Hope in Devastation

Barefoot Gen

Rating: 5 out of 5

Author: Keiji Nakazawa

My Mum (thanks 🙂 sent me all four of the Barefoot Gen series (I’m still not sure whether there are four or ten in total). I read the first two last year: Jane got them out of the library. The third and fourth succumbed over the weekend. They’re 250 pages each. Usually one of those would take me two months. I did these in a sitting (well lying) each. They are graphic novels. Manga. Comics.

Complete with “pow!” and “wap!” and salt-shaker-shaped lumps on people’s heads, these books are peppered with graphic violence. Characters are gullible so that if something works for one, the others will all try it. The scenes (frames?) are all melodramatic, whether they are of catastrophe, intrigue or poignancy, or the sun rising, setting or just shining.

The effect is a rocking ride. I literally could not put them down until I’d finished them. It was merciful that they were graphic novels or I would have had people kicking down the door.

Of course, Barefoot Gen depicts the holocaust in Hiroshima. It’s from the point of view of a small family, some of whom miraculously survive. In particular, Gen, a boy is plucky and resourceful. He can equally be charming or savagely vindictive. What he values the most, tho is hope and respect. He drops everything to help people, even if it is just to treat them as human. He sees red at injustice. Through a world devastated by violence, or wearied into indifference, Gen weaves a thread of love.

I think there are only four volumes in the series but if you run out, you could go for the equally gripping MAUS books by Art Spiegelman (he writes the preface in one of the Gen books).

Tags: barefoot gen hiroshima manga

Small Epiphanies

Look Both Ways

IMDB

Year: 2006

Writer: Sarah Watt

Director: Sarah Watt

Rating: 5 out of 5

Those stars that I put on these reviews? You know that they don’t mean “it’s good”, don’t you? What they mean is I like it.

The Aussies have done it again. Strangely, only I added Little Fish to the list with Lantana. But “Look Both Ways” is on it too now. Maybe it’s my growing liking for Australians, skin moistened with perspiration and humidity and ground constantly crawling with ants. Maybe it’s the attractiveness of the “new love” story. Maybe it is the “death” theme. I don’t think so. The Aussies are aceing us at movies.

Look Both Ways is about life, love and loss. Simple pulsings: further apart, closer together. Ordinary people, each with their own reasons to be cautious, careless, searching or unthinking. Lives intertwine and small shifts happen. All a boy needs to be happy, and sad.

Animation is used terrifyingly and hilariously. Images from TV, the press, the Web, coloured pencil sketches, watercolours and street, park or pool-scapes interweave the inner and outer worlds of the participants.

What do you call those scenes which cut from one character or small group to next, showing a series of simultaneous moments of melancholy or sweetness? Look Both Ways does this about every five minutes. And you know what? I don’t mind. Yes, I do compare it with Magnolia.

I must read “the Dubliners” again.

Btw, I’ll post something other than a movie review soon, honest.

Tags: movie lookbothways

Disposable fascinations

Capote

IMDB

Year: 2005

Cast:

  • Truman Capote: Philip Seymore Hoffman
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    It works because it plunges me into a dilemma. Capote is singularly single-minded. Can anyone quote his line as he bribes the Prison Warden for access to visiting Perry? But is his work really his sole motivation? Yes, if you count his identification with Perry as providing the content for his literature. “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” We don’t so much love him as get drawn into the question.

    Capote doesn’t love Perry either. He’s just drawn into the question. The fact that, apparently, he isn’t horrified by him is all that distinguishes their relationship from ours with Truman.

    Of course Philip Seymore Hoffman deserved the Oscar. I was a fan already. He commits from the outset. Effete, right? As the audience moves on to its next fascination, PSH is the only one who isn’t disposable.

    Tags: capote

    Capote

    IMDB

    Year: 2005

    Cast:

  • Truman Capote: Philip Seymore Hoffman
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    It works because it plunges me into a dilemma. Capote is singularly single-minded. Can anyone quote his line as he bribes the Prison Warden for access to visiting Perry? But is his work really his sole motivation? Yes, if you count his identification with Perry as providing the content for his literature. “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” We don’t so much love him as get drawn into the question.

    Capote doesn’t love Perry either. He’s just drawn into the question. The fact that, apparently, he isn’t horrified by him is all that distinguishes their relationship from ours with Truman.

    Of course Philip Seymore Hoffman deserved the Oscar. I was a fan already. He commits from the outset. Effete, right? As the audience moves on to its next fascination, PSH is the only one who isn’t disposable.

    Tags: capote