My bookclub picked My Antonia for its next read. I first read this back in college when it was one of the books we tackled for a 19th Century American Novels class. I’d forgotten just how much I love Willa Cather’s writing. It’s funny but after months of standing firm against books involving young people growing up in America’s heartland, I find myself falling in love with just such a story. That said, there’s a lyricism in Cather’s writing that not one of the other choices in this genre have had. She’s not in love with depression and darkness either in the same way that several other authors have seemed to be. It’s not that bad things don’t happen to the characters of My Antonia, but they’re part of the canvas just as the good things are without being overly dominant or Oprahesque.
Movie-wise, I’ve seen a couple of things. Saved! was funny and touching. The story seemed to get a bit confused at the end–the writer/director and producer’s remarks on the commentary seem to suggest that it was a tough film to get made and that there was a lot of anticipated fallout from the fundamentalist community–so I have to wonder if they compromised too much.
Continuing on my Hayao Miyazaki kick, I also have seen Castle in the Sky and My Neighbor Totoro. I love this man’s movies. The former is an adventure story and does indeed have–as the commentator on TCM noted–a really terrific opening sequence. I realize that Mark Hamill never exactly set the world on fire, but he does first class voice work. Beautiful visuals and great atmosphere.
My Neighbor Totoro is a much simpler story. Two young girls and their father move to a house in rural Japan. The mother is in the hospital with some undisclosed illness. The younger child (3 1/2) encounters a forest spirit named Totoro and adventures ensue. I was worried that the children would be too unrealistic and too cutesy, but they weren’t. They seemed quite natural actually. Charming in a completely different way from the other Miyazaki movie.