From the pen of The Movie Snob.
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, by Bob Shacochis (2013). This novel has its strong points, but the cover blurb from NPR calling it the first Great American Novel of the 21st century seems way overblown to me. The book is divided into five major sections, and I thought the first two were the strongest. In “Book One,” the protagonist is a human-rights lawyer who’s called upon to travel to Haiti and help investigate the murder of an American woman—a woman he briefly knew and was dazzled by a couple of years earlier. Book Two is a harrowing look at a (different) woman and her young son trying to escape Croatia to safety at the tail end of World War II. Book Three, which seemed the longest, is about a seventeen-year-old American girl living in Istanbul with her diplomat father. It was pretty good. I thought the last two books kind of went off the rails. Anyway, I thought the writing was strong, but be warned that there’s a lot of sordid stuff in this tale. And, as I mentioned, I didn’t care for the wrap-up.
A DVD review from The Movie Snob.
Autumn Sonata (C). I have a shelf full of classics by the Criterion Collection, and it is high time I got more use out of them. So I pulled down this one, which is now the first Ingmar Bergman movie I have ever seen. It was a good choice for a cold, grey January morning. Autumn Sonata is a claustrophobic little family drama centering on the painful relationship between a woman and her grown daughter. Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight), appearing in her last theatrical release, plays the mother, Charlotte. She’s a world-class concert pianist, and it doesn’t take us long to figure out that her art always took precedence over her husband, her daughters, and pretty much everything else. Liv Ullman (Lost Horizon) plays her daughter, Eva, who is married to a minister in a small rural town. Charlotte and Eva haven’t seen each other in seven years, and when Charlotte accepts Eva’s invitation to come visit it doesn’t take too long before the two are hurting each other all over again. It’s a very talky movie, with some long monologues and lots of extreme close-ups. I didn’t love it, but it was worth seeing. The Criterion Collection version I own is a two-DVD set that include a three-and-a-half-hour “making of” documentary on disc two. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get around to watching all the bonus content….