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2014年9月29日 星期一

No more Half-truths and Lies Please (求求你,不要給我們更多片面的事實及謊言)

According to press reports, the Assistant Commissioner of Police Cheung Tak Keung( 張德強) indicated ''昨天是別無選擇所採用最低武力。最初用警棍等驅散示威者,亦給予足夠機會示威者離開,但情況無改善,防線被衝擊,所以才施放催淚氣。" (The police had no other choice but to use minimal force. First the police used their batons to disperse the crowd and gave the demonstrators sufficient chance to leave but the situation did not improve and the police's lines of defence were broken, that's why they used tear gas".  A total 87 tear gas shells were fired.

I witnessed with my own eyes from the instantaneous and later repeated reports of the Now TV news channel what happened at Central and Wanchai. If I may rely on what I saw, Cheung was trying to "generalize" from SOME local situations (which did not appear on TV ) to ALL such situations. Based on what I saw, when the police advanced, the demonstrators held up their hands in the air. They did not use any violence to attack or try to attack any policemen at all.

C Y must step down ("思歪"必須下台)

What originally started off as a peaceful students' strike has resulted in huge numbers of citizens filling in the streets of Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok.

Probably from orders from our CE, our police acted with  the "maximum restraint" but with "determination" and took such "decisive action" as C Y calls it, by using pepper sprays and then tear gas and arrested our student leaders and searched their homes and then detained  them until the statutory limit of 48 hours "detention without trial" was nearly up and for the student leader Wong, only after the court ordered them to do so under the common law principle of Habeas Corpus and for the other two student leaders, only after the High Court's decision on Wong.

2014年9月28日 星期日

Truths with Fun (搞笑的真言)

傳统的中國人,多以為真理一定是要扳起面孔說的,但在百多年西風西雨的吹打下,终於學會了另一有趣而可能令人印象更深刻的方法了。以下是一老友剛傳來的多則可能不全是笑話的真言,與大家分享:

1.一早醒來我以為我長大了,原來是被子蓋橫了!

2.人生沒有綵排,每天都是現場直播!


3.愛情是藝術,結婚是技術,離婚是算術。


4. 我們是 怎樣的一代人:當 我們讀小學的時候,讀大學不要錢;當我們讀大學的時候,讀小學不要錢;我們還沒能力工作的時候,工作是分配的;我們可以工作的時候,撞得頭破血流才勉強找份餓不死人的工作;當我們不能掙錢的時候,房子是分配的,當我們能掙錢的時候,發現一輩子的薪水也買不起房子;當我們沒有進入股市的時候,傻子都在賺錢;當我們興沖沖闖進去的時候,才發現自己成了傻子。哎,這樣的痛苦我都趕上了。


5. 哭,並不代表我屈服;退一步,並不像徵我認輸;放手,並不表示我放棄;微笑,並不意味我快樂!


6.小時候我以為自己長大後可以拯救整個世界,等長大後才發現整個世界都拯救不了我……


7. 生前何必久睡,死後自會長眠…… 

8. 如果你看到面前的陰影,別怕,那是因為你的背後有陽光!

9. 人不可能把錢帶進棺材,但錢可能把人帶進棺材。

10. 能夠說出的委屈,便不算委屈;能夠搶走的愛人,便不算愛人。

11.在對的時間,遇到對的人,那是一種幸福。在錯的時間,遇到錯的人,那是一聲歎息。


12. 做錯了~~改正一下,傷心了~~痛哭一下,厭倦了~~回望一下,活累了~~休息一下,絕望了~~無奈一下。

13.在愛情沒開始以前,你永遠想像不出會那樣地愛一個人;在愛情沒結束以前,你永遠想像不出那樣的愛也會消失;在愛情被忘卻以前,你永遠想像不出那樣刻骨銘心的愛也會只留淡淡痕跡;在愛情重新開始以前,你永遠想像不出還能再一次找到那樣的愛情。


14.歲月會讓我們學會理解,年輪會讓我們學會寬容!


15.現代人的生活狀態:上今天的班,睡昨天的覺,花明天的錢。


16.  試金可以用火,試女人可以用金,試男人可以用女人。——往往都經不起那麼一試。


17. 樹不要皮,必死無疑!人不要臉,天下無敵!


18.放得下的是曾經,放不下的是記憶。




2014年9月24日 星期三

A Time for Decision (决定的時刻)

We have been taught  from a young age that we must learn to become a responsible citizen when we grow up. To me, part of learning to be a good citizen is to learn how to stand up for what one perceives of as his/her own human rights and when such perceived rights are seen to be infringed upon, to take active steps to protest against such infringement in a rational manner ie. with arguments, supported by facts and evidence and in a non-violent way and if necessary with action, both for the protection of the interest and the right of oneself and where necessary and by extension for the protection of those interests and rights of others as members of the same society.

We must all remember that one of the most important functions of a government is to help a society to achieve a measure of justice (including social, economic and political justice) and in that context, the principle of "equality before the law" is absolutely essential. When the principle of such "equality before the law" is not respected by the government through any form of discrimination, then the "legitimacy" of any such laws so infringing this principle which is passed or intended to be passed by it  can and should itself be called into question. It can be called into question because such a law, instead of helping to achieve justice for all, will itself have become an instrument of oppression. It has or may become an instrument of oppression for the simple reason that instead of promoting justice, it will help promote its very opposite, ie. injustices. If a good rational and sensible citizen perceives injustices, it will not only be his/her right to defend the principle of justice and hence equality before the law for all, it may even become his duty to do so. If the law itself becomes an unjust law eg. when it promotes inequality instead of equality,such a law itself will have become illegitimate and must be overthrown and repealed and if such an unjust law is impending, then all reasonable steps must be taken to prevent it from being passed. The justification is obvious: the law must serve justice and not itself become an instrument of injustice.

2014年9月23日 星期二

In grazio di Dio (Quiet Bliss) (美麗角的女兒)

When everything is going well, people just live the way they have always been living. Only when there is a crisis will their true character emerge. Adele (Celeste Casciaro) is living with her husband Crocifisso (Antonio Carlusccio), the proprietor of a family type fashion workshop, Maria Concetta (Barbara De Matteis), her rather oversized sister who studied drama at the university and who dreams of becoming an actress and whose only successful part so far seems some crappy religious drama for the small church, Ina (Laura Licchetta) her teenage daughter who has twice failed in her high school class and is on the verge of being kicked out and whose only interest in life seems to be sleeping around with the local boys one of whom gets her pregnant and Salvatrice (Anna Boccadamo), Adele's mother, a traditional rosary saying old lady whose sole concern seems to keep the family together, with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2014年9月21日 星期日

Another Tasty morsel of East Europe (又一小口東歐的美味)

Folksongs have always been a source of inspiration to composers of serious music. They may be used in its entirety as independent short romantic pie美, as ballet dance music or as in the case of Dvorak, their basic melodies or certain of its motifs may be incorporated into symphonies or or other programme music.Last night at the City Hall, we had a taste of such music from an Eastern European country, Moravia, from the alternatively energetic and yet delicate hands of a young Czech conductor Jakub的Hrůša.

2014年9月20日 星期六

Allaciate le cincture (Fasten Your Seatbelt) (愛情回帶)

It was raining heavily. Pedestrians are taking cover under a bus stop shelter. As the minutes passed, more and more people tried to squeeze in. The space was getting more and more cramped. An old lady was complaining that she was being bumped by a colored woman. She was using racist language. Another young woman who witnessed this felt that despite the minor bumping in the urgency of the rush, should be tolerated and urged the old lady to restrain her language. Another young man who was standing beside the old lady probably thinking that the young woman ought not to speak to the old woman the way she did, rudely told her to stop harassing the old lady. She was offended. The young man approached her to beat her up but was restrained by the others. The rain stopped. The young man left in a rage. That's how the 10th film by Turkish director Ferzan Özpetek's " Allaciate le cinctur"e (Fasten Your Seatbelt) (愛情回帶) started. According to internet sources,  Özpetek has directed many award-winning films, including His Secret Life (2001), Facing Windows (2003), Saturn in Opposition (2007), starting with his debut "Steam: The Turkish Bath (1997).

In this latest feature, he was trying to tell the story an impossible love in a romantic  foursome: Elena (Kasia Smutniak), who at the start of the film was a restaurant waitress with very clear ideas about who she was and what she was doing, was then engaged to Giorgio (Francesco Scianna); her best friend  and co-worker Silvia (Carolina rescentini) who unbeknown to Elena, was then going out with Antonio (Francesco Arca), the angry young man with whom she had an altercation at the covered bus stand during the opening scene. Elena was articulate, but Antonio was a dyslexic motor mechanic and owner of a garage whose only love, apart from women, is the motorbike which he would ride out into the countryside if he wanted to clear his head whenever he had any problems he could not handle. As the film developed, Elena found herself drawn almost against her will toward Antonio. There was a kind of mute primitiveness in Antonio which she found irresistible. She was advised by her mother and her aunt at home that she could not continue to do what she was doing behind the back of her best friend but she found it impossible to stop and finally decided to tell Elena. But whilst she was trying to make sure that Elena and herself would remain friends after what she was about to tell her her relation with Silvia's boyfriend, Elena broke down in tears and confessed to her that she was dating Giorgio behind Elena's back! It was a happy ending: they switched partners and Elena and Giorgio started a common project : a disco-bar for young people at a site close to a university, which turned out to be a much bigger success than they anticipated.

13 years went by. Another crisis developed. Elena,now married with two kids, was found with breast cancer. As was her style, she faced it calmly and valiantly. But it was obvious that she was not getting any better: the chemo-therapy was making her lose her hair and she collapsed at the restaurant after a few sessions and had to be hospitalized, being treated by Helen, one of her former customers who had to borrow the use of her restaurant's table to cram for her medical examination because her roommate was making too much noise with her lover all through the night. However, the gloom at the second half of the film was dispelled slightly by some comic relief: the antics of her aunt and her hairless and old roommate Egre (Paola Minaccioni), who advised her to do whatever it was that she felt inclined to, including taking new lovers, something which she herself had every intention to carry out and hinted that she could use a little help from Elena with regard to one of her visitors viz. Antonio, whom she thought was one of Elena's homophobic friend, mistaking Gorgio, despite what she claimed was her unerringly accurate mental "radar",  to be Elena's husband.

It was a film about love and lovingly crafted by Özpetek with a suitable mixture of the poesy of animal passion  and the little ironies and the occasional slapsticks of life. Özpetek bring out the elemental nature of Elena's attraction to Antonio by various images: the noise of Antonio's motorcyle, the heavy earth trembling bass in the music one hears at the start of the film, the all pictures and patterns tattooed back of Antonio during his love-making filling almost the entirety of the screen, matched with the smaller tattoos on Elena's body which combines words with pictures. I love in particular two scenes: the scene where Antonio took Elena to a quiet beach on his motorbike, nearbly had a collision with an oncoming car by a careless driver on the narrow dirt track to the beach , watched the waves, took a dip and then made love and the scene where towards the end of the film, Antonio took Elena to the same beach again before driving her back to the hospital after Elena left without permission to have a look at how everything was at her home after her hospitalisation and found to her surprise, how everything was spik and span as previously, it was always she who did all the housework and Antonio never helped. But there, she had a fearful vision of Antonio's wedding with Silvia, her two children acting as flower girls and her mother and aunt all joining in. Another scene I love is the one where on a visit to the hospital, Elena's husband, never one to talk much, made love to Elena at the hospital bed in the only way he knew how, mutely showing his affection for her, whilst the old lady Egre on the next bed pretended to be asleep and gave Elena a cheeky wink the following morning. Elena smiled an appreciative smile. For her role in this film, Kasia Smutniak, she won the best actress award by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists 2014 and Paola Minaccioni won the award for the best supporting actress for the way she brought to life a dying cancer patient who somehow always manages to have a twinkle in her eyes. .

Why that film title? This is how in an interview, Ferzan Ozpetek explains the title of the film: "The title refers to the fact that sometimes in life, sooner or later, everything happens turbulently, exactly like in an airplane: a big moment touches you and you need to fasten your seatbelt. Here, I tell the story of a couple facing a number of difficult challenges over the course of thirteen years. But the film speaks especially of time, friendship and illness through the lenses of a great love story. Now that I am 55, I know that what remains strongly with me is love, friendship and solidarity between people." I am happy he made this film.


Tutta colpa di Freud (Blame Freud)(失戀家族)

It's never easy to be a father, especially if one is widower with three daughters all of whom are looking for love at various ages, each with her unique personality and preferences. We see the hilarious Woody Allen type of nervous self-doubt and self-analysis and often analysis by others in the impossible life of Francesco Taramelli (Marco Gialini) , a Freudian psychotherapist in Paolo Genovese's Tutta colpa di Freud (Blame Freud)(失戀家族) (2014) for which he co-wrote the film script with Leonardo Pieraccioni and Paolo Mammimi.

La Migliore Oferta (The Best Offer) (情迷拍賣師)

Old houses full of paintings, sculptures, period furniture, cellars, attics and bits and pieces of what appeared the rusty mechanical parts of some broken down machine; a beautiful young lady both of whose parents have died within a year and who had shut herself inside a huge old mansion with secret passages, cellars and attic since 15 after witnessing the bloody death of her boyfriend whom she first met in Night and Day, a bar-restaurant which customers dine or drink amidst jumble of noises ticking from a hundred old mechanical clocks whose parts are completely exposed on the wall and partitions right opposite the world heritage Astronomical Clock Tower in the old town Square of Prague; an orphan who has since become an aging but one of the most respected auctioneers in the world of paintings, sculptures and antique furniture and artifacts and who leads his well organized but almost automaton life who lives alone in a spacious and tastefully decorated house with a 30 feet wide wardrobe in which ties, shirt, suits and gloves are meticulously placed and who dines in the finest restaurants, drinking the finest wines and who has a huge collection of the originals of some of the most sought after paintings hidden behind his electronically moved wardrobe, fitted with remote controlled digital lock. The auctioneer has everything a man of culture could possibly need except love. Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore has woven all these elements into a thriller with surprises after surprises that piques your curiosity as the plot unfolds so that you have to hold your breath until the very end. This thriller of sunset romance called La Migliore Oferta (The Best Offer) (情迷拍賣師) (2013) ends with an old man facing his empty vault and then dining alone reminiscing all that happened in the meantime, his face as marked with the absence of any emotions as we find him at the beginning of the film. How did all that happen?

2014年9月19日 星期五

Che strano chiamarsi Federico (How Strange to be named Federico) 2013 (費里尼外傳)

Federico Fellini is a poet of the cinema, the way Chopin is a poet of the piano. He loves films. He lives for the silver screen. When Peter Bondanella asked him to write a foreword for his book "The Cinema of Federico Fellini", Fellini wrote that in Italy, "the cinema has been reduced to a mere pretext for filling two hours of entertainment on commercial television with an unrecognizable pap of cinematic images chopped up by commercial spots" . Is it any different in Hong Kong? To him, a book on him is a "heroic enterprise not unlike that of someone who pieces together a book by picking up off the streets pages that have been torn out and scattered about." Well, someone else has done that too, from the fragments of some of his films but it's not just that. He added a voice, a personal involvement and an affection for that genius of the Italian, no, world cinema. He is a fellow director 82--year-old Ettore Scola, the director of Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico, (How Strange to be named Federico) (費里尼外傳) (2013), his first in 6 years.

2014年9月18日 星期四

A Forgotten Corner: Lai Bin West Village of Nam Hoi (一被遺忘的角落: 南海獅嶺黎邊西村)

It's always been a great pleasure for me to be able to visit old Chinese villages. I don't really know why. Ruined and abandoned buildings to me are not just bricks, stones, timber, pillars, girders, eaves, staircases, doors, windows, pedestals etc. They all seem to want to tell me their own stories: who built them, who lived there, what their lives were like and after they're gone, what took over and what the descendants are doing or not doing to them... and a million and one other things.They are silent witnesses of the history or biographies of their former owners or occupiers. Some time ago, I visited an abandoned village in Guangdong Lai Sai Village (小塘獅嶺黎邊西村), a village of less than a few thousand people which produced a number of political and academic luminaries and some Communist revolutionaries. It forms part of Nam Hoi District ( 南海).

It shows signs of some Western influence in the way it put together some of its buildings. Perhaps some of its former residents went to West Europe and brought back the roman columns, the portico and arch reliefs, put in as decorative features?

2014年9月15日 星期一

A great debate on human nature, its freedoms, its possibilities, its creativity, its limitations..

It's not often that we got the chance to hear two top thinkers of the 20th century discussing issues which are of concern to all humanity, each stating their views from completely different starting points, each with knowledge and expertise in their respective fields of research, in their different ways, each concerned with notions of legality, justice and human welfare and what is possible and what is not possible and yet despite all the uncertainties which humanity faces in its future and perhaps ultimately unresolvable in any totally satisfactory manner, each facing and feeling the need for some form of political action in their own country. Quite by accident, I stumbled upon one such debate.

It was a debate produced by the Dutch Television, touching, inter alia, on the question of civil disobedience. The debate was between Noam Chomsky, a linguist, an activist, a social and political commentator and a philosopher  from MIT, and Michel Foucault, a historian, an activist, a cultural critic and a philosopher from the College of France, two of the world's top academic institutions, one in North America and the other in West Europe. 


I can do no better than let them speak for themselves as they are each more than capable of doing so. A real gem!

Although they disagree on many things, they are agreed on one thing: the right of a citizen to rebel against what they honestly believe are unjust laws or administrative acts of the government of the country in which by historical accident or by choice, they happen to find themselves. Both of them distinguish between two concepts, legality and legitimacy and/or justice. Legality merely relates to whether according to the "existing laws", certain acts fall within or outside the permitted limits. Legitimacy and justice are more basic, it goes to the question of whether the existing laws are just or unjust and for that reason, whether such laws are "legitimate/illegimitate" in the context of the aims and purposes of why the people of a country are prepared to give up/surrender part of their rights to the state or government.

From the points of view of these two great thinkers, "justice" is a fundamental, basic and global concept which involves the principles of "equality" and "fairness" , whether economic, social, class, gender or political, is the ultimate justification of any country having a legal system at all. In that sense, the relevant laws are the means of implementing the aim of achieving justice or at least minimizing certain unavoidable injustices in specific areas of civic life. Laws are or should merely be "means", never "ends" in themselves.

The laws must themselves be "legitimate". Whether they are so will be determined in the final analysis, by the people themselves, not by the government, in accordance with the principles of justice, including the principle of equality before the law (eg. equality of the right to elect and be elected in the legislative and executive branches of the government). No unreasonable restriction upon such rights should be imposed.

We must never forget that without the goal of "justice", laws in themselves will have lost their raison d'être, ( the reason for their existence). Hence we should never mistake the "means" for the "end," The "end" of having laws, criminal law included, is to achieve justice for all in any specific community. When the laws no longer serve the ends of such justice, then it will be the right and even the duty of all rational human beings, concerned for the common good of their society and both in the interest of themselves and in the interest of other weaker or less articulate members of their community to speak up against those who are in authority and who are supposed to serve the common interest of their community but who are perceived, upon reasonable grounds, not to be doing so because perhaps they are motivated by little more than their own selfish end of staying in power with minimal fuss. If words are not sufficient, then, such citizens will be justified to resort to non verbal means to achieve the ends of justice and the common good. If so, the question of "legality" will become a merely technical matter. The law is made for justice, not justice for the law. We must never lose sight of the fact that all governments and  all laws are "necessary evils": they are there to serve the people, not the other way round.

2014年9月13日 星期六

The Central that Never Was (不存在的中環)


It seems that Central has been there forever. Yet it might just as well be that it never existed.  We never ever seem to have time for her. Yet when was it that we ever had time?
 

Some lines in Central

2014年9月9日 星期二

A One Star Michelin Film: The Hundred-Foot Journey( 米芝蓮摘星奇緣--米芝蓮一粒星之電影)

Laotze once said, fortune depends on misfortune the way the latter relies upon the former. At 32 degrees Celsius, an outing to the NT was out of the question. What's else was left if one had no intention to be jostled around by the milling holiday crowds but a film! Hence in no time, I found myself inside the cinema after brunch. I went in expecting a comedy. I left finding much more than what I dared to hope: a little gem. And when I checked who the director was, I discovered the source of this strange twist of my fate: Lasse Hallström, the Swedish writer director of Chocolat (2000) and that the film's producers include Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. As the previous film, this one is about how the magic of unique flavors could transform the life of a little town and break down racial and cultural barriers. .

2014年9月7日 星期日

A Resounding Success: the HKPO's Opening Concert 2014 Season

It's always a joy sitting quietly at the Cultural Centre or sometimes at the City Hall listening to those magical sounds from HKPO. After a long break, and for me, too long a break, it feels particular good to retrace my steps up to our usual seats with my friends at the Centre last night.

The concert started with one of my favourite piano concertos. On stage is a giant, Yefim Bronfman. But who would have imagined sounds so delicate could emanate from his huge fingers. Not only did he deliver power, he delivered sensitivity and musicality. He played for us Brahm's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor in Maestoso, Adagio and Rondo in Allegro non troppo. Its first movement was originally conceived as a symphony,hence the piano only entered after a fairly powerful and long introduction with themes about his beloved mentor Schumann. Everybody knew about Brahms' romantic ties with Schumann's wife, Clara Schumann. In the second movement, we got a musical rendition of Brahms's image of her. it was as beautiful as his lover. He poured his heart into it. In the final movement, Brahms struck out on his own. And what a conclusion! I was so afraid before the piece that the sound of the orchestra might somehow overshadow and drown out the quieter piano solo passages. But our conductor van Zweden made herculean efforts to restrain himself. The balance was near perfect. It's the first time I heard Yefim Bronfman live. Bronfman is a first class Russian pianist who won the Avery Fisher Prize in 1991 and who has played with the best orchestras around the world. Although one of my friends said Bronfman could have done a little more with his tone colors, but I don't agree. I think each pianist should be allowed a certain freedom in the way he/she  interprets the music. Not everyone has to play like a Richter, a Horowitz, a Pollini, a Michelangeli or a Pires. As encore, he played a beautifully controlled Bach (?) piece.

2014年9月6日 星期六

Saturday Fun (週末趣味)

It strikes me that very often, people only joke about things they don't really understand and maybe for that reason can't find any realistic way to deal with them in a way which gives them comfort. Could that not be why we have so many jokes about foreigners whom we have little qualms in stereotyping? Whatever the true reason may be, here are some jokes about Germans, who are often thought to be methodical, rule abiding, humorless and on occasions ruthless.

 Q: What's the difference between a German and a shopping trolley?  
 A: A shopping trolley has a mind of its own.