Monthly Archives: September 2005

Of Movies and Hong Kong

Ah, just returned from the Hong Kong trip and found a little time to update the blog. Of course it was a great trip. There were only two setbacks, the first being the typhoon that resulted in us not being able to go on a tour on Hong Kong’s last junk and bringing much rain to the island resulting in us getting wet many times and the second being me not rich enough to grab all the DVDs that I wanted.

I ended up buying over 20 DVDs, 2 books and watched 2 movies. This is beside the fact that thanks to my geeky friend’s thorough knowledge of Hong Kong and its movies, I get to visit many movie locations, for example in Lan Kwai Fong where Wong Kar Wai filmed “Chungking Express” only too bad that the Midnight Express food stall is no longer there, drank at the herbal tea shop where they filmed “Herbal Tea”, ate at the Goldfinch Restaurant where Tony and Maggie ate in “In the Mood for Love”, travelled on the Travelator, walk the streets of “PTU”, had a night in Mongkok, etc. etc. I only wish to get hold of a police uniform and walk around the Hong Kong streets pretending at times being Simon Yam, at times being Tony Leung and at times being Andy Lau in “Days of Being Wild”. That will be really cool.

The DVDs that I have bought include a superb box set of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films from 1983 to 1986 and this comes together with a beautiful picture book plus some notes on the movies. I have also bought *ahem* (*in vain mood*) a limited edition box set of Yon Fan’s trilogy, “Bugis Street”, “Bishonen”, and “Poeny Pavilion”. Not to mention also a copy of Tsai Ming Liang’s latest “The Wayward Cloud”. Have watched “The Wayward Cloud” since I returned and it’s a crazy film, typical of Tsai. It will never pass the censors here. The visuals are really powerful. I like that film.

The DVDs there are really cheap, some for only about RM9.00 each. These are original DVDs! Unfortunately most of them are Hong Kong movies but if you are a great fan of Hong Kong movies, this is the place to go. We went to the Original Video store in Mongkok. This is the cheapest place to buy DVDs. We also went to UFO near Causeway Bay. The selection there is great as well although the price is slightly higher than that of Original Video. However, for great selection of non-Hong Kong movies, please go to the store at the Broadway Cinematheque. The selection of foreign movies there is just as great although the price can be 10 times or more of local Hong Kong DVDs. Well, given that, it is still cheaper than you order through Amazon or via Fox Home Video. Here’s a guide to buying DVDs in Hong Kong if you are interested. I met the author of the guide, Tim Young, there since my geeky friend is meeting him and he is a superbly nice guy.

For a tour of Hong Kong’s movie past, we visited the Hong Kong Film Archive as well. The exhibition there was very well done and I bought a book on Tsui Hark and another on “A Century of Chinese Cinema”.

Well, that’s about all of some of the movie related stuffs that we did. The other touristsy things were also great. I really look forward to going to Hong Kong again and I hope to be able to make it to the film festival next year.

Oh, by the way, “Swing Girls” was really nice. Too bad they are not showing it in Malaysia and I don’t recall Uncle Ho releasing that title as well ;-)

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Broadway Cinematheque

Starting tomorrow, I shall be in Hong Kong for a week. There is just a need to go away for a short while and with the MATTA fair’s generous offer and in conjunction with the geeky’s friend’s visit there, I figure it is good time to go there as well. I can go and stock up on my DVDs and watch movies that will not be shown here, plus going to cool movie locations as well as eating nice food in the most tak-halal way ;-)

Looking at the programming at the Broadway Cinematheque is enough to make me drool. Too bad I couldn’t stay longer, else I will be able to catch the Hong Kong Asian film festival as well. Perhaps moving to Hong Kong is a good idea afterall. But still, for my visit, there are still good movies to watch. At least I can watch “April Snow” in advance of the Korean movie fanatics here although the movie has been called “April Slow” instead. I can also catch “Hinokio” and “Swing Girls” there as well.

Besides grabbing DVDs, I also plan to buy all those lovely books, photo books, posters, etc. etc. It is sounding like a superb trip now, fingers crossed.

My wife will have a wonderful time shopping for her photography stuffs and she will be sure to take the longest time in the world to set up shots. I have no patience for setting up shots, so I guess I’ll just snap whatever I fancy with the compact Ixus.

Disneyland? I think I will give it a skip.

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Chapter Two

The Tao Te Ching, Chapter Two, says:

“If everyone understands the beautiful as beauty, it is ugly.”

I was not particularly thinking about the concept of beauty, less so am I to venture to talk about aesthetics. I am not thinking of absolute beauty as well, as in those grand scheme of things like “Truth”, “God”, etc. (or maybe it is related somehow). I am just thinking of what is beautiful in the general way, the way we usually use it in our day to day life.

What prompted me to think about this was what I mentioned in my previous entry on “Initial D” where I said I do not know exactly what made me love the movie.

Is the following not a usual scenario any guy would have experienced at some point in their life?

Boyfriend: I love you

Girlfriend: What is it about me that you love?

Boyfriend: Errmmmm…. I dunno, but I just love you

Girlfriend: How can you not know what you love about me and say you love me?

Boyfriend (now got the hint): Hmmm…. I love your beautiful eyes, they shine like the stars. I love your cute little nose. I particularly love your little mouth, that small curl at the end of your lips, and your cute rabbit tooth.

Girlfriend: I love you too.

Boyfriend: *quiet*

*kiss*

You see, the boyfriend will think that he just told a lie. Not that he lied about those features, but he really does not know what particularly he loves about the girl. Sometimes, when we dissect something into its parts, each part can be really “ugly” by normal standards but when put together, add in the character and personality, everything seem to match perfectly!

The opposite is also true. Even more true and more sad. We see some people always trying to fix a particular aspect of themselves in the hope that if all the parts are beautiful, the whole will be beautiful. Unfortunately, it does not work like that.

So, really, it is quite hard to point out exactly what is beautiful about something. Deep and intellectual analysis is merely a poor way to try to understand and explain it. When we encounter great beauty, the best thing to do is to admire it in a certain silence.

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What's in your name

Was refered to this site by another blog. I may be imagining things but the analysis is quite correct. I have even tried out a few other names and it is also quite correct.

The analysis of my name:

There are 11 letters in your name.
Those 11 letters total to 61
There are 4 vowels and 7 consonants in your name.

Your number is: 7

The characteristics of #7 are: Analysis, understanding, knowledge, awareness, studious, meditating.

The expression or destiny for #7:
Thought, analysis, introspection, and seclusiveness are all characteristics of the expression number 7. The hallmark of the number 7 is a good mind, and especially good at searching out and finding the truth. You are so very capable of analyzing, judging and discriminating, that very little ever escapes your observation and deep understanding. You are the type of person that can really get involved in a search for wisdom or hidden truths, often becoming an authority on whatever it is your are focusing on. This can easily be of a technical or scientific nature, or it may be religious or occult, it matters very little, you pursue knowledge with the same sort of vigor. You can make a very fine teacher, or because of a natural inclination toward the spiritual, you may become deeply emerged in religious affairs or even psychic explorations. You tend to operate on a rather different wavelength, and many of your friends may not really know you very well. The positive aspects of the 7 expression are that you can be a true perfectionist in a very positive sense of the word. You are very logical, and usually employ a quite rational approach to most things you do. You can be so rational at times that you almost seem to lack emotion, and when you are faced with an emotional situation, you may have a bit of a problem coping with it. You have excellent capabilities to study and learn really deep and difficult subjects, and to search for hidden fundamentals. At full maturity you are likely to be a very peaceful and poised individual.

If there is an over supply of the number 7 in your makeup, the negative aspects of the number may be apparent. The chief negative of 7 relates to the limited degree of trust that you may have in people. A tendency to be highly introverted can make you a bit on the self-centered side, certainly very much self-contained . Because of this, you are not very adaptable, and you may tend to be overly critical and intolerant. You really like to work alone, at your own pace and in your own way. You neither show or understand emotions very well.

Your Soul Urge number is: 6

A Soul Urge number of 6 means:
With a number 6 Soul Urge, you would like to be appreciated for your ability to handle responsibility. Your home and family are likely to be a strong focus for you, perhaps the strongest focus of your life. Friendship, love, and affection are high on your list of priorities for a happy life. You have a lot of diplomatic tendencies in your makeup, as you a able to rectify and balance situations with an innate skill. You like working with people rather than by yourself. It is extremely important for you to have harmony in your environment at all times.

The positive side of the 6 Soul Urge produces a huge capacity for responsibility; you are always there and ready to assume more than your share of the load. If you possess positive 6 Soul Urges and express them, you are known for your generosity, understanding and deep sympathetic attitude. Strong 6 energy is very giving of love, affection, and emotional support. You may have the inclination to teach or serve your community in other idealistic ways. You have natural abilities to help people. You are also likely to have artistic and creative leanings.

If you have an over-supply of 6 energy in your makeup, you may express some of the negative traits common to this number. With such a strong sympathetic attitude, it is easy to become too emotional. Sometimes the desires to render help can be over done, and it can become interfering and an attitude that is too protective, rather than helpful. The person with too much 6 energy often finds that people tend to take advantage of this very giving spirit. You may tend to repress your own needs so that you can cater to the demands from others. At times, there may be a tendency in this, for becoming over-loaded with such demands, and as a result become resentful.

Your Inner Dream number is: 1

An Inner Dream number of 1 means:
You dream of being a leader and one who is in charge. You want to be known for your courage, daring, and original ideas. You seek unconquered heights. People may get a first impression that you are very aggressive and sure of yourself.

Check this site out: http://www.paulsadowski.com/Numbers.asp

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Initial D

I have watched “Initial D” three times in the cinema, paying full price at that and paid for 2 persons in two of the three outings. I like that movie very much and if they had played longer, I would probably have gone and watched it for the 4th time.

No matter how we want to be critical about the movie, sometimes even dissecting the movie in parts and criticise it, I could not feel but just love the movie. There is something very special about it. could be the music. Could be the driftings. Could be the overall feel to it, like how I also like “Young and Dangerous” and “Infernal Affairs”.

Today, I was at Low Yat and saw that the “Initial D” DVD is already out. I was totally surprised that the DVD was priced at only RM39.90! Unbelievable! The DVD set (2 DVDs) contains the original movie, the making-of which was very good, director interviews, cast interviews, trailers, music video, etc. The set also comes with a 48 page, full colour, superbly produced photo book! What more, because you buy the DVD for RM39.90, they throw in an autographed poster for your display pleasure!

All for RM39.90. I am still not getting over it and I seriously think that there is a pricing mistake. So before they decide to correct the prices, please go to the nearest store and grab your copy.

Besides the DVD, I also bought the original soundtrack and listened to it in the car on my way back. With typical “Initial D” style, I put my hand to my head and imagine myself driving an Evo. The soundtrack is great, the only thing is that it does not contain the two songs sung by Jay Chou. Anyways, it’s okay since I already have one of the songs on my PC.

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Filed under Movies, Movies (Highly Recommended)

Anxious week

I realise that I have not been updating my blog for a while now nor did I participate much in other blogs. We are releasing a new movie this week, on the 8th of September, and are all very anxious on how the collections would be. I am also working on a new intranet site, sort of like an information centre where one can see the box office collections of movies released, analysis of box office and release patterns, cinema sites and screens and other distribution and box office related information.

The movie that we have just released did quite well. It should be able to break the RM1.0 million gross by end of Sunday, or if not break, will at least hit about RM900,000 plus minus. This is quite good, even better than “Gila Gila Pengantin Popular” but not as good as “Gangster”. “Gangster” hit more than RM1.0 million in one weekend without midnite shows. But the performance of this new movie is good enough. It should be able to break RM2.0 million gross in total.

But box office collections is as unpredictable as the weather. The first weekend can show great promise but the movie can just tumble down on the second week, just like what happened to “Trauma”. But one can say that “another movie” affected it's collections, but still…..

One senior cinema manager said that the government's recent announcement to relieve the citizen's financial burden helped in getting people back to the cinema. I will not say that this is entirely untrue but from my experience, if people want to go and see that movie, they will go. No matter whether it is the month end where they are supposed to have spent all their money, no matter if it is a quiet month or not, no matter whether there are other blockbusters or not.

The key is to get these people to want to go and watch the movie. How this is done? There are several formulas of course, but still there is no guarantee. These formulas merely increase the chances of the movie. No one can guarantee if a film makes money, and the amount of money people in the movie business spend on marketing nowadays is just crazy.

They are lucky to be able to just recoup their marketing and print costs.

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Derek Yee

I have forgotten how long ago it was that I laughed so hard until my tears come out and at the same time felt so much for the characters in a movie while watching a movie in the cinema.

I have just watched “Drink Drank Drunk” yesterday. Directed by Derek Yee and played mainly by Miriam Yeung, Daniel Wu, Alex Fong and Vincent Kok, it was a joy to watch. This movie confirmed two things and changed my mind about one thing.

The movie was not all laughs though. As the movie progressed into a more detailed study on Miriam’s and Daniel’s characters, peeling layers off bit by bit, we see the sadder part of the characters. But you will feel for them and the movie ends in a happily ever after kind of note .

Was the story predictable? Yeah, probably, but it was well told. You can predict only the general line of the story, but you cannot predict how it was played out and executed. It felt very good. It did not pretend to end in an unexpected way as if being predictable is cheap and lousy.

Confirmed #1: Derek Yee is a superb director.

His style is simple. His story is simple. He has great attention to detail. His script is superb. He can get the best out of his actors. His movies have a lot of heart. He shoots not on huge budget. I love all of his recent movies, “2 Young”, “Crazy N’ The City”, “One Nite in Mongkok” and “Lost in Time”.

Together with Edmund Pang, they gave us some of the best movies from Hong Kong in the past two years despite the widely opined decline in Hong Kong cinema.

Confirmed #2: Romantic comedies can still be very good!

With the abundance of really dumb romantic comedies coming out from Hong Kong and elsewhere (and also from our Prof. Razak and gang), the genre really looked dead and boring. But no! This movie confirmed that a well executed romantic comedy, told by a superb director, can still be top class.

Changed Mind #1: Alex Fong is good afterall

As I have fought with my geeky friend who seemed to love Alex Fong, I really thought that the guy is “yat look chey”, or a rod of sugarcane as we say in cantonese. He is so stiff, with the pretentious smirk and basically carries the same cool, know-all character. But he is different in this movie. He is so hilarious. I didn’t expect that he can act like this.

So, for a jolly good time, please do go and watch this movie. And if you want to be a director, you can surely learn something about storytelling from Derek ;-)

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