Monday, November 02, 2009

Cat Questions

Last night I watched Inazuma, or Lightning, a 1952 Mikio Naruse film. The caffeine deprivation has made it hard to concentrate on anything, and the English subtitles were slipshod, but the little Japanese I understand, Naruse's skill at telling a story, and Hideko Takamine's beauty pulled me through.

It's a deceptively "small" feeling movie, almost like half a movie, but it's actually a very cunningly constructed film about the difference between affection given out of a sense of duty and circumstance and affection naturally given, independent of family or social prescriptions.

Hideko Takamine plays Kiyoko, who has three half-siblings--their mother married four different men and had one child for each. When the husband of one of the half-siblings dies, the subtle net of obligation becomes apparent as family members ask for portions of the life insurance for their own ventures and the man's mistress shows up demanding money for the child he had with her. Kiyoko, meanwhile, is pursued by a baker with whom the family has a close relationship. At first, I wondered if I'd missed some important bit of dialogue when I saw Kiyoko would often become totally silent and beat a hasty retreat whenever the baker appeared, though the rest of the family were friendly to him.

The scene that nicely brings out the dynamics of Kiyoko's relationship with the man and furthers the discussion on types of love features Kiyoko upstairs, listening to a record with her friend. The friend proudly tells Kiyoko how her mother had gone without eating at times for the sake of her music collection. Kiyoko asks her friend if she ever thought of marriage, and when the friend says yes, Kiyoko can't believe it, not able to believe someone who places such importance on their individual passions would be interested in such a confining arrangement. When the baker drops by in the middle of their discussion, Kiyoko has her friend lie to the man, telling him she's not home. When the friend asks Kiyoko who he is, Kiyoko jokingly replies, "My lover."

The music from her friend's record reappears later in the film from the piano of a guy Kiyoko actually likes. Kiyoko describes the affection of her family as being like the affection given to a cat seen in the film, lacking the actual chemistry possible between two people. The film ends with Kiyoko happily buying a kimono for her mother, never actually presenting one form of love as "the winner".

And the movie had a really adorable cat.

But speaking of affection without chemistry, I watched what may be the single most awkward episode of Angel last night, a third season episode called "Double or Nothing". I like Fred, and I like Gunn, but Fred and Gunn together, blegh. I know Amy Acker's adorable, but that doesn't mean she can't have self respect--I could have done very well without the scene of her wearing a glittery paper crown while she and Gunn first talk like a seven year old's idea of people in love before breaking up in a fight like two five year olds. The problem is that pretty much no time is spent on how or why these two got together, and loads of "You're cute," "No, you're cute!" style dialogue dominates their screen time together. They seem to be a couple more because they've been commanded to be than for any natural reason.

I also read the first story in the new Sirenia Digest last night, and the second one to-day with breakfast. Both with Alice in Wonderland references, "THE DISSEVERED HEART" featuring a sort of Cheshire Cat character and "A REDRESS FOR ANDROMEDA" featuring "The Lobster Quadrille", which I knew Caitlin likes to quote often.

The first story was a nice, dreamlike werewolf tale, something about innocence and predators. The second featured pumpkins and sea life imagery, a Lovecraftian ritual for sea monsters with Halloween bits. It was good.

Gods, I need caffeine.

To-day I watched the second episode of Nyan Koi, a new anime series about a guy who's cursed to understand what cats are saying and to eventually become a cat himself if he doesn't do 100 favours for 100 cats. It's by far the funniest new series I've seen in a long time, though the new episode of Natsu no Arashi was even funnier.

Last night's tweets;

Hardened sugar shapes pummel the stomach.
Bottle missiles wage war with sucking void.
The berserker Pop Rocks tear through tonic.
Organic train stations have been destroyed.

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