Alrighty. Back to Blogdom. Hello again everyone.
Gran's exequies will be mentioned in another post.
Have so much to blog, don't know where I'll find the time to, but I shall... somehow.
Random nugget: in 1700, there were 2508 nuns in Venice? Better yet, there were 11654 prostitutes?
Angela tells me that a convent of Carmelites in Rome is charging the equivalent of £100 per person per night for bread and breakfast. Scandalous.
One side-effect of sitting at Gran's bedside for 14 hours daily is that even though I'm in no mood to study, watching films on DVD helped pass the time. I'm supposed to be doing a ton of Latin translation homework - mostly extracts from Augustus' Res Gestae, but with Gran in such a state, I can't concentrate. I don't suppose anyone can blame me. So here are some of the films I've been watching:
In The Mood For Love (花樣年華)
- Cantonese. Set in Hongkong of the 1960s. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. Maggie Cheung keeps changing cheongsams every few minutes. Oh, she looks so stunningly elegant in those. I swear, if I had a woman like her, I might try going straight. Anyway, back to the film. Very much an art film. A rather slowly-paced film - evocative, but will drive most viewers up the wall. Music's awfully good - bossa nova, chinese songs.
- Keanu Reeves. Sci-fi. Based on a short story by William Gibson of Cyberpunk fame. Amusing. Action film. Blah blah blah.
- amusing. Didn't know the Bush-Bin Laden families were so deeply connected. Good film. A bit of a hatchet job, but not unfair.
The Opium War (鴉片戰爭)
- 150+ minutes long. The Chinese characters speak Mandarin, English characters English - both very correct. The film is a 1997 production, a gift of the director to the Chinese people, on the occasion of the return of Hongkong to China. It tells the story of how Britain forced the sale and encouraged the smuggling of countless tonnes of opium to China in the 1800s, the efforts on the part of the Chinese to stop this, and the retaliation on the part of the British - stealing Hongkong to make up for the loss of profit. Imagine that - Britain under Queen Victoria, having banned opium in the home counties, sold more opium to China in month than the international drug trade of today trades in various drugs. The word 'shameful' comes to mind, but there really isn't a word strong enough. Most Brits today don't know of the events - it's a shameful chapter in British history that Britain has not yet had the courage to face and apologise for, and I doubt even the BBC would dare treat the topic. Anyhow, the film's surprisingly good. The subject is dealt with fairly, and there are heroes and villains on both sides. The film makers had the biggest film budget in Chinese cinema history, and had countless extras from the People's Liberation Army. It's truly an excellent production. The attention to detail is breathtaking - both the Chinese scenes and the ones set in England (they actually filmed some scenes in Oxford).
- A bit like Shakespeare in Love, but set during the Restoration (1660s, reign of King Charles II), in an age where women are banned from the stage and hence men and boys who specialise in female roles rule the stage. Centre of the action is Kynaston - the greatest of these men who play women onstage. Kynaston manages to piss off Nell Gwyn, the King's mistress (and budding actress) by a diatribe against women acting, and the King passes legislation banning men from ever playing women on English stages again, and allowing women onstage. Kynaston, the last of his kind, begins a love-hate affair with his former dresser, who becomes the first great actress. Nice costumes. Music by George Fenton, who did the music for Dangerous Liaisons and The Madness of King George - both excellent uses of Baroque music for period films. Fenton does a somewhat so-so job here, none of the music being quite memorable. There's a gem of a scene, where Kynaston rehearses the death scene of Desdemona from Othello - him playing Desdemona and his female dresser playing Othello.
What Lies Beneath
- horror film. Stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Indiana Jones (his name escapes me for the moment). Not terribly good. The sort of horror film where one can tell a scare is coming up because the music changes.
- Bruce Willis and James Earl Jones. An interesting take on the 'genesis of a superhero' theme. Not bad at all. I'm starting to like Night M. Shyamalan's films. Very nice feel.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups)
- Based on the real beast of the Gévudan in France during the reign of Louis XIV (I think). In French. Quite good. A period action film. The chap who vanquishes the beast has a Iroquois companion-fighter (ah, this is where the elegance of the Greek term συμμαχος is perfect) who has an absolutely droolsome body.
- Tom Hanks & Catherine Zeta-Jones. Man trapped in an airport due to immigration situation. Amusing. Not bad. Certainly not one of the great films of all time, but entertaining nonetheless and a nice way to pass 2 hours.
Also watched were Quills
(with particularly interesting trivia)
, Onmyoji 2
and Vanilla Sky
- these will get reviewed later.
Okay, that's enough for one post - more tomorrow!