Wednesday, March 31, 2010

good luck with this one . . .

Watanabe, Naoko, and Midori

Just read that a movie version of Murakami's Norwegian Wood is being made, to be released in Japan this December. This makes as little sense to me as making The Road, or maybe as little as turning any novel into a movie. Sarah Dessen or Judy (Julie?) Picoult books do make sense, I think, as movies--so much sense that they could probably skip the book stage and go straight to the theater (not hatin', just sayin').

But Murakami? I know people are kind of divided on his value as a writer, but I've always really liked his detached style and the way it makes the mild absurdities of his stories seem almost normal. It's nothing like the way Marquez will do it, spinning these baroque-ly unreal settings and pretending that they are a part of the normal universe while still kind of winking at the reader "isn't this all just so gorgeous?!" I like Marquez; he can just overwhelm me sometimes.

Murakami is different, though. With him, you'll read about a man standing in a well for hours on end or a logo for a whiskey that eats stray cats and you have to decide for yourself just how weird it is. It will not feel that weird at the time, but it will later.

So, the main point here is that I don't see how any movie can achieve this effect without using a lot of voice-over straight from the novel. You can tell from the still picture above that the director probably told the Watanabe actor to use the "thousand-yard-stare" to express the floating wonder he carries around. That might get old. Maybe the best thing about the movie version is that it will get me to re-read a book I liked ten years ago and still remember fondly.

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