Book Review - Watership Down
by Richard Adams Prophets with visions! Folk heroes! Indifferent politicians! Thugs! Villainous dictators! The confusingly titled Watership Down has it all. Unfortunately all of its incredible characters are rabbits. Huh? Hold on a minute. Rabbits? Seriously? I'm not a hater, but I found it hard to relate to the travails of tiny fur balls.
Richard Adams' fantastical tale is a classic with generally positive reviews on Amazon as well as Visual Bookshelf (~2600 with 87% positive) but it is not for me. I generally do not read fantasy unless it is strongly metaphorical or allegorical and I don't think Watership Down is effectively either. It is just a rabbit story.
The author invents some rabbit words and narrates several folk stories celebrating the wit and bravery of El-aharairah, a legendary rabbit folk hero. The rabbits seem smart enough to strategize in battle, but not witty enough to understand how wood floats in water. It is debatable whether you can comprehend one and not the other but I found the straddled anthropomorphising unconvincing. Overall, a disappointment. Not recommended.
Go Watch - Peepli [LIVE]
An indictment of bureaucracy, local and state politics, the "24 hour" news cycle and India's failed attempts at bringing prosperity to its farmers and villages. Skillfully directed by debutante Anusha Rizvi, with excellent performances by Omkar Das, Shalini Vatsa and Raghuvir Yadav and with a great sound track, Peepli [LIVE] is the indie to watch this weekend (or next).
Notable Finds - Onibaba (1964)
directed by Kaneto Shindō
Onibaba is a 1964 Japanese black and white film set during the "period of the Warring States", in the fourteenth century. The movie was directed by Kaneto Shindō and released by Criterion on DVD in 2004. The Criterion DVD includes an interview with the then 91 year old director - and I recommend watching the interview in its entirety after you've seen the movie.
Onibaba is a spare film with minimal dialogue but some incredibly bold visuals. The acting, like other Japanese movies of the era, is highly dramatic but fits in with the narrative. If you are a fan of 60s Japanese cinema, this is a must watch.