Blue is the name for the love that is failed by life.—
Blue is the name for the love that is failed by life.—
Yasumasa Morimura is a Japanese appropriation artist. He was born in Osaka and graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in 1978. Since 1985, Morimura has primarily shown his work in international solo exhibitions, although he has been involved in various group exhibitions.
Yasumasa Morimura borrows images from historical artists (ranging from Edouard Manet to Rembrandt to Cindy Sherman), and inserts his own face and body into them.
Among others, Morimura’s exhibitions have been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1992), the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jouy-en-Josas, France (1993), the Hara Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan (1994), the Guggenheim Museum(1994), the Yokohama Museum of Art in Yokohama, Japan (1996), Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2006), and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (2007).
Chino Otsuka : Imagine Finding Me
Chino Otsuka uses photography and video to explore the fluid relationship between the memory, time and photography. At age 10 she moved from Japan to the United Kingdom to attend school. Her experience of becoming familiar with a new place, a different language and new customs while she was developing her adolescent identity has profoundly shaped her work in photography, video and writing. Her series Imagine Finding Me consists of double self-portraits, with images of her present self beside her past self in various places she has visited. As Otsuka says: “The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” - via AGO
The Grandmaster: American Version vs. Chinese Version
Saw The Grandmaster at Athena Cinema. It was fascinating to see how much changes were made in the American version that they feel like two vastly different films. Many of the changes were made to tell a more linear story, to make something that was more suggestive, implicit in the Chinese version more explicit for American audience. The structure of the Chinese version was not based on causal relationship or linear logic, but more on a poetic feeling. There were many side characters, who did not have connection with Ip Man. In some sense, Ip Man was not even the narractive center of the film. The Chinese version seems to be not about Ip Man’s story, but a story about a generation of martial arts masters who were affected by the historical currents of their times. However, the American version restructured the story to center on Ip Man, and make sure every other character has connection with him. The different way of structuring and editing made sense in terms of serving each of their different emphasis. However, I was wondering whether Wong Kar Wai made the changes under the pressure of the distributor for the American market, or he made the choices for other reasons, or was it even him who made the choices. Now I pray for a director’s cut to be released with the DVD with a complete, final version that could fully present his vision.
The Chinese version was 130 min long—-the American version: 108 min
Gong Er’s story about revenge was quite dominant in the Chinese version, and was told from approximately 55 min to 100 min, which means that it is structurally at the center of the film. However, the story was not told in one piece, but was divided by the meeting between Ip Man and Gong Er in Hong Kong in 1951. The timeline was confusing here, because there were no intertitles to indicate which scene happens in which year—-American version tells Ip Man’s story first, and then flashback to Gong Er’s story after Ip Man met her again in Hong Kong
Scenes added and cut:
A scene was added after the fighting in the rain: Master Gong was observing the fight, and learned that the talented man was Ip Man
Lots of intertitles and historical footage were added to explain the historical backgrounds, and connect events. These were not in the Chinese version (and the intertitles look so ugly and stands in huge contrast with the Chinese intertitles, which were aesthetically fitting the film at large)
Gong Er’s flashback to her memory of observing her father practicing when she was small was an addition in the American version. Interestingly, by making this addition, the film emphasized her personal story and her reminiscence of her childhood and the times when she could practice her martial arts. The lines were changed as well. After telling her childhood memory, she said, “that was the happiest time of my life.” In the Chinese version, there was her fantasy/memory of her playing martial arts in the snow in the woods. She said, “A great age was about a choice: stay or move on. I chose to remain in my era, the time when I was happiest.” It seems that the Chinese version was emphasizing the times, and how it affected Gong Er, and other masters’ life. When the times compelled the characters to leave their home and take refuge in Hong Kong, Ip Man chose to move on, while Gong Er chose the other way.
The side characters:
The barber: Chinese version: he has no connection with Ip Man. There was a scene with him on the train with Gong Er, a scene in his barbershop recruiting his disciples by showing them his martial arts——these scenes were deleted in the American version, while there is a scene added with the Barber meeting Ip Man
The Cigarette Guy: The cigarette guy in the American version, who has a short encounter with Ip Man, actually was Master Gong’s senior, and had appeared in one or two other scenes earlier in the film, prior to his encounter with Ip Man.
The lines for The Grandmaster were one of the most poetic part of the film, besides the beautiful cinematography. There were many philosophical, suggestive lines that were crucial in the film. However, that implicit message was the part that was difficult to translate into English. Many lines were translated so literally that they completely lost their original tone, emotional underpinning, or significance.
The American version added a part to the ending credits, composed with various fighting scenes and Ip Man asking “what is your style?” which feels like a commercial, or a dancing sequence added to a Romantic Comedy. Before the credits rolled, the film ended with a quote from Bruce Lee, which was also quite nonsensical. (They neglected to make changes to the ending credits. Since there were several scenes cut in the American version, many actors’ names should not appear in the ending credits in this version.) Are these choices made to cater to American audience as well? Does a Chinese film have to sell for its relation to Bruce Lee? I think the distributor went too far to adapt this film to Western taste. I wonder whether Wong Kar Wai was also, as the masters in the film, compelled to cater to the times, or the market against his gut.
Coppola, The Conversation, 1974
Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others, 2006
Chong & Mak, Overheard, 2009
Eavesdropping stories are the best.—
Night+ Day in Hong Kong; Fallen Angels(1995) + Chunking Express(1994)
”You’re right, because to me Chungking Express and Fallen Angels are one film that should be three hours long. I always think these two films should be seen together as a double bill. In fact, people asked me during an interview for Chungking Express: “You’ve made these two stories which have no relationship at all to each other, how can you connect them?” And I said, “The main characters of Chungking Express are not Fay Wang or Takashi Kaneshiro, but the city itself, the night and day of Hong Kong. Chungking Express and Fallen Angels together are the bright and dark of Hong Kong.” I see the films as inter-reversible, the character of Fay Wang could be the character of Takashi in Fallen Angels; Brigitte Lin in Chungking could be Leon Lai in Fallen Angels. All of their characters are inter-reversible. Also, in Chungking we were shooting from a very long distance with long lenses, but the characters seem close to us”. -Wong Kar Wai
A upcoming Chinese film, The Chef, the Actor, the Scoundrel, seems to have referred to some iconic films in its title. And it is marketed as a April fool comedy. Quite a refreshing marketing strategy I say.—
Chan-wook Park’s works are becoming my guilty pleasure
Watched Lady Vengence and Stoker in the past couple of days. Having a weak heart, I had been avoiding watching Chan-wook Park’s works because they were known as being violent, scary and dark. But these two films offered such thrilling viewing experience that I am becoming a fan of Park’s works.
Surprisingly, Stoker is not written by Park, because the darkness and emotional intensity is certainly the signature of Park’s auteur style. Having not seen any information on why Park came to Hollywood to direct this project, I suspected that he was invited to direct this film because Hollywood producers see how skillfully Park has made morally twisted thrillers.
Park is certainly good at at least three things:
1) the cinematography is just stunning. Almost every shot has an amazing composition and each shot has a reason to be there. While watching both films, I more than once burst into a cry of Oh My, simply because of the unimaginably beautiful shots. The colors were vibrant and functional to the atmosphere of the whole film. The cinematography is one of the main reasons why it gave me guilty pleasure. When the sheriff is killed and his blood spurting all over the field, you see what India sees: the flower and the wheat being painted by the red blood. That was just too beautiful to not feel visually pleased by it. Park uses this cinematography to invite the audience to share the beauty that India saw in the act of killing, and this scene made me feel thrilled and guilty at the same time.
2) Park is a master of creating tension and suspense. In both Lady Vengence and Stoker, Park shows his skill of using parallel editing as a moment of horror and discovery. In Stoker, we see Evelyn putting on make-up to seduce Charlie, finding out that he is not there; Charlie approaching the aunt in the motel telephone booth and strangle her; and India eating icecream at the basement and found out that the housekeeper’s body was in the fridge. To refer to another of my post on the middle point of Lady Vengence, we could see that how unbelievably well Park makes use of parallel editing to create the most exciting and revealing moment in his thrillers. In my opinion, he is truly masterful as a director of the genre of thriller.
3) Park’s incredibly thrilling editing and smooth transition between scenes/shots was one of the main source of my pleasure from Stoker. He seems to like using flashbacks, which allows him to connect different points of the story and allows the audience to remember some of the details that have a deeper or a new meaning after the revelation of a new layer of the story. In Lady Vengence, there was even a moment when he flashed some moments from the future in the scene when all the parents of the abducted children were gathered to watch the videos of their children. In my opinion, some of the flashbacks were great, but sometimes I thought he was a bit over-using it.
In terms of the depth of story, I liked how Stoker kind of challenges or did not care about any accepted moral value. The film invites the audience to identify with India’s character and even see the beauty of killing from her point of view. It does not pass any judgment about the act of killing itself, although it did define this act itself as a result of insanity. But I liked how the film implicates the audience into this conspiracy of killing, in the way that Charlie implicates India in this guilty pleasure.
As for Lady Vengence, the story shows the weakness of legal system, people’s doubt about law, and a figure who is seeking for redemption but did not eventually forgive herself. Strangely, I have coincidentally watched a couple of films about justice, punishment and compensation. In Herzog’s Into the Abyss, despite most people’s objection to the death penalty, the victim’s family said that she felt a burden off her shoulder when she witnessed the death of the murderer. The scene of all the victims’ parents eating a cake together in Lady Vengence reminded me of this. It seems that after each of them hurt the killer and shed his blood, they felt relieved in some way, although their children can never come back to life. This mentality of feeling compensated through punishment is certainly peculiar.
Anyway, one of the thematic elements that both Lady Vengence and Stoker shared was that they were not confined within the moral judgment and did not have much respect for the existing legal system. They both beautified, justified and glorified an act outside of law, either vengence, or enjoying killing beyond the normal. Chan-wook Park is not only a master of suspense and beautiful cinematography, but also a storyteller who is pushing the boundary of existing ideology of law and normality, and challenges the audience’s idea about what is morally, ideologically correct. In his film such as Stoker, the morally “perverted” is presented as being aesthetically pleasing, and for India even as being sexually arousing. Some criticism blamed the film for being violent for the sake of violence. And I think that says that these viewers totally missed the point of the film.—
The Middle Point of Lady Vengence, 2005 (dir. Chan-wook Park)
What exactly happens between 55 and 56 minutes into this 111 minutes long film? Geum-ja has been planning to take her revenge for 13 years, and it finally comes to the night for the execution. However, the intervention of this Christian, who is upset by Geum-ja’s sinful attempt for revenge and sold her to Mr. Baek, the target of revenge learned of the plan and hired two killers.
The middle point of the film is a growing tension created by suspenseful parallel editing. The killers snapped off the light, prepared for their action, waiting for Geum-ja and Jenny at the end of the tunnel. A couple of eyeline match shots builds up the suspense. Geum-ja and Jenny paused at the sight of the black car that is darkened inside, realizing the danger ahead. As they proceeded, we see them slowly moving from the lighted area to the total darkness. In the meantime, we know that Mr. Baek’s wife, who is helping Guem-ja, was going home to cook her husband a dinner, unaware that he knew that she betrayed him. In the parallel editing, when the killers are preparing for the killing, we see Mr. Baek calmly having dinner, starring at the shimmer light, which is supposed to be from a TV. When Geum-ja and Jenny walk to the killers, the shot is cut to Mr. Baek, and this time we see that in the direction he stares at is actually his wife in bondage, not the TV. This is the moment when the suspense reaches the highest point, and the moment that greatly upset the audience’s rising hope for the fulfillment of Geum-ja’s plan. The second that follows is the decline and resolution of this tension. What Park does in this very middle point of the film is just marvelous.