll keep it in white. Highlight the below paragraph to read.

Of course they just had to change the ending! Because that’s what Hollywood does. They change any story to become romantic and have a happy ending. The movie ends with O-Lan at her deathbed (probably a good decision since I too thought the book became less exciting after O-Lan died). Wang-Lung returns the two pearls that he took from O-Lan for Lotus the other day and claimed that he finally realized that she is the one. What the?

That’s one very crucial scene in the book where O-Lan moans with so much sadness for being born ugly and therefore is incapable for winning Wang Lung’s love. And at the very end Wang Lung cannot love O-Lan like he does Lotus even if he feels guilty about it. They just had to change that to lovey dovey ending, did they? *grumble*

Rating: 7/10

Gosh that was one long post. I’m not sure if you’re still here, but for me I can talk about this book for a long time. I hope you enjoyed the book and the read-along!

Participants’ Reviews

su[shu]
things mean a lot
eeleng chang
kiss a cloud
Absorbed in Words


love in a fallen city

For the next book we will read Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang (1920-1995), which is a collection of short stories. I heard of Eileen Chang when Lust, Caution made a huge hit in Asian cinemas in 2007. Love in a Fallen City itself was made into a movie in 1984, played by Chow Yun-Fat (remember Anna and the King? Or the Captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean…) The book was picked by Claire and we’re going to post our thoughts in the last week of June. Hope to see you then!

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

the slap

The Slap starts with a barbeque party at suburban Melbourne. The explosion breaks when a man slaps a child who is not his own. The ripples affect everyone there: the family where the barbeque takes place, the family of man who slaps, the family of the child who is slapped, and all their family and friends.

The book won Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Overall Best Book and it was/is huge in Australia, reserving the number one place for many weeks. I was then quite surprised to find the quantity of swearing in it. At one point, it was so overwhelming I wondered if I should give up (and I’m not even the type who’s sensitive to coarse language). Not only that, I found the beginning was very slow, and it only started to pick up the pace a third way through.

The book is written in third person close view of eight different characters in chronological order. Interestingly, and unfortunately, the first four characters are easily the least interesting of them all. It doesn’t help that the first two men whose heads you are “privileged” to get into are so hard to read. It’s like getting into a very male head, whose thoughts are completely unfiltered, and an angry male at that. There are excessive swearing, drugs, sex, racial slurs, you name it. There’s just so much anger.

But if you succeed to pass through the first four characters, I would say that the last four would make up for the former. My favorite would be the mother of the slapped child. I don’t agree with many of her opinions, but it’s amusing to get into her head. My second favorite would be the old Greek immigrant who is the uncle of the slapper. Melbourne has the biggest Greek community outside of Greece. So it was fun to know their side of the story.

The setting was a big enticement for me. I lived in Melbourne for 6 years before studying and working, and love the place dearly. I recognized many of the place references and lifestyle that I had fun reminiscing. I also loved how multicultural the book is. It’s not Australia the white man country. It’s Australia that I know. Australia the country of immigrants and multicultural pot. In this book we meet Greeks, Indians, Vietnamese, Jews, white Aussies, and Aborigines. The boldness of racial slurs and how each race is portrayed, again, sent jolts to my system. The Slap is a very brave book in many aspects to show the contemporary Australian life. The slap itself is often just a noise in the background amidst the loudness of everything else.

Christos TsiolkasDespite wincing at many points, I found myself noted down quotes with strong opinions from the book:

On racism:

“Her own parents’ racism had been casual, was certainly never expressed violently or aggressively. Her mother pitied the blacks and her father had no respect for them; but beyond that they prided themselves on tolerance.” ~ p245

On the young generation:

“These kids, they’re unbelievable. It’s like the world owes them everything. They’ve been spoilt by their parents and by their teachers and by the fucking media to believe that they have all these rights but no responsibilities so they have no decency, no moral values whatsoever.” ~ p270

On love:

“This, finally, was love. This was its shape and essence, once the lust and ecstasy and danger and adventure had gone. Love, at its core, was negotiation, the surrender of two individuals to the messy, banal, domestic realities of sharing a life together.” ~ p406

On aging:

“But age did silence dreams, did mellow desires, even the most ferocious lusts and fantasies.” ~ p295

“He believed he had glimpsed a truth, a possibility: equanimity, acceptance, a certain peace–in old age, all men were equal. Not in work, not in God, not in politics, only in age.” ~ p324

On women:

“Not for the first time, he sighed inwardly a the innate conservatism of women. It was as if being a mother, the agony of birth, rooted them eternally to the world, made them complicit in the foibles and errors and rank stupidity of men. Women were incapable of camaraderie, their own children would always come first.” ~ p325

On the future:

“… it slowly began to dawn on him that the future was not a straight linear path but a matrix of permutations and possibilities, offshoots from offshoots. The map of the future was three-dimensional.” ~ p439

4 stars
2009, 485 pp

First line
His eyes still shut, a dream dissolving and already impossible to recall, Hector’s hand sluggishly reached across the bed.

Awards
2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Overall Best Book
2009 ABIA (Australian Book Industry Awards) Book of the Year

Challenges
Book Awards IV (book #4), Aussie Author (book #1)

Also reviewed by Liked it! — Farm Lane Books Blog | Mad Bibliophile | Reading Matters

First Tuesday Book Club – May 2009 episode (with 11:35 mins video)

About the Orange Prize List 2010

Orange Prize 2010

The Orange Prize for fiction has just released its longlist. I was excited to find that I have 2 of the books on the list!

Secret SonThe White Woman on the Green Bicycle

Both books were obtained last year (I wrote about them here and here).

I was interested by Secret Son because it’s Moroccan (author and setting) and The White Woman on the Green Bicycle for its Trinidad origin (again, author and setting).

Jackie and Simon both made their predictions and wrote more about the other books. I haven’t heard of the rest of the others, apart from these two and This is How by M. J. Hyland (who is sort of Australian and whose book was featured on First Tuesday Book Club last year and has piqued my interest since then), The Help by Kathryn Stockett (which I have planned to read) and A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (whose short story I read a while back and liked). Oh and of course the big names like Wolf Hall, The Little Stranger, and The Lacuna, but they don’t need more mentioning, do they?

Which book piques your interest? Which one do you plan to read?

Short Saturday: Gaiman, Jackson, and Gilman

In Short Saturday I will journal my journey to find 5-star quality short stories, whose virtual trophy right now is held by Truman Capote and Haruki Murakami. Unlike my book reviews, I will talk more about my thoughts and what I learn, why I choose the story and how I come upon it. Unlike books, I’m willing to take more risk for shorts, because they are.. well.. short, so I won’t waste too much time if I don’t like them. Expect to see a lot of trash and hopefully, some gems. As it is now, I am not a fan of short stories. Dare I say, yet? But hey, like people say, it’s all about the journey, not destination.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I haven’t posted Short Saturday for a few weeks, what with the holiday and catching up. Lucky me, Michelle has been continuing and it encouraged me to continue too. We’ve been posting about short stories on Saturday for a couple of months now (not always continuously) and it’s great to have a bloggy friend to do it together!

Talking about bloggy friends, I have been recommended many short stories since my first Short Saturday was up and it’s been so much fun to try so many stories that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. For this week, I was intrigued by Claire‘s favorite short stories that are listed on her sidebar and I picked three to read.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman confused me. One day he wrote The Graveyard Book and Coraline, another day The Sandman. Is he a YA writer or a twisted adult writer? Maybe both and he can change skin anytime he likes. Now Snow, Glass, Apples is more in the vein of The Sandman rather than his YA books, and I… LOVED it! (Though 10 paragraphs in there’s a blood sucking scene and I groaned “Not another blood sucker!” because I’m not a fan of anything vampiric.)

As you can probably guess from the title, the story is a retelling of Snow White. Twisted fairytale retelling is really my thing so I just fell for it. It’s a little bit disturbing at times, but really, after reading The Sandman, nothing can surprise me out of Neil Gaiman. Do not expect the story to be anywhere near kiddy or fluffy!

Did I just find my third 5-star short story? I did!

Read the story online

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I first heard of The Lottery when tanabata made a brief comparison of it to Battle Royale. As the latter is one of my favorite books, she piqued my interest straight away. When I saw the short story made appearance on Claire’s list, I just knew I had to read it.

The Lottery started with the whole village gathering at the square for a yearly lottery that has become a custom since a long time ago, nobody knows since when. We don’t know what the lottery is about, so the build-up to it is just amazing, the anticipation gripped me like few else. Of course, I wouldn’t tell you what it is, but the ending shocked me. I just didn’t see it coming. I got chills down my spine and goosebumps for minutes. Felt a little angry even. “I don’t get it”, repeated myself in my head.

The Lottery was first published in 1948 issue of The New Yorker. To the surprise of Jackson and the magazine, they got a high number of negative responses and angry mails from the readers. I must say I kinda understand why. The ending was morbid. However, I’m impressed with Shirley Jackson’s skill to bring such strong reaction from people. Her novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been on my radar for a while and I would love to read it some time soon.

4.5 stars

Read the story online

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first heard of Charlotte Perkins Gilman from Rebecca, when she reviewed Herland (which I’d love to read but not sure when). So when I saw her name on Claire’s list, I picked the short story.

The main character is a woman who is rather ill and advised to stay in her room resting and doing very little. However the wallpaper on the wall disturbs and distracts her restlessly.

I don’t know if it’s only the copy that I read, but I felt the writing a bit choppy. There’s often only one sentence in one paragraph, so it changes paragraph all the time. Also, I’m never fond of mad-man story, because it always gets too abstract and loose at the end, and not to mention confusing. I read a bit on the background of the story and it apparently was a backlash from Gilman after she was advised by her doctor for a rest cure (and followed the advise leading to her depression).

4 stars

Read the story online

This story is included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 list)

I had a good short story week! How about you? As always, I welcome any recommendation!


Did you recognize the picture above? In case you’ve been living under a stone, Carl has opened up his Once Upon a Time IV challenge, running from 21 March to 20 June! Isn’t the picture very fitting with Snow, Glass, Apples? Which is by the way, is a perfect story for the challenge! I’m joining for The Journey, because I don’t want to be over-committed that way, and of course, Short Story Weekends.

I have a very short list to share. I’m going to (try to) read Tender Morsels with Claire’s gang (no, the other Claire, and no, her other gang) and The Colour of Magic for Terry Pratchett challenge. I might continue with Fables series too. We’ll see.

Are you joining too?

Short Stories Read

  1. The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change by Kij Johnson (4/5)

Books Read

  1. The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (4/5)
  2. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon (5/5)
  3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (4/5) — contains 10 short stories
  4. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (4/5)
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (5/5)
  6. The Sandman Vol 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman (3.5/5)

Mailbox Monday: Surprise!

So I came back from my 2 weeks holiday to find a package at home of… what else? Books!

Tender Morsel and Shortcoming
The card on the left there was from hubby :)

My book fairy was Jessica from Allen and Unwin. Thank you Jessica! When Jessica told me she was going to send me Tender Morsels with the cover illustrated by Shaun Tan, I was so over the moon! Regular readers would know that I adore Shaun Tan. No, I worship him! I had been waiting for this edition since last year when Margo Lanagan announced it on her blog. Not only that, she also sent me Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine, a graphic novel that I’d been coveting, because my libraries don’t stock it!

If there’s such a thing as blogging career, this must be my highlight!

Tender Morsels and Shortcoming

But apparently a girl can’t have enough books, so I’ll have to share the books I brought back from Indonesia. I bought them when I was in Singapore years ago and for some reason that seemed reasonable at that time they got transferred to my parents’ second house in Jakarta, so I hadn’t seen them for more than a year since I went back to Australia because I got too much stuff and they were left behind. It’s so good to be able to bring my babies back with me to Sydney! (Note: these piles are only less than half of what is still left there. I’m gonna need another around to bring everything back..)

Pile of books

So starting from the left pile:

Bumi Manusia (The Earth of Mankind) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
A Japanese learning book (wasn’t meant to be displayed, and I brought more too but not shown)
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
2 comic books (Smurf and Police Agent 212 — my childhood comics that just got republished)

The right pile:

The Trial by Franz Kafka (got in the mail from a bookcrosser a day after I arrived)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Wild Swans by Jung Chang
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Good Women of China by Xin Ran
3 Cinta 1 Pria (3 Loves 1 Man) by Arswendo Atmowiloto (an Indonesian book)

Bumi Manusia

I was excited to find Pramoedya Ananta Toer‘s books (a whole shelf of them at the bookshop). I first heard of him from people around the net (who do NOT even live close to Indonesia) just in recent years. Apparently he was one of the most prolific Indonesian authors, even nominated for Nobel Prize. But for a while my reaction was “Who?” What a shame. How could you not know one of the most prolific authors from your own birth country? And it’s not like there are many of them. He’s probably the only one so far.

Further investigation led me to find that his books had been banned since the 60s in Indonesia, even though they were still translated all around the world into many languages, and have only been republished in Indonesia back in the past couple of years. He had a hard life for criticizing the government with his works and was imprisoned many times. He passed away in 2006. His most famous books are The Buru Quartet (first published in the 80s). The book I have above is the first in the series: Bumi Manusia (The Earth of Mankind). I thought it would be nice if I could read them in their original language.

Now if only I could find more shelf space to put them in…

Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

SkimSkim is a graphic novel by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It covers the issues of growing up, and about being gay at that. As the cousins grew up in Canada, there’s also a touch on growing up with Asian ethnicity in Canada.

The style of illustration is one of the most unique I have ever seen. Jillian Tamaki definitely brought her Japanese influences into her drawings. It reminds me of Japanese old paintings with its fluid lines. Not only that, the main character is also one of the most unique in graphic novels, or any medium really.

She is Kimberly Keiko who is called Skim, a Japanese descendant girl, who is chubby, gothic, and a bit into witchcraft. One of her popular schoolmates committed suicide and it was rumored that he did so because he was gay. It caused an uproar in the school and the students and teachers work on “save life” campaigns (of which the use is arguable). Meanwhile Skim has her own problems. She happens to have a crush on her female teacher, which forces her to question and figure out her sexuality.

The book captures the moodiness of adolescence, which is probably the most difficult phase of anyone’s life, when everything doesn’t seem to make sense and you don’t quite know where to put yourself. It touches on the issues of depression, love, peer pressure, sexual identity, and just the whole the pain of being young and different.

Skim is rather sad and melancholy, but I think it is an important book to understand what the teenagers might be facing in our time. Also, it would be a perfect book for GLBT challenge (IF I were joining :). Talking about GLBT challenge, Nymeth recently posted about her recommendation for LGBTQ graphic novels on the challenge site. Michelle also just recently posted her review on Pedro and Me by Judd Winick which sounds fabulous. I have Fun Home by Alison Bechdel waiting be read at home. It’s so great how graphic novel is used as medium to discuss serious issues. I hope and feel positive that we will have more in the future.

Sample of illustrations:


2008, 140 pp

Authors’ Sites
Mariko Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki

Awards (from Jillian’s site)
2008 Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel
2008 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books List
2009 Doug Wright Award Winner, Best Book
2009 Eisner award nominee (Best Publication for Teens, Writer, New Graphic Album, Penciller/Inker)
2008 Best of Books of the Year, Publishers WeeklyQuill & Quire

Challenges
Graphic Novels 2010 (book #4), Book Awards IV (book #3), Women Unbound (fiction #6)

Also reviewed by
Regular Rumination | In Spring it is the Dawn | The Written World | Chasing Ray | A Striped Armchair | Stuff as Dreams are Made On

Movie Mini-Reviews: Always, The Road, and Bright Star

Coming back since last week, I feel like I haven’t even got close to catching up with life. Why does life have always to be hasty? I don’t missed my hometown much, but I do now miss my 2 weeks time off when I didn’t have to fix my eyes to every hour that passes, worry that I can’t finish this and that this day, or even this week.

Blogging-wise, I’m trying my best to catch up too. I’m not able to comment to your every post or even five posts, but rest assured, I’m trying to read all that I missed during my being away. Be kind to me? :)

Meanwhile I just watched an awesome flick just last weekend that I need to share. So I might as well do my movie mini-reviews that I seem to have abandoned for a while!

Always: Sunset on Third Street (Always: Sanchōme no Yūhi)

Winner of 12 Japanese Academy Awards in 2005.

“In the shadow of that symbol of Japan’s post-war economic boom, Tokyo Tower, is Third street. It is a drama that follows the highs and lows, the romance and adventure of growing up in Tokyo in the Shōwa period of the 1950s.”

I laughed and I cried along the movie. Like many Japanese movies, it is often subtle, but I absolutely loved the daily life portrayal of the Japanese post-war, spiced with many unique heartfelt characters on Third Street neighbourhood. The movie is taken from a long-running manga so it is very comical at times (you decide whether that’s good or bad). The half-built Tokyo Tower always hovering in the background, it is a very beautiful, meaningful film.

Rating: 9/10

I couldn’t find a trailer with good quality, so here it is to tease you.

The Road

2009, from the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

I read The Road in 2008 and wasn’t really impressed with the book, though many people swear by it. I kinda expected to appreciate the movie more, but alas, my mind stays exactly at where it is. I’m still not impressed with the story and I still did not buy the ending. The visual stays very true to the book, where everything is grey grey grey (a good thing) and even one part of the book where it gets really gory is shown as well (not a good thing, because it was too disgusting). In conclusion, if you love the book I’d recommend the movie, as long as you can stomach it. If you don’t really like the book, well, don’t expect your mind to be changed.

Rating: 6/10

Bright Star

2009, nominated for Oscar 2010 – Best Costume.

The drama is based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats’ untimely death at age 25.

I sooo wanted to post about this film when I watched it months ago, because the first time I saw the trailer, my thought was “How great is the costume?!” I quickly pointed that out to my husband. Soon after, I found out that it has been nominated for Oscar for Best Costume. How good my eyes were?! Today though we knew that The Young Victoria won for that category so my excitement got a bit stale. But to reiterate, the movie features great costumes (very fitting because the main female character is a seamstress), great setting (gosh the lavender!), and beautiful poetry. It almost made me want to read Keats’ poetry straight away (no, I haven’t picked poetry up since it’s not my thing, but very possibly in the future!) I can see myself re-watch this movie if only for the beautiful language, story, and setting. Well, isn’t that everything that makes a good movie? The downside is that it’s rather slow at times and for me personally the language needs some getting used to to digest (hence a re-watch is needed).

I love the girl who played Fanny. What a breath of fresh air among too many skinny girls on screen.

Rating: 7/10

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