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Category: The Arts

A Little Princess (1995)

突然記起要做的電影觀後感。也許逼自己也無用,以我看電影的頻率和寫字的速度,那只是不設實際的痴心妄想。又不是要寫給誰看的專業影評,只是為自己備忘的筆記,想寫便寫好了。不寫的話,也就代表那電影沒有值得記的事情(應該係,除非唔係)。

常為了長知識讓自己看很多「經典」或本身不太好的戲種,像科幻(之前逼自己看了Johnny Mnemonic,很辛苦,不知是為了甚麼要花整個晚上忍受如此一齣爛片),又或者要政治正確,迎合最近的政治氛圍,於是看了Ken Loach 的The Wind That Shakes the Barley (要澄清:這齣跟今早看的David Lynch Blue Velvet 我都非常喜歡,有機會再寫)。但發覺最終自己最鍾愛的還是那些老土文學改篇經典,在所有事情,包括看電影,都讓人感到極疲累之時,就會想重回文學電影裡的美好時光。

沒留意到1995年的The Little PrincessGravity 的Alfonso Cuarón 的長片處女作,而且風評不俗。維基說他改篇了Frances Hodgson Burnett 的原著,但其實除了把故事由倫敦移師到紐約,及加上了第一次世界大戰的背景,這個故事基本上跟1985年日本富士電視台製作的世界名作劇場系列動畫《莎拉物語》並無二致,很多原著裡沒有的角色和描寫都是照抄過來的,有點奇怪沒有人提出,而電影本身也沒有credit 日本電視動畫的版本。原著故事其實十分平板沉悶,《莎拉物語》把人物角色豐富了不少,也加入了更多的劇情和主題,令主角的成長故事更加立體和具說服力,純真夢幻而不失現實的痛切與深刻,探討的人性光輝和醜惡毫不片面膚淺,能同時感動大人小孩。

雖然電影整體處理不俗,一小時三十分鐘看得非常舒服滿足,若硬要說不喜歡的地方,大概是地點改了在紐約,就失去了一種魅力。沒有了老倫敦的石板路和紅磚屋、Edwardian England 上流社會的虛偽冷漠刻板和英國口音,就無法彰顯女主角來自遠東的人性和活潑。最後的驚險跳牆情節也不是必需,比較像是遵從某些荷李活電影公式。還有故事最後還是讓女主角跟原來沒有死去的父親重逢,又讓「惡人」校長落得掃煙囪的下場,又未免太過童話式結尾。不過我倒很喜歡電影的色調處理:在寄宿學校那一段基調全是綠色,像學生和教員的衣飾甚至室外內的背景;而女主角的幻想和印度鄰居的魔法則是偏重橙紅色的七彩繽紛,除了畫面吸引也起了很明顯的視覺反差。另外一點有趣的小發現:飾演女主角父親的Liam Cunningham ,我之前都不認識的演員,最近卻竟然在不只一部作品裡遇到:Game of Thrones 和 The Wind That Shakes the Barley 都有他的踪影,巧得令我有點覺得是Sir Davos 引領我去看這兩部電影的。而這類型的事情其實常發生在我身上,就像《四疊半神話大系》裡提到的古書神的引領的樣子。

然而在我童年回憶中的《莎拉物語》永遠無法被取替,那個束及肩藍黑髮的莎拉才是我心中永遠的小公主,在那段幼嫩的formative years 裡為我樹立了真正淑女的模型。

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寫作這不幸

如果說寫作只是為了填補心靈的空白,那在我身上也真是說得通的。每當我沉浸在幸褔充實的生活時,我往住都失去所有寫作的意欲。最近高價入手了整套文庫本小甜甜打算收藏用的,忍不住拿了一本來看,就再也放不下來了。重拾久遠的幸褔時光的代價也就是我好幾天也沒有寫到一個字。我這種依靠情緒來寫作的作法,除非一生抱憾不幸,否則大概一生都寫不完一件作品來吧。

惠比壽映像祭隨想

這樣說也許對我們的藝術家們有點不敬,但其實我很多時候在看展覧的時候思緒都會飄離展場,漫無邊際。尤其是看沒特別內容的影像裝置,我如果不是睡着了,大抵都在想別的事情。這天我站在惠比壽映像祭的一個影像裝置前,不覺又陷入了空想。那是一個日本藝術家的作品,題材環繞日本東北部依然進行中的狩獵行為。四面的投影交錯播放着雪地上雀鳥爭相吃剛被獵殺的小鹿留下來的內臟的片段。攝影機就放在雪地上同一個視點,無造作的進行實時紀錄。那無造作在我來看卻是那麼的造作,登時令我進入了思考。當然那也不是第一次想到的事情,但那個時候的我大概被甚麼深深的打動了,又或者只不過是太過空閒無聊,忽然的便又考究所謂的藝術究竟是甚麼一回事。例如說這影像--本來這片子,在一般的情況下播放--亦即不是以一個藝術裝置的形式,而只是在普通的播映場地播放,如電影院、大學的放映室又或者家裡的電視機。假若如此的話,那這片子也不過是一部拍得很一般的一般紀錄片。只是換了一個表達形式,同一樣的題材和材料,便由一般的東西變成了藝術。但是轉念一想,文學又何嘗不是如此。同一樣的題材,基於作者的手法和品味的高低,可以變成一般的通俗文學,也可以變成純文學。古今藝術也一樣--不過就是品味的問題。這麼想着想着,我也就沒那麼憤世嫉俗,漸漸釋懷起來了。

Biutiful

Another film about a man and which I had little idea what it was about before I watched it. Since “Birdman” got Best Picture at the Oscars I finally can make up my mind to pick out this film from my very long pending list and have it done with. I liked “Babel” a lot so I kind of knew what to expect and that I would like it too. And I do like it. The story of a man who has been informed that he has got cancer and has only very little time left to live, and which reminds me of François Ozon’s “Time to Leave.” But “Biutiful” is less stoic and in a way I like this better. The man set out to fix the many broken things in his life – his loose family ties, his broken marriage with a prostitute with bipolar disorder, his young children without a mother to take care of them, his many illicit business and the complicated relationships with the people he dealt with. When he was helping his daughter with her homework she asked him how to spell “beautiful” – and that is where “Biutiful” comes from. Something is crooked, wrong, but still beautiful. Life is beautiful, with all its many complications and bitterness. The Chinese say “When a person is about to die he speaks goodness.” So one tries to fix everything, right every wrong, before one dies, albeit it is not always possible. Things might even get worse, as in the film. Here one sees again this solitary man fighting against the inevitable. Sad but so very biutiful.

A Serious Man

I did not know it is the story of a Jewish man, but Jewish or not, I really like the dark humour and the director brother-duo’s treatment is, as always, just right. Not too melodramatic to lose touch of the real, and at the same time not too plain as to be droll. Life is ridiculous, goodness is not always rewarded, we seek an answer from God and God does not heed. Just when you think every cloud has a silver lining, the sky changes, there comes a tornado along with the brusque ending. “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods. They kill us for their sport.” Jewish or Christian or Pagan. Sometimes we have to help ourselves, so even if God does not help those who help themselves we still have ourselves. Life is ridiculous, so don’t you take it too seriously.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

The usual virtuous wife story but very beautifully made. Instead of the romance I am more drawn to the theme of the country vs city, traditions vs modernity, virtues vs desires. While the city is being portrayed as a very magical place where people have so much fun they forget about time and place, it is also where the evil lurks – the smart city girl who tempts the young farmer and persuades him to kill his simple rustic wife. It is quite hard to believe that the city girl can fall in love with a farmer – but perhaps it is not an issue here. She is the embodiment of all the evils of modern city life and should be shunned. Though I do feel sorry for her when the film ends with her sitting mournfully in a wagon heading back to the city. She has fallen in love with the wrong person, that’s all.

等一個人咖啡

我還記得為了《那些年,我們一起追的女孩》而跟你起了爭執。我說那實在很一般,雷聲大雨點小,讓喜歡九把刀的平常不易動怒的你生氣了。但無論你如何生氣也好,說我常自命高人一等大言不慚,我也不會因而喜歡上我覺得不夠好的東西,也不會因為怕讓人不快而不表達心中想法。那也已說明了我們之間的差距,只是我們總是置若罔聞,過了便算。九把刀是有的小聰明,但他的東西千篇一律,品味永遠停留在同一個階層,《等一個人咖啡》也是一樣。看了一遍後我只有再一次確認了我的想法,九把刀不是不好,但對我來說真的很一般。或者正是因為如此我們不得不分開,各自再去等我們的那一個人吧。

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

Sorry I am late Mr. Lawrence. And sorry too that I have always thought that David Bowie was Mr. Lawrence. Sorry three that I could not at all recognise Ryuichi Sakamoto…… all the while I was thinking who that guy with those funny brows is…… And I had imagined a very different story (with more explicit content perhaps – obviously I was thinking of Gohatto). The pace of the film is very 80s – actors overlap their lines and actions and the breathings felt unnatural (to me in the 21st century). But really good to finally meet you, albeit many years late, Mr. Lawrence.

Contagion

I like the opening Hong Kong sequence – they made good choices and those scenes of the Mongkok look really good, as well the decision to use Chui Tien You and Josie Ho. Except the terrible idea of the Chinese village where the epidemic killed half of its inhabitants – come on Hong Kong is a city… we have villages in the New Territories but not like that in the film, unless they meant it to be mainland China. Then there are many big names in this film but somehow the story does not work out too well – not thought through well enough? One sees big themes hovering through the air but they just do not seep through. Blindness, on the other hand, also about a fictional – probably even more fantastical – epidemic, was really shocking. The credit goes to the original story’s Nobel Laureate author. One really needs a good script in order to make a good film, not big names nor visual effects.

Thérèse

The real Amelie. I don’t know why they give Thérèse such a low rating but I really enjoyed it. The same old story of a upperclass lady with an independent spirit trying to fight through the cage of a conservative French countryside. Calm and slow, no apparent outrageous passion, every latent, hidden under a serene surface. That calmness is the real cage, the real source of suffocation, the real source of death. One might ask, why can’t she just escape from it all? Just walk out of that door, and never turn back. I think of that often. Perhaps that inability to walk out of one’s cage is the real chain that inhabits us from attaining our freedom.