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Murakami Moment

Last weekend, exhausted from a rare burst of outlet mall shopping, we resolved to keep our Netflix queues moving by finally watching Tony Takitani. It’s an odd little film (short too, at 75 minutes) about loneliness and couture, and if I tell you it’s based on a Haruki Murakami story that is really all you need to know.

If you haven’t read any Murakami, it’s very hard to convey his unaffected tone of self-sufficient misalignment with modern life, a poetic disconnect and essential alone-ness (and not necessarily loneliness) that is unlike anything else I’ve read. Murakami creates, or maybe points out, beautiful strange weirdness that seems both entirely reasonable in his world and completely unexplainable. Check out his site to get a sense of the familiar otherness that is Murakami. I suggest you start with A Wild Sheep Chase or maybe a collection of the short stories. Our book club is about to read After the Quake and I’m very excited.

Ahem. Tony Takitani – a fable about loneliness and how an obsession with couture leads to tragedy, which we elect to watch after a day spent submerged in clothing stores that, while not exactly couture, are still concerned with the fashionable. The movie (in Japanese with subtitles) is poetic both in form and text, offering striking, even haunting, visuals strung together like pearls and accompanied by Murakami’s beautiful verbal images. The story is simple and Murakami-sad, which means it’s beautifully melancholy and certainly without a tidy resolution.

Of the full 75 minutes, we’ve reached about minute 72, and a sort of slowly gathering climax in the story, when the DVD starts skipping, pixelating the image, stop-starting the dialgoue and finally refusing to play altogether.  We are unceremoniously returned to the disc’s menu. Ok, when you rent DVDs, these things happen, so we try again by going to the scene selection and looking for the final five minutes of the film. But for what we are looking for, we are given only two choices here: the credits or a full fifteen minutes before that.

Going backwards from the credits (we were so close, after all), jumps us straight into the middle of the movie. How did we get back here? Once more to the scene selection and this time, option two, the last 15 minutes. The flow of the story, so rudely interrupted, tries to take us back but we’re anticipating that very last scene, mentally fast-forwarding what comes before. Here we are, about two minutes left – we skip again, this time straight to the credits. No ending for us, no resolution, the phone will ring forever and we shall not know whether the young woman picks up or even who is calling. How very Murakami of this DVD. We laugh – after all, what choice do we have?

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