Sunday, March 30, 2008

At the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) once more

Yep, that's singer-actress Karena Lam alright! :)

Another star shot: This time,
of Karena Lam together with co-star Cyndi Wang

A friend of mine recently e-mailed to ask how I'm managing to regularly update my blog and e-mail friends along with work full time and do your share of HKIFF-ing. One answer to that question is that I've actually not done as much film festival attending as in past years; with the movie screening of Candy Rain -- a Taiwanese film that has been hyped as "the hipper, female version of Happy Together" (even though, among other things, it's not set in Argentina!) -- that I went to last night being only the 10th film I've seen at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival (though, to be fair, I'd also seen two films officially having their world premieres at the HKIFF before the film festival officially got going!).

At some point in the near future, I'll write up some comments on the films I've viewed at the HKIFF. For now though, I'll devote what remains of this weekend to checking out more fest offerings and resting in between doing so (in order to ensure that I'll not be tired and fest-ed out). And, of course, taking and posting up interesting movie-related photos for your (as well as my) enjoyment when the opportunity arises... :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

High (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

"Why take drugs when you can fill your life with natural highs?" was the question cum message on a poster I saw on a wall of a dorm at my college so many years ago now. To which, to this day, I would like to concur with a hearty "hear, hear!"

Over the years, I've found a lot of ways to have a lot of highs, highpoints and sheer pleasure in my life. As those who know me know full well, movie viewing gives me a lot of enjoyment. At the same time though, I'd wager that more than one of my friends has been surprised to discover how much hiking I've been doing and enjoying since moving to my version of Movie Mecca (i.e., Hong Kong)... ;b

Earlier this month, one of my hikes took me to Sai Kung East Country Park and along the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail which connects to the Sheung Yiu Country Trail that takes one to the magnificent -- as I hope you will agree after seeing the posted pictures -- High Island Reservoir that was the first large-scale reservoir in the world to be created from sealing off a coast with large dams.

A wonder of engineering, the High Island Reservoir also is a thing of beauty as far as I'm concerned. And should you wonder: No, it's not an illusion created by the camera -- rather, it really is the case that, at least one the day I was in the area, the reservoir water was a good deal bluer than the still also certifiably blue sky! :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Contributions to one more issue of bc magazine

One of the films that one of this issue's
interview subjects directed

As the proverbial 'they' say, time flies when you're having fun. While that can seem true enough, it's also most definitely the case that time flies when you're busy. And boy, have I been busy these past couple of weeks -- with work as well as having fun! So it really does feel that not that much time has elapsed since I was providing links to articles by me in the previous issue of bc. Yet here I am doing the linking thang once more...

i) Lunar Laughs -- feature article on physical theatre master Wolfe Bowart and his LaLaLuna show;

ii) The Three Kingdoms Resurrected -- feature article on director Daniel Lee and his upcoming Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon;

iii) Pines in the Wind -- feature article on the Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia's Annual Concert 2008;

iv) Review of Tony Ching Siu Tung's An Empress and the Warriors (and yes, the director of A Chinese Ghost Story and Swordsman trilogies really has added Tony to his names!);

v) Review of Patrick Kong's L For Love, L For Lies (starting Alex Fong Lik Sun and Stephy Tang);

vi) The Editor's Diary which covers the period from March 27 to April 9; and

vii) My first contributions to the Sports section. :b

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Outside of the HKIFF but still movie-related

Yesterday, I went back to work (and thus had to temporarily halt my HKIFF-ing). As it so happened though, I had a movie screening to go to in the evening... one that turned out to be the Hong Kong -- maybe even world? -- premiere of Escape from Huang Shi (AKA Children of Huang Shi), and an event at which one of its stars showed up...

Yep, it really is Chow Yun-Fat
(or, as he is called here in Hong Kong --
Fat Gor (Elder Brother Fat)! ;b )

Monday, March 24, 2008

More HKIFF pictures (Photo-essay)

For many people around the world, this past weekend was a special weekend due to Easter falling on Sunday. For my part, must admit that this past weekend was all the more special because it allowed me to get in some film fest-ing and socializing as well as rest and just plain time to decompress and enjoy being in Hong Kong. And among the highlights was being in the press pen -- and consequently, having a privileged vantage point -- for the Red Carpet Event that preceded the World Premiere screening of renaissance woman Sylvia Chang's latest directorial and co-scripted cinematic offering, Run Papa Run as well as being able to attend the screening of the film itself...

Relative quiet before the stars appear --
though if you look closely, the guy on the far left of the picture
is none other than ace photographer Jupiter Wong
while the fellow in bright blue on the right
is film expert David Bordwell ;)

The great Ti Lung and wife Amy To
(As an aside, I learnt that the stars walk really fast
up the carpet and so, unfortunately, my photo of them
is not as clear as I would have liked... ;S)

From left to right:
Lam Suet, Shaw Yin Yin, Nora Miao and Michael Chan --
all of whom also have supporting roles in
Run Papa Run

Run Papa Run's main family trio --
Rene Liu, Louis Koo and the little girl who plays their daughter

A more close-up picture of "just" Rene Liu and Louis Koo

Some other members of the press in action

Sylvia Chang (For more on this amazing individual
-- and written by moi some years back --please go here
and then scroll down to her entry)

Sylvia Chang and some of the stars who appear in her latest movie

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Metal (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

Last month, my trusty but old Ricoh Caplio RR30 camera -- so old and old-fashioned looking that a couple of people who've seen it asked me whether it was a digital camera at all! -- started developing problems that caused me, the notorious shopping-phobe, to go and get myself a new camera. Touch wood, but thus far, I'm very pleased with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ2 which I found on sale for a pretty reasonable price at an electronics store in Mongkok.

One reason is that, unlike my old plastic-encased camera, this new one has a metalbody that -- as I was immensely glad to find after a recent hike from hell, the end part of which involved my having to slide down the very steep side of a rocky and gravelly hill/mountain because I didn't feel able to walk down it without falling down or off it! -- allows it to withstand being bumped around a lot, etc. and thus live up to its billing of a being an ideal travel companion. For another, this camera also is outfitted with a 10x zoom along with a wide lens that allows me to zoom in and take photos from afar of such as the large and glittery metal sculpture hanging in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre that caught my eye on a recent visit to that place to take in a music theatre performance. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Out and about in Movie Mecca (Photo-essay)

Merdeka! That Bahasa Malaysia word for "freedom" (as well as "independence") was what came to my mind at around 5:30pm yesterday, when my work on the upcoming issue of the magazine (which will have an April 1 cover date but actually street on March 27) finally was done and I found myself free to not have to work until next Tuesday. (For the record, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are among Hong Kong's designated public holidays!)

Ironically enough, the first thing I did in my designated free time was to actually go and represent the magazine at an official event. But since the Official Reception for Epic Times, Simple Times: The World of Zhu Shilin -- for which the director's son, Chu Yan, and daughter, Chu Fung, were among the honoured guests -- and the screening of Zhu Shilin's enthralling classic, Sorrows of the Forbidden City (1948), were events I really felt privileged to have been invited to, it was my pleasure as well as business to be in attendance at them.

Honoured guests at the Opening Reception of
Epic Times, Simple Stories: The World of Zhu Shilin

Both these events were held at the Hong Kong Film Archive. In particular, the Opening Reception was held in that invaluable facility's Exhibition Hall. Normally a place where photography -- sa well at eating, mobile phone use, etc. -- is not allowed, that evening was one where the usual rules were relaxed... and of course, I was happy to take advantage of this!

A view of part of the temporary Zhu Shi Lin exhibition
that has been set up in the Film Archive's Exhibition Hall

...and another

View of the part of the Exhibition Hall
that contains a tribute to the late Lydia S(h)um

Earlier today saw me out and about in other parts of Movie Mecca. First, I caught a Hong Kong International Film Festival screening of Yosuke Fujita's very enjoyable -- and highly recommended -- Fine, Totally Fine (2008). Then, rather than go ape crazy with screenings, I actually opted to spend the greater portion of today taking a visiting friend out to Shek O where we hung out, talked, took in some fresh air and checked out some places that appear in Hong Kong movies, including Stephen Chow's King of Comedy (1999).

Especially for Sing Jai fans (but also viewers
of at least one non-Stephen Chow movie) --
This place look familiar to you? :b

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pictures from the HKIFF

The 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF for short) officially got off and running this past Monday but its film programme only began on Tuesday and its official Grand Opening Ceremony only took place earlier tonight. (I realize that it's now early Wednesday morning but it still feels like Tuesday night to me!)

On a personal note, I will have to wait until at least Thursday evening to get a chance to check out some of its screenings since we've got until sometime on Thursday to get the latest issue of bc magazine off to the printers. But in a way, the festivalling has already begun as film fan friends have started arriving town and I start bumping into familiar faces who come to Hong Kong especially to attend the HKIFF.

Also, this year, I actually have an official press pass and invites -- albeit more often than not to the press pen than the VIP area! -- to HKIFF functions. And it was at the Opening Ceremony and Cocktail Reception that preceded it where I managed to snap the following photos that those Asian movie fans among you will hopefully get a kick out of checking out:-

Who's attracting all this press attention?

Why, this year's HKIFF Ambassador, of course!
(And for those who can't recognize her,
it's none other than Sammi Cheng)

Also at the event: Director Yoji Yamada
(the grey haired guy on the right) --
and isn't that Tadanobu Asano on Yamada-san's right?

Actor Samuel Pang on the left and... uh, help, please
re identifying the two other people in the picture!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Spy ____ (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

I spy with my little eye... something beginning with an "l". Especially if you can't guess or see what it is, then do please read on...

This week's Photo Hunt theme is one that looks to allow us to use our imagination as well as delve into our photo archive. In my case, I'm putting up two photos taken from different parts of Hong Kong of the same famous local landmark: that which is known -- as the second picture hopefully shows with good reason -- as Lion Rock. So iconic is this natural formation that it's lent its name to such as a popular local TV series (Below the Lion Rock) and beloved song (Under the Lion Rock) that's a veritable anthem for the people of Hong Kong whose Cantonese lyrics translate into English as follows:-

The vicissitudes of life consist of joy and also tears
But our encounters under the Lion Rock
Have brought more laughter than sobs or sorrow
Rugged path in life is inevitable
Absolute worry-free is also impossible
As long as we are in the same boat under the Lion Rock
We should forsake our differences and work for a common goal........

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wong Nai Chung Gap to Quarry Bay (Photo-essay)

Last Sunday, I went on what turned out to be the hike from hell -- one on which it is no lie or exaggeration to say that I felt on a few occasions that I was in danger of falling off a mountain and dying! With parts of my body still aching quite a bit some five days on, it's going to be a while before I feel like hiking again. (Additionally, I foresee that the upcoming Hong Kong International Film Festival as well as work are going to take quite a bit of time and energy out of me in the next few weeks!)

One good thing out of this is that it'll allow me to further catch up with my hike-related photo-essays. As it is, even though we're now into the third month of 2008, I still won't have finished putting up pictures taken on my 2007 hikes -- at least not until I put up this entry that features photos taking from a gentler and pleasant December hike on Hong Kong Island along portions of Sir Cecil's Ride (named after Sir Cecil Clementi, a former Governor of Hong Kong) and associated trails, including the educational Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk, that took my hiking companion on the day and I from Wong Nai Chung Gap down to Quarry Bay...

Near the start of the hike, one passes by
the grounds of the exclusive Hong Kong Cricket Club
(membership of which 'only' currently costs HK$688,000!)

Know what this plant is?
No worries if you don't because...

...on a Tree Walk such as Wong Nai Chung's,
there will be informative signs like these
that tell you what you would otherwise not know! :b

Actually, there were plenty of signs on this hike
that let one know that one really wasn't
that far away from civilization

Part of a large quarry that may have given
its name to this area (cf. Quarry Gap, Quarry Bay)

Concrete proof that humanity isn't that far away
(and, at the same time, that some Hong Kong hiking trails
really are located very close to urban space)

Alternatively, at other times on the same hike,
one could feel like one had ventured
far into an uninhabited hinterland...

A shrine to the Goddess of Mercy that
we stumbled across near the end of our hike

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Article links to another movie-heavy issue of bc magazine

Just one of the many movies -- and plays --
scripted by one of the people I interviewed
for this current issue of bc magazine!

Weird as it may sound, pretty much on each of my visits to Hong Kong as a film fan, I would make it a point to get hold of copies of bc magazine (as well as its long-time rival, that whose title has the initials "hk" in it). Since a few of these trips were for the Hong Kong International Film Festival -- this year's edition of which begins this Sunday, March 16th -- I would on occasion find myself checking out bc's Golden Durian Awards write-up.

So it's with a bit of a strange feeling to find myself announcing this year that some of these were awarded as well as their write ups produced by me. And for those who don't know what these are, I'll direct you to the first article link on the following list:-

i) The 6th Annual Golden Durians Awards -- written, for the record here (even if not acknowledged as such in the magazine), by James Marsh and myself, with input from Rachel Mok and Stefan S.;

ii) Family Fun -- feature article on the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre's upcoming Family Protection Unit (FPU), directed and co-scripted by Roy Szeto (whose considerably filmography includes Swordsman III: The East Is Red, Wicked City, A Chinese Ghost Story III, etc., etc.!);

iii) Hong Kong Home Run -- interview with City Without Baseball's co-directors Lawrence Lau (AKA Lawrence Ah Mon) and Scud;

iv) Inspiring Dream -- feature article on the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra's upcoming The Dream of the Red Mansions concert;

v) Flicking Through Films -- preview article on the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival;

vi) Review of Horton Hears a Who!;

vii) Review of Fatal Move; and

viii) This issue's Editor's Diary (of events to check out).

And almost needless to say, yes, comments are indeed welcome here! :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Different (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

This week's Photo Hunt theme opens itself to so many different possible interpretations and subject matter. After mulling it over for a time, I decided to post a few photographs that are different from any of the hundreds of snaps that I've hitherto put up on this blog by virtue of my not being on solid ground when I took them.

Instead, I took these photos while on board a couple of different planes: more specifically, the flights that first took me from Penang -- where I was born, and my parents continue to reside -- to Kuala Lumpur -- Malaysia's capital city -- and then from Kuala Lumpur back to Hong Kong -- where I currently live and work, and enjoy life! -- earlier this year. And should you wonder, the land that you see in a couple of the pictures is Malaysia's and, I suppose, so is the air space that the clouds in the other pictures are floating within! ;b

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Yet another Hello Kitty-related blog entry

Something's wrong with this red packet's design... :S

Can you tell -- especially after having
this Hello Kitty themed red packet
to compare and contrast it with? ;b

Wail, wail, gnash, gnash! Earlier today, I made my fifth unsuccessful attempt to get the Dear Daniel figurine that's part of the promotional 7-11 Hello Kitty On Stage figurine set that won't be available for much longer here in Hong Kong. Worse, while my previous attempts to get a Dear Daniel resulted in my getting a Hello Kitty figurine different from the others in my collection, this time around, I now am in possession of one Hello Kitty Office Lady figurine too many. (And should anyone wonder, the other Hello Kitty figurines I have feature the cute cat dressed up as a schoolgirl, maid and cowgirl -- and yes, I really am not sure which is the weirdest of that lot!)

For all those who think I've now really gone insane, please just chalk all this down to a need to let off some Hello Kitty-induced steam! But for those who can empathize -- not just sympathize -- somewhat with my situation, here's going ahead and asking you to check to see whether you're really a fan of Hello Kitty by taking a(nother) look at the photo at the top of this blog entry and telling me what's wrong with the red packet that I found on sale -- in a set along with such as a red packet with a Doraemon design on it and another with Mcdull and Mcmug -- in the period leading up to Chinese New Year 2008.

For the record: Two Hong Kong-based friends of mine as well as myself pretty much immediately spotted the problem. At the same time, one of them reported that when she tried this test out on several of her friends, none of them were able to give the correct answer. So... will you be able to? For my part, I sincerely hope that at least one of my readers will be able to do so. For this way, I'll feel at least a tad reassured that even if I'm adjudged to be somewhat Hello Kitty enamoured (obsessed?), I at least will not be alone among us to be so... ;S

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tap Mun, Part II (Photo-essay)

Five blog entries back and more than a week ago, I put up my first Tap Mun photo-essay which presented snap shots of the more built-up -- yes, really! -- south-western side of the island (along with one of Wong Shek Pier). This time around though, the focus is on sharing views of the less built-up eastern section of this piece of Hong Kong that's further from the madding crowd than most (and where there are far more cows than human inhabitants!) -- that is, after I start where we left off the last time around: with a couple more pictures of the island's picturesque Tin Hau Temple... :)

Grand-looking decorated red banners
inside the temple
got me thinking that even while
it had seemed deserted
when my friend and I visited,
it actually
hasn't been permanently abandoned after all

The sides of the steps leading up to the temple entrance
got me thinking of waves and the surrounding sea
from which the islanders
traditionally derived
much of their food and livelihood

Speaking of the sea:
it may look calm enough in this picture
taking in the inhabited southwest of the island...

...but over on the uninhabited eastern side,
it literally is a different picture!

Panoramic view of Tap Mun Chau's rocky eastern side

Close up of a particular rock formation
known -- logically enough! -- as Balanced Rock

Still, lest it be thought that the eastern portion
of Tap Mun is all rocky and stoney...

Confirmation courtesy of permanent benches
supplied by the local authorities that there are
wonderful views to be had in this part of Hong Kong... ;b