2015年11月29日 星期日

Beethoven Nos. 2, 4 & 5. (貝二,貝 四, 貝五)

It was quite an earful. Three Beethoven symphonies for one evening at the Cultural centre: his No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5

Beethoven's No 2 written in 1802, in Adagio--allegro con brio, Larghetto, Scherzo-Allegro-trio, Allegro molto is a relatively happy symphony is very different from his first. In this symphony, Beethoven shows that his break with the classical style has become irreversible: he used more musical instruments in this symphony than the first, made their sound more heroic, employed more contrasts, gave it a more severe structure, used stronger rhythm. Its second movement boasts a lovely melody with plenty of decorative features. The third distributes variation of the main motifs by different sections of the orchestra and is brimful with joy and humor, a theme which continues into the final movement.

Beethoven's No. 4 which premiered 5 years later abandons the heroic theme of the third, and places much more emphasis on the vitality and joy of life.  It  has a tenderness not possessed the previous symphonies and its the fast pace in the final movement is probably intended to reflect the passionate happiness the composer felt during this period of his life.

The No.5 returns again to the hero theme of the third and has the famous 4 note introduction in its first movement which anybody who has ever listened to his music can repeat and which some say suggests "Fate knocking at the door". Whether or not that is so, this is certainly the most popular of all his symphonies and constitute one of his most exciting and most passionate symphonies.

The HKPO under van Zweden Jaap is simply superb. The hesitation and imbalance in the sound which I felt in the No. 6 has completely disappeared. I left the concert hall a very happy and satisfied man indeed. I can't wait for Nos 1 and 9  on the 5th December, 2015. I'm sure that they will probably be even better.

Valley of Love(愛之谷)

What is the boundary between reality and illusion, between truth and self-deception, between fact and fiction, between the past and the present, between indifference and love, between life and death, between death and resurrection, between living and ghostly living. These are questions which surface in my mind as I watch Guillaume Nicloux's Valley of Love 2015.

It's a simple story, Gérard (Gérard Depardieu) meets Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) at a motel in Death Valley, California because 6 months ago, each received a letter written by their gay photographer son Michael just before he committed suicide, telling them that they should meet for a week there and visit various spots in the Death Valley. The two had not met for years after their divorce, each now remarried and lead separate lives.

2015年11月28日 星期六

Un Homme Idéal (A Perfect Man) (完美的男人)

The title of my next film at the French film festival may not be all that we initially think: Un Homme Idéal (A Perfect Man) (完美的男人). Directed by Yann Gozlan and co-written by him with Guillaume Lemans and Grégoire Vigneron and starring the award winning Pierre Niney as Mathieu Vasseur, an aspiring and then a famous writer and Ana Girardot as his wife Alice Furnac, the principal protagonists, the story is about how a nobody working as a house-moving laborer who dreams of becoming a novelist actually became one by stealing the memoires of the Algerian War in 1957 and 1958 in manuscript form (before he was born) written of one of his company's customers during one of the removal exercises and passing it off as his own work.

2015年11月27日 星期五

Marguerite et Julien (瑪格麗特與朱利安)

Incest is always a controversial subject. Although habitual among the families of ancient Pharaohs in Egypt and among Sassanian royalties in ancient Persia, it has always been looked upon with horror by Christian Europe, especially in late 16th/early 17th century France, a time when such corporal intimacy was considered both socially scandalous and legally criminal. Julien and Marguerite died on December, 2, 6013, after their sentence was commuted by the then King of France from death by hanging to death by decapitation and were buried in the same tomb in the castle of Tourlaville. They were brothers and sisters.

This was the subject of Valérie Donzelli's film Marguerite et Julien (2015), adpated from the novel Julien et Marguerite by Jean Gruault and first offered to but rejected by François Truffaut in the 1960s. The brother Julien de Ravalet (Jérémie Elkaïm) and sister Marguerite de Ravalet (Anäis Demoustier) were the beloved children of Jean de Ravalet (Frédéric Pierrot), the lord of Tourlaville and Madame de Ravalet (Aurélia Petit) had been inseparable since infancy: playing, drawing, studying, riding, sleeping together and as children they swore to each other that they will always love each other and will never abandon the other. But when they reach puberty, Julien was sent with his elder brother Philippe (Bastien Boulllon) to England, Holland and Germany to receive training in finance, commerce and weapons. When they returned, it was time for Marguerite to get married. On the day of the arranged marriage, first Julien excused himself from the dinner table in the middle of the wedding reception, then Marguerite did the same shortly thereafter. After an unduly long time, the family of the bridegroom stormed out. The brother and sister were subsequently found at the stables by Madame de Ravalet, in the middle of an intimate game of guessing the word written first on the palm and then on each other's back. The word got around and no further suitors could be found and finally Marguerite's parents married him to the only available choice, the very wealthy local tax inspector Lefebvre (Raoul Fernandez), at the family chapel by their paternal uncle, the Abbé de Hambye (Sami Frey), Julien absenting himself from the ceremony.

2015年11月26日 星期四

A Trois, on y va (All About them) (三人行)

A third person in a relationship invariably creates problems. What happens when the third in a relationship is simultaneously in love with the original two? This seems to be the theme explored by director Jérôme Bonnell, in A trois, on y va (literally "Three together, let's go") ("All About them")  (三人行)(2015) directed co-written by him with Maël Piriou. A Trois, on y va is a light comical look at the complicated romantic and at times erotic dilemmas that can result when the three are mixed up in such a complex game of musical chair, given the law of Newtonian physics that a person can only be at one place at any particular point in time.

2015年11月25日 星期三

Floride (Florida) (佛羅里達州)

Old age or senility has always been a problem. Perhaps less a problem in previous ages because even as near to now as just about a hundred years ago, the average life expectancy of a typical human seldom soared above 50. Even in ancient China, when there was much less polluted food, polluted water, polluted air etc, 70 was already considered a very "rare" age for the typical Chinese man or woman to attain. When one reaches 80, that seemed incredible. But not now. According to the figures released by WHO for 2013, the average man in HK now lives up to 81 and the average woman 86. And for France the corresponding figures are 79 and 85.  So, what may happen? That's what Philippe Le Guay's Floride (Florida), adapted for the screen by himself and Jérôme Tonnerre  from a prize winning play "Le Père" by Florian Zeller is all about. 

2015年11月23日 星期一

Une histoire américaine (Stubborn) (一個美國故事)

There is no rhyme or reason to pig-headedness. But when pig-headedness is wedded to an entirely one-sided unrequited love, it can appear alternatively as engaging, endearing, irritating, annoying and enraging and pathetic or a messy mixture of such epithets. That appears to be the theme of "Une historire américane" (Stubborn) (一個美國故事) of Armel Hostiou.

The story traces the wanderings of Vincent (Vincent Macaigne) through Brooklyn, Coney Island, China Town and Manhattan, New York in pursuit of an impossible love ( an "amour fou") whose ending he doesn't seem able to accept. When the film opens, we see how he dogs Barbara,( Kate Moran) a French speaking American girl, to the seaside of New York city, professing his undying love for her, begging for a chance to resume their relationship because he finds her incredibly beautiful and that he could not live without her, no matter how determined she was to in breaking up with him and despite the fact that he know that she is now living with her new lover, an American doctor.  He would say or do just about anything to have a chance to be with her again. But she remains unmoved. She buys him a plane ticket to go back to Paris. But Vincent would not listen. When she leaves, he wanders about aimlessly in pubs, discos, and cafés, showing  his photo of Barbara on his mobile to any stranger who care at all to talk with him in his almost heavily French accented and barely comprehensible English. He continued to follow her, to an art exhibition, to her boyfriend's clinic and their house but got nowhere.

Caprice (她的名字叫 <任性>)

It is easy to say that all men should be decisive in their love life and stay faithful. But life has a way making it difficult for them both through their own weakness and by the kind of tricks chance plays upon them. Is it any different for a woman? Emmanuel Mouret who wrote the dialogue and directed the film Caprice (2015) created slightly less than two hours Sunday entertainment out of that theme.

Clément Dussaut (Emmanuel Mouret), a sensitive lover of the theatre is a patient and conscientious primary school teacher, whose wife Claire (Gabrielle Atger) left him for another man and to him the joint custody of their kid, and who likes the play which figures Alicia Bardery (Virginie Efira) which he would see time and again, happens to sit besides a young aspiring actress who sees him full of tears during the last scene and who happens to bounced into him for the third time in the same theatre then develops an instant affection for him and tries her best to get him interested in her but fails. Then by another accident, Alicia, who has just broken off another unsuccessful relationship, goes to Clement's school to look for a private tutor for her nephew and after seeing how Clément work with some of his pupils, decides that he's the right man.

2015年11月22日 星期日

Weekend Fun (週末趣味)

It seems that many Americans don't like France. Perhaps that may be because the French won't bow to the American political agenda as easily as the American government would like them to whether it be in Europe or in the Middle East. Whatever the true reasons might be, I find lots of hostility towards the French in American jokes about France.The following are from an internet website on jokes on the French.

1 . 

Q: What's the difference between France and Quebec?
A: Quebec has prettier women and colder beer.

2015年11月21日 星期六

La Duchesse de Varsovie (The Duchess of Warsaw) (華沙公爵夫人)

My second film at the French film festival is a jewel hidden in dark hall of the HK Film Archive. It's one of the sparest films I've seen: just two live characters who move about and had some brief conversations amidst painted cardboard figures with voice overs and static painted scenarios of Paris plus readings at the end of the book sometimes by one and sometimes by the other from a book which had not been published and an excerpt from a black and white film. Yet there was never a dull moment. We were kept on tenterhooks because of two dark secrets: why one young painter couldn't paint and why one old lady, his grandmother, was completely silent about her past.

La Loi du Marché (The Measure of a Man) (市場機制)

It's not often that you get a film about working class people without some bit of implicit moralizing or spirit boosting on how the lowly hero struggling against impossible odds finally pulled through to reach a very much needed and longed for happy ending. But rare though it is, Stéphane Brizé managed to do so in  La Loi du Maché (literally, the law of the market) ("The Measure of A Man") (2015) which he co-scripted with Olivier Gorce.

It would be an understatement to say that it's a razor-sharp look at the life of a 51-year-old crane operator more than a year after he was laid off by a 700 worker factory. When the film begins, we see Thierry Taugourdeau (Vincent Lindon), a married working class man on $500 Euro a month unemployment benefits arguing with some of his ex-colleagues about the point of suing for redundancy payment against those in control of his bankrupt company, discussing with the a job counselor (Yves Ory ) at the local government department of employment about the point of a further re-training course when the first one seemed to get him no where, talking about the possibility of selling his home nearly paid off except for another 5 years with a bank credit officer (Catherine Saint-Bonnet), undergoing a job  interview on video camera by Skype in front of a desk top computer  for a position as a Version 8 crane operator when he was only familiar with version 7, taking time off to learn rock 'n roll with his wife (Karine de Mirbeck) at the neighborhood community centre, washing his engineering college ready polio-stricken teenage son (Matthieu Schaller) in the bathroom, haggling over an unacceptable  reduction of selling price of his mobile home from $7,000 Euros which the prospective purchaser (Roland Thomin) had previously agreed on the phone to $6,000 Euros on the pretext that his home did not have a view on the sea when none of the mobile homes there had any and on a minor damaged electrical appliance, how he was mercilessly criticized about his body posture, his tone of voice, his way of presenting his bios on a video'd record of his mock job interview by a group of fellow students, Dahmane Belghoul, Florence Herry-Leham, Agnès Millord,  Irene Raccah, Christian Ranvier, Cyril J. Rolland, Sandrine Vang according to the principles they learned from the employment interview technique instructor (Tevi Lawson ). We see how he struggled to take the humiliating battery of criticisms, valid or justified or not with calm, with repressed pain, with dignity.

2015年11月19日 星期四

van Zweden's Beethoven's Nos. 6 & 7 (梵志登的貝六貝七)

Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 , the "Pastorale" was one of the first classical music discs I heard when I was a teenager. The moment I heard it, I was transfixed. I thought to myself, "how could music be so beautiful yet so powerful, all at the same time?" I was hooked, forever.  Since then I do not know how many times I heard it, as performed by different orchestras and different conductors, Gergiev, Kleiber Abbado, Klemperer, Karayan, Bernstein, Mehta, Celibadache, Barenboim, ...

Last night I got the chance to hear it again This time under Jaap van Zweden as part of his Beethoven cycle. The symphony was first premiered in Vienna in December 1808 when Beethoven described it as "more an expression of feeling than painting." He could not have been more correct. Of course, he wrote it! I learned from the Programme Notes that he modeled the symphony on The Musical Portrait of Nature by J H Knecht published by the publisher of his music at the end of the 18th century and that he regretted having given each of its 5 movements a programmatic title: I Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon Arrival in the Country) II Andante molto mosso (Scene by the Brook) III Allegro (Merry Gathering of Country Folk), IV Allegro (Thunderstorm)  V Allegretto (Shepherd's Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm). But I don't think he's entirely right. Our senses don't work in isolation: words may suggest images, images may suggest color, color may connote feelings... feelings are synthetic and operate on all our senses at the same time, thus enhancing our enjoyment, more or less the way different sections of the orchestra playing the same theme or motifs with its characteristic sonic texture, its transients, its overtones, its harmonics in isolation and in combination and thus heighten our enjoyment of the music through parallels, contrasts and variations etc. producing a kind of very complex and delightful unity through variety. Beethoven, however, is not entirely wrong either because his music does speak for itself and after all, if the complexity of music could be completely rendered in words, then what's the point of listening to it. Whatever the truth may be, I think that ultimately the test of the pudding is in the eating. Nothing could ever replace that! So let's listen, not just with our ears, but with our imagination and our heart. The brain is optional because what's the use of the ladder when we're already over the wall?

The version I love best is Furtwangler's. It wouldn't fair if I were to ask van Zweden to be Furtwangler, whose version and interpretation of this great symphony could not have been more different. But I could not help feeling that it would have been perfect if van Zweden were a little less forceful and a little less structural when he came to the soft and lyrical passages. It seems that somehow the words "pianissimo" and "mosso" couldn't be found in his musical dictionary. But of course, that just my peculiarly personal and probably entirely opinionated view. 

2015年11月17日 星期二

Munich 14.On the way to Nymphenburg (慕尼黑. 14:在寧芬堡宮路上)

Traveling can be tough at times. Often, for the sake of not missing a train, you may only have just enough time to grab a sandwich and a coffee or anything else which will fill your stomach without adding too much poison into your system in the process. 

My grub at the train station

German ad at the tube station

2015年11月16日 星期一

Munich 13: Schloss Blutenberg.3 Exhibitions: Astrid Lingren & Ilon Wikland (慕尼黑.13 :布魯登堡城堡.3:展覽 )

One of the things which gave me the greatest pleasure when visiting the Blutenberg Castle  was the chance to see two of the exhibitions there, one about book illustrations of children books and the other on the theme of war and world peace in the eyes of children. 

All children and those who have not yet forgotten that they were once children are welcome here. The International Youth Library organizes many types of activities for children.The “Lichterhäuschenbasteln”( lit cottage in velvet ) in the childrens´ library have already become a regular event: childrens and parents have been invited to make their own little lanterns when they arrive in the evenings of November 21st, November 28th and December 5th later this year.

2015年11月13日 星期五

The Immortal Beethoven lives on (不朽的貝多芬再出台了)

In a thunderstorm on 26th March, 1827, Ludwig von Beethoven died, aged 56. He died according to history. Yet, he never died for me. He is still very much alive and kicking, in his music. He was resurrected, twice last night, first in his Symphony No. 8 and then again in his Symphony. No.3 under the baton of Jaap van Zweden.

By all accounts, Symphony No. 8 in F, Op 93 in Allegro vivace e con brio, Allegretto schezando, Tempo di Menuetto, Allegro vivace, is a light hearted symphony, written very quickly by him immediately after he finished the 7th at a time when he had just succeeded in forcing his brother to marry the girl with whom he had been fooling around in bed for a long time and putting an end to the family scandal which had infuriated the fiery composer  for quite some time. Some even say that certain passages in the symphony were meant to be deliberately humorous. As usual, Beethoven started the symphony with great force before moving into a lyrical passage by the winds, repeated by the strings, interrupted without warning by huge thumping notes which remind one of the opening theme, again and again in waves after waves. One cannot but be amazed at the force of Beethoven's indomitable will and the respite from its action from time to time in the lighter passages. I really like the delightfully short second movement, moving around in a sort of almost classical mechanical rhythms led by the woodwinds, followed by the strings which alternated between light and heavy sound. This was followed by the courtly elegance of the menuet in the third with its constant repetition of the its main motifs without forgetting the flowing theme of the first. The constant comical imitation of each others' phrases by different sections of the orchestra and the sudden explosion into loudness and the unexpected abrupt dropping back into soft notes in the middle of such loudness in the 4th movement before it continues its energetic course to the finale makes it a truly memorable experience. I don't know how it is for the others. For me, perhaps it's such romantic reversal which is the secret of its endless fascination which keeps me coming back again and again for another listening.

2015年11月12日 星期四

Munich 12: Schloss Blutenberg.2 : James Krüss Turm & Michael Ende Museum (慕尼黑.12 :布魯登堡城堡.2)

The Blue Bus by James Kruss, a children's book, displayed at the James Krüss Tower at Blutenburg Castle, a museum dedicated to him.

James Krüss (1926 – 1997) was a German writer of children's and picture books, illustrator, poet, dramatist, scriptwriter, translator, and collector of children's poems and folk songs and the winner of Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1968 for his contribution as a children's writer, had a very untypical life, full of changes. He was born on Heligoland but in 1941, the island had to be evacuated because of military reasons and his family was resettled first in Arnstadt and later to Hertigswalde near to Sebnitz in Saxony. After graduation, Krüss taught high school first in Lunden, then in Ratzeburg and then finally in Brunwick. In 1944 he volunteered for the German Air Force and was stationed in  Ústí nad Labem, now Czech Republic, where he stayed until WWII ended, when he moved with his parents to Cuxhaven. It was in 1946 that Krüss published his first book Der goldene Faden and in 1948, he moved to Reinbek, near Hamburg where he founded the magazine Helgoland for the expropriated inhabitants of the island and stuck with it until 1956 when he started writing audio dramas for children and children's poems together with Peter Hack and in the same year, published The Lighthouse on Lobster Cliffs. During the period, he travelled to Italy and Yugoslavia. It was another two years before he published his now well-known picture book Henriette, whose eponymous protagonist is an anthropomorphized steam locomotive-hauled train, and which started a small series of similar, related picture books.After a reading of My Great Grandfather and I (which won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1960) in the Tagesschau in 1960, he became  famous. In the same year he bought a house with garden in Gilching, Bavaria. Too years later, published his most famous book Timm Thaler (entitled in UK as" The Boy Who Lost His Laugh) which was turned into a mini-TV series in 1979 directed by Sigi Rothemund. In 1965, he moved again, this time to Gran Canaria where he died from heart trouble after three decades, in 1997. He was buried at sea on 27 September near Heligoland. Krüss was a good storyteller in the oral story telling tradition and his fantastic and whimsical tales are deeply rooted in folk tales. Many of his books are actually collections of tales held together by a frame story e.g. My Great Grandfather and I (1959), based on his own experience of growing up in Heligoland with which he won the German Prize for Children's and Youth Literature, with its sequel My Great Grandfather, the Heroes, and I (1967). 

2015年11月11日 星期三

Munich 11: Schloss Blutenberg.1 (慕尼黑.11 :布魯登堡城堡.1)

Germany is land brimful with history. It's full of architectural relics from different ages of its checkered history, some going back to the Middle Ages. One such relic is the Schloss Blutenberg (Blutenberg Castle) built in 1438-39 by Duke Albrecht III, Duke of Bavaria, on the banks of River Würm west of Munich upon the foundations of a 13th century moated castle burnt down in a previous war. Originally used as one of his hunting lodges, it later became his home. His son Duke Sigismund of Bavaria, who abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Albrecht IV in 1467, extended the castle in 1488 and continued living there with his wife Agnes Bernauer until his death in 1501, not however before he had added there in 1491 a beautiful chapel in late Gothic style with three paintings on the altar by Jan Polack, which are still around now.

In front of the Blutenberg Castle is the peaceful lake-like moat

The castle was drowned in the morning mist, like the mist of history: it was laid waste during the Thirty Years Wars (1618-1648)  and was'nt rebuilt until 1680–81. It's still surrounded by a ring wall with three towers and a gate tower. From 1983, the castle has become the home of the International Youth Library (Internationale Jugendbibliothek) with concerts there every now and then at the chapel.

2015年11月9日 星期一

The wine of music from Itzhak Perlman (伊扎克.普爾曼之音樂釀)

Itzhak Perlman (b. 1945) is one of my best loved violinists along with such giants as Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrach, Yuhudi Menuhin and Nathan Milstein although they play in vastly different styles.I was so happy I got the chance to listen to him last night, not 10 feet away from him. I saw  the 70-year-old virtuoso in action, in a glistening red Chinese style silk "sam", live, on his scooter! I saw the very relaxed way he hugged his face over his violin over a white handkerchief, the way his head and his body swayed during various passages along with the music, the way he handled the bow, the way his fingers flitted across the finger board, the way he plucked at the strings, the beautifully even way he played double stops and I finally got to know how it was that he could produce the kind of very delicate, almost silky sound from his violin in the soft passages in a way which few other violinists could do. But I don't know enough about the violin to be able tell whether he was playing the Soil Stradivarius violin of 1714, the Sauret Guarneri del Gesu of 1743 or the Carlo Bergonzi 1740. But whichever it was, it was an unforgettble evening of great music and that is ultimately what matters.

The first piece Perlman played for us last night was by Louis XV's court orchestra master and violinist, Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764): his Violin Sonata in D, Op. 9 No. 3 in Adagio molto maestro, Allegro, Sarabanda: Largo, Tambourin: Allegro vicace, a piece said to combine the Italian and French traditions of music making.

2015年11月8日 星期日

The Ferris Wheel of Music (音樂摩天輪)

Music seems impossible to delimit. There are all kinds of music: classical music, pop music, serious music, light music, vocal music, instrumental music, solo music, ensemble music, long music, short music, operatic music, film music, ceremonial music and festival music, folk music, world music, electronic music and live music and music which seems to be a bit of every genre, music which cuts across the different genres, which we now call cross-over music, the music of our so-called "postmodern" world, where time seems no longer to matter, only the flattened space of the here and now. Yet we can love them all.That's why listening to music can be such a liberating experience. For an hour or two, we immerse ourselves into a world completely different from that of our "normal" everyday world. We experience joy, sadness, tenderness, hopes, fears, anxieties, nostalgia, longings, excitement and serenity. It's as if we were taken onto an emotional roller coaster, up and down and round and round, like life itself, through just sound and if it's live, assisted by sight as well. Perhaps tha';s the secret of its fascination. Perhaps that's what draws me to the Cultural Centre, the City Hall and other venues wherever music is played week after week, month after month, year after year. I can never have enough of music. It always beckons with its special magic and its unique charms. It's irresistible. That's why the last few weekends found me at the Cultural Centre, again and again.

2015年11月5日 星期四

Munich 9 : A stroll in the city (慕尼黑.9:城市閑溜)

Munich is one of the most habitable cities in Europe.

It's got a huge fountain at Carlsplatz right in front of its Federal Court building.

Another view of court building

2015年11月4日 星期三

Munich 8. A Brush with German Justice (慕尼克.8:與德國法治擦身而過)

This is a building very close to the Hauptbanhof, a building I saw the first day I arrived in Munich. But I did not find out what it was until the day when I was on my way to the Marienplatz. Its a building very much like that of the toy museum there but it was built for a purpose very far from that of providing fun to children. It's one of the law courts.

Unlike in Hong Kong, which follows the common law system of England and Wales with originally three sources of law: the common law, the rules of equity and  statue law and from 1983 on, the Basic Law (the source of our written constitutional law), German law is subject to many different influences: until the Middle Ages, early Germanic law was derived from the laws of the Salian Franks and other tribes but from the Renaissance on, Roman law as set by Justinian in the Corpus iuris civilis.became increasingly important as the basis of its common law (Gemeines Recht) in most parts of the German speaking world and the same prevailed far into the 19th century. As the Holy Roman Empire was a multi-racial and multi-cultural aggregate, there were numerous local variations according to the different local traditions and religions and such laws were eventually codified into some 3000 sets of local rural Weistümer (aka Holtinge or Dingrodel) laws and only in the superior imperial courts of justice, the Reichskammergericht,  were there procedural codes in addition to those of Corpus Iuris Canonici (Canonical law) which formed an important source of the ecclesiastical laws and courts, the old Corpus Iuris Civilis. (civil law). In the 18th century, Prussia established an innovative code of laws with the Allgemeines Landrecht für die preußischen Staaten (General National Law for the Prussian States), a law which
after the July Revolution of 1830,adopted some of the Code Napoleon  which itself was split into the Code civil, the Code pénal and the Code d'instruction criminelle, sources which  strongly influenced the German legal tradition, especially in the Grand Duchy of Baden. For two decades after the unification of Germany in 1871, major legal reforms were instituted to standardize the criminal and procedural laws of different parts of Germany, culminating in the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (Book of Civil Law or "BGB"), some of which are still in force today. But the various states still managed to retain some of their own local laws, now incorporated under the the Basic Law.

2015年11月3日 星期二

Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary) (海街日記)

There are many things I don't like about the Japanese but Japanese films don't figure amongst them. Japan has produced many excellent film directors. One of the directors I love best is Yasujirō Ozu (小津安二郎)(1903-1963). He does not appear to be particularly fascinated by big epic heroes. He interested himself in the ordinary folks, the kind of people we meet in fast food shops, in the neighborhood coffee bar or some out of the way little towns, the kind of people we meet in buses, trams, undergrounds and ferries, the kind of people who don't normally attract a lot of attention to themselves. But they do not on that account appear any less real. Perhaps precisely for that very reason, we feel there's more flesh and blood in them  and somehow we feel that they are much closer to us, each with our own petty hopes, fears, quirks and foibles and our little successes and failures. I believe that I have just discovered one of Ozu's possible successors. He is Hirokazu Kore-eda(是枝裕和) (b. 1962) and last weekend, I went to his latest film, "Little Sister" or "Umimachi Diary" <海街日記>(2015.)He directed and co-scripted the film with Akimi Yoshida (吉田秋生) a female Japanese Manga (漫画) artist. 

2015年11月2日 星期一

Lies, Lies, Damned Lies (謊言, 謊言, 要命的謊言)

Lies are endemic, not only to humans, but to animals as well. Lies and disguises are one of evolution's ways of ensuring that individuals will somehow survive. Human beings are experts in camouflage, deception, hypocrisies and lies. We lie to our superiors, our subordinates, our colleagues, our enemies, our friends, our parents, our children and our mates. Worst of all, we lie even to ourselves.  In Why We Lie (2014) David Livingstone Smith says,  "Deceit is the Cinderella of human nature; essential to our humanity but disowned by its perpetrators at every turn. " He adds that it's" normal, natural and pervasive." If I may judge from what Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) and The Son of No One (2011)) is doing in his latest film Boulevard (2014), starring Robin William, (his last film), it certainly looks that way.