Cavemen and Kristen Stewart

27 03 2017

My twin obsessions this week, oddly, were Kristen Stewart in the strangely luminous “Clouds of Sils-Maria” and prehistoric man, courtesy of the surprise hit book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.”

My curiosity for Olivier Assayas’s “Clouds of…” was piqued by the rave reviews for his upcoming “Personal Shopper” (for which I had snagged tickets at the Hong Kong International Film Festival) and which also starred his (rather unlikely) new muse, Kristen Stewart.

The formerly much-derided Twilight star has been amassing accolades. I have seen her variously described as “the greatest actress of her generation” and “a star for our times.” I didn’t get it. What was the buzz about? But halfway through this movie, which I had originally found slight and rather dull before it totally sucked me in, I twigged. Stewart is a naturalistic actress par excellence. She doesn’t look like she is acting. So at first I took her for granted – where were the virtuoso emoting I associated with “great acting”? Where was the transformation?  She looked like she always does, shaggy dark hair, stumbling over her words, willowy frame in clothed in grungy lesbian-chic. But then I realised that despite that, this character isn’t HER. She is a multimillionaire, not Julian Binoche’s ambitious assistant in the Alps, and the fact that I had forgotten that shows what a great performance it was.

“Sapiens” was also something of a revelation. The book, by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, traces humanity from its origins to the present day. Powerfully written, Yuval kicks off with the sensational reminder that although today there is only one human species, used to thinking of itself as the pinnacle of all evolution, we know that once we shared the world with at least six other human “species” – the homo erectus and Cave of the Red Deer people in China, the dwarf-like homo floresiensis of Nusa Tenggara, the Denisovans in Sibeia. the neaderthals in Europe…. The book claims that humanity’s “original sin” was perhaps the genocide of our brothers and sisters, leaving us alone as the sole surviving humans on the planet.

 





Sound of Southeast Asia

27 03 2017

 

The other night, while running laps at a balmy Happy Valley, I heard a rustling in the frangipani trees and then one of my favourite sounds, the call of the koel bird, heard all over the Southeast Asian tropics. Warm weather is back!





19 03 2017

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At The Instagram Pier

19 03 2017

A friend was leaving town this weekend, and hosted her “adieu Hong Kong” bash at the ‘Instagram Pier’, a cargo loading bay that has become a de facto public park in cramped Hong Kong. Located along the Kennedy Town waterfront, it was known for many years as a gathering spot for Hokkien-speaking seniors to play mahjong and listen to Chinese opera ( there was some there this weekend) as well as a premium spot for thrill-seekers to watch typhoon waves during the Summer storms. Recently, it has been adopted by hipsters and those seeking the perfect Hong Kong harbour sunset pic (hence the name).

Arriving on a cold and drizzly Saturday night, we walked past vast piles of bamboo poles, ready to be hauled across town for construction projects, by the lines of bobbing tugboats in the dark sea and into the shelter afforded by a little cargo hut. People were walking dogs with neon-glowing collars, cruising past on bikes or skateboards, someone was flying a drone. A woman in a red dress was doing a photo-shoot and some girls were shooting a semi-professional-looking music video while a large group of young Japanese lay on tatami mats, having a picnic.

The highlight though was an impromptu serenade by a string quartet, playing atop a grafittied cargo crate. They popped up, played beautifully and then melted away again into the night…

 





The art of Izumi Kato

19 03 2017

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13 03 2017

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Aguas de Marco

13 03 2017

Its March, and the humidity is back: the Waters of March indeed. While playing this song for my boyfriend I discovered, for the first time, the English lyrics – a masterpiece of stream of consciousness poetry in themselves, even without the jaunty tune:

A stick, a stone,
It’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of a stump,
It’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass,
It is life, it’s the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It’s a trap, it’s a gun
The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush
The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all
It’s the wind blowing free,
It’s the end of the slope,
It’s a beam, it’s a void,
It’s a hunch, it’s a hope
And the river bank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the end of the strain,
The joy in your heart
The foot, the ground,
The flesh and the bone,
The beat of the road,
A slingshot’s stone
A fish, a flash,
A silvery glow,
A fight, a bet,
The range of a bow
The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay