Saturday, 26 December 2009

I come with the rain



Saw Trần Anh Hùng’s last film ‘I come with the Rain’. He had been telling us about this project for years and years. My father received a copy of the screenplay back then, when the possibility that he wrote the score for the film was still in the air. Unfortunately it didn’t happen eventually, to his greatest chagrin. Instead, Hùng used large portion of Radiohead songs.
The cast had one actor that got me all excited: Lee Byung-hun. To think that they worked together! This actor is a living dream to me. I was wondering how Hùng would develop from his latest film, At the Height of the Summer. Action packed thriller? Would he be able to? Romantic? Yes, we are all expecting his filmic adaptation of Murakami’s Norwegian Woods. I hadn’t the faintest idea.
From the poster, I imagined an action thriller set in Hong Kong. Wasn’t the subject originally a contemporary setting of the last days of Jesus, set in Asia? How much of that would remain?
I got all the answers from the very first minutes.
Action packed thriller it would not be, in spite of the presence of Josh Hartnett or Lee Byung-hun. The film delved in the territories he opened with Cyclo. I’m not sure many people will like it. It was very crude and violent, experimental and extremely tense. Definitely not for the soft-hearted.
Ulysses who came with us left the film midway. Jun, who doesn’t quite enjoy the sight of blood got eyefuls of it… The film haunted me for a long time. It’s imperfect like most of Hùng’s films, the actors were left to themselves; the plot was much too uncertain, the dialogues too verbose and stilted at times  - they sounded like a Japanese theatre drama. In spite these ‘flaws’, I totally immersed myself in the film. It was a live nightmare, beautifully photographed, which echoed many personal issues and questions. In spite of the stellar cast, I doubt this film will attract millions of viewers…
And… what is it with Hùng that he keeps making these long shots of his three male lead’s naked skin? The sight of bare-chested Lee Byung-hun is far from unpleasant – except that he’s beating someone to death in the scene. Josh Hartnett and Takuya Kimura ‘suffer’ the same fate… As in his first three films, Yên Khê, his wife plays the role of a woman who goes through a purification process, a second birth, this time as a modern-age Asian Maria Magdalena… What is it? What is it? I will have to ask him when I see him.

Lee Byun-hun

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Andy


I walked home from Taipei 101. A long walk in the night. I had no money to take a taxi, the MRT wasn’t running anymore. The only solution left was to walk.
I had just seen Andy and we had been drinking in one of those fancy bars in the 101 Tower area. Andy…
I had not really talked to him since last May. He had been avoiding me whenever he’d bump into me. The situation saddened me; sometime it would anger me. But after all, I asked for it in a way. I was more concerned about myself instead of trying to understand the signals he was sending. The battle of ego. As hard as I may try to better myself, I still see all these paths I’m taking which lead to nowhere if to more self inflicted headaches and miseries.

I was invited to attend the performance of Song of Pensive Beholding – Chants de la Destinée, by the Legend Lin Dance Theatre, a company that enjoys quite some reputation in France. This was the third and final offering of a trilogy that Legend Lin had been working on for the past decade. It was visually beautiful. The show was more like a religious experience than a dance performance. Dance theatre, they like to call it. The dancers had to suffer extremely slow movements throughout the two hour long show, not unlike Japanese Noh, which had a powerfully lulling effect on me. The music didn’t help matters for it was long sequences of chanting with occasional gongs and percussion to round up the mystical effect. I have this feeling that I spite of the beauty of the piece, there was something slightly artificial and contradictory in its content.
The repetitive chanting, gong and drums did indeed induce the idea of a spiritual quest. Legend Lin’s idea was that the human story repeats itself incessantly, without end. Once the life cycle was completed, it would start again with a new generation and would repeat the same human errors and tragedy. Yet to me it also was a never-ending battle against her ego. However hard she would try to aim at naked simplicity, the way she staged her show and appeared on stage to take a bow in the end showed a goddess, not a woman.
But don’t all great artists have monster ego?

Andy was in the audience. I saw him at the end of the show. I expected him to run away and avoid me as he usually has done the past months, but he didn’t. To my greatest surprise, he even asked for my phone number. However happy I was to see him, I still expected for a blow or two. I congratulated him for winning the first prize at the flute competition. He had been hired by an orchestra in France. Things were looking good for him. 

We met for a drink tonight. He took me to BarCode, a trendy bar in the XinYi area. Cool crowd, cool music. We didn’t hit the sensitive topic, just told each others what was going on in our lives. A girlfriend of his joined us later. A very pretty girl named Amanda who's a jazz pianist. Her presence eased down the tension. 
Andy and I had both heard a lot about each other through common friends. It was very tentative first attempt to meet again. Yet it was a first step.
Whatever happens to in the future, at least we gave it a nice end. I don’t like to carry on with a burden of repressed anger and frustration. I felt relieved. No expectation, a faint hope.
And a long way to walk to home!



Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Writing


Unexpected.
This guy came to me on Facebook with a basket full of compliments. About my pictures, about how I look. Oh, some lonely soul in search of exotic company, I thought. I politely wrote replies to his messages until it turned out that he was a friend’s friend. A common thing on Facebook. The concept of friend doesn’t mean anything anymore. One would better talk about clickers and clickees…
When the conversation started to gear to more personal matters I learned that he was a Swiss film director. A web link was given to me and I had a look. I half jokingly told him that if ever he needed a composer, I could be the one. One thing leads to another. He needed one for his new feature film. Violent Tears, a story about two Thai boxers and their descent into drug. He had used lots of Isaan music from Northern Thailand for the soundtrack and needed someone to write an original score and give a sense of unity to the whole thing. He was thinking of asking a Thai composer for the task. He showed me the images which I found beautiful. I told him, this time seriously,  that I would really like to supervise and compose the music for that film. He showed lots of enthusiasm after a visit to my website. The magic of the internet. It allows so much spontaneity!
Now, it’s too early to jump for joy and cry for victory. They will send me a scene and I will score it so they can know what I can do. It’s another challenge since I have only written music for short films and documentaries. But the first steps were very positive!
We shall meet when I come back to Paris. One good thing to look forward to.


 
December already.
December already!
December… mid December! 
One month, long time for some but that flies by in a wink for me. The days go by faster as more and more friends come by.  The peak will be reached for the year end celebration as Taipei will apparently become the meeting point for many party-goers.

The past few weeks have been totally devoted to writing the lyrics of the songs. Totally….? Well not exactly, since I still had to deal with a few distractions, the main one being that I had to go to Hong Kong.
However I have nearly completed all the song lyrics. I can’t believe it. It’s finally done! All words on paper! There was no method. The lines just kept flowing out of my head and I would just write them down. 
Patience, patience. It had been months, if not a couple of years since I had started conceiving, thinking of and honing these songs in my head. The next step is to adjust the melodic line before recording the songs.
Bibbe finally sent me her beautiful poems again. She told me to chop, edit, paste and change them as I please. Which I did for this one last song: Battle of Wits. The result is quite amazing. I love the way she writes. I feel like a primary school children. But when you consider that she’s the daughter of Al Hansen and the mother of Beck, there’s not wonder. The wonder is that she remains so modest about her writing. I’m happy we have this song together. I sent the lyrics to her and she replied enthusiastically.
The new songs: Battle of the wits, Bear me Safely Over, Pop!, Son Shine, I aim, Who we Be, Don’t be Koi, Pandemonium, Nothing comes to Light and Running Wild, which add to the formerly written songs: Butterfly Rider, Halcyon and The Blessing.  The album is now complete.
How and where I will record the music is still a big question mark. As for the everything in my life now, all I can do is to remain confident that everything will go well. I reached the aim to finish the lyrics during my stay in Hong Kong - there is still some retouching to do, but I won’t have to pull my hair to find out what to write about. What a relief!


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Kitty


Lamma Island. This time SiuYung shares his flat with someone called David. He referred to him as her, so I got confused. Why would a girl be called David. I thought he didn’t pay attention and made a mistake. Then David wrote to me and signed Chris at the bottom of the page.
David? Chris?
Was he a she? Was she a he? Or a he-she? She-he…?
Once in the flat I decided to clarify my doubts. I saw some girl’s shoes in front of the door; in the bathroom, some make up remover. A bottle of Anna Sui. Definitely a girl… But then, David was a flight attendant, so everything was possible! I went on with my investigation. SiuYung likes to post pictures of friends and people he loves on this wall or his door. Where was David? I saw some unknown face. Any of them could be David.
Nothing in the flat would really tell me. Or maybe I liked to keep wondering… There was an adorably wild kitten who jumped at me as soon as I entered the flat. She was very affectionate but kept biting me.