Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Real ITMFL

I wanted to blog this for years, and now I'm glad it's finally done.

"In the Mood for Love" is a stylistic masterpiece in movie making. Its title is (Traditional Chinese: 花樣年華; Simplified Chinese: 花样年华; Pinyin: Huāyàng niánhuá; Yale: Fa yeung nin wa (Fā yeuhng nìhn wàh), literally "the age of blossoms" or "the flowery years", which is a Chinese metaphor for the fleeting time of youth, beauty and love.) ITMFL is a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film premiered on May 20, 2000, at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The English title derives from a Bryan Ferry cover of the song "I'm in the Mood for Love" that was not included in the film. The story was set in 1962 Hong Kong.

Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) are neighbors living in commune rental apartments. Each has a spouse who works and often leaves them alone on overtime abroad. A recurring motif in this film is the loneliness of living and eating alone, and the film documents the lead characters chance encounters, each making their individual trek to the street noodle stall. In the context of a socially conservative 1960s' Hong Kong, friendships between men and women always incite scrutiny. The relationship between Chow and Su is platonic, and defiantly so after they discovered that their spouses were having an affair, believing they would be degraded if stooped to the same level as that of their spouses. As time passes, however, they eventually fell in love with each other. Against all temptations, their love relationship remained platonic. The film ends at Siem Reap, Cambodia, where Chow is seen visiting the Angkor Wat. At the site of a ruined monastery, he whispers into a hole in the wall and plugs it with mud.

Now you know the origin of my blog's introduction on top.

From an essay by Joanna C. Lee, the main love theme (twice accompanying the encounters between Chow Mo-Wan [Tony Leung] and Su Li-Zhen [Maggie Cheung]) is borrowed from Shigeru Umebayashi's Yumeji's Theme (from Suzuki Seijun's film of the same title). This alluring waltz, entrancing in its string ensemble arrangement, is symbolic of the tentative, romantically intriguing steps of the male and female dancers. The dance rhythm also embodies the paradox of passion and socially conformist duties of the sexes. Wong recreates his memory of radio days with a new commission with Michael Galasso who wrote the music accompanying Chow's solitary visit to Angkor Wat, four years after his platonic affair with Su. The sense of remorse, especially the haunting strings throughout these short pieces, complement well Umebayashi's theme.

The two first clips below express the loneliness felt by the main characters as they cross paths numerous times. The music is the haunting theme by Shigeru Umebayashi: "Yumeji's Theme" (originally from the soundtrack of Seijun Suzuki's Yumeji.)
Mood For Love
Mood For Love

As they struggle to imagine how they were betrayed during their many secret meetings, both fell in love (thus the movie's title) but resisted to remain platonic throughout the entire film. The third clip, after a brief historical documentary showing French general De Gaulle visiting Cambodia's prince Norodom Shihanouk, features music by Michael Galasso: "Angkor Wat Theme" that shows a heart broken Chow alone in Cambodia fulfilling the ancient oriental myth.
Mood For Love

Wong Kar Wai has selected a mosaic of music in this luscious film, creating a sound world of Hong Kong in the 1960s. Other pieces of music heard in the film are: "ITMFL", "Casanova/Flute" and two memorable songs from Cole en Espanol: "Aquellos ojos verdes" and "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas."
(You need HTML 5 to use the new audio tool below. Use the one below it if you have Flash...)

The inspiration for the English title, by Bryan Ferry: "I'm in the Mood for Love" , found on the French 2 CD Soundtrack, is not in the film.

In the Mood for Love received raving reviews and many awards. It grossed HK$8,663,227 during its Hong Kong run and finished its North American run grossing of $2,738,980. The film's total worldwide box office made US$12,854,953.


2000 Cannes Film Festival - Won: Best Actor (Tony Leung Chiu-wai)

2001 Hong Kong Film Awards - Won: Best Actor (Tony Leung Chiu-wai,) Best Actress (Maggie Cheung,) Best Art Direction (William Chang,) Best Costume and Make-up Design (William Chang,) Best Film Editing (William Chang)

2001 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards - Won: Best Director (Wong Kar-wai)

2002 National Society of Film Critics (USA) - Won: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle, Lee Pin-bing)

2001 César Awards - Won: Best Foreign Film

2001 German Film Awards - Won: Best Foreign Film

2001 New York Film Critics Circle Awards - Won: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle, Lee Pin-bing)
2002 Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards - Won: Best Foreign Language Film

2000 Asia-Pacific Film Festival - Won: Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle, Lee Pin-bing) and Best Editing (William Chang)
2001 British Independent Film Awards - Won: Best Foreign Language Film
2002 Chlotrudis Awards - Won: Best Movie and Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle, Lee Pin-bing)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm In The Mood For Love

I'm no Fellini, but I think that this peacock of mine is better than his. I know a place where I can find a large population of peacock. In the mornings, they are most active. In Fellini's Amarcord, he showed a very poetic scene of a lone peacock amidst the falling snow flakes. Yesterday, my recorded version of an Indian peacock was quite less poetic, but more down to earth. He was in love, or, should I say, he was in lust. The peahen he was after did respond with her own gesture, which remains mysterious to me. But this is a sad story, and my peacock was heart broken. I am trying to come up with a theory to explain away the failure of his conquest. I must have been the culprit, trying to be very indiscreet interfering in their romantic moment. One interpretation of her gesture could be "Hey, there's a guy watching and trying to blog us... Are you nuts?" After she walked away, he was pretty mad at me... he said a few unpleasant and loud words to me and tried to provoke a fight. I knew better and backed down, knowing that you can't win battling a guy who is now very po'ed at you. Sorry... I'll leave you alone the next time, but I need first to save money to buy a telephoto lens and some camouflage peahen outfits.
Mood For Love

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


On December 09, 2006, almost five years ago, I blogged a clip from an excellent movie, Il Postino. This movie tells the story of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda while he and his wife were living in exile in a charming small fishing town in Italy. The sound track of that movie contains recitals of some of his poems by various artists. All fourteen are listed along with their audio tracks below. I hope you like them. Neruda was prolific and you may want to read more of his poems in his books. They are in Spanish, but widely available in many languages in translation. The words in print, found on the internet, that you read here are not always in sync with the recitals. When I have more time, this will be edited so they are.

2. Morning - Pablo Neruda / Read by Sting
Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
You΄ve moon-lines, apple pathways
Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
you΄ve vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow
as summer in a golden church.

Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born,
and you withdraw to the underground world.

As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores;
your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
and becomes a naked hand again.

3. Poetry - Pablo Neruda / Read by Miranda Richardson
And it was at that age...Poetry arrived in search of me.
I don΄t know,
I don΄t know where it came from, from winter or a river.
I don΄t know how or when,
no, they were not voices,
they were not words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say,
my mouth had no way with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened
and open planets, palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated, riddled with arrows,
fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry void,
likeness, image of mystery,
I felt myself a pure part of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars;
my heart broke loose on the open sky.

4. Leaning Into Afternoons - Pablo Neruda / Read by Wesley Snipes
Leaning into the afternoons,
I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes.
There, in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames;
its arms turning like a drowning man΄s.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
that wave like the sea, or the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness my distant female;
from your regard sometimes, the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons,
I fling my sad nets to that sea that is thrashed
by your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.
The night, gallops on its shadowy mare,
Shedding blue tassels over the land.

5. Poor Fellows - Pablo Neruda / Read by Julia Roberts

What it takes on this planet,
to make love to each other in peace.
Everyone pries under your sheets;
everyone interferes with your loving.
They say terrible things about a man and a woman,
who after much milling about,
all sorts of compunctions,
do something unique,
they both lay with each other in one bed.
I ask myself whether frogs are so furtive,
or sneeze as they please.
Whether they whisper to each other in swamps about illegitimate frogs,
or the joys of amphibious living.
I ask myself if birds single out enemy birds,
or bulls gossip with bullocks before they go out in public with cows.
Even the roads have eyes and the parks their police.
Hotels spy on their guests,
windows name names,
canons and squadrons debark on missions to liquidate love.
All those ears and those jaws working incessantly,
till a man and his girl
have to raise their climax,
full tilt, on a bicycle.

6. Ode To The Sea - Pablo Neruda / Read by Ralph Fiennes

Here surrounding the island,
There΄s sea.
But what sea?
It΄s always overflowing.
Says yes,
Then no,
Then no again,
And no,
Says yes
In blue
In sea spray
Says no
And no again.
It can΄t be still.
It stammers
My name is sea.

It slaps the rocks
And when they aren΄t convinced,
Strokes them
And soaks them
And smothers them with kisses.

With seven green tongues
Of seven green dogs
Or seven green tigers
Or seven green seas,
Beating its chest,
Stammering its name,

Oh Sea,
This is your name.
Oh comrade ocean,
Don΄t waste time
Or water
Getting so upset
Help us instead.
We are meager fishermen,
Men from the shore
Who are hungry and cold
And you΄re our foe.
Don΄t beat so hard,
Don΄t shout so loud,
Open your green coffers,
Place gifts of silver in our hands.
Give us this day our daily fish.

7. Fable Of The Mermaid & The Drunks - Pablo Neruda / Read by Ethan Hawke

All these fellows were there inside when she entered
utterly naked.
They΄d been drinking and began to spit at her,
recently come from the river, she understood nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way,
the taunts flowed over her glistening flesh
Obscenities drenched her golden breasts.

A stranger to tears, she did not weep,
A stranger to clothes, she did not dress.
They pocked her with cigarette ends and with burnt corks
And rolled on the tavern floor in raucous laughter
She did not speak, since speech was unknown to her
Her eyes were the colour of far away love
Her arms were matching topazes
Her lips moved soundlessly in coral light
And ultimately she left by that door
Hardly had she entered the river than she was cleansed
Gleaming once more like a white stone in the rain
And without a backward look, she swam once more
Swam towards nothingness, swam to her dawn.

8. Ode To The Beautiful Nude - Pablo Neruda / Read by Rufus Seavell
With a chaste heart - with pure eyes - I celebrate your beauty.
Holding the leash of blood so that it might leap out
and trace your outline while you lie down in my Ode
As in a land of forests or in surf,
in aromatic loam or in sea music

Beautiful nude -
Equally beautiful your feet
arched by primeval tap of wind and sound.
Your ears, small shells of the splendid American sea.

Your breasts, a level plenitude fulfilled by living light.
Your flying eyelids of wheat, revealing or enclosing
The two deep countries of your eyes.

The line your shoulders have divided into pale regions
Loses itself and blends into the compact halves of an apple,
Continues, separating your beauty down into two columns
Of burnished gold... fine alabaster
To sink into the two grapes of your feet
Where your twin symmetrical tree burns again and rises ..
Flowering fire... open chandelier,
a swelling fruit over the pact of sea and earth.

From what materials? agate? quartz? wheat? Did your body come together?
Swelling like baking bread to signal silvered hills.
The cleavage of one petal, sweet fruits of a deep velvet
until alone remained, astonished
the fine and firm feminine form.

It is not only light that falls over the world,
Spreading inside your body it΄s suffocated snow...
So much as clarity...taking its leave of you
As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.

9. I Like You To Be Still - Pablo Neruda / Read by Glenn Close

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove.
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.

And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring.
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it΄s not true.

10. Walking Around - Pablo Neruda / Read by Samuel L. Jackson
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailor shops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvellous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don΄t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don΄t want so much misery.
I don΄t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That΄s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoe shops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-coloured birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopaedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

11. Tonight I Can Write - Pablo Neruda / Read by Andy Garcia

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, ΄The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.΄

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes?

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that΄s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another΄s. She will be another΄s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that΄s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

12. Adonic Angela - Pablo Neruda / Read by William Dafoe

Today I stretched out next
to a pure young woman
as if at the shore of a white ocean,
as if at the centre of a burning star
of slow space.

From her lengthily green gaze
the light fell like dry water,
in transparent and deep circles
of fresh force.

Her bosom like a two flamed fire
burned raised in two regions,
and in a double river reached
her large, clear feet.

A climate of gold scarcely ripened
the diurnal length of her body
filling it with extended fruit
sand hidden fire.

13. If You Forget Me - Pablo Neruda / Read by Madonna

I want you to know one thing
you know how this is
if I look at the crystal moon
at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window,
If I touch near the fire the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log.
Everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals, or little boats
that sail towards those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well now, if little by little you stop loving me,
I shall stop loving you, little by little.
If suddenly you forget me, do not look for me
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think at long and mad the wind banners that passes through my life
and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots,
remember than on that day, at that hour I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off to seek another land.

But if each day each hour
you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness.
If each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love,
ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine.

14. Integrations - Pablo Neruda / Read by Vincent Perez

After everything,
I will love you
As if it were always before
As if, after so much waiting,
Not seeing you
And you not coming,
You were breathing close to me forever.

Close to me with your habits,
With your colour and your guitar
Just as countries unite
In school room lectures,
And two regions become blurred
And there is a river near a river
And two volcanoes grow together.

Close to you is close to me
And your absence is far from everything
And the moon is the colour of clay
In the night of quaking earth
When, in terror of the earth,
All the roots join together
And silence is heard ringing
With the music of fright

Fear is also a street
And among its trembling stones
Tenderness somehow is able
To march with four feet
And four lips

Since without leaving the present
That is a fragile thing
We touch the sand of yesterday
And in the sea
Love reveals a repeated fury

15. And Now You΄re Mine - Pablo Neruda / Read by Julia Roberts & Andy Garcia

Now, you are mine. Rest with your dream inside my dream.
Love, pain, and work, must sleep now.
Night revolves on invisible wheels
and joined to me you are pure as sleeping amber.

No one else will sleep with my dream, love.
You will go; we will go joined by the waters of time.
No other one will travel the shadows with me,
only you, ever green, ever sun, ever moon.

Already your hands have opened their delicate fists
and let fall, without direction, their gentle signs,
your eyes enclosing themselves like two grey wings,
while I follow the waters you bring that take me onwards:
night, Earth, winds weave their fate, and already,
not only am I not without you, I alone am your dream.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chico and Rita

I don't know if you realize that it is not easy to find some good movie clips that have at least some sort of interesting things to talk about... So, if you don't see new things here, it may mean that I am still looking, and didn't give up. Here is a new thing for you to reflect upon. I like this movie a lot. Watching it, you may agree that the animation truly sets itself apart from others. Just watch the facial expressions, the body language and the movements of the characters. Some critics say that these animated characters "act" better than many real sub par movie stars. This is a short 6 minute 57 second clip from the beginning of the film. If you want to know more about this love story, get the movie, some popcorn, kick up your heels and enjoy it. The sound track is very good and the animation is one of a kind. Here is some information for you...

Chico and Rita is an animated feature-length film directed by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal. The story of Chico and Rita is set against backdrops of Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris in the late 1940s and early '50s.

A gifted songwriter and beautiful singer chase their dreams – and each other – from Havana to New York and Las Vegas. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unite them, but their journey – in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero – brings heartache and torment.

Director Fernando Trueba met designer and artist Javier Mariscal ten years ago. Together, they wanted to make an animated feature film set against the Havana music scene in the late-40s and 50s.

Before drawing the locations in Cuba, Mariscal completed an intense research trip. Although the economic stagnation of the Castro regime has spared Havana the ravages of rapid development in the past five decades, many of the buildings from that era have suffered from decay. But the film-makers came across a treasure trove when they discovered that the city government of the time had assembled an archive of photographs to help with street repairs. They found pictures of every street corner in Havana from 1949.

The team also found pictures taken inside the planes ferrying Americans to the party island. Mariscal explained that the planes arriving from New York, Washington and Miami during that period were filled with Cuban musicians entertaining the passengers. They provided lots of information about the Cubans of that era, the clothes, the faces, the streets, billboards, cars, bars, the way they lived, the incredible life of Havana.

The film appeared at the following film festivals:

Telluride Film Festival on September 4, 2010
Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010
London Spanish Film festival on 6 October 2010
London Latin American Film Festival in November 2010
Holland Animation Film Festival in November 2010

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distributed the film in 100 Spanish theaters on February 25, 2010.

The film had a special screening at the Barbican Centre on 25 September. It opened across UK cinemas on 19 November 2010.

Cape Town Design/FilmFest at Design Indaba February 2011
Miami International Film Festival March 2011


The film has an original soundtrack by Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdés. It features music by Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Cole.

According to Tono Errando, "it was the moment when new musicians came along like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie with a new kind of music, that is not for dancing, full of notes, played really fast, a music that now we call jazz. Then the Cuban musicians arrived. Dizzy Gillespie has said many times in interviews, there was a moment for him that was very important, it was the moment he first played with Chano Pozo. Pozo was the first percussionist that played in a jazz band."

Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger of the film Bebo Valdés was living in obscurity in Stockholm, when Trueba reintroduced his playing to an international audience with his film Calle 54, and went on to produce the Grammy-winning Lagrimas Negras album, teaming Valdes with flamenco singer Diego “El Cigala”.

Trueba was also able to persuade the real-life flamenco star Estrella Morente, who has been performing since the age of seven, to participate in the film.

Musicians featured in the film include Chucho Valdes, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Chano Pozo, Tito Puente, Ben Webster, and Thelonious Monk.

Chico and Rita