Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lascia ch'io pianga

What to do to follow Madonna? I got something that I hesitated to use, but what the heck... It's only a blog among the billions out there... And no one may ever care... so here we go...

The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, is a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner. The antichrist will seemingly provide for the needs of the people but deny the ultimate salvation. Don't wow me... I just learned that today!

The term "antichrist" appears five times in John and John of the New Testament — once in plural form and four times in the singular. Now that's out of the way, let's move on...

Antichrist is a 2009 film written and directed by Lars von Trier, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It follows horror film conventions and tells the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent sexual behavior. The narrative is divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. The film was primarily a Danish production but co-produced by companies from six different European countries. It was filmed in Germany.

After premiering at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where Gainsbourg won the festival's award for Best Actress, the film immediately caused controversy, with critics generally praising the film's artistic execution but strongly divided regarding its substantive merit. Other awards won by the film include the Robert Award for best Danish film, The Nordic Council Film Prize for best Nordic film and the European Film Award for best cinematography. The film was dedicated to the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist and opera director, widely regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th century with films such as Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev...

Prologue: A couple passionately makes love, while their young son Nick climbs out of his crib, and climbs onto a desk by an open window. The son falls to his death on the snowy ground below.

Chapter One: Grief: During Nick's funeral, She collapses.

This clip shows the Prologue and the first scene of Chapter One.

The version released by Criterion Collection on BluRay and DVD is in fact the uncut, so-called "Protestant Version" which has a run time of 108 minutes. The cut, so-called "Catholic Version" has a run time of between 100 and 104 minutes (approximately). This clip is from my collection of Criterion movies. I am sure one brief scene shown in this clip has been removed from the "Protestant version." This movie is rated NC-17 which is a notch higher than R so you have been warned. Please do not watch this clip if you have a sensitive soul, although this is a very short clip and you won't see anything at all that has earned this movie an X rating at the Cannes film festival in 2009. If you are interested to know, I have not watched this movie and not sure if I will. I do not like horror movies, but this clip is fascinating to me, and the music is great... I stopped watching after she collapsed. That's it for me.

According to some critics, Antichrist delivers enough beauty, terror and wonder to qualify as the strangest and most original horror movie of the year. Its Best Cinematographer at the 2009 European Film Awards was shared with Slumdog Millionaire as both films were shot by Anthony Dod Mantle. It was nominated for Best Director and Best Actress but lost to Michael Haneke for The White Ribbon and Kate Winslet for The Reader respectively.

Now, about the music... the Prologue uses an aria from Rinaldo, an opera by George Frideric Handel, composed in 1711 with its spectacular vocal and orchestral passages. Rinaldo has been cited as one of Handel's greatest operas. Of its individual numbers the soprano aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" has become a particular favorite and it is a popular concert piece, sung by the who's who of opera. That's what you hear in this clip. If you really are into film soundtracks like I am, you may want to know this...


From the Soundtrack of the movie Antichrist

Run time............: 5 mins
Language...........: Italian

From the opera RINALDO
Georg Friedrich Handel

MEZZO SOPRANO: Tuva Semmingsen
DIRECTED BY: Bjarte Eike

Bjarte Eike
Fredrik From
Hanna Yomark

Peter Spissky
Jens Solgard

Torbjarn Kahl
Vappu Helasvuo

Thomas Pitt
Judith-Maria Olofsson

VIOLONE: Mattias Frosternson

THEORBO: Fredrik Bock

HARPSICHORD: Allan Rasmussen

Recorded in Kastelskirken in Copenhagen.

Lascia ch'io pianga
Note: Sorry about the incorrect aspect ratio. This clip is shown as 1.85:1. It should have been 2.39:1, rather than waiting to fix that, I want to get it out now and may come back to fix it later.


Lascia ch'io pianga mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri la liberta

E che sospiri
E che sospiri la liberta

Lascia ch'io pianga mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri la liberta

Il duolo infranga queste ritorte
De miei martiri sol per pieta
De miei martiri sol per pieta

Lascia ch'io pianga mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri la liberta


Lascia ch'io pianga mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri la liberta

[English translation:]

Let me weep over my cruel fate,
And sigh for my lost freedom!

May the pain shatter the chains
of my torments just out of mercy.

Let me weep over my cruel fate
And sigh for my lost freedom

Monday, March 14, 2011

Madonna Madonna

Some (or all) of you who stumble into my blog might think that I am a bore who only shows old stuff such as old movies, classical concerts and OMG operas. That may be true most of the time... but... I do have other stuffs that I do not show you. To prove that point, here is a rock concert. To be fair, I only show the part that is less "turbulent" so if you are not too happy, my advice for you is to get a copy of Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour and you can watch it all. Get a high definition (BluRay) version because it's much better than watching my clip here.

The Sticky & Sweet Tour was the eighth worldwide concert tour by American singer Madonna to promote her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy. It began in August 2008 and was Madonna's first tour from her new recording and business deal with Live Nation.

This clip is 33 minute long, and it starts with the song "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" featured Madonna atop a piano, cloaked in a black shroud. She was surrounded by a circular video screen which showed imagery of waves splashing and rainfall. Madonna then performed "Spanish Lesson," featuring a flamenco style dance solo by Alexander Kolpakov. She played the guitar once again for "Miles Away." "La Isla Bonita" featured the Ukrainian gypsy group, Kolpakov Trio, incorporating the gypsy wedding song, "Lela Pala Tute." At the end of the song, Madonna marched ahead with a band of violin players to the front of the stage and then sat aside with her dancers for a solo performance from Kolpakov Trio, who performed the traditional song "Doli Doli." She returned to the stage for "You Must Love Me," the Academy Award winning song from Evita. What is not included is what follows that has political messages, and I try to remain neutral here.

The Sticky & Sweet Tour broke many records in terms of its ticket sales. Madonna performed to over 3.5 million fans in 32 countries, grossing a total of US $408 million, making it the fourth highest grossing tour of all time, only behind U2's U2 360° Tour, AC/DC's Black Ice World Tour and The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang Tour. Madonna's still remains the highest grossing tour by a solo artist.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wanna Laugh Till You Drop?

Enough sad stuff and grief and all that depressing mood dragging you down... Do you believe that laughter is contagious? I dare you to watch this clip and keep a straight face. Being a high quality freak... I am not too happy about the quality of this video clip that I swiped from the net somewhere. It's dark, it's not wide screen etc... but it is delightful. Watch it... You may want to have seconds.

Of course, credit has to go to where it's due. This is the work of Christine Rabette in 2003 entitled "Merci!"

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Norwegian Grief

Haruki Murakami  is a well known Japanese writer who has fantastic support from fans in Japan and also internationally. Norwegian Wood is one of his most successful novel written in 1987 that made him famous. Now, a very talented Vietnamese-French movie director, Tran Anh Hung, after 4 years of begging, was able to convince Murakami to allow his book to be made into a movie. Tran Anh Hung debuted his career with "The Scent of Green Papaya," went on to make "The Vertical Ray of the Sun" and he was the winner of a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1995 for Cyclo. I beg to differ here because I really do not like Cyclo too much. Nonetheless, I blogged a clip of that movie here. Beginning the project in July 2008, Tran Anh Hung finished Norwegian Wood very recently.

The film, shot in Tokyo and at some stunning Japanese countryside, was first screened at the Venice Film Festival in September of 2010, but did not go for general release in Japan until December 11, 2010. This year, the much-anticipated film has been shown in the Netherlands, Vietnam and the Czech Republic. It was screened at the Deauville Asian Film Festival in France on March 9 (which is today) before general release in the UK on Friday, March 11, in Sweden on March 18 and in Singapore in April. Germany will have to wait until July to see this title.

The fanfare at Deauville tickled my curiosity so I took a peek at the movie to see what the scoop is all about. One of the conditions Murakami demanded for his OK was that the movie must follow the book closely. Now, I know that's easier said than done... So I watched the movie...  to see whether the movie director was able to remain faithful to the book. I was impressed with a scene in Norwegian Wood and want to share it with Murakami and Tran Anh Hung's fans worldwide.

I think that the motion picture version wins big in terms of imparting to the viewers the immense grief of the young man mourning the loss of the girl he loves deeply. The words in the book appear lame and can ill compete with the powerful image and sound of the motion picture. By watching this clip, you may be able to imagine in some way the extent of human grief upon the finality of the loss of a loved one. If I were Murakami, after watching this scene, I would rewrite that portion of my book.

If you have the time, read the book and go see the movie.
Norwegian Wood

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

How to make and eat giant noodles

Director Yimou Zhang, famous for his movies such as Raise the Red Lantern (1991,) Hero (2002,) House of Flying Daggers (2004,) Curse of the Golden Flower (2006,) all beautifully filmed movies, ventured into comedy in this quite strange "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop" in 2009. It also was filmed with his keen artistic eyes but this movie bombed big time in the US. I guess comedy taste does change with geographical locations.
That movie was reported as follows::

Opening Weekend: $35,033 (USA) (5 September 2010) (5 Screens)
Gross: $190,666 (USA) (19 December 2010)

But I do like this clip taken from that movie, what do you think?

He is making "The 13 Women of Nanjing" now, and I need to get a peek at it when it becomes available in 2012. Did you know that he dated Gong Li? She had a very interesting role as Miss Hua in "The Hand," a short feature in the movie Eros... But I don't think I would blog that.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Trong Mắt Em Là Biển Nhớ

Thơ: Trường Đinh
Nhạc: Ngô Thụy Miên
Ca Sĩ: Tuyết Dung

Từng đêm em về như môi sương
Từng lời em ru như gió buồn
Anh đan giấc mơ trên mây trời xa
Trên sóng tay em, anh là nhẫn cỏ
Em trong anh là màu hoa
Em trong anh là cơn sóng
Người ơi, như cánh diều bay trên đồng vắng
Giấc mơ anh cho em long lanh
Mình gọi tên nhau trong nắng hồng
Mình gọi quê hương trong mong manh
Tình ơi, dĩ vãng miền thật trắng
Kỷ niệm chiều xin mãi còn xanh...

Từng làn thu êm như hương hoa
Từng mùa thơ trao nắng quê nhà
Em thêu nhánh hồng bên giòng sông xưa
Trong mắt môi nồng, em là biển nhớ
Anh trong em là cơn mưa
Anh trong em là gió mùa
Người ơi, những lá me rơi bên sân trường
Đóa hoa gầy bay ngàn tha phương
Mình gọi tên nhau trong dỗi hờn
Mình gọi xuân về trên quê hương
Bao giờ, nắng nở trên nhụy trắng
Cho vơi nỗi nhớ một trời thênh thang