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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather.

Welcome to The Tea House

Welcome to The Tea House where I get ready for the day I become the benevolent dictator of the Republic of Sanneyistan by coming down from my hermetic cyber-mountain top and interacting with my loyal subjects, uh, readers.

Siu Mai dumplingsI was going to call this feature “Sanney’s Mailbag” but I only received Congressional approval for an e-mail address this past weekend (go here for details) and “Sanney’s Comment Box” sounds like something you need to fill with kitty litter. In the end, I decided to play off the House Where Words Gather theme and call this feature “The Tea House”. Picture all of us sitting at a table and having a pleasant conversation while sharing a nice big pot of tea and some freshly-steamed siu mai dumplings (燒賣).

Let’s start things off with some comments on the comments from the last post “Sypmathy for Mr. Imprudence”:

Eliza Bennet writes: Comparing her [Cecilia Cheung] to Maggie of now would not be fair. Better compare her to Maggie of her age. But Tang Wei? Her performance was not bad at all but all the nostril flaring didn’t bring anything new at the table. I’d like to see her do something else before I form an opinion on her acting prowess.

aircompass writes: I think it’s much too early to place Tang Wei’s talent. She’s certainly a charming and intelligent girl, but one decent performance does not a Maggie Cheung make.

I adore Cecilia Cheung, however. I think she always brings something good to the table, and I think she’s a very reliable and effective dramatic actress.

Upon reflection, I wish I would have done a better job of writing that last paragraph about Cecilia Cheung’s acting. I didn’t mean to compare her with Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk or Tang Wei. I was referring to the type of role and not the actresses. I should have written: “I don’t think she has the chops to give a subtle performance required by complex roles like Su Li-Zhen/Mrs. Chan from IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE or Wang Chia-Chih/Mak Tai-Tai from LUST, CAUTION.”

I think Cecilia Cheung is a solid actress. She has a great screen presence that engages you and makes you care about her characters even if they are a dopey shopping addict or some otherworldly, mystical hot babe. It’s just that I don’t think her acting skills are refined enough to handle roles that call for a lot of subtlety.

By the way, I agree with aircompass about Tang Wei. She gives an outstanding performance in LUST, CAUTION but it’s way too early to place a “Screen Queen” crown on her head.

* * * * *

Glenn writes: I think I’ve made my love for Cecilia’s acting well known on this site; I’m a sucker for her crying bits where her already raspy voice gets even further choked up. Works every time for me.

Man, I’m feelin’ ya on this one. The raspiness is the vocal equivalent of a hot babe wearing nothing but a men’s white tuxedo shirt.

* * * * *

Eliza Bennet writes: Edison Chen at the press con (heh) didn’t seem sincere to me. It actually seemed like he was expecting some sort of a reaction from everyone.

He didn’t strike me as entirely sincere either. His proclamation that he was going to dedicate himself to “charity and community work” seemed about as genuine as O.J. Simpson declaring, years ago, that he was going to dedicate himself to “finding the real killers”. I was just saying that despite the prepared script, you could sense that — at the core — there was a real human who has been severely humiliated. By contrast, at their press event, EEG chose to present corporate creation Gillian Chung™ instead of genuine human Gillian Chung so it was hard for people to connect with her and feel any real sympathy for her plight.

* * * * *

Viktor writes: I find it is a disgrace that the people involved are now judged by the quality or authenticity of their press conferences. The fact remains that they did no wrong to anybody (the allusion to Nixon’s crookery in “Sexy Photos Gate” is malicious, to say the least).

I don’t think anyone is trying to equate what Edison Chen and his partners did in private to Nixonian crookery. Adding the “-gate” suffix to any sort of controversy has just become a convenient way for the media to label scandals. Earlier this month, the Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic presidential nomination begat “NAFTAgate”. Since September, American football fans have been subjected to endless talk about “Spygate”. I think that “-gate” has become mostly disassociated with the original Watergate scandal. If you go to Wikipedia, you can see a list of more than twenty scandals that have had “-gate” attached to it.

 

east_west.jpg

The Eastern Heretic and the Poisonous West (left) with their American counterparts the Venerable West (centre) and the Eastern Dowager (right).

Linguistically speaking, I’ll admit that I was surprised when I saw that the Chinese media attached “-gate” to the scandal. Chinese and English are so different, it’s often difficult to translate concepts from one language to the other. You don’t see the American media calling Senator John McCain of Arizona the “Venerable West” or Senator Hillary Clinton of New York the “Eastern Dowager”. I’m guessing that, for logistical reasons like article length and headline length, calling it “Sexy Photos Gate” was easier than using the unwieldy “Edison-Gillian-Bobo-Cecilia Picture Scandal”. Moreover, the latter became inaccurate when more starlets became involved.

As for Gillian Chung and Edison Chen being judged by their respective press conferences, I’ll paraphrase Hyman Roth from THE GODFATHER, PART II and say simply: “this is the business they’ve chosen”.

Besides, I think most people are judging Gillian Chung™ and Edison Chen™ rather than the actual Gillian Chung or the Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling in PTUactual Edison Chen. I think you have to be very naive or very foolish if you don’t understand that there is a distinction between the public persona and the private person. Based on how he presents himself to the public eye, you’re entitled to have an opinion like Edison Chen™ is a poseur — a dopey, bad-boy wannabe who, if caught in a gunfight, would probably pull a Ruby Wong from PTU rather than take nine to the body like 50 Cent. However, unless you know him personally, it’s impossible to have a reasonable opinion on the actual Edison Chen. Put it this way, there has got to be a difference between Edison Chen™ and the actual Edison Chen. There must be something endearing about the actual Edison Chen because multiple women liked him enough to have relations with him and trusted him enough to let him take compromising photographs of them.

By the way, congratulations to Shawn Yue Man-Lok! I think it’s now safe to declare him the winner of the long and bitter Shawn Yue-Edison Chen “teen idol” rivalry.

* * * * *

Glenn writes: While I do agree that Charlene [Choi Cheuk-Yin] is the more talented of the Twins, I can’t recall anything memorable beyond comedy roles — has she done anything even close to drama? I haven’t watched Diary yet; maybe that will prove me wrong? She was good in Leave Me Alone and My Wife is 18 — made that film far better than it should have been.

My memory may be faulty so the timeline may be slightly off but I believe Charlene Choi established her dramatic acting bona fides way back in 2000-2001 before EEG hooked her up with Gillian Chung. I believe both HEROES IN LOVE and FUNERAL MARCH were made and released before Twins released their first album in the Autumn of 2001. While Ah Sa got nominated for the Best New Artist HKFA for her role as a “girl with a terminal disease” in FUNERAL MARCH (losing an honourable decision to Karena Lam Ka-Yan’s performance in JULY RHAPSODY), HEROES IN LOVE was the better showcase of her young acting talents.

* * * * *

A comment about Damn You, Kozo!Kozo’s rant about inconsistent romanization brought to mind a conversation I had “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Ilrecently with someone about “legacy kids” (children of people who are rich, powerful or famous). This person, who shall remain nameless, hates George W. Bush with a passion and was trying to make the argument that, generally speaking, legacy kids grow up in a pampered environment so they don’t develop the skills that allow them to handle important positions when they are adults. I have to admit that I found the argument convincing until the person used Kim Jong-Il as another example of an “incompetent legacy kid”. It’s not that I think Kim Jong-Il is doing a bang-up job governing North Korea, it’s that the person I was talking to referred to Kim Jong-Il as Kim Jong II (Kim Jong The Second).

* * * * *

A little help … Any Microsoft Excel experts out there? I’m flirting with the idea of running a Hong Kong Film Awards predictions contest and I need someone to help me develop a formula so that I can determine the winner without having to manually go through every entry. If you can help, please get in touch with me.

* * * * *

Have you seen PROTEGE? If you have, please read this post and discuss the ending with me.

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Lung Poon Restaurant (Siu Mai), TVB (Screen grab from LEGEND OF THE CONDOR HEROES), The Huffington Post (John McCain, Hillary Clinton), Milkyway Image (Ruby Wong), Reuters (Kim Jong-Il)

8 Responses to “Welcome to The Tea House”

  1. glenn Says:

    Now that I’ve finally seen LUST, CAUTION, I can say that I was amazed by Tang Wei’s performance. Just amazing!

    A near classic film I’d say as well. Morally ambiguous characters, nice period design. I would have liked more of the “whys” for the characters’ actions but still a great film in many ways.

    I’m not sure about Funeral March’s release date but Charlene was quite good in that. As was Eason Chan, actually. I missed Heroes in Love; hope it’s better than Trivial Matters — another anthology film.

  2. RC Says:

    You give EDC too much credit. The endearing thing about him is that he’s rich, that’s why those women slept with him. Let’s face it, half the women in the HK entertainment biz are golddigging for a rich husband.

  3. MW Says:

    Gotta agree with RC. It is definitely a combo of his looks, famous, richness. With all that, it is not too far-fetched to believe EDC giving some nice jewelery, purses, and gifts to the girls in exchange for action and picture taking.

  4. eliza bennet Says:

    Eason Chan is one of the best actors in HK film industry (not to mention an out of this world good singer). Actually when I first watched Funeral March I didn’t know anything about either lead actor. Liked both in it, Eason a lot better though. I recommend this film.

    Tang Wei was not bad but I still have to wait to watch another performance from her to form an opinion on her acting skills.

    glenn, to me the “whys” of the actions of the characters were perfectly clear (and I didn’t read the novella).

  5. glenn Says:

    Hi Eliza,

    I should have said the whys in regard to why is Yee collaborating with the Japanese? I expected a scene — beyond the scene in the Japanese restaurant where she sings to him — where she asks Yee why he is collaborating? Seemed like a reasonable question for her character of the importer’s wife to ask.

    Eason is good in The Pye Dog but the film left me blah. Worth checking out if you like Eason.

    Sanney mentioned Shawn Yue and I just noticed that he’s in a show called Good Morning Shanghai being shown on AZN TV on American cable. One of the few dramas I’ve stumbled upon on that channel to feature English subtitles. When was this show made?

    (I have heard that Comcast is dropping this channel in April so I better enjoy it while I can!)

  6. James Says:

    Sanney, you are spot on about women being hot when they are dressed in a man’s white dress shirt. Check this out:

    http://www.procheerleaderblog.com/blog/images/2008/Mar/nbajazz.jpg

  7. eliza bennet Says:

    >>>>I should have said the whys in regard to why is Yee collaborating with the Japanese?

    Why would you want to know that? It is not important to the story, to the film or even to the characters (we get so much ample information on them through other, subtler means). Actually a scene like you described would make me groan in frustration.

    Thanks for the tip on Pye-Dog :) I saw it and Eason’s performance was flawless and I kind of understood what the director was doing but in the end I agree with you that it didn’t end up being a good film. It was the wrong genre for that (but I will confess to shedding tears during the song scene)

  8. aircompass Says:

    How lovely, a shoutout :)
    And I laughed out loud at the congratulations to Shawn Yu. :)

    As for Protege… I personally thought that the ending went right back to the main idea of the film, which Kozo, in his review points out as: “Don’t do drugs, and for God’s sake, don’t sell them either.” It felt a lot like an anti-drug infomercial at the end of it.

    I thought it would have been more effective if he’d gone down the shame spiral though. You don’t come out of the film feeling great anyway, so I think Derek Yee should have just stabbed us all in the gut and twisted it. But I guess it would make drugs look attractive or something — though Derek Yee could have adjusted a few things…. sigh.

    Did everyone hear that Tang Wei’s Pond’s Ads are banned in the mainland because she starred in Lust, Caution?

 
 
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