Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Soft Porn Movie that is Norwegian Wood

The Evil One has been complaining that I have been slacking off in my blogging lately. Sumimasen. Guilty as charged. Circumstances have been conniving against me and I simply had no time to blog recently, which is sad because I still have a lot of Japan-related topics to talk about. And I am afraid that my posts will continue to be sparse over the next month because, Achtung!! my home country, Singapore, is holding its 14th General Elections in about 3 weeks time. For overseas readers who thought that Singapore is a dictatorship, no, we actually hold democratic elections once every 5 years. The issue is whether we have Opposition candidates to vote for during the elections, because more often than not in the past, the incumbent RULING PARTY had walked all over us. But things are a little different now, and I can smell change in the air and am most excited by the prospect.

BUT!!!! in any case, this blog is not a political blog and I would keep it that way. This is just a brief explanation to my secret admirers who are mourning my absence. Fat Geisha will be back in full-time action after 7 May 2011 (that's Polling Day). Those interested in Singapore politics can check out www.temasekreview.net and www.theonlinecitizen.com.


As some of you may know, I have recently been inducted into the club of Haruki Murakami upon the recommendation of a girlfriend to read one of his most famous novels "Norwegian Wood". (You can read my book review here.) The Japanese recently made the book into a movie, directed by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung, with the yummy lead actor from "Death Note", Kenichi Matsuyama, as the protagonist, Toru Watanabe.

Thanks to China's best innovation of the century, Funshion (www.funshion.com), I was able to save SGD10 and instead watched the movie in HD quality over the Internet. Which turned out to be a good thing because it took me THREE days to complete a 133-minute movie (and I finished the book in 24 hours!!). I would have been squirming in my seat at the cinema from boredom, I think.

The Positives: To Tran's credit, the movie was beautifully shot. With ample mood lighting, and wide-angled shots of lush green fields or a romantic snowscape, the audience was certainly transported to the "simpler" era of the 1960s. The musical score was moving and fit the melancholic mood well. Matsuyama-san looked way better here than in "Death Note", and infinitely more "munch-able" especially when he's stripped down and working it out with numerous ladies on-screen (nice muscles, by the way - drool). The leading ladies, Rinko Kikuchi as Naoko, and Kiko Mizuhara as Midori, both acted sufficiently convincing for their characters. Rinko was suitably mad and depressed, and as irritating as the Naoko character in the book. Together with everything else, it was a good-looking movie.

Toru (the slut!!!) and Midori, who turned out to be the love of his life.

The Negatives: Where do I start? I think simply due to the fact that it was a movie, Toru Watanabe's first person perspective in the book was totally lost. As a result, the audience became detached from his journey, and all his internal struggles which made the novel addictive, were lost in translation. Those who did not read the book would view Watanabe as a horny teenager, eager to get it on with the girl-of-his-dreams. And indeed, with the numerous sex scenes in this movie, and without any insight to his motives, it would be difficult to think otherwise. Subplots that made the novel quirky and not your typical teenage romance and angst, such as Reiko's back story, and Watanabe's funny roommate, the "Stormtrooper", were cut out from the movie. So all we were left with is one horny, but good-looking young man, ding-donging back and forth between two ladies. The sex scenes, although shot quite tastefully, left me high and dry. You either show me more or don't show me at all!!! In the end, everything was bland, a one-note storyline peppered with lots of bed action. Snore.

Read the book - it is WAYY better. If you want to watch the movie still, save your money and watch it online.

This is one of the few chaste kiss scenes. Others were not so innocent.

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