April 22, 2005

Friday Arts Section

Since writing, thinking, or even talking about politics is getting to be a bit of a downer these days, and since I haven't watched any movies or read any novels for awhile, I decided last night to rent and watch The Hidden Fortress and then read Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Both highly recommended. The Hidden Fortress was particularly well done, though from what I understand Kurosawa needed to turn this into a "popular" film in order to bankroll some of his riskier stuff, like Rashomon. Much like Melville and all his popular travelogues. Also, for some odd reason everyone in the movie had to be shouting all the time—Princess Yukihime couldn't just say any of her lines, she had to scream them. None of Kurosawa's other films have this sort of hysteria about them, so perhaps this is what passed for popular in 1950s Japan? Or the sound system wasn't very good? Oh well. Interesting note: the two goofy robot-dudes in the Star Wars series are based on the two greedy and giggly peasants in this movie.

As for Foer's book, don't really want to talk about it—suffice to say it's good, and this from someone who found Everything Is Illuminated tediously "clever," much like sitting around at a dinner party where everyone's wearing a funny hat and you're obliged to smile and laugh through the whole thing lest they find out that you really don't know when and when not to laugh. Ahem. But no, the new book's better. And it gives me an opportunity to link to my favorite blog ever, "Attacking the Demi-Puppets." Yes, Foer is one of the demi-puppets here (an "establishment-backed flunkie," a "bubble-boy".) But you really have to read it for awhile—along with the commenters trying desperately to reason with this gang of aspiring writers—to understand its genius.
-- Brad Plumer 1:41 PM || ||