Perceptive insights about the mysterious heart of a legendary movie and its maker.

READ REVIEW

KUROSAWA'S RASHOMON

A VANISHED CITY, A LOST BROTHER, AND THE VOICE INSIDE HIS ICONIC FILMS

A prismatic look at the esteemed filmmaker’s life.

In his masterpiece Rashomon (1950), Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) presents contradictory stories about a murder in 12th-century Japan, as told by several witnesses. For viewers, notes film scholar Anderer (Humanities/Columbia Univ.; editor: Literature of the Lost Home: Kobayashi Hideo—Literary Criticism, 1924-1939, 1995, etc.) in his sensitive investigation of Kurosawa’s life, the retellings create “a horrifying gap between our words and images about the world and the world itself.” The author successfully uses a strategy similar to Kurosawa’s in focusing on forces that shaped Kurosawa’s art, and a complicated, enigmatic, and unsettling portrait emerges. The filmmaker seemed determined to obscure his past; in his memoir, Something Like an Autobiography (1982), he never told “the whole story” about his family life, including his older brother, Heigo, who could be abusive and manipulative but also protective and nurturing. After a restless, rebellious adolescence, Heigo became a successful benshi, a performer who narrated silent movies, taking characters’ voices and adding “lyrical riffs, ironical asides, or mood-inducing groans, shrieks, and whispers.” He was “fanatical” about movies, taking his brother to see the black-and-white films of the 1920s that later indelibly inspired him. But Heigo’s influence went beyond aesthetics: in 1933, when movies incorporated sound, Heigo’s career was over. He led a strike, but when it failed, he killed himself. Reports of his suicide, however, were inconsistent, leaving Kurosawa to wonder if he had been despondent over work or a love affair; if he killed himself with his lover; if he had a child, and if the child lived or died. Anderer also traces other dark forces in Kurosawa’s life, including the great earthquake of 1923, which destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama, and “the hollowed-out emptiness” of postwar Japan. The author gives enough details about Rashomon to suffice for readers who have not seen that film or others that he examines from Kurosawa’s oeuvre.

Perceptive insights about the mysterious heart of a legendary movie and its maker.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-227-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

more