15 November, 2007

Amazing Grace

Watched: on 31 Oct 2007, at 19:30-21:30, at Palace IFC.
'It's a long road to freedom' -- a nice film that does show the audience what a long and winding road it has been. The speeches in the film are less than I've expected in quantity, but all adequantly presented in quality. As I was totally drawn into the lives of the characters, I failed to comprehend the mechanism of that final brilliant legal solution that creeped its way to the legislature and brought down slavery without a physical war in U.K. Grateful if anyone could explain it to me in greater detail. Every time when I listen to the theme song again, the lyric shines greater meaning than before. We're grateful that in this world, there were, are, and will be people who never give up just causes, even it means fighting against the world and with virtually no chance of winning. Amazing indeed.

09 November, 2007

The Queen

Watched: on 29 Oct 2007, at home, on DVD
As I have no chance to speak or listen to the English language for quite a long time, I rented this movie as a desperate effort of keeping myself from becoming a total deaf-mute in this C - language. And shortly after the movie started, I forgot the main purpose and was attracted to the acting of the actors. The queen is both the one being re-presented, and a true queen in her own right. And the Tony Blair role just gives up trying to 'look-alike' Tony; but from his acting, you have no doubt he is the Tony. What a strong irony! You know they're not real, but they're so real! I like the way the stag hunting incident brings out the conflicts of emotion and 'doing the right thing', which, I believe, is one of the themes of this movie. I was happy to see a familiar face again, Mr James Cromwell, shortly after 'Becoming Jane'. I found it heart-breaking to see him as Philip Bauer in '24' -- it's a horror to see a good gentleman doing convincingly a bad-guy's role. Perhaps that's why he was given that role. This grumpy eccentric Philip is still likable.
Extended Reading:
Duke of Hazard: The Wit and Wisdom of Prince Philip

08 November, 2007

Arlecchino: A Servant to Two Masters


Arlecchino: Servant of Two Masters, by Ferruccio Soleri
28th Oct 2007 14:30 @ Sha Tin Town Hall
Well, I'm not a theatre fan, but I always enjoy watching performances of all kinds. The only reason for me to buy a ticket to this show is the respect toward seniority. The simple fact that Master Soleri is 78 years old and still playing the role of a cheerful and witty young servant is somthing one must not miss the chance of appreciating with one's own eyes.
And it turns out that the performance does live up to its name.
The stage may appear to be simply at the first sight but is a rather faithful representation of how an on tour theatre was like in the old days when it had to travel from towns to towns and found a spot in an open market for the crowd. We, the modern audience are inside an enclosed indoor theatre, watching another group of 'audence' on stage in the setting of an open theatre who are watching the performance on the mini open stage together with us. Every now and then, the 'audence' on the stage would switch roles with the performers on the mini stage. That interaction extends to the the modern audience effectively, blurring the limitation of time and language barriers. Piccolo Teatro di Milano is really fantastic!
Not untill after the show is over, when Master Soleri lifts the black mask cum hairband and reveals his silver hairs, was I reminded of his advanced age. Through out the show, his body movement has been humourous and lively, just as befitting the character and no one would have suspected otherwise even for a second about the age issue. Maybe to some, the tricks that makes the audience laugh seem to be too common. I would argue that thanks to such commonality that this commedia dell'arte in various Italian dialects can earn the heartfelt laughter of audience across the world. There is one point really uncommon about Master Soleri does not do anything funny or laughable when he tickles the audience's funny bone. I walked out from the theatre, feeling very grateful that I was able to catch the chance of enjoying this wonderful show, with due respect, before it is too late! (Just as how I felt after watching the live performance of Ibrahim Ferrar of Buena Vista Social Club in Hong Kong -- I won the ticket by joining a SCMP competition :) )
Before the performance started, I found myself surrounded by a group of students in their early teens, probably from the EFS or Internation Schools. The girl sitting next to me asked her classmate what the story was about. It looked like that only one of them had read the play or the plot beforehand. However, the ignorance clearly did not get in their way of enjoying the show -- it's a vivid evidence of the success and magic of this commedia dell'arte. Still I couldn't help but getting very pleased with myself for having done the reading of the following books couple days before going to the show. Some critics lamented at how nowadays people's reading habit is dominated by Hollywood's pick of classics. I confess that I'm one of those 'movie-goer-turn-reader' people. The same applies to watching other performances. The only different is, I'll pick up the book after going to the movie, but I'll do the reading before going to watch live-performance because I hatre to find myself trying to catch up what's going on the stage with the far away subtitle boards.

A servant to two masters / by Carlo Goldoni ; a new adaptation by Lee Hall ; from a literal translation by Gwenda Pandolfi.

Publisher: London : Methuen, 1999.

ISBN: 0413748502

Location: TSW: 822 HAL

哥爾多尼戲劇集 / [意大利]哥爾多尼著 ; 孫維世, 劉遼逸, 焦菊隱譯.

出版者: 北京 : 人民文學, 1999.
內容: 一僕二主 / 狡猾的寡婦 / 說謊人 / 女店主.
ISBN: 7020027482
Location: TSW: 888 6073
The English adaptation is of course highly readable and a readily performable play in itself. The Chinese translation is quite un-chinese but there is a good reason to it: It certainly retains all the elements in the original Italian form and substance -- I find it easier to back translate the lines into European sentences, then trying to press on with my mind set to the Chinese channel. The reading is bumpy but it most faithfully present the original plays to the reader. In translation theory jargon, the alienation effect is an effort of bring the reader to the cultural and setting of the original text. More effort is required of from the reader to go there, but the journey is certainly a worthwhile one.

07 November, 2007

Becoming Jane

Watched on: 24 Oct 2007, 21.30hrs

At: Palace IFC

Interesting Chinese Titles:

Hong Kong: 珍奧斯汀少女日記

Taiwan: 1) 珍爱来临 2)初戀成珍

Mainland: 成为简·奥斯汀

Memorable Quotes:

Rev Austen: Nothing destroys spirit like poverty.

Jane Austen: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.

(More from: http://imdb.com/title/tt0416508/quotes )

Well, being a modern, unauthentic, non-British fan of Jane, (i.e., someone who hates to miss any modern representation of her works on screen, but also being someone who may not always finish reading each and every page of her books, largely due to the non-British factor which limited one's ability (ok, just MY ability) in dipping into the original texts,) I am free from the burden of having any particular view about the nationality of the actress, or being knowledgeable enough to remind oneself that 'it's not Jane Austen.' In short, I enjoy every second of watching it and I am glad that I have watched it in a cinema, so that I have been in the good hands of the large screen which befits the beautiful cinematography, and the proper audio system which allows the background music and witty dialogues do their magic. Quite a number of movie reviews describe it to be a tragic love story愛情悲劇. Whenever two people who are in love but cannot be together for whatever reason, it is always a sad thing. Still, the seemingly unfruitful love in this movie is far from being tragic. On the contrary, the last few minutes of the movie has subtlety presented an ending which reflected the harvest of balancing sense and sensibility. We're reminded once again that it is about real people making decision in real life, and coming to term with it. We may never have it all, but we'll always have something from life, as long as we've tried; just that it may not come in the form that one has imagined. As a reader, one can hardly deny that her loss has become our gain -- let's be grateful that our heroine ends up becoming Jane.

01 November, 2007

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Location: At home
Purchased at: Heathrow Airport, London, Oct 2007
Read in: Oct, 2007

A very nice story which turns out to be a reading map in disguise. The royal crown on the cover already gives away the identity of the uncommon reader in question. This is the kind of book to be owned, so that when one has too much or too little to do, one can turn to this little book for wise counsel. The elegantly humourous writing put a bright smile on my face while waiting gloomily for flight transit at Heathrow Airport. I'm happy that being simply a common reader, I have the privilege of taking up the pen (or 'striking the keyboard' to be more exact, but how awkward it reads!) and work on this publicly accessible reading journal of my own. God bless the uncommon reader!