Sep 16, 2013

It Looked Directed in a Documentary-like Fashion, but It Was Too Dramatized: My Impression of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”

This review may contain spoilers

I was interested in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” because I liked “Hurt Rocker,” but I have missed it until now. I found that it was shown in a theater for secondhand movies, and I went to see it.

Honestly, I was disappointed with it. I think that “Hurt Rocker” is much better than “Zero Dark Thirty.”

You know that this movie covers the true story about Death of Osama bin Laden, and it looked directed in a documentary-like fashion, for example moving grainy images shoot by a hand held camera. The back story is interesting, but the story is actually so dramatized that I couldn’t trust it.

The main character, Maya, was very capable and strong-willed, and her colleague, Jessica, was a nice person but frivolous. In the middle of the movie, she almost achieved a great deed. Before it became sure, she was already exited over it. When I saw this scene, I felt sure that she would tragically be dead.

In a stereotyped movie, someone that isn’t a main character became happy, and then they were hit by a tragedy. In “Zero Dark Thirty,” Jessica was killed by suicide bombing.

This suicide bombing is a true story. It is a problem that this movie described the real victim as a frivolous person in order to set the mood, isn’t it? I think that it is insufficiently deferential to her.

After losing a colleague, Maya started to think of her job as a personal revenge to Osama bin Laden. She found out where Osama’s compound was, and explained the member of SEALs that the object of their operation.
Maya: [to Navy SEALs] Quite frankly, I didn't even want to use you guys, with your dip and velcro and all your gear bullshit. I wanted to drop a bomb. But people didn't believe in this lead enough to drop a bomb. So they're using you guys as canaries. And, in theory, if bin Laden isn't there, you can sneak away and no one will be the wiser. But bin Laden is there. And you're going to kill him for me. 
It sounded quite unnatural for me. If she personally wanted SEALs to kill Osama, I couldn’t believe that she told, “You’re going to kill him FOR ME,” at all.

“ARGO” is based on a true story and dramatized well, too, but I love this movie. The true story of “ARGO” itself is somehow fantastic, and the movie is comedy, because no one was killed in it.

On the other hand, “Zero Dark Thirty” is based on a very serious true story and directed in documentary-like fashion, but in fact, it is too dramatized. It is deceptive.

Sep 15, 2013

A Quiet, Simple, and Elegant Film: My Impression of the Film “Barbara”

I visited Eastern Europe, Berlin, Prague, and Budapest, in March 1990. At that time, the Berlin Wall had already fallen, but Germany had not yet reunited.

People could freely come and go over the borders between East and West Germany. I went through Checkpoint Charlie to East Berlin, and I visited retro-future TV tower and saw Ladas running on street.

On a night train from Berlin to Prague, I asked a passenger sitting next to me if Germany would reunite within a year, and he answered that he didn’t believe it would happen so soon. But, in fact, the reunification of Germany took place in October later that year.

Although I had actually visited East Berlin, it is now almost impossible for me to believe that one half of Germany was a communist state just twenty-three years ago.


“Barbara” is a German film about people living in East Germany in 1980. Barbara is a doctor who is being watched by the secret police.

It is one of the greatest German films that I have ever seen. There is no exaggeration or omission in this film. Every element in it is essential and I couldn’t find that anything that was superfluous.

This film is very quiet, because there is no background music. That makes audience concentrated in every tiny sound. Barbara was always nervous about the secret police, so she got surprised when the doorbell started to ring, and the audience also got really surprised with the sound of the doorbell, and fully understood her emotion.

Nina Hoss, as Barbara, is also great and attractive. She doesn't overact her role at all, but accurately conveys Barbara thoughts and emotions. After seeing her performance, most actors and actress became to look unnatural.

This film is quiet, simple, and elegant. If you love films, I strongly recommend you to see it.

Sep 11, 2013

Do What You Feels Right, When You Have No Idea What I Should Do: My Impression of the Movie “Star Trek Into Darkness”

After work, I went to see “Star Trek Into Darkness.” It is a very interesting movie, I think.

Compared with “Man of Steel,” the visual effect of this movie looks cheaper, although that of “Man of Steel” is outstanding.

Actually, the biggest appeal of “Star Trek Into Darkness” isn’t visuals but dialogs between characters, especially Kirk and Spock. When I read the quotes of it, I found that the script was really well written.

Since I became a middle manager of my company, I have been thinking about management and leadership for two years. “Star Trek” series are very helpful for it.

Spock is always quite logical and clear, so he is an extremely capable manager. Then, why is Kirk a captain of the USS Enterprise?

The answer is that management and leadership aren’t different. Spock is the best manager, but he isn’t good enough for a leader, and Kirk is inferior to Spock as a manager, but he is the leader of the USS Enterprise.

I think that the most important roles of leaders are motivating people and making a decision.

Motivation of human beings isn’t necessary logical. Sometimes emotional sympathy moves people more than reasonable explanation. It is important for leaders to express what they feel. Spock isn’t good at expressing emotion at all. Although Kirk is too emotional as a manager, it is one of the most important qualities of a leader.

Leaders have to make a decision, even when they don’t have any idea what they should do logically. Such a decision is often critical. Spock can point out only what shouldn’t do, but he can’t decide what really they will do. Kirk is sometimes thoughtless and makes a mistake, but he can make such a difficult and critical decision.

I’d like to show a typical dialog between Spock and Kirk.
Spock: Captain, I cannot allow you to do this!
Bones: Jim, you're not actually going after this guy, are you?
James T. Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do! I only know what I CAN do!
Spock warned Kirk that his idea was too dangerous, but he couldn’t show what they should do. On the other hand, Kirk decided to do what he could do.

Spock is appropriate for the lieutenant of the USS Enterprise and Kirk is appropriate for the captain.

Do what I feels right, when I have no idea what I should do.

Sep 9, 2013

Put Aside Logic. Do What Feels Right: My Impression of the Movie “Star Trek” directed by J. J. Abrams

First of all, I'm not a Trekky at all, but I'm interested in "Star Trek Into Darkness," because I heard that the director J. J. Abrams said that he wasn't a Trekky either, so he made it not for Trekkies but for people who hadn't seen Star Trek yet.

Prior to seeing “Star Trek into Darkness,” I saw the previous movie “Star Trek,” which was also directed by J. J. Abrams. It was interesting enough for me not to change my mind about seeing “Star Trek Into Darkness,” though I don’t know whether the Trekkies were satisfied with it.

Especially, I empathized with Mr. Spock.

People around me often say that I am very argumentative, and I myself agree with that. When I argue with someone, I try to be logical, and I don’t look emotional at all, like Mr. Spock.

Sometime, I feel that I am really not emotional at all, but I might be wrong. In fact I am so emotional that I suppress my emotion without intension. Of course, that is unhealthy.

In this movie, Mr. Spock encountered a deep tragedy, and he tried to keep being logical. But in the end, he lost control of his emotion, because his sadness was too deep to suppress it. He said, “I am emotionally compromised and no longer fit for command,” and gave up his duty.

I also did the same thing, so I understand Mr. Spock very well. Now I know how dangerous it is to suppress emotions.

In the end of this movie, Mr. Spock said, “Put aside logic. Do what feels right.” I understand that it is important to “put aside logic,” but I don’t fully understand “what feels right,” yet.

If I release my emotion, will I understand “what feels right”?

Sep 5, 2013

The Problem of Mistranslation of “Norwegian Wood”

The title of the Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood” was translated as “ノルウェイの森 (noruei no mori)” in Japanese. “noruei” means “Norway”, and “no” means “of,” and “mori” means “forest,” so “ノルウェイの森 (noruei no mori)” means “Forest of Norway.”

Some one pointed out that this was mistranslation, because “Norwegian Wood” means Norwegian wood furniture. Basically I agree with it.

I looked up the word “wood” in a dictionary.
1 [uncountable and countable] the material that trees are made of 
Put some more wood on the fire. 
a polished wood floor 
soft/hard woodPine is a soft wood. 
Her house was made of wood. 
a piece of wood 
2 [countable] also the woods a small forest: 
a walk in the woods
The word “Wood” in “Norwegian Wood” isn’t plural, so it doesn’t mean the second definition “a small forest” but the first definition “the material that trees are made of.”

And let’s read the lyrics of "Norwegian Wood."
She showed me her roomIsn't it good Norwegian wood?
No one might think that there was a small forest in her room. It is obvious that this “Norwegian wood” is Norwegian wood furniture.

Haruki Murakami named his novel  “ノルウェイの森 (noruei no mori)” after the Beatles’ song. He wrote about this problem in his essay.
I, as one of a translator, want to say that the right interpretation of the word “Norwegian Wood” is just “Norwegian Wood.” The other interpretations might be more or less mistranslation. If you look at the context of the lyrics, it is clear that the ambiguous tone of these words dominates this song and lyrics. It is difficult to definite these words as one special meaning. It is not different between in Japanese and English. If you wanted to catch it, you would lose it. Of course, one of images that these words contain might be “Norwegian wood furniture” = “Nordic furniture.” But it isn’t the only meaning of them. If you insisted that they meant just “Nordic furniture,” the narrow way of assertion would detract the deepness of this song that the ambiguity (this deepness is the point of this song). It is just to miss the forest for the trees. “Norwegian Wood” might not be “ノルウェイの森 (noruei no mori),” but at the same time it isn’t “Norwegian wood furniture,” I think.
翻訳者のはしくれとして一言いわせてもらえるなら、Norwegian Woodということばの正しい解釈はあくまでもであって、それ以外の解釈はみんな多かれ少なかれ間違っているのではないか。歌詞のコンテクストを検証してみれば、Norwegian Woodということばのアンビギュアスな(規定不能な)響きがこの曲と詞を支配していることは明白だし、それをなにかひとつにはっきりと規定するという行為はいささか無理があるからだ。それは日本語においても英語においても、変わりはない。捕まえようとすれば、逃げてしまう。もちろんそのことば自体として含むイメージのひとつとして、ノルウェイ製の家具=北欧家具、という可能性はある。でもそれがすべてでない。もしそれがすべてだと主張する人がいたら、そういう狭義な決めつけ方は、この曲のアンビギュイティーがリスナーに与えている不思議な奥の深さ(その深さこそがこの曲の生命なのだ)を致命的に損なってしまうのではないだろうか。それこそ「木を見て森を見ず」ではないか。Norwegian Woodは正確には「ノルウェイの森」ではないかもしれない。しかし同様に「ノルウェイ製の家具」でもないというのが僕の個人的見解である。(村上春樹「雑文集」)
Honestly, this passage is inarticulate.

If he was right, no one could translate the words “Norwegian Wood” in Japanese. There is no perfect translation, but translators seek better translation. In this case, it is clear that “ノルウェイの森 (noruei no mori)” isn’t relatively adequate.

I’d like to know how native English speakers think about the words “Norwegian Wood.”

Sep 2, 2013

The Reason That I Really Want to Improve My English

I’m learning English as a secondary language. I wrote about the reason that I learned English in the entry “The Meaning of Learning a Foreign Language.”

A while ago, I was almost satisfied with my English, because I felt that I could largely express what I want to express. But now I’ve got frustrated with my English.

When I read IMDb’s user reviews, I think that they are more advanced than these on similar sites in Japanese but at the same time I can write a review from my unique stand point of view. So I try to write reviews, but I am not satisfied with them at all.

First of all, I can’t write grammatically accurate English.

Before I’ve got frustrated with my English, I thought, “It’s OK. I’m not a native speaker. If I made some mistakes, readers could guess what I meant.” 

In fact, if I mistook “a” for “the,” it might lead a critical mistake. In order to express accurately what I mean, so I have to write accurate sentences. Nevertheless, I haven’t understood even the usage of “a” and “the,” yet.

Secondary, I can read and write in English too slowly. I guess that I can read and write in Japanese four or five times faster than in English.

I have a lot of books and articles to read in English, but actually I can read only a small part of them. I can only read two or three articles of newspaper a day and it takes two or three weeks to read through only a book.

My typical entry in this weblog has about two or three hundred words and it takes about one or two hours to write through one entry. Sometimes, I haven’t written what I’d like to express yet, I don’t have enough time to write through it.

Of course, I couldn’t keep up with chat, if I used dictionary and thesaurus.

Thirdly, I don’t understand the nuances of English expressions well. In Japanese, I can write both of formal document and casual mail. But I don’t know what impression my writings in English give to readers, so I can’t control my style of writings.

When I wrote the title of this entry “The Reason That I Really Want to Improve My English,” I try to find an adequate adverb and search thesaurus, but I am not convinced which adverb is most adequate for what I really want to express.

In the end, I should read more and more English in order to improve my English. The road ahead will be long.

Sep 1, 2013

The Battle of the Gods in Greek Mythology: My Impression of “Man of Steel” 02

In the previous entry ‘Superman, the Loneliest Superhero: My Impression of the Movie “Man of Steel,”’ I didn’t deal with the action of “Man of Steel.” Of course, action is one of the most important elements of this movie, so I’d like to write about it.

The action is majestic like the battle of the gods in Greek Mythology. Superman and General Zod fight each other with full force in Manhattan. They are just concentrated in their fight. They destroy buildings by accident. They don’t even care about them. Their fight is like a natural disaster, which doesn’t have any intention.

On the other hand, the fight between Batman and Joker is earthly. Batman and Joker are ordinary human beings, so their fight can’t be heavenly; it has to be vicious.

Although I love “The Dark Knight”, I don’t like “The Dark Knight Rises,” because the fight between Batman and Bane is so physical.

I’d like to quote from my entry ‘The Dialectic of "Hero's Movies": The Failure of "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight Rises."’

Joker, the enemy of Batman in "The Dark Knight," made a psychological attack. If he appeared on "The Dark Knight Rises", he would make best use of this lie. But Bane, the enemy in "the Dark Knight Rises" was too physically violent to be interested in this lie. He literally knocked Batman out.

Zak Snyder, who directed “300”, is a suitable director of “Man of Steel.” The action of this movie is almost divine.