Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Plays liked Movies

When one flies more than 24 hours and couldn't fall asleep in the economy class's less than spacious seats, one succumbs to pass the time with on board entertainment provided. Even though one's buttocks were in pain, with good movies, these less than glamorous irritations could easily be forgiven. Such was the case after I've seen this unexpectedly great movie. Of course the prerequisite is that, the flight you have decided to fly in provide such selections. (Read somewhere that a first class passenger in the infamous American Airlines was offered, to his great horror, latest selection of 90s movies on VHS tapes wheeled on a cart for his perusal. My friend can't stop laughing when hearing this.)

Those spanking new airlines from the Middle Eastern cities are the best when it came to offering top and newest offerings in movies selections, on their spanking new latest technology big screen touch pad crystal clear personal LCD screens (oil money is might). But you have to be tolerant of kissing scene suddenly jumped to "after action" smoking scene. There are always surprising selections, thus it is always a good time for me to catch up on movies that I longed to watch, or just didn't have the time to watch when I wasn't flying.

This trip to New York, I got to watch this otherwise missed masterpiece, Glengarry Glen Ross. If it wasn't for the glittering cast, I wouldn't even be curious enough to watch this one. By the title of the movie, one wouldn't half guess what it is about. But such a catch! It was essentially a play at first, adapted into a film, starring such glittering cast, one respect these cast's commitment to good script, good direction, and their enjoyment of what they do: acting. I read somewhere that they are not getting paid much for doing this movie, but man, aren't they enjoyed every moment of it, and immersed themselves in the accompaniment of their peers. This is like great jazz, it is not about one person stand out, but rather everybody play together with good interaction, mutual respects and everybody shine!

The cast consists of Al Pacino (his character only enters the scene after about a whole hour), Alec Baldwin (only appears for about 15 minutes, but wow), Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon (I only know his works in those Black & White movies, and JFK, isn't he good!) Kevin Spacey (maybe of the constraint of his character here, he is just like a bassist dutifully doing his job) Just by looking at such list one would be tempted to watch this movie, even if the movie sucks. But this is great one!

I always find it hard to immerse myself into lengthy, conversation and narration based movies on the plane, simply because such environment isn't prone to deep concentration to dialogues. I would rather watch some action flicks without having to listen to anything being said on the screen. But this particular movie had me absorbed throughout.

Rather than spoil the movie for you, I suggest you to watch it if you have the chance.

Which brought me to my fascination to Movies with Minimal set, or rather movies that are like Plays.
Here is one of my favorite, 12 Angry Men:

What a treat, such simple story line, only one location (maybe several, but most of the happening was in that jury's room) and 12 amazing actors, amazing script and dialogues. Damn! Just by thinking of it, I would want to watch this again. Must see if you are into movies.

Of course one wouldn't forget the powerhouse Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf:

Amazing Elizabeth Taylor before her name is equaled to that woman that married for 8 times and each time is proportionately more disastrous than the last time. This is of course a movie that is adapted from a play. Watching this, I would love to have seen the play somehow. This is also one of the three movies, that all the cast on screen were nominated for Oscar nominations.

For some reason, I love Lars Von Triers's stuff. Over the years, I would try to appreciate his output, some I genuinely like, some I would save for later time. But this particular movie (but positively Play, stripped down Play) is amazing. The message, the lesson is clear, but disturbing. The sequel to this movie, Manderlay is equally disturbing with another set of message.

Both movies are anti-movie to the extreme. There are no set, no props, no nothing. Only a stages with chalked lines outlining spaces. They are even more stripped down than a stage play!
Without spoiling the movies for you, I recommend these very much, and I am sure they would open up your world even more, maybe for better or for worse....

By the way, if you haven't find out about Lars von Triers yet, please find his stuff. They are powerful and fresh. Try:

Breaking the Wave
Dancer in the Dark

 My world isn't the same anymore after these movies, or after some of those mind blowing Japanese or Korean movies, or Akira Kurosawa, or Ozu Yasujiro, or Ang Lee, or Christopher Nolan, or Martin Scorcessee, or Sophia Coppola or........

Cherish Life with Wonderful Art. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012






同样的一首歌,比如说”泪的小雨“, 邓丽君的版本是非常70年代感觉的。那个 “当当当当当当”的节奏,那个Saxophone 的音色(非常福建歌的音色),吉他的音色,等等都很清楚的构成这个版本的 ”泪的小雨“是属于那个时代的(就连视觉上的效果也是非常那个年代,拍的照片都会朦朦的,口红画成红红的)。我并不是批评那个年代的音乐(反而觉得他们就是有个别的特色,好过惨谈无色)而是觉得,如果要21世纪的何芸妮唱这首歌的话,不可能以上世纪70年代的声音来给她伴奏;就像我不可能像我爷爷时代指腹为婚一样(同样是结婚,两个时代的做法是不一样的)


而南海姑娘的编曲更是向两位作曲家致敬:马来西亚的作曲家汤尼(南海姑娘)以及The Girl From Ipanema 的巴西作曲家Antonio Carlos Jobim。这两位处在世界以南的作曲家(马来西亚华人处在当时中华文化掌握主动权的台湾以南,而巴西则处在西方世界的南方)不约而同的眼光射向向淡淡哀愁的南海姑娘。

虽然无可考据,不过我天马行空的想象是:The Girl From Ipanema首 先出现(1960年代)。这首歌曲说的是在沙滩上走着的漂亮女孩,虽然她吸引了许多人的目光,可是她却若有所思的走向海边。虽然主人翁想向她表达爱意,她的眼神却投往他方。
这首曲子在当时轰动乐坛,专辑还差点赢得当时的Grammy Award (败给了英伦旋风The Beatles) 所以在马来西亚可能是听得到的,不过当然是在小圈子里面流行吧。而写南海姑娘的汤尼先生可能就喜欢这首曲子,而灵机一动,写下了以马来西亚风情衬托的一首隽永歌曲:同样的哀愁,同样的思念着远方的那个人,虽然观察者都给予她多多的赞美,她还是不为所动而继续忧伤下去。

同样美丽的两位南海姑娘,串联起来中西合拼,唱出不同的风情:爵士乐就是这么自由的承载体。在这个版本中我们甚至请来了巴西的歌手与敲击乐手Valtinho Anastacio 参与我们的录制工作,带来原汁原味的巴西节奏。