A little over a year ago Filmmaker ran a feature entitled “Who Inspires Us?” [Summer 2004] in which we asked filmmakers to list current inspirations on their own work. Manito director Eric Eason cited the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who was actually a recommendation to him from our own Managing Editor Matt Ross. Anyway, I hadn’t read any of Murakami’s work but the citing stuck in my head and I wound up buying his The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle this fall at a time when I particularly needed something great to read. 600-plus pages later I’m a die-hard Murakami fan, and as I’m about to crack open his new Kafka on the Shore I receive an Indiewire news alert that Tony Takitani, the Jun Ichikawa picture based on a Murakami short story receiving its American premiere at Sundance has just been acquired by Strand Releasing.
Writes Tony Rayns in the London Film Festival catalog about the film, “It’s almost unknown for Haruki Murakami to allow film adaptations of his fiction; there were two brilliant shorts by Naoto Yamakawa in the early 1980s, [Panya Shugeki (The Bakery Attack), based on “The Second Bakery Attack,” and 1005 no Onna no Ko (The 100% Girl), based on “On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning” in A Fine Day for Kangarooing], and this equally brilliant feature by Jun Ichikawa is the first since then. … Each shot is like a waking dream, many scenes are sequence-shots, most colour is drained away, and the soundtrack collages together dialogue and voice-over. It’s certainly striking, but the key thing is that it coheres as a filmic equivalent of Murakami’s deadpan prose. One of the films of the year, and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s piano score is just perfect.”
For a taste of Murakami’s prose, click on the link above where Random House has posted the first five chapters of the new novel, or read the short story the film was based on in The New Yorker.