美國隊長2 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) [中規中矩，連到戲，打得幾好。]
大地之鹽 (My Name is Salt/HKIFF) [記錄鹽農生活，拍得十分好嘅紀錄片。]
知音夢裏人(Inside Llewyn Davis/HKIFF) [今年眾多音樂劇情片第一套，劇本灰暗，但情節清楚，圍繞主角同佢嘅衰運，同時側寫六十年代美國民歌界。同係歌手，Justin Timberlake明顯比Adam Levine嘅戲好得多。]
聖蘿蘭 (Yves Saint Laurent) [法國人物傳記片，節奏ok，中規中矩。]
真的有天堂 (Heaven is for Real) [真事改編，福音片格局但比想像中好。]
秋刀魚之味 (An Autumn Afternoon/HKIFF) [小津安二郎最後作品，描寫戰後日本第二次高速經濟增長下中產社員日常生活日常。]
無人區 (No Man’s Land/HKIFF) [荒誕不經，殘酷，電影情節隨時可以喺強國發生。五大之三。]
雙生靈 (Bilocation) [大橋有新意，夠驚嚇，結局有驚喜，出人意表。]
蜘蛛俠2：決戰電魔 (The Amazing Spider Man 2: Rise of Electro) [無驚喜，Super Hero片中規中矩之作，感情線還可以。]
香港仔 (Aberdeen) [有誠意嘅本土作品，但總覺得唔一定係香港定位。]
異空戰士 (Edge of Tomorrow) [湯告魯B似乎越老越宜做科幻，出奇地好睇，當然原著更好。]
I love seeing tango danced in movies. The most recent one I recall was El Ultimo Cafe in the Sci-Fi flop “Upside Down” (IMHO at least). The one I am sharing here is similar, yet different.
It’s from the movie “Tango”, directed by Carlos Saura, scored by Lalo Schifrin, featuring Argentine Tango dancer Juan Carlos Copes as one of the supporting character. The scene here was of a group of tango dancers rehearsing for a tango show.
The directer presented the scene in layers, with darkness and just a Bandoneon, gradually adding on the sequence, lighting, and music. It’s so much like the dance itself, building on basic moves and adding more and more elements.
作為一齣音樂電影，Begin Again的音樂自然重要，亦頗有驚喜。全片音樂以人物分別，Gretta的歌充滿singer/songwriter的清新、歌詞發自人物內心。Dave的歌曲則流行曲味濃厚，反映他投向大眾皃走向，與Gretta風格大相逕庭。姫拉麗莉初次主唱，聲底明顯不足，但表現出奇地好，補足有餘。雖然只有四首歌，但已足夠令我離場後即上iTunes Store購買原聲大碟。（謎之聲：説好了的專輯呢？？我：你肯補足其他歌，一定買！）個人心水：Like A Fool （歌詞直接到point，旋律簡單上腦），Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home屋頂版（有Dan同Violet父女對jam）。
Everyone had priorities in their path down the stream of life. And people get together for various reasons. Different priorities can cause friction between people; how to resolve the differences? From my view, Begin Again is a pleasant yet poignant way in dealing with the messy reality of differing priorities.How to make a record
How to make an album
Dan (Mark Ruffalo) was a struggling record company executive that had his glory. Divorced and hardly productive, he walked in to a bar for a couple of drinks, where he saw a reluctant Gretta (Keira Knightley) performing on stage, singing a lonely song about hopeless people contemplating life. Somehow Dan saw talent in Gretta, strike up a conversation with her, and offered to produce an album with her music and the sounds of New York. Things went for an unexpected turn, which change both of their lives.
Director John Carney took up again a theme about music lovers, after his award-winning film “Once”. I found “Once” being more of “separate lives”. “Begin Again” was different, more about people stick together and tried to make compromises.
The plot was straight forward, and the director didn’t deviate from his way of handling love affairs of main characters (you would know after watching “Once”). As the main theme is Gretta’s record, a lot of scenes are dealing with the actual recording, which they do on the streets and parks of New York, and beautifully filmed. The interaction between Dan and his family, as well as Gretta with Dave, were decently presented, crossover through Gretta as the centerpiece, and provide contrast in terms of how the characters deal with betrayal and different priorities. And having Gretta being an independent singer/songwriter, the plot also took a jab at the recording industry, and Dan went along with the album project being independent.
Casting was wonderful. Ruffalo as the depressed and out of work A&R man was spot on, while Knightley was becoming more and more attractive as the story progresses, and she shined brilliantly all the way the end. Levine got the rock star look just right, as he was just being himself. Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game) played well and adorable as Dan’s daughter, Violet, who yearned for her old man’s attention while they lead different lives. James Corden (lead actor in this year’s “One Chance”) as Gretta’s best friend, as well as Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote) as Dan’s ex-wife, were also cast well.
And there’s the music. They were well written and produced by seasoned musicians, while the director and Glen Hansard (musician and lead actor of “Once”) pitched in for two songs. The lyrics were particularly good, with very strong emotion and storytelling elements, reflected the singer/songwriter genre that was dominant in the plot. Surprisingly, even though Knightley proclaimed her almost total lack of music training, her singing was pretty good. I found myself picking up the soundtrack from iTunes immediately after the end, and the playlist is now a regular on my phone, the music is that good. My favorite: “Like a Fool”, for the frankness in the lyrics, and “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home”, the roof top version, for the jam by Dan and Violet. It might sound greedy, but if we can get the whole album produced, with the songs in the movie plus some more, I would not doubt snap it up the moment it were released!
As a music lover, I recommend this delightful, elegant movie to you, whether you like catchy music or not.
I think most of the pro-democratic people in Hong Kong don’t really want to mourn every year for those young people who died and got maimed in Beijing in ’89. At least I know I don’t.
But year after year, I, like so many of my fellow citizens, went to Victoria Park on the fourth and mourn. And remind ourselves to never forget this tragedy. We all wish that, “This year will be the last year we have to do this. Next year, the apology will be out, and we can finally move on.”
Well, it didn’t happen as we wished. For twenty three times, we were defeated by the reality. And we have to return to Victoria Park next Monday.
I just hope that the Communist Party will one day admit their fault. Then, we will not have to be its enemy. It might not mean anything, but at least all of us can _move the fuck on_.
Too much blood and tears had been spilled, even one more drop is too much. Please, elites, please admit that you are wrong, so that we can stop hating you. It’s not fun, for both of us, you know.
Earlier this year, we heard the great news that Les Misérables is going to the silver screen this Christmas. As an avid fan, I can’t wait to see the up-to-date incarnation of this masterpiece, until…
We heard the casting. Okay, Hugh Jackman had been performing musicals and snag a Tony’s with his performance as a gay performer, so not to worry. Ditto to Amanda Seyfried, who was on the cast of Mama Mia’s movie, they both should handle the singing well. But Anne Hathaway as Fantine? Russell Crowe as Javert? And “who-the-hell-is-that-guy” as Marius? To say I am worried was an understatement the size of an Airbus 380.
But the teasers turned out okay. Hathaway came through well through her singing part presented, so was the rest of the cast. And the trailer in late November seemed even better. So, I went into the movie house last week with part trepidation, part excitement and still a little bit of worry, and watch the movie in its full glory. And glory it is.
A faithful revisit
The story of Les Misérables probably need no more introduction to musicals aficionados, but here it is anyway: Jean Valjean, an ex-convict fugitive guilty of stealing bread, reformed businessman and Mayor, attempted to save Fantine, an ex-worker in his factory forced in to prostitution from destitute. While Fantine didn’t survive the ordeal, her daughter, Corsette, was saved. On the other hand, lawman Javert was hot on Valjean’s tail to bring him to justice. In the eve of the Paris Uprising of 1832, young revolutionist Marius fell irretrievably in love with Cosette, while Valjean contemplate exile to avoid capture from Javert…
The movie is essentially a movie edition of the fabled musical, which is fabulous in setting the mood for us to enjoy the acting and singing. Paris in its glory and filth, Valjean’s factory, the barricades, all beautifully rendered. The fighting scenes are well produced to give you the sense of being in the action. All songs are included, and while there are some changes to the lyrics and some are being shuffled within the scenes, the libretto is essentially the same as the musical. One new song was added, right after Valjean picked up Cosette from the Thénardiers. Acting-wise, the cast performed well, as what you can expect from a big budget history movie. The story line was basically the same as the musical, no surprises there. And then, there’s the singing…
A pleasant surprise
And the cast surprised me, their overall performance were very good. That the cast sang their part on set, instead of pre-recorded in a sound studio then played on set, required them to immerse fully into the song’s mood. It makes for a genuine performance, and the effect shows on most of the main characters’ signature songs, very emotional numbers that highlight the struggle they face.
One of the biggest highlight came from Hathaway. While her role as Fantine was important yet short, her singing was exceptionally well, especially on “I Dreamed A Dream”, which she sang the song in one take with so much emotions, it brought tears to eyes and sniffles to the audience. Hathaway had transformed in recent years, and her performance earlier this year in “One Day”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and now “Les Misérables”, gave me a lot more confidence in her acting.
Hugh Jackman did not disappoint. While his voice is lower in tone from the musical actors, he still performed well. His performance of “Bring Him Home” was as good as the stage performances of the musical I heard so far. On the other hand, Russell Crowe fall short. While he got the stronger beat songs of Javert well enough, but his character’s show piece tunes like “Stars” and “Javert’s Suicide” was not up to similar pieces for the other main characters.
Sasha Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Thénardiers were hilarious, nasty and disgusting, as they should be. Their singing/acting are top notch, and since they had worked before in “Sweeney Todd”, the synergy was there.
Of the younger cast, Seyfried as Cosette and Eddie Redmayne as Marius were suitable combination of the lovebirds. I especially like Seyfried, as beautiful as she was as Fantine’s daughter and sang like an angel. Redmayne’s performance of “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” moved a lot of the audience to tears. Their duet of “A Heart Full of Love” was like a breeze of fresh air, breaking the tension of revolution, if only for just a moment.
Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was very good too, not too exaggerated in uplifting songs like “Do You Hear the People Sing”, “Red and Black” or “One Day More”, unlike some of the actors playing the same role in the musical. Samantha Barks played Eponine in the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, and was reprising the role in her first movie role here. Her singing was very well, and she gave us a feisty Eponine with a bit more feminine touch than the usual tomboy look.
Even the smaller roles were well cast. Daniel Huttlestone, who was in the London cast, reprise his role as Gavorche and put up a well-liked performance, often chiming in when the revolutionaries sang. Colm Wilkinson, the original Valjean in the first London cast, had a cameo as the Bishop of Digne, the man who turn Valjean’s bitterness to the world into struggle for good and charity. He was wonderful as usual.
In short, the movie was a beautifully sung rendition of Les Misérables.
For the wretched on the earth, there is a flame that never dies
Les Misérables always hold a special spot in me. Maybe it was because of the Paris Uprising resembling so much of the 1989 Chinese Democratic movement. Some of us still remember our sense of belonging in the social movement back then, and the tragic crackdown, which effects made the China we have now.
So, it was with mix feelings that I came out of the theatre. I enjoyed the movie much. I contemplate the fact that after the Paris Uprising, it took 16 years until the second French Revolution, which overthrown the Orleans Monarchy of Louis Philippe and created the Second Republic of France. How long will China had its own second movement, after twenty three years? Maybe more? I have no answer.
Next Tuesday, Hong Kong people will take to the streets once again to oppose a lying government that is indifference to poverty and hardship. Are we marching to change, or are we stepping into our graves?
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Hugh Jackman (曉治積曼）一直有音樂劇的表演，亦因為他曾以飾演音樂劇 The Boy From Oz 中Peter Allen一角面而贏得東尼獎最佳男主角，可以放心。Amanda Seyfried（雅曼達施菲）亦曾演出音樂劇改編的歌舞片Mamma Mia，相信問題不大。但Anne Hathaway（安妮夏菲維）？Russell Crowe（羅素高爾）？「阿Marius你係邊位？」（演Marius的是誰呀？）實在令人十分擔心。
這效果的最佳例子，非安妮夏菲維飾演的Fantine所唱的《I Dream A Dream》莫屬。那一幕一個鏡頭直落，她由疲憊、身心受辱，情感崩潰，再進一步對現況感到憤怒，最後感到絕望。夏菲維唱到中途更一度近乎泣不成聲，但全曲情感表現洽到好處，甚至比原版Fantine（Patti LuPone）更到位。其他主要角色亦有同類表現，如Eddie Redmayne的《Empty Chairs and Empty Tables》、飾演Eponine的Samantha Barks唱的《On My Own》，以至曉治積曼多首交代Valjean内心交戰的歌曲等。要知道，演苦情戲時哭泣，不是最難；唱歌，亦然。哭泣時演戲、唱歌，而能同時兼顧，要求實在極高。這次嘗試，成功了。
Derek K. Miller – We Three Kings
Allison Crowe – O Holy Night
Ben Vega – Silent Night
RaykoKRB – 12 Strippers of Xmas
Candy Butchers – Give Me A Second Chance For Christmas
Mario AJero – Away In A Manger
Kati Mac – I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Natalie Brown – Jingle Bells
Podsafe For Peace – If Every Day Were Christmas