Thursday, February 22, 2007

Correspondence course

If I were writing a letter from Iwo Jima, no one would ever be able to write me back. That's because the return address would say Iowa Jima, and everyone would think I was writing from a town in Iowa named Jima. That's because everytime I try to write the name "Iwo Jima" it comes out as "Iowa Jima". There actually is no town named Jima, Iowa.

You would have to think the same thing happens to any Japanese person who tries to write about Iowa. Say there's some guy in Japan who watches a movie every day and writes a blog about it. Maybe one day he picks "Field of Dreams" which is about some guy who cuts a baseball field into his cornfield in the middle of Iowa. I bet that Japanese guy would start telling everyone the guy cut his baseball field into a cornfield in the middle of Iwo Jima. Then everyone would think the Japanese guy was nuts, because there are no cornfields on Iwo Jima. And don't even get that guy started on "My Own Private Idaho" his head would explode. Thank goodness there's no "My Own Private Iowa Jima" -- I mean Iwo Jima.

What's perfect about watching "Letters From Iwo Jima" (which I just wrote as Iowa Jima, but thanks to the magic of editing I fixed it so no one will ever know) and "Notes on a Scandal" as a double feature is that their lengths match their titles perfectly. "Notes" is 92 minutes; "Letters" is 50% longer. That's how it should be. It takes a lot longer to write a letter than it does to write a note. If you ask me, a note should never take up more than one sheet of paper, and even then that sheet of paper shouldn't be a full one, nowhere near your regulation 8½-by-11 size. Notes should almost exclusively be written on small sheets of paper, preferably ripped from larger pieces of paper although paper manufactured specifically for notes (like Post-its) will do. Napkins, the back of business cards, the inside of a matchbook -- all these work splendidly for notes.

But a letter, that could take awhile. It could go on for several pages. Even when a letter is short, it usually takes up a whole page, thanks to the pomp and circumstance that goes with putting together the inside address, the salutation, the letterhead, the complimentary closing, and the signature. A business letter that only has a sentence or two can easily be spread out over an entire sheet of paper thanks to these rules.

So a movie about notes should be a lot shorter than a movie about letters. That my library friend Kathy and I agree upon.

Notes on a Scandal: Noteworthy performances
Letters From Iwo Jima: Oscar schmoscar

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