* Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami. I started reading Kafka On The Shore in May and finished it just now. It was extremely well written, intelligent, imaginative and rich in metaphors. Still, I read many other novels instead of finishing this one. I think what slowed me down was the impossibility to relate to any of the characters no matter how fleshed-out they were. Strangely enough, Kafka On The Shore is considered one of Murakami's best novels.
* Buckley's Story by Ingrid King. Buckley is a small tortoiseshell cat that got diagnosed with heart disease after only two years. The author recounts how she met Buckley, how she got inspired by him to change her life, how she found out about Buckley's disease, how she treated him with traditional and holistic medicine, and how she eventually had to let go of her little cat. Both Buckley and Ingrid are warm-hearted personalities you will love in an instant. Buckley's Story is a sweet little book that will touch anyone who is fond of cats.
* Purrs Of Wisdom by Ingrid King. This self-help book inspired by the wisdom of cats might not be the kind I usually read, but when author Ingrid King asked me to review it, I thought, Why not? After all, any book with cats is by definition a good one. In small chapters of three to five pages, Ingrid King explores common ways (medition, vision boards, reiki etc) to be relaxed and productive and she reminds us how cats implement these techniques naturally into their lives. Though I was familiar with most subjects, I did learn a few interesting facts and the book has generally been a good reminder (Stop multitasking). Also, I loved Ingrid King's straightforward style.
* Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson. I read Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, so I was curious about her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal. The first part is about how she had been adopted by a religious freak who burned her books, had her exorcised, and evicted at sixteen. Winterson seeks refuge in literary classics and lesbian love while tracking down her birth mother. Though the book is messy, it actually uncovers an urgent honesty that, in combination with her literary flair, makes for an engaging read.
* Repo Man. Apprentice repo man Otto (Emilio Estevez) hears about a mysterious Chevy Malibu with a reward of $20,000 to whomever manages to repossess it. The car turns out to be an alien spaceship that fries everyone who opens the trunk. Strangely enough, the alien car is only a minor part of the movie as it focuses on the daily goings of a repo man and its social comment. It's a bizarre film - likeable, but not likeable enough to become a favorite.
* Daughters Of Darkness / Les lèvres rouges. This early seventies movie from Harry Kümel was entirely shot in my home country, Belgium, especially in Ostend, Bruges and Brussels. The paths of a newlywed couple on holiday cross with a mysterious heiress with a morbid fascination for murder. The story is a little on the easy side, but what sets Daughters Of Darkness apart is the estranged atmosphere, stylish visuals, beautiful set design and haunting music. Recommended to those who like the films of Larraz and Rollin.
* Europa Report. An international crew of astronauts undertakes a mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon. A good, claustrophobic sci-fi thriller in the vein of Sunshine.
* Lovelace. Engaging biopic of Linda Lovelace, the porn star who became famous with Deep Throat. We learn that Linda was lured into the porn business by her abusive husband Chuck and that she earned only a little over $1,000 with this film. Though every actor in Lovelace is remarkable in his/her own way, the real surprise was an almost unrecognizable Sharon Stone. With her portrayal of Linda's uptight mother, she proves that she's a truly great actress.
* Something Wild. This is one of those movies that draws you in from the first minute and doesn't give you much time to breathe. It starts with a boring business man (Jeff Daniels) who leaves a coffee shop without paying. The overly sexy Lulu (Melanie Griffith) pretends to be the waitress and reprimands him. When it becomes clear she was joking, she offers him a ride to work but instead takes him on a trip out of town and into a life miles away from his own. The first half of Something Wild is extremely entertaining and funny with a good eighties vibe. Once Lulu's jealous ex-husband (Ray Liotta) shows up the pace changes and comedy turns to thriller. The movie then becomes a little drawn-out. Seen at the eighties retrospective in the Brussels' Cinematek.
* Desperately Seeking Susan. A bored housewife (Rosanna Arquette) is intrigued by a regular personal ad in the newspaper titled 'Desperately Seeking Susan' with a date and place for meeting. Curious to find out about this mysterious Susan (Madonna), she shows up at one of those meetings. She accidentally bumps her head, suffers memory loss, and is mistaken for Susan by her boyfriend's best buddy and a bunch of criminals who thinks she's involved in murder and robbery. There's a cute love story along the way and lots of kitch eighties fun. Seen at the eighties retrospective in the Brussels' Cinematek.
* The Birds. Excellent Hitchcock classic about a town invaded by killer birds. Unlike most recent genre films, The Birds has class and fleshed-out characters. The film is dated on many levels, but that only adds to its charm. Fun fact: the town, Bodega Bay, appears also in Carpenter's The Fog.
* Three Women. The story of Three Women came to Robert Altman in a dream, complete with cast and all. Like our dreams, the film is difficult to make sense of; it seems logical for a while but then we cast the characters in different roles and some unexplainable things happen. Three Women is a film about identity, about people transforming into those they want to be. In my opinion, it's a metaphor for how our own persona evolve as we go from birth to death – the child that turns into a vamp, the self-obsessed woman who becomes more aware of others etc. But as the film is open to interpretation, it may very well mean something else.
* Now You See Me. Four magicians/illusionists perform a show in which they (pretend to) pull off bank heists. With the help of a professional illusion exposer, the FBI and Interpol try to find out who did it. The movie is very much like a real illusionist act in that it tricks the audience into believing something that turns out to be entirely different. Highly entertaining.
* The musical score of Daughters Of Darkness by François de Roubaix.
* Also been to concerts of Ignatz (original sounding blues), Few Bits (cute, but too common) and Sam Amidon (catchy, especially the banjo songs) at the Feeërieën in Brussels.
What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately?