Derik Badman's Journal

2020-05-06 08:27

Life continues at home and apparently I have been too distracted to write. Story three continues coming together, as it gets longer and longer, the fantasy aspect of it because less and less prominent, except in the sense that it's all made up. Am I mostly just writing historical fiction but in a world that is poorly researched and otherwise imagined? Not exactly, though almost. I've been reading this book Eighteenth-Century Women Artists: Their Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs by Caroline Chapman which has been giving me ideas about my character (a woman artist in a similar milieu), but I don't have a strong desire to get too far into pseudo-history. I perhaps needs to add a bit more of the fantasy/unusual aspect. But on the other hand I don't want to go all making up complicated magic systems and maps and made-up words for things. That is rarely the most interesting part of the fantasy works I like.

I returned to The Cinema of Ozu Yasujiro: Histories of the Everyday by Woojeong Joo after a long hiatus. The book is chronological and the early chapters did not engage me a lot because I have not seen a ton of Ozu's early movies, especially the silent ones. I put the book aside for a long time, and then returned to it by skipping to the later chapters where I am familiar with most/all of the movies addressed. In the end, I still did not find a lot to engage me in the book. It gets a lot into the weeds about topics that do not hold my interest strongly. Also, the author has a really annoying habit of overusing Japanese words even when there are English equivalants. This not only ends up sounding pretentious but it becomes hard to follow unless you remember what the word in question actually meant when first introduced, often in some earlier chapter. I'm putting this one into the "weeded" pile. Though it did make me want to revisit more Ozu movies. I have a small Criterion set of some of his early crime dramas that I haven't watched yet.

I finally watched Shimizu's Ornamental Hairpin (1941) on Sunday. It's a quiet drama that takes place at a resort during the war. A young man (a solider on leave I believe) injures his foot on a hairpin accidentally left behind by a previous resident. She returns to the resort to apologize to him, and then ends up staying to escape her life in Tokyo. Shimizu uses lots of long shots, and a lot of the drama comes around the man's attempts to walk on his injured foot. One overlong scene has him trying to walk across a narrow log bridge that spans the shallow river. The woman, some children, and other residents he has become friendly with are all cheering him on as he stumbles and sways across the bridge. It's a strange, sometimes inconsistent movie, with an ending that is melancholy, though not clearly not a happy ending, just unresolved.

We also watched Talk of the Town (1942) with Jean Arthur, Cary Grant, and Ronald Colman, part of a collection of Arthur's movies on the Criterion Channel. It too was a bit inconsistent. Sometimes funny and charming, sometimes political and patriotic, sometimes just boring. The main story about a man falsely accused of arson by a factory owner and an apparently corrupt judge, is interspersed with a three way romance (which man will the woman choose?!). The political angle ends up too patly solved and is, of course, quite unrealistic, especially as it works in one of the characters being a Supreme Court justice. Entertaining for a bit, but not rewatchable.