Shinjû: Ten no amijima

I heard the news that the A’s won their game in Tokyo against the Red Sox, with Rich Harden pitching well.  The final score was 5-1.  After two games, the team ERA was 3.35.

The day at work passed quietly.  I had a conversation with someone about Robert Flaherty.  That was about it.

I came home to watch the Japanese film “Double Suicide.”  It’s about a merchant named Jihei who has an obsession with a prostitute named Koharu.  He lets his business goes down the drain, and he alienates his wife and family in his pursuit of this woman.  The title of the movie pretty much gives away the ending.  Supposedly, that’s the only way this story can end.

The story shows both Koharu and Jihei’s wife Osan during a lot of humiliation and pain.  It seems to be their lot in life.  They can’t do anything about it.  In fact, Jihei doesn’t seem to be able to do anything to better his situation, or his family’s, either.  The only person who seems to be happy is Tohei, the one rich person who can afford to pay for Koharu and claim her.  He brags obnoxiously about what he can do with his money, but it seems to be right.

Koharu is the bad girl, and Osan is the good girl with the bad teeth.  I can almost sympathize with the way Jihei got bored with his wife and children and was drawn towards Koharu.  The wife has no sense of humor and seems to be no fun at all.

I liked the way the movie was photographed.  The style is not too fancy and just shows us the people talking and reacting.  It was made in 1969, yet it’s still in black and white.  The director was Masahiro Shinoda.  He seems to show a good command of what he’s doing with film.

The film has something in common with Truffaut’s ‘The Story of Adele H.”  They both deal with obsession heading towards death.  I’d say a lot of the emotion is too internal to be completely effective on film.

I wouldn’t say that I liked this film as much as other Japanese films like “Ugetsu,” “The Makioka Sisters,” or even “Onibaba,” but I thought it was a solid effort, if you don’t mind downbeat endings.  I would still say that my favorite Japanese film not directed by Akira Kurosawa would be “The Makioka Sisters.”

I listened to the third disc of the Elton John “To Be Continued” box set.  I thought there were some very good tracks on it, like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”  I thought his creative streak showed signs of slowing down with “Mama Can’t Buy You Love.”  He’s never shown the consistent inspiration of those old days, although there have been great songs here and there.  Some of the last tracks on the discs are uninteresting, although I like “Little Jeannie,” “Chloe,” and “Blue Eyes.”  One of the complaints I have about this box set is that it doesn’t have the version of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” from the “Caribou” album.

A couple of days ago, I saw a couple of street musicians working on getting the song “Across the Universe” right.  It seems that another generation will be out there singing Beatles songs.

I started to watch the DVD called “The Doors Collection.”  I noticed in the video for “People are Strange” there was an ATM, so I know it wasn’t filmed in the 1960s.  I liked the live version of “Light my Fire” that was on Chapter 5.  It looked like John Doe of X was in the video of “L.A. Woman.”  I was much too tired to watch the whole DVD, so I turned it off after “Touch Me.”

The second part of the disc was a Hollywood Bowl concert, almost exactly 3 years before Jim Morrison’s death.  I didn’t think the song selection was the greatest.  It also seemed that the Hollywood Bowl swallowed up the band with its size.  Ray Manzarek smiles during his keyboard ramblings on “Light My Fire,” but I didn’t think it was anything fantastic.  There’s a certain, meandering and messy quality to the band’s approach that makes The Doors not one of my favorite bands from the 1960’s.

I heard the news that Robin Williams is getting a divorce.  That’s not what you could call a great shock.  I can imagine that Robin Williams is positively unbearable to be around, for one thing.  I also heard those tales of his flirting with the girls working in a coffee shop.  I thought it was pretty funny when I heard those stories.

The Cal basketball coaching position is now open.  They fired Ben Braun, and now they’re considering hiring someone like Mike Montgomery.  They could use a new coaching staff to inject some life into the basketball program.  They lost in the second round of the NIT tournament, which shows they aren’t good.  I wouldn’t mind it if Cal hires Mike Montgomery.  He seemed to be doing really well at Stanford before he got sidetracked with the Warriors job.

I tried making progress with New Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo DS, but didn’t get anywhere.  I played in the dark, just before the sun came up.  I had an odd feeling of lightheadedness afterwards.

I’m listening to the fourth Elton John disc from “To Be Continued” this morning.  It’s the weakest one of the set.  There are only three tracks on it that I truly like, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” “Sad Songs,” and “Sacrifice.”  In the booklet that comes with the set, Elton says that he thinks “Too Low for Zero” is a fine album.  One of these days, I think I’ll get around to buying it.

I haven’t taken advantage of spring break and done anything fun.  I’m so budget-conscious that I’m not spending very much money.

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