Last week, I watched Family Romance, LLC, a Japanese-language film that premiered on Mubi, written and directed by Werner Herzog who I think is also the movie’s cameraman and cinematographer. You get to see him at the beginning of the film where he introduces you to the movie and the inspiration behind it and at the end of the film, in a Q&A.
The film opens at a park where a man in a suit waits for someone. When a young woman walks past him for the fourth or fifth time, each time trying to sneak a peek at him, he calls her name and approaches. Her name is Mahiro and he is Yuichi Ishii, her father. It’s an awkward meeting with Mahiro constantly sneaking glances at him as he tries to keep the meeting lively while looking at the cherry blossoms or watching a group of re-enactors play out a fight scene and then later, a hara-kiri.
During this meeting, he tells her that he and her mother met and fell in love, but when Mahiro was a baby, he left and now he has another family of his own. Mahiro doesn’t quite react to this. It’s all still awkward, this initial meeting between a daughter and the father she never knew.
“At Family Romance, we are not allowed to love or be loved.”
Only Ichii isn’t her father at all. When he visits Mahiro’s mother at her home, he tells her how the meeting went and she pays him for his services. Ichii, it turns out, owns Family Romance LLC, a company were relationships is a business.
Need someone to stand in place of your alcoholic father at your wedding? Family Romance, LLC has the man for you. Need to look important as you walk along a busy street with paparazzi trailing and taking pictures of you as if you’re famous? Family Romance, LLC will make your social media go viral.
Unfortunately for Ichii, a father simply doesn’t “meet” his daughter one time. He’s hired to meet with Mahiro again and again until – you guessed it – the young woman gets attached to him and soon, we find him asking a funeral director if a live man can fit inside the casket comfortably for a short time.
It’s a brilliant premise, this comfort for hire business model, and one that Herzog covers because it’s based on a real business model in Japan. While some viewers may find that scenes meander a bit too long, it still works because even though Herzog gave the actors the important elements or dialogue required for a scene, he also gave them free rein to go about it, and even an unplanned interruption makes it into the final cut.
The movie certainly made me think and here I am, a week later, writing my review because I like films that make me think and wonder what happens next in the lives of the characters after the movie ends. I hope you’ll check it out.
Family Romance, LLC is now playing on Mubi.
Below is a review and a more in-depth study of the film:
A little birdie told me that today is National Kissing Day! As if we need a special day just for kissing, eh? But considering this whole pandemic going on, it’s nice to have a little distraction. If anything, maybe we’ll learn something new about kissing!
- Kissing moves as many as 34 muscles in the face and 112 postural muscles!
- A passionate kiss burns 6.4 calories per minute
- The longest kiss clocked at 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds in 2013
- According to neuroscientist Onur Güntürkün who people-watched people kissing for two-and-a-half years, he determined that twice as many people turn their head to the right than to the left when they kiss
- An average kiss lasts more than 12 seconds
- With the exchange of saliva during kissing, there go exchange of bacteria – which can help strengthen the immune system!
- Speaking of exchanging spit – men’s saliva contains the sex hormone testosterone which triggers libido!
- In ancient Rome, a public kiss pretty much sealed the legal contract between couples during the marriage ceremony
- Kissing is practiced in 90% of the world population
Pretty interesting, huh?
Before I go and hit my daily goal of writing 1500 words today, here’s one of my favorite kissing scenes from one of my favorite movies!
While going through my Tumblr feed today, I found this and so many other jewels about writers and writing. It made me realize (again and again) how the men who made such an impact in my life are all found in my books.
Ashe Hunter most especially who to this day does not have a “face” inside my head even though I’ve had to translate his features for book covers. As a writer, the best ones never do.
Have a wonderful weekend! Stay safe out there!
Today, I surrendered my key to my massage room and said good-bye to a career that has spanned a total of 23 years. Located in a major thoroughfare in Manhattan Beach, it’s one of the best locations I’ve ever set up a practice and it was sad to let it go. There was nothing to take pictures of this time for the couch was gone and so were the armchairs and the side tables. Even the foyer table where we had a bowl of candy mints and flowers was gone. The Keurig machine and water dispenser would have to go, too, because there can no longer be common-use equipment on site.
It was bittersweet knowing that my roommate/landlady had just renewed the three-year lease a few months ago and even re-tiled the countertops of the bathrooms at the beginning of the lockdown when it looked like we’d be back open in no time. Of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, with California opening up in phases, massage therapy services are included in Phase 3 which may be around mid June or July. But with the new protocols for practice that will include having the therapist change clothes after every client besides wiping everything down including the chairs and tables in the waiting area, it no longer looks feasible to continue. And since I normally take the summer off to be with my son, there was no point for me to keep my room.
So I surrendered my key and picked up whatever I had left in the office. In this case, a set of sheets, an herbal eye pillow, and a statue of Kuan Yin that two clients (a married couple) gave me as their parting present when they retired out of state about three to four years ago. As I looked at the bag, it hit me that it pretty much represented the end of 23 years of massage therapy.
And while I felt a sense of loss, I also felt a sense of relief. It was my official retirement party sans the balloons and cake. But it’s okay. I had a good run and in life, we have to keep moving. I’ll have cake and balloons tomorrow for my birthday.
I also have books to write!
I first heard about The Painter and the Thief a few months ago when it earned rave reviews at Sundance Film Festival. The trailer was pretty compelling that I made a mental note to see it when it released on May 22.
A few words come to mind in summarizing this documentary – and I had to remind myself many times that it was a documentary because sometimes it didn’t feel like one. It’s just that good. And I hope down the line I don’t find out that this was all staged because I’d really be bummed… but I digress.
In The Painter and the Thief, we watch as the thief “Karl Bertil” is made vulnerable through the eyes of the Czeck painter, Barbora Kysilkova, whose paintings he and a partner stole in broad daylight. After asking to paint him, she does so in a way no one has ever seen him and you can see the shock and awe on his face. It’s devastating and beautiful and you just can’t look away.
But as the documentary progresses, flitting back in time a few months here and there, it’s not just Nordland who is exposed, we also see Kysilkova’s traumatic past laid bare through his eyes. To him, it’s why she paints such unflinching pieces that’s not exactly perfect to hang on someone’s walls.
I stayed up till 2:30 am to watch this (rented through iTunes) and that final frame was such a twist for me that it brought an audible gasp in the room and I lay there until the end of the credits, just transfixed. The editing, I thought. The editing is amazing*. But that would be my writer mind talking. As much as the director’s choices, the subjects make the documentary as riveting as it is, resulting in a gorgeously edited documentary of two people who end up, through one’s drug-fueled act of theft, seeing each other for who they really are.
And I still can’t look away.
*One of the reasons I watched this film with a writer’s mind is because as a writer, I see the story like a movie playing inside my head. The “camera” has to be arranged just right, at the right place and the right time, much like a documentary because I usually let my characters do their thing (as much as I keep declaring I write thousands of words in outlines) and allow me in their space to document everything. But like a good documentary filmmaker, I also need to know how to edit the scenes right – which ones to keep and which ones to toss aside to tell the perfect story.
“That’s what I love about documentary filming,” Ree said. “It’s difficult to do something similar in a fictional film. To be there is to be present and observe with a camera. When in the crucial moments an amazing cinematographer is filming, it’s like dancing with the subjects. You have one shot at knowing where to position yourself. It’s intuitive work. If you fuck up the positioning and focus, you won’t get the same subtext and complexity of a scene.”
When 2020 rolled around, one of my goals was to diversify my stories. Some books would be exclusive to Amazon through Kindle Unlimited while others would be available “wide,” meaning they would be available everywhere where books were sold (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, etc.). Some of those wide stories would also be available to read in their entirety on Wattpad like Finding Sam, Loving Ashe, and most recently, Collateral Attraction.
I first wrote Loving Ashe as a short story titled Elevator on my Morrighansmuse blog in the summer of 2013. When I posted it on Wattpad, readers were intrigued. What happened next? Did they end up together? They asked. We want to know more!
And so for NaNoWriMo 2014, I turned the 5k-word short story into the first two chapters. I called it Loving Ashe and finished it in 60 days with 110k words total. I would self-publish Loving Ashe in June 2015 and release the audiobook three years later.
Well, this year (tomorrow, May 13, to be exact!), Loving Ashe will also be part of Wattpad Paid Stories. While there are millions of free stories on Wattpad, they also have Paid Stories where readers pay with “coins.” You can pay per chapter or pay for the whole book outright (about the same cost of an ebook). Coins are available in packages of 15 to up 533 coins and you can also earn 3 free coins per day by watching ads.
It will have a new cover starting tomorrow, different from what you see above. But while Wattpad will have the exclusive rights to the digital ebook version which allows them to change the cover and have the ability to market, Loving Ashe will still remain available as a paperback and audiobook.
It’s a new adventure for me and one I’m very excited to be part of. I should have made this announcement a few months ago but in true ditzy Liz fashion, I got my dates wrong and tomorrow, it becomes reality! I hope you’ll support me and my stories on Wattpad and discover other new authors and stories along the way.
It was probably six or seven Christmases ago when my sister-in-law lamented the lack of books featuring older couples – you know, couples with kids who have are about to leave or have left home.
“Why are all the heroines in their early twenties and the men all in their thirties and forties? What about women in their thirties, forties… and older?” She asked.
Well, she did have a point because back then, there weren’t a lot of stories featuring older couples like there are now. In fact, Harlow James, my heroine in Everything She Ever Wanted emerged from that conversation three years later..
But before Harlow, there were Esme and Evan, my couple in Date Night, a short story I wrote for my SIL the following Mother’s Day after our conversation. You can read the story on my story site by clicking on the image below.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!