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Thursday, March 31, 2011

慢读

从小我就是一个速读者,老爸买来两本儿童/少年书籍,我拿过来狼吞虎咽,他有时会抓狂地说:你别光看故事啊,也得看看人家是怎么写的,学习下技巧之类。但是因为老爸自己看书比我还少,更没见他写出点儿什么东西来,对他的意见我置之不理。

最近渐渐地发现,拜互联网所赐,注意力和耐性急剧下降,读书看文章越来越不耐烦,尤其是看小说,已形成了“电视剧读法”,什么长篇大论都能改编成上下集电视剧,呼啦啦抓住主要情节,横竖是某男遇见某女,恋爱中各种阻挠波折,最后皆大欢喜;抑或尸体被发现,警探找线索,最后凶手落网,Voila! 下一个!

疯狂速读,倒不是为了炫耀自己读书万卷,多么有学问(反正都是侦探小说,炫耀起来也没人稀罕),而是性情越来越急躁,追看故事结尾,没心思好好地看中间过程。

前阵子有一天S同学塞给我一篇文章看,说是很有趣。Joshua Foer 写的书 "Moonwalking With Einstein" 里面摘录的一段。Foer 本来只是好奇而已,去采访了很多玩速记大赛的纳德,还自己拜师学习速记的技巧,结果学着学着,就把自己给练成了世界速记锦标赛的冠军。这也罢了,有趣是挺有趣的,不过并没有引起我的强烈兴趣乃至自己也想去学一把速记技巧。抓住我的注意力的是其中一段,Foer 说,几百年前,印刷技术有限,世界上的书籍很少,写书的人也少。认识字的那些人,主要是神职人员,读书习惯跟现在人有天壤之别,搞到一本书是珍稀物品,所以要反复读N遍,而且大段大段抄下来,还细细背诵。直到近代,印刷技术和纸张等等的成本降低,书才普遍起来,写书的人也多起来,大家都不背了,囫囵地看也看不完。

(此处省略一千字的各种联想,包括Borges的宇宙图书馆,代代相传背诵的口头传说,华氏451,等等。)

我本来就对古代生存状态有点兴趣,看到这段就立刻被触动了。最近尤其感到读书时没过去那么享受了,看的时候急躁,看完了空虚,也没什么回味和印象,没趣得很。听有声书更糟,脑子容易走神,只抓住只言片语的关键词,大约知道个情节头尾而已。恰好不久之前买了 Kindle,被迫放慢读书的速度,倒是渐渐体味到慢慢读的好处。例如,讲小说之类不时有人提起作者的 "voice",文字的性格,需要慢慢地一行一行看下来才能感受得到。过去,只有很有特点的voice才能吸引我的兴趣,迫使我慢读,大多数小说里的voice都被我错过了;甚至有时候喜欢上一个voice,但是习惯所致,在速读之中忘记了细细品味。

所以最近开始提醒自己慢读。不过常常不小心又跑了起来,尤其是并未爱上文字或者对内容不喜欢没兴趣的时候,免不了呼啦啦地乱翻起来,那倒算了,遇到喜欢的voice,还是想静下心来慢慢地读。生活纷乱,distraction 太多,不容易做到,好在 Kindle 很帮忙。

说起来我从来就不喜欢所谓优美的文字,从来就没兴趣抄名家字句,对字字珠玑的文章多半看不下去,看了也记不住,张爱玲或者Ian McEwan类型的奇诡比喻法对我毫无作用。但实际上并非对 voice 没有感觉没有立场,例如,我很爱好北欧式的朴素风格,前年读的 Per Petterson 的 Out Stealing Horses 把我迷得颠三倒四(但是 Stieg Larson 的唠叨就让我看不下去!),现在细细慢读老朋友 Henning Mankell,也很入迷。还有当然最近开始的 Craig Johnson 写的怀俄明山里警长系列,连串的幽默和温情,我可不想一不小心错过了。

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Troubled Man (10%)

虽然我小心翼翼地慢慢地读,看着书页下角的黑线渐渐右移,从 1% 到 5% 到 8%,心里惴惴。这本书似乎短得很,没看两页就进一个百分熟,看样子没两天就要被我看完了,先提前觉得不甘心。

上一本 Wallander 的小说是在十多年前写的,即使是以 Linda 为中心的 Before the Frost 也是2002年出的,很久了。这是最后一本 Wallander,大家都知道,于是添了一分伤别离,虽然我已经知道在小说结尾 Mankell 并未把他写死了。(哼,写死了也可以逼作者把人写活回来,有先例!)

时隔这么多年,再见 Wallander 发脾气大骂上司且摔电话,自伤身世,跟女儿女婿来往,感觉亲切得要命,好像---套句俗不可耐的比喻---遇到多年不见的老友,立刻捡起话头,跟小别重逢没两样。

看到10%处感觉跟过去的风格还是有点不同,很“熟”,而且入戏很快,立刻引发世界级的巨大阴影,而不象过去小说那样非常慢热。

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Promptly Arrived

I am on the verge of giving up on "House of God." Yes, it is all extremely realistic and true --- the life and work of medical interns in a "teaching hospital," including jabs at Harvard Medical School. But for me it is too depressing to read, precisely because I know all the horrors are true and worse now than 40 years ago.

So, to my rescue, Henning Mankell's "The Troubled Man" descended from the sky this morning, via electromagnetic waves, into my Kindle. Mmm. With the thought, my tongue wet the lips with anticipation... :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Inspector Bellamy

没有系统地胡乱看东西自有它的好处,N年前我撞上一篇文章,现在回想起来大概是篇关于乔治西麦农传记的书评,给我留下了很深刻的印象。乔治西麦农是一个奇人,不仅写过几百本书 (高产是法语作家的传统咩?吓死人),而且睡过上万个女人(他自己说的),非常贪财而且赚到很多很多钱,跟纳粹打得火热,战后在法国处境不怎么舒服,又转战美国重树形象(Welcome to the land of Great Gatsbies)。Pierre Assouline 写过一本资料详尽立场冷峻的传记,在他笔下西麦农是一个self-created myth。

如果不是事先有这个印象,导演 Claude Chabrol 的最后一部电影 Inspector Bellamy 就是一个莫名其妙的东西,空有一个侦探故事的架子,内容却更象一个家庭伦理剧。巨大笨拙的 Gerard Depardieu 演的侦探身上盖满了 Inspector Maigret 的印章,而他的立场主要是同情“罪犯”而不是解谜和抓人;他跟太太之间的恩爱关系一边让人回想起梅格雷探长夫妻俩,一边又暗示各种不和谐因素;最主要的关系在于 Bellamy 和他的同母异父兄弟之间的冲突。这个酗酒堕落的弟弟说了一句关键的话:你运气太好了,别人都各有各的人生厄运,只有你却百毒不侵,总能幸运地躲开不幸。探长自己也承认,其实很容易一失足就变成他弟弟,而不是名扬全国的名侦探。

这么看,这部影片的主题就很明白了: 讨论西麦农和梅格雷之间的奇怪而矛盾的关系。说实话,这一对作者和人物的关系也一直让我十分迷惑,如果西麦农如此贪婪和不要脸和乱搞和花里胡哨,为什么他的梅格雷探长是个朴实平淡,忠于太太的好丈夫呢?人是复杂的,而且常常是分裂的,我很难相信西麦农的内心没有一小部分幻想自己能变成梅格雷,跳出他的人生和欲望。梅格雷是他的反面,也是他的饭特西。

回到 Inspector Bellamy,看样子 Chabrol 是在讨论梅格雷探长之理想化形象与西麦农本身的冲突与镜像,如同 Bellamy 和他弟弟之间冲突与镜像;而且 Bellamy 与剧中罪犯也是一对镜像,因为 Chabrol 很明显在暗示放纵欲望的罪犯是 Bellamy 自己的饭特西,但是因为运气好而避免了这个命运。影片的效果如何,倒不一定特别成功,不过解构手法挺有趣的。

另外,影片指出梅格雷和西麦农的同情立场常常在罪犯一边,想必每个梅格雷小说迷都会点头同意。

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Win Win



It is not a flawless movie, but in the end it worked well enough for me.

As much as I love Paul Giamatti, the subplot involving his character Mike Flaherty, a lawyer in a New Jersey small town, is pretty weak. With his practice in recession and his bank account dwindling, he cut a few ethical corners for an additional $1500 income a month that he did not earn. The audience knows that he would ultimately get in trouble for his poor judgment, but the cheerful tone of the movie assures us early on that the writer/director, Tom McCarthy, would not let anything too painful happen to him.

This "tired middle-aged man who has made one too many compromise" plot has been done before, and much more effectively, in other movies (for example, "Michael Clayton", Ringo Lam's later work). Nevertheless, Giamatti has enough chops to give some variation and hints of unexplored depth to his character that prevented Mike from slipping into a caricature.

I was feeling a bit disappointed and impatient after about one third of the movie, and then something happened and pulled me in. The best part of the movie, to me, started when a 16-year-old boy named Kyle showed up in Mike and family's lives. He had run away from a drug addict mother and her abusive boyfriend. He also happened to be a talented wrestler and became the most valuable player on the up-till-then pathetic high school wrestling team Mike coached.

The few wrestling scenes were expertly and beautifully done. Here, McCarthy's inside knowledge (he wrestled in high school) was put to great use. They contained just enough information to allow a totally ignorant viewer like me to see how and why Kyle won without any exposition. I could generally follow what was happening on the mat and understand why a kid could lose his game but win for the team. The choreography, cinematography, and editing of the wrestling scenes are all impeccably executed. It also helped, of course, that the actor cast for Kyle, Alex Shaffer, is a very good wrestler in real life and won the New Jersey state championship in the 119 lb. level.

On the other hand, Shaffer had had no acting experience before being chosen for this movie. Not surprisingly, McCarthy's background as a seasoned actor allows him to bring out the best in actors in his movie, not only the boy but also all the supporting cast, especially a wonderful Amy Ryan as Mike's wife Jackie.

Kyle's flat affect at the beginning, his transformation in the Flaherty household, and the climactic confrontation near the end (which works really well with me because it is the least "safe" element in the entire movie), and all of his wrestling matches, were the best parts of the movie. Overall, the screenplay is just a little too cute and too safe to be fully successful, but Kyle's subplot gives the movie an edge that it desperately needs.

I wish McCarthy had focused on the darker currents lurking beneath the jokes and screwballs: A child is disappointed, again and again, by the self-centered, incompetent, weak adults around him, leaving him to fend for himself in this world. He turns out to be the only one among the whole lot who makes the least mess of his life, perhaps thanks to the discipline of and his success in a sport. I instantly identified with Kyle and his disappointments (although I've got no sport) and wish McCarthy had gone deeper along these lines.

Instead, he chose an easier and more crowd-pleasing approach. Although he came up with some pretty clever twists and turns in the script, the resolution was just a little too neat and too comfortable, making the audience feel a little too good, to be fully satisfying.

The acting is excellent all around. Most touching is the interaction --- The chemistry between Shaffer and Ryan was perhaps the best. Shaffer and Giamatti, Giamatti and Bobby Cannavale, and the entire team of wrestling kids all produced palpable camaraderie and relationships.

I have to suspect that the filmmakers may be a little too fond of the characters to really, truly make them hurt, really really hurt. Or perhaps they don't trust the audience enough to let us see anything so realistic that it is grotesque. That is the problem of loving one's creation, isn't it? I can certainly relate.

Friday, March 25, 2011

英文 vs. 中文

以前 barb 问过是看中文快还是看英文快,我说看中文快一点。

今天在网上听了一下 The New Yorker 驻京作者 Evan Osnos 在北京的公开讲话,他用英文讲,旁边有中文翻译,我一边眼睛里看着其他网站,一边耳朵里听着中英文交错的音频。当然没有也不能集中精神,而是有一搭没一搭的,过程有点类似眼睛快速扫描书页,抓住几个关键词,脑子可以连贯起来获得大概的意思而已。

听到后半段的时候忽然惊讶地发现,英文部分听得略微轻松些,听中文部分需要略微多一点的注意力。也许这并不是因为我的英文听力明显高过中文,或许是因为 Osnos 自己说话比较有情绪,比较抑扬顿挫,而翻译的女孩子按照记下的笔记翻译,所以音调比较平板,不容易突出关键字抓住我的注意力 --- 不是说她翻译得不好,实际上我很佩服她能飞快地记下每一句话,然后全部翻译成中文,但是二手发言总不能跟一手发言的腔调相比。

翻译,对我来说是件费力得要死的事情。

Thursday, March 24, 2011

tiff




今年的多伦多电影节日期是9/8-18。尽量争取去几天,哪怕不能在那里从头混到底。


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Accent

今晚把 His Girl Friday 又翻出来重看一遍。机关枪对话,这剧本的长度大概是现在电影剧本的四五倍!

看到一半忽然想起 Cary Grant 是英国人,但是他的口音很奇怪,又不英又不美的,然后联想起好莱坞影片30-40年代里很多影星都是这个口音,例如 Katherine Hepburn 和 Jimmy Stewart 就是最典型的例子。然后又联想到其实JFK之类的名人说话也有这个腔调。是的,不仅是咬字和发音,而且语音节奏和抑扬顿挫都是自成一家,既不是节拍短促的英国口音和上下走向,又不是软软平平的美国口音(主要的来源是爱尔兰口音),而且也对不上美国的各个地方口音。

其实这个疑问以前就有过,现在有Google和Wikipedia了,可以找到答案 ---

Mid-Atlantic Accent.

"Mid-Atlantic" attempts to use no deliberate Briticisms nor any deliberate Americanisms, so that it can be equally understandable and acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Mid-Atlantic English is also a name that has been given to a pronunciation of English that was formerly cultivated by actors for use in theatre, radio, film, early television, and by news announcers. This dialect was formerly used by American actors who adopted some features of British pronunciation; it was used on stage generally - and especially in productions of Shakespeare and other pieces from the British Isles - and frequently in film until the mid-1960s.

Similar speech has historically been used by certain Americans not in the theatre; it was cultivated by the upper classes in some areas of the Northeastern United States.

口音在英国是阶级的标志,阶级是英国的 national obsession,人一张口就被定性。在美国,演员,媒体,蓝血的上流人士合用一个口音,真是个奇怪而有趣的混合阶级呢。

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

心烦

日本出了这么大件事,原订本周进行的花样滑冰世界锦标赛也取消了。当然,我知道在生死大事面前,还讲什么花样滑冰,实在很无厘头,可是人生如此无常,到头来还是这些短暂而飘渺的感官刺激 have meaning 似乎,其他什么长久有意义的反而虚无得很。

去年世锦赛,日本拿到男女单人的双料冠军,今年的世锦赛本该在东京掀起新高潮。唉。

ISU 的老总五十八(Ottavio Cinquanta) 从出事起到现在一直在胡言乱语胡说八道,一歇儿说要推迟到明年十月(神经病),一歇儿又说意大利都灵和瑞士洛桑甚至北京有意替代东京举办延迟的世锦赛,最后六个申办国(七个城市)宣布出来,证明以上都是信口开河。说来说去,ISU 的第一要义是钱,第二还是钱,所以这些都TMD是烟雾弹,最后十有八九是俄国冰协,为了三年后的冬奥会国家荣誉现在要不惜血本打通各路关节,把今年世锦赛抢到手。

日期尚未确定。拖拖拉拉没个完。

August Heat & Track of Sand



Inspector Montalbano 系列之二,大约2006年前后写的(里面有一小段探长对GWB占领伊拉克表示厌恶)。

说起来 Camilleri 的这个系列在悬疑和推理的内容上口味很轻,重点在西西里小镇的风景和食物。不过有时候他也会剑走偏锋地玩一玩风格,使得这个系列的故事不会显得过于重复单调。例如 The Scent of the Night 写着写着变成了向 William Faulkner 致敬的灵异故事;而 The Terracotta Dog 有历史浪漫小说的成分。总之,写来非常随意。不过,贯穿始终的主题有二: 美食与逝水流年的感慨。Montalbano 在每一本书里都要哀叹自己的衰老和时不我待的无奈。

Track of Sand 倒没有太多的新奇内容,除了着力描写一个惊为天人的美女是重点之外。哦,对了,还有一段讲到 Montalbano 混迹上流社会时吃了一顿极其难吃的饭,描写不好吃的饭大概是此剧集里空前绝后的一次。

August Heat 则属于有点偏离套路的。这本的重点是写一个年纪轻轻而美艳无敌的少女的火辣情仇,非常西西里。后半部分有一段描写,气氛激烈浓重,读之惊心动魄,explosive and extremely sensual ,非常符合意大利南方人的 stereotype,但不会让人觉得夸张。

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paul



这片儿纯粹是 geeks 拍给 geeks 看的,几乎一半是 spoof 经典科幻电影,从 ET 到 Star Wars。我有个奇怪的印象,剧本和主演是 Simon Pegg 和他的死党 Nick Frost (他俩合拍了 Shaun of the Dead 和 Hot Fuzz),他们的剧本可能是非常纯 geek 的,但是在找钱制作的时候跟 Seth Rogen 的团伙勾搭上了,结果影片被他们半路劫走,所以导演是 Greg Mottola (Superbad 的导演) ,而另一个主演,外星人 Paul,由 Seth Rogen 声音演出。Rogen 这帮人其实不怎么适合搞科幻内容(一部青蜂侠被扁得鼻青脸肿),尤其是 Rogen 的说话腔调很... human。Rogen 这帮人擅长的是 bromance 的套路,他们的参与让 geek 观众觉得最终的影片产品不够 geek ,如果能更 geeky 一点就好了。不过,总体来说还是很逗的,尤其是几个桥段让我跟S同学一看之下就互相推来搡去地提醒“你瞧,你瞧”。

********

很不幸,我发现自己终于也掉入了 Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg 这帮家伙的陷阱。其实前两年看了 "40-year-old Virgin" 就挺喜欢的,但是后来的几部作品都让我觉得没什么兴趣,应该不对我的胃口,虽然他们在市场上卖得很火。最近看了“香蕉特快”和 Superbad,也包括青蜂侠之后,忽然喜欢上这种很幼稚男的喜剧。肉头肉脑的 Seth Rogen 笑起来“咯,咯,咯”的,特别傻,我忽然觉得很cute(他也是加拿大人!)。

Paul 之前放了个 trailer,Your Highness,看样子是 Pineapple Express 那帮人鼓捣出来的。主角除了 James Franco 之外,另一个是在PE里我最喜欢的 Danny McBride(下右)。

Friday, March 18, 2011

ARGH! ARCADIA!

I so want to watch the revival of Tom Stoppard's play "Arcadia" on Broadway!

Raul Espanza! And he is doing a pretty convincing English accent! (There is also Billy Cudrup, but I'm not really his fan.)

Stoppard's venture into science and scientific history almost tickle the hell out of me. AHAHAHAHAH! I want to go to the Ethel Barrymore Theater and watch this play!!!! But when will I have the time!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Superbad



This movie is, like, legendary among young men. It's foul-mouthed but innocent. Mischievous but very sweet. It's one of the Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg bromance comedies that became extremely popular in the past few years.

Bromance 这玩意儿挺不好弄的,一不小心就变成弯男戏,或者笨拙的肉麻当有趣,Rogen 和他的 BFF Goldberg 加上 Judd Apatow 几个家伙鼓捣出来的东西,走的是一条很细的平衡木,难怪会红。

影片中两个主角,高中即将毕业的处男生,一个叫Evan一个叫Seth,不能不让人怀疑是两个作者的夫子自道。

最神奇的是,Michael Cera 终于把我也赢过去了。之前看到很多圈内圈外人对他大唱赞歌,还挺不以为然,看过 Juno 也没看出特别特别的地方。Cera 有种哼哼唧唧的表演特征,念台词又总是非常平板,我总觉得十分限制戏路。在这片里面,明明是 Jonah Hill 演的 Seth 戏更多更有汁水,但是观众---就是我---的注意力不由自主就被十分 deadpan 的 Cera 给吸引过去了。Suddenly I found myself a Cera fan!

Cera 也是加拿大的,好莱坞的喜剧明星里至少一半都是加拿大出来的。

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Longest Year: The Contractor

Stereotypes, I've heard it from nearly every mouth. Even my friends, even card-carrying liberals, even psychiatrists, have adopted the same belief, which they confessed to me: If a highly educated person or a person in managerial position is black or brown, his advancement must have been secured by lowered standards and a fear of discrimination lawsuits. Never have I heard anyone speculate that a middle-aged white man's position must have been secured by the paleness of his skin or the mustache on his lips, even though sometimes one needs a magnifying glass to find a speck of real quality that allows him to be promoted to the ruler of women and others. But we all know white men are exempt from stereotyping, don't we? Except, I have finally accepted, every elaborate bullshitter I've met is men, predominantly middle-aged white men.

The CEO of the company that has won several contracts with this, uh, organization, is one of the biggest bullshitters I have met. Once he opens his mouth, no one can wedge a word in without a hammer and a chisel. He talks more rapidly when he doesn't know what he is talking about, when he has no leg to stand on, and, most of all, when he is wrong and knows it. He gets away with it with a couple of amazing and crucial qualities: a layer of skin thicker than the stone walls of a pyramid and the ability to take the conversation in unending circles. Whenever you catch and point out his mistake and incompetency of his, his silver tongue automatically turns it around to blame it on you, even though you are the client who will pay him for his work. Look, everything is your own fault, because you don't know what you REALLY want. I told you what you want, and you didn't listen. The dexterity and slickness of this maneuver match the skills of any second-hand car salesman. Brilliant.

If he was not male or white, it would be unthinkable that he would have been able to get away with bluffing his way to the top without being pinned down people's skepticism. Protected by his dominant characteristics, however, his luck never runs out. There are always plenty of people willing to throw money at his supreme confidence. Who cares if he gives little more than worthless bullshit? His bullshit satisfies most people's intrinsic need for authoritative assurance, and who better give this soothing assurance than a gray-haired, tall, white male with above-average height and an attractive baritone?

Even with the favorable appearance, it was baffling why the Boss Lady gave them the THIRD contract in 2 years, after barely completing 2 previous contracts with gross incompetence and endless conflicts with the internal staff who were supposed to be his clients. The previous work he delivered was so shoddy and full of mistakes that the internal staff had to re-do more than half of the work for him. The excruciating process of dealing with him and his poor, clueless subordinates had sent at least 2 of Ms. B's assistants running away to other departments. Yet the wheels are turning again. He has returned to the game of trying to get the most from the gullible sheep by doing as little as possible.

Why does she do it? Why get herself into the mess again? She is hardly a masochist. Yet, a lot of people feel more content being robbed and kicked by a reassuring authority figure than being well pampered by a suspicious-looking character. Perhaps Ms. B is dazzled by his glittering bullshit. Of course she is in the position to delegate most of the crappy details to internal staff who are too wimpy to say no to her. Neither do they have the balls to call out the incompetence and veiled nastiness of the contractor, because one has to be either a bitch like B or a spineless doormat to survive so long in this organization. Perhaps, she is too lazy to find another contractor with anything resembling competence, sans the attitude. Perhaps, her long-term memory is so crippled that she cannot remember anything beyond a few days before and after the present moment.

*******

This particular contract is being run by the hapless and clueless Ms. B, because it was her boss who had the budget to carry out the project. Yet the boss and his giant office have no expertise to understand, much less oversee, this contract. It should have been given to the office who actual knows a thing or two about the technical basics. But, Mr. JJ, the office boss and his boss, would rather fuck the whole thing up than losing a sliver of their turf to another office. So, naturally, it fell onto the tireless Ms. B who can never quite remember exactly how much work she has already dumped on her subordinates.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Track of Sand

Inspector Montalbano 系列中的第十本。

开头没多久,写到 Montalbano 去书店淘新书,交钱时才发现挑的都是瑞典的侦探小说: Enquist, Sjowall-Waloo, Mankell。呵呵,想必是作者 Andrea Camilleri 的夫子自道吧。Enquist 不认识,另外两个是老交情了,国际侦探小说圈不大呀。

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All the Darth Vaders



今天偶然跟S同学说起Darth Vader,然后好奇心起,去查一下到底有几个人参加了这个人物的演出。

第一当然是 James Earl Jones 的伟大声音演出。在网上查一查,发现好笑的是 JEJ 大叔的名字在 A New Hope 和 Empire Strikes Back 中并未在演员表中出现,因为,给 ANH 配音录制只花了一天即在录音室中完成,他觉得自己对影片的贡献很微小,不值一提。啊哈哈哈~~ 回想起来,Darth Vader 的对白的确不是很多,但是给所有的 Star Wars 影迷都留下了过耳不忘,噩梦连连的印象哪。

第二是在黑色机械装与头盔面具中提供动作演出的英国演员 David Prowse,他是个 body builder,身材巨高(六尺七寸)。据说当时 George Lucas 问他是要演 Vader 还是 Chewbacca,他选了 Vader。

第三是在 Return of the Jedi 结尾时候,摘下面具露出光头然后断气的 Darth Vader 是由英国演员 Sebastian Shaw 演的。

ESB 和 ROTJ 中的光剑打斗戏里,面具和斗篷里的演员则是替身演员 Bob Anderson。

另外在2000年代拍的三部前传中 Annakin Skywalker 分别由 Jake Lloyd 和 Hayden Christensen 扮演 。我跟S同学说起这件事就是感叹一下,JEJ 大叔的雄浑震荡余音袅袅的舞台嗓音最后变成一个发音whiny口音平板加吐字不清的加拿大小男生,真素太让人失望鸟!

我对人声相当敏感,声音演出的前后矛盾比其他方面的混乱和不一致更让我不舒服。

所以,总共数得出的演员就有六个,当然这还不算前传三集中的替身演员等等。

最后必须提到的是电影中 Darth Vader 的音乐主题!当~当~当~,当得当,当得当。John Williams 的大作,旋律一响人人脑中都会浮现出 Darth Vader 的黑色形象,也是人物的重要特性之一呀。

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Cold Dish



I had wanted to read Craig Johnson's detective novels since I heard him talk at the National Book Festival in the fall of 2009. He was funny and charming and lovely. But I didn't get around to it until now --- other books interfered, as they always do.

When I finally went to the library last week and picked up the first entry of his Walter Longmire series, The Cold Dish, I had already had a feeling I'd like it. And it gave me all I had expected and then some.



For a couple of reasons, I decided to read the book slowly. Perhaps it has to do with a new habit I have learned from reading on Kindle. Plus I am trying to savor things more lately. Most of all, though, I love the details in his narrative about the rural life in Wyoming. Reading the book was almost like strolling alongside the 50-something sheriff Walter in Absaroka County, gazing into the breath-taking mountains around you, and listening to the banters between Walter and his best friend Henry Standing Bear. I loved all this so much that I didn't want to leave them too soon. So I read as slowly as I could, resisting the pull of the whodunit to rush ahead.

The whodunit wasn't too hard to guess. There were the usual red herrings and diversions thrown in the reader's path. I got it pretty early on. None of it detracted from the joy of reading the book.

Johnson gives us an assortment of colorful locals: The aforementioned sheriff Walter, who shares a lot of traits with, of all people, Kurt Wallander; Henry, the Indian with a colorful past and far from a sidekick; Walter's foul-mouthed but extremely efficient deputy, a policewoman transplanted from South Philadelphia; the sheriff before Walter, a tough and crusty old man; the list goes on and on. Most characters have nothing to do the plot, but are introduced as part of the life, and I'm all the more grateful for them. They are too spectacularly eccentric to be the product of anyone's imagination; they must be real. The most important character may be the Bear, whose premise could have easily slipped into a cliche of the Noble Savage or the Magical Indian. The only way for this character and their friendship to work is if this is all real. Apparently, it is. Johnson really does have an Indian friend and, judging from the book's Acknowledgments, his name really is Henry Standing Bear. He also alluded to Henry in his talk at the National Book Festival. Indeed, the dialogues between Walter and Henry feel so palpably true that they have to be real.

One of the many charms of Johnson's novel is his amusing way of referencing classic literature in the most unexpected context: including Hemingway, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Dickens, ... And, of course, Dr. Doyle's immortal detective, and twice at that! For example, at one point, Walter went to visit a millionaire scouting expert in the neighborhood to get some information about the special deadly murder weapon. In the millionaire's house, he first ran into the man's "head wrangler" watching a soft-porn movie in the kitchen --- "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Walter commented:
I wasn't sure if D.H. Lawrence would have recognized his work, but the plastic surgeon specializing in breast enhancement would have recognized his.

Beyond the chuckles, however, Johnson's style is also impeccable and full of surprising grace and beauty. Reading it slowly is like drinking the crisp, pure morning air of the mountains under the Wyoming sky.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dead Ringer

昨天下班在地铁上,看书看累了,无聊地望着车窗 --- 窗外是黑乎乎的隧道,玻璃反射着车厢内的旅客或站或坐的影子。忽然一哆嗦,我看见一张脸,仿佛是从 Sherlock DVD 封面上跳出来的一样。赶紧扭头去看镜像的来源,眼光捉到车厢对面的门边站的长脸高个男,果然很象 Benedict Cumberbatch。头发颜色是棕的,而不是电视剧里(染得)漆黑,发型倒是很象,比剧中福尔摩斯剪得更短一些。除了脑袋的形状之外,他的五官也象,虽然细看没有那么棱角分明,但是Cumberbatch 的脸在剧中其实也经过了摄影加灯光处理加强棱角。另外,此男亦穿了件长过膝的黑色呢大衣,围巾挂在脖子上没有系,全神贯注地盯着手上的黑莓,耳朵里还塞着耳机。总之,乍看之下整体效果好诡异。

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winter's Bone



这片儿印证了我的一个印象:好莱坞中虽然女影人(制片,导演,编剧)极少,但是闯出来的女影人,普遍比男影人更有胆儿。They have more balls than the guys.

男影人,大老板,忙不迭地拍四平八稳绝无风险迎合众口稳赚不赔皆大欢喜的题材故事和套路,尤其是续集加前传加spin-off,没完没了。总之决不肯担负一点风险。

Winter's Bone 从选材(Daniel Woodrell 的小说)到选演员,从题材到取景环境(在密苏里南部,真正的冬天里拍摄),到大量收集当地人民饱经风霜的面孔入镜,都给人留下拒绝媚俗的感觉。我忍不住猜想,两个女编导 Debra Granik 和 Anne Rosellini 一定很认同小说中年轻但是坚韧勇敢的女主角。

The Longest Year: The Team Leader Saga (3)

What had occurred before this entry were described in Part 1 and Part 2.

Supplanting Ellie to become the new acting team leader was a huge boost to Patty's ego. She had ambitions. A foreign graduate, she always thought herself overlooked and under-appreciated by her colleagues. Now, it was time to show them her leadership skills. She immediately assumed a maternalistic attitude toward her colleagues, handing out accolades and reprimands to reviewers with whom she was sharing complaints about the Boss and Ellie just a few weeks ago. The view on top --- or merely on the second floor --- was always better than that at the bottom.

Unfortunately, Patty quickly discovered that none of her fellow reviewers took her new authority seriously. True, as the team leader, she was in charge of overseeing their work and giving comments and critiques. But none took her critiques lying down and often argued every point with her. They kept dropping hints, in front of and behind the Boss, that Patty had barely enough qualification and aptitude to be a reviewer, much less a team leader.

Fighting with her colleagues and trying to maintain her authority, Patty was soon feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Stressing her out even further the endless administrative crap that she had to manage daily: Responding to outside requests, managing reviewers' workload, dealing with complaints from all corners, and generally getting dumped on by the Boss with every bit of worthless little projects.

The morale in the team had slipped so low that fewer and fewer members came to the weekly team meetings, each person's excuse was lamer than the next. Soon enough, everyone, from the Boss Lady to the reviewers, was phoning into the weekly team teleconference.

Patty thought she could show off her leadership skills, but the Boss thought Patty was taking her newly found power a little too far and a little too enthusiastically. "I don't even know what Patty is doing nowadays," the Boss once complained to the third reviewer on the team, the last person who had not tasted power yet. This reviewer, who would never get anywhere because she has a big mouth, promptly offered the Boss complaints about Patty's incompetence --- unable to keep up with work assignments, unable to resolve conflicts, unable to make sound judgment, etc., etc., giving the Boss plenty of ammunition to take the next step.

Three months later, Patty was promptly relieved of her acting team leader position. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.


Just when the reviewers assumed that things would return to the way they were 6 months ago, albeit with somewhat soured opinions toward each other after the much ado about nothing, the Boss Lady announced a new brilliant ideas of hers: a peer-review system in the team. Instead of returning to the previous work process, in which the Boss review and sign off on, therefore assume responsibility for, every reviewer's review, each reviewer's work would be "peer-reviewed" by one of her fellow reviewer.

All this to save the Boss Lady some work and headache, so that she could concentrate on "more important things," like "working from home" two days a week and attend more meetings with upper management, so that she could lunge toward more projects and seize more glory, and so that she remains the most faithful and indispensable pet to the bigger bosses.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Troubled Man

OK, OK, 这书尚未出售,要到本月底才会开始卖,不过我已经把 Kindle 版给买了下来,29日即刻无线送到机器上。

最后一本 Kurt Wallander。说实话,看到 Linda 在小说里还好好地活着,我心里感到很温暖。

The Adjustment Bureau



这片儿一老早就打出了 “根据 Philip K. Dick 短篇小说改编” 的旗号,我一老早就不怎么相信原作的内容能所剩几何。果然不出所料,只是借用一点点PKD的神经病奇思妙想而已。

虽然掺杂进去很多科幻元素,亦有比较严肃的哲学问题(“命运既定还是自由意志?”),但这部影片其实是个典型而传统的爱情片!完全遵守爱情戏的 formula: 所有的情节都是阻止二人搞到一起的障碍,男女主角象打游戏一样闯了一关又一关,直到最后终于搞到一起。

影片的中心障碍很简单: 江山还是美人? 为了符合观众的期望,英俊而前程远大的男主角当然要放弃江山,反抗老爹和家庭的阻力,不惜牺牲前程也要跟美人白头偕老。虽然在这里老爹和其他煞风景的长辈们变成了上帝和天使,或者说,修政局的官僚,他们的狗腿,以及楼上的社团主席。反正都一样。

结尾特别汗,男女主角差点上演“毕业生”里 Dustin Hoffman 的抢亲桥段,最后楼上的老板发话,或者说,中央领导空降一个老书记,在关键时刻搭救了得罪光全部地方领导的改革新星。于是一对情侣从此幸福地生活在一起。影院里的女观众都幸福地叹口气,自动带入 Emily Blunt 角色中。

因为情节非常没有挑战性,我一边看一边注意各种有趣的细节:例如,修正局 的员工都打扮得非常过时,跟 Don Draper 一样(一个中层管理人员是 John Slattery,简直可以回收利用他在 Mad Men 里的服装)---这年头谁还戴帽子啊!例如,修政局的官员都叫啥森,Richardson, Donaldson, Thompson! 例如,天堂,噢不,修政局大楼,就是个古色古香的老图书馆的样子,很酷哦。例如,Jon Stewart 出现了两次!因为男主(Matt Damon)的职业是政治选举,现实中的政治人物和CNN 脑袋们都跑上来转一圈打酱油。

看到一半,我不禁想:这有啥好选的?光辉政途 vs 极high恋爱。闷死人。如果换成女主角的角度,这个选择问题还有点挣扎有点意思: 要变成世界顶尖的舞蹈家兼编舞还是要男友?二选一不可兼得。

科幻类型与神话浪漫类型的根本差别在于,科幻非常死扣“游戏规则”,即使是瞎编出来的不可能的规则,也要严格遵守逻辑推理。神话浪漫类则根本不理这些纳德的玩意儿,随心所欲,想怎么玩就怎么玩,只要最后俊男美女幸福地生活在一起即可。

然后继续发散思维,如果换成我来写这个故事,就会把修正局写成跟人间的官僚机构一样的地方,人浮于事,级别太多,左手不知右手干了什么,朝令夕改,乱七八糟... 当然,这种故事才没有人要看呢。

********
一边看一边继续胡思乱想,忽然意识到这片儿其实很类似另一部片子: The Lives of The Others. 从某个角度来看,两部片子都是讲一个工作认真的政府员工被上头派去细细监视一个凡人,在监视的过程中日久生情,爱上了监视对象。所以,当上头下手威胁监视对象的安全,监视者牺牲自己的前途,违抗上级命令和自己的责任,保护监视对象,默默奉献不求回报,以对方的幸福为自己的幸福 ...

此片中保护 Matt Damon,替他无私奉献的,是 Tony Mackie 演的天使,噢不, 修政局工作人员 Harry Mitchell。Mackie 在 The Hurt Locker 里面就很棒,在这片里很温柔。做为 Julliard 戏剧系的毕业生,又有不少舞台经验,他可以算是年轻一代美国男演员里的高材生了,可惜是黑的,注定不会在好莱坞大片里当上 leading man 。他齿间有缝,加上眼睫毛又长又黑又卷,我觉得相当可爱呢。

Saturday, March 5, 2011

阴影

前几天也不知是说起了啥,S 同学忽然说: I grew up in the shadow of nuclear war and global annihilation ... 我惊跳起来问道:点解?古巴飞弹事件发生的时候你还没出生呢。他摇摇头说不是啊,核战争的乌云直到九十年代初苏联解体才真正散去,之前都是觉得不知何时就从现实生活变成启示录了。

这话给我留下的印象很深。真的是各人自有一套历史,很多对一个人的性格与思想影响至深的记忆和环境,别人从外面是无法观察到的,经常连自己也非有意识地记得,有意识地认识到。

I, too, grew up in the shadow of something。我这一代的中国人都是在这个阴影中长大的。我不能彻底地知道他的阴影留下的痕迹,他也不能完全理解我的。我可以想象,我可以动用empathy,但是,事实很清楚,理性的解释无法摸到感性直觉潜意识的一根线。

历史给人---个体与集体---制造的效果,大多是不易觉察但是非常深刻的。Nobody knows anybody, not that well. ("Miller's Crossing") We know less about each other than our empathy has led us to believe.

Friday, March 4, 2011

电子书与纸书

在亚马逊上面找了找Craig Johnson的侦探小说,发现一个有趣的现象: 企鹅出版社把电子版定价得跟纸皮书一样,同时把旧一些的硬皮书降价低于纸皮书和电子书,等于鼓励读者买硬皮书。

这个策略跟美国售书市场的惯例有关系。跟其他商品的销售不同,出版社跟书店的协议一般是,书店可以退还卖剩下的新书,这样市场的风险主要落在出版社身上。出版社的策略是,第一轮印刷数量有限的硬皮书,吸引对价格不敏感而急于一睹为快的书迷们;然后根据第一轮的销售口碑和数量决定晚一些发行的纸皮书的发行量(大约晚几个月)。这是大多数上市卖的书籍,此外也有只发行纸皮书的小说。硬皮书一般定价25刀,纸皮书一般12刀。硬皮书与第一轮买主是给出版社提供高利润的一环。

因为书店可以退还卖不出去的书,这些copies就变成在出版社的仓库里的废纸,命运是变成回收纸浆。前阵子听说亚马逊出售的新书数量,纸皮书仍然名列第一,但Kindle 电子书的销售量已超过了硬皮书。现在企鹅通过网上书店甩卖积压的硬皮书,定价低于电子书与纸书,大概是出版社的一种挣扎对策。可是,硬皮书的未来命运如何,看上去真的不太乐观。

翻了半天,我既没买电子版也没买硬皮书,而是到本地图书馆的网站上,发现立刻就可以借到免费的。

不过 History of Ballet 这本巨著,在图书馆排队太久了,又未必能及时读完,正在考虑买 Kindle 版,定价才15刀,比硬皮书便宜。

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Surgar House

Daniel Deronda 看到 65%,被宗教狂热派的描述给滞住了,一时读不下去,先搁一搁。

为了调剂一下,把前阵子随手买的(为了凑够Amazon的免运费)侦探小说The Sugar House给看完了,是Laura Lippman写的Tess Monaghan 系列中的一本。她挺高产的,这个系列已经写了十几本,而且还出了几本系列外的独立小说。

这篇除了一贯的巴尔的摩风土人情之外,还有大笔的地方政治黑幕,布局颇复杂,让我看得很起劲。嘿嘿,SJ Rozan 有时也会写地方政界的阴谋黑幕之类,我都很爱看,不知道是什么心理。

Petyr Baelish of Sichuan: Echoes of the 3 Kingdoms

Sometimes my mind makes unexpected associations. A few days ago I was talking to a couple of friends, who are of Sichuan (or Szechuan) ances...

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