Film and Writing (M.A)
Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema
Book Review: "Dandelions" by Yasunari Kawabata
I love reading 20th century Japanese Literature. The books of Junichiro Tanazaki, Yukio Mishima and the beautiful commentary on extreme human conditions as written by Yasunari Kawabata are among some of the greatest books to grace the last one hundred years of literature. In the 21st century, Japanese Literature continues the tradition of accurately and beautifully putting into words what others have previously struggled with articulating. The works of Yoko Ogawa such as “Revenge” and “The Memory Police” have often analysed the feelings of national anxiety as channelled through one or a small set of characters. The works of Haruki Murakami have the Kafkan quality of despair raining over them whilst also managing to tell the most wonderful narratives through extended metaphors. But in this review, I would like to discuss the final work of the great Yasunari Kawabata. It is called “Dandelions” and it is one of the most beautiful and incredible books to ever be written in Japan.
Book Review: "34 Patients" by Tom Templeton
I remember when I read a book called “When Breath Becomes Air” and was fascinated about the amount of hard work, love, care and courage that goes into being a doctor and even more so, being a doctor who then requires a doctor for a terminal illness that he himself will later succumb to. It started a fashion off for me to become fascinated with the stories of people who work some of the most intriguing jobs from doctors to architects and honestly, they require the person to know exactly what they are doing as mistakes are hardly ever permitted. Along the way, I have come into contact with many books about doctors and the treatment of illnesses with the books of Oliver Sacks being among the most famous that I have read. But, when this book caught my eye, I have to say that I was not immediately taken by it. In fact, it was more of a curiosity as I had never really read a book on this scale before in which the doctor basically gives us 34 very different patients to look at over the course of their career. Fascinated for a long, long while - I could not even begin to see what was to come in this grand memoir of being in the medical profession.
Book Review: "The True Heart" by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Romance novels are more than often, one-sided affairs with predictable lines and plots. There have been, though, some better ones of the last one hundred or so years but rarely are they appreciated as much as they should be. Romance novels that do not fit the same piece as being something by Nicholas Sparks and that genre are often ignored but, as I have found recently, there is an author who pretty much has the perfect blend between light and dark though some of the plot may be assumed cliché. The book in question is entitled, “The True Heart” by Sylvia Townsend Warner and it is one of the shorter books I have read this week as I wanted to have a nicer morning than my usual heavy reads. “The True Heart” is written incredibly cleverly and I have to say that the use of language is amazing for what it does for the atmosphere and characters. Though there are parts of the plot where I found myself guessing exactly what was going to happen next - the writing did shock me as something that was very different for its genre.
Book Review: "Burning Man" by Frances Wilson
I have read a number of author biographies over the years and honestly, there is nothing more refreshing than reading an author biography that does something different with the story. We are not talking about twisting facts into fiction but rather we speak of the way in which the biography is researched. Many biographies have a secondary source text or two that they will reference in accordance with making their own arguments, but less often is the researcher that goes out of their way to get into the minute details of the life of their subject. The book “Oscar Wilde” by Richard Ellman is a great example of the new-age author biography. Using several sources to make the arguments, tales of people who had seen or wrote about or even heard of Oscar Wilde litter the book and are under the critical eye of the author of the biography, an expert in the life and times of the subject. In this text entitled, “Burning Man” by Frances Wilson, we see a similar yet newer method in this practice.
Book Review: "Empire of Pain" by Patrick Radden Keefe
I think I can say that many of us have seen those programs on Netflix that talk about the American Painkiller Epidemic. I think many of us have even tried some of these painkillers and felt darn good after them. I even bet that some of you sitting here today are possibly addicted to them. But there is one thing for sure - if you’re going to write a book or make a documentary about it, it is better if you are on the inside of the situation rather than standing on the outside. It is no criticism towards this book for its author was very much outside of the situation, but I can state that there have been better attempts to grab my interest when it comes to the word ‘OxyContin’. I am a person who loves personal stories, which is why I love listening to people who have stories to tell about journeys they have been on and such. It is just incredible to listen to someone talk with such a passion. Some of this book here, because of the research aspect, falls rather flat at the beginning, but as we get into the grittiness of the story there is a definite attempt to make this more about the entire ‘game plan’ surrounding the drug rather than a boring research paper which many of us would be familiar with. So, there are definitely very good points to this book, but there is always room for improvement in the eyes of your average reader.
Book Review: "A Thousand Ships" by Natalie Haynes
When I read retellings of Ancient Greek Literature and Mythology, I am looking for one thing in particular - does it do anything differently and if it does, can I still see where the story is going? That is my idea of balance. These stories are thousands of years old and are known far and wide, loved by cultures and communities alike and so, to tackle them with a different perspective often can come out as self-righteous or even pompous. When I first tackled the writing of Natalie Haynes, the first book I read by her was “Pandora’s Jar” and honestly, I have to say that I was very impressed with the sheer amount of knowledge there was about these characters included within the text and then to use that to express them differently was a great idea. Characters such as Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy, The Amazonians and others were covered in vast amounts of detail. This second one I am reading entitled “A Thousand Ships” is about the sacking of Troy, the story told by the two remaining texts of the Trojan Cycle - The Iliad and The Odyssey. Two of my favourite epics of all time (if we exclude the Aeneid of course) retold from an all-female perspective.
Book Review: "Albert and the Whale" by Philip Hoare
Sometimes, when you read a biography (especially when it is about someone quite far back into the previous centuries such as the teens) you are expecting a certain amount of difficulty in reading it as fact - you must instead read it as research. If the person is dead then you have to accept that something will be out of place or something will be missed or not investigated as much. When this happens, you have to step back and see how the writer fills it in, what the writer has investigated and why they have covered certain things and yet, not covered others as much or as well. In this case of this book, we have our artists - Dürer - and not only his life but the lives of those he took influence from and those who followed as well. The best thing about this book was learning about the entire world around him - it was a huge world in which many people influencers and influenced were involved and each component is important into the way in which we understand Dürer and his time period, art and life today. Honestly, not only did I think this book was pretty well-written for a biography but I also thought that had it been any longer, it probably would have been unbearable because of the way it weaves back and forth through history and artistic period.
Book Review: "Touring the Land of the Dead" by Maki Kashimada
Some of the books I read can be quite upsetting though not a lot physically happens. The last book I read that was like this has to be some of the feminist Greek myth analytics I have been reading. Seeing how unfairly women are treated in Ancient Greek Myth really made me rethinking my stance on this literature and expanded my worldview of mythology all around. But, when it comes to dealing with death and/or Illness, there are not a great number of books in my peripheral that I have read in the last year or so. I think that there a requirement for modernist illness literature because the world is becoming more obsessed with perfection - imperfection needs to be represented especially in difference through people and the way we cannot control who we are or whether we are to get very sick in the near future. Many people have difficulties with their illnesses and feel as if they are a burden towards others. This book really does investigate some aspects of that in the midst of it being about this strange modernist love which almost seems completely lacking in romance and is almost entirely platonic from time to time.