Friday, November 27, 2009
I decided to read a book titled 'Cloud Atlas', which is considered to be one of the best fiction books of the new millennium.
What could be easier than going to the library and finding a book published in 2004 with a relatively easy title to remember? Turns out it was pretty easy - maybe too easy. I went to the computer catalog, typed in the title, found it, then wrote down the author's name and headed for the shelves. There it was. Clean, unread, ready to be checked out. [Hmmm, how can such a celebrated book appear to be unread, I thought?]
I took the book home and began to read it. It was quite good. Then, looking back at the 'best of' list, I realized that the author's name on the list was not the same name on the book I had checked out. Whoa, I was reading the wrong book!
Turns out there are two books published in 2004 with [basically] the same title. Yep, 'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell and 'The Cloud Atlas' by Liam Callanan.
Anyway, The Cloud Atlas is a good read. May not be the best of the last ten years but then again I liked it better than a couple other books that made that 'best of' list. So I'll chalk this up as a serendipitous read. Plus, it taught me a little about the rarely reported Japanese balloon bombs used during World War Two.
Turns out I'm not the first to do this.
Here and here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Il Ladro di Bambini - Gianni Amelio - 1992
Much praised in 1993 when it came out but much forgotten in the world of DVD / Blu-Ray this film is about a police officer [carabiniere] who is instructed to take a young brother and sister to an orphanage - but due to complications regarding the girls abusive past the officer decides to take the two to another orphanage in Sicily.
Even though his actions are kind he is essentially kidnapping them - unwittingly, of course. Along the trip they begin to bond with him in ways they never did with their mother. Directed by Gianni Amelio, the film takes a serious episode [sort of neo-neo-realism] and makes into something warmer, smarter but still heartbreaking.
This is long overdue on DVD.
A side note: I recorded this on VHS years ago and through an intermediary lent the copy to Antonio Banderas - who was considering a remake. I never got back the original but I did get back a studio copy in a more official case.
Monday, November 09, 2009
The Easy Life
This is a really good Italian comedy / drama directed by Dino Risi in 1962. Very rare and not available in DVD in the US the film was an influence on both 'Easy Rider' and 'Sideways'.
The title in Italian, Il Sorpasso, translates as 'The Overtaking' and is more accurate in the context of the movie in more ways than one.
Articles on the film here.