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Ju Dou Publié le Mardi 24 Mars 2009 à 00:14:06
Like a certain American director, [Zhang Yimou] is obsessed with the horrors hovering just beneath the surface of the normal. His characters play out a twisted domestic charade, yet we are led to realize that it is not they who are weird -- life itself is strange when looked at too closely. The film's cinematography, which pans across cascades of brilliantly dyed cloth and too-perfect pastoral landscapes, lends Ju Dou a dreamy, druggy texture; Zhang's spectrum leans toward the color red, which he imbues with the power of fertility and death. Scarlet banners, vats of roiling crimson dye, and the angry vermilion of blood and flame stand out as the film's brightest sources of light. The actors struggle to remain vivid against a bold cinematic backdrop, and most succeed. Gong Li's fiery performance as Ju Dou is especially worth watching.

From its opening moments, one might expect Ju Dou to be a typically prosaic peasant melodrama, full of farm girls, country bumpkins, and rich misers who get their comeuppance. Instead -- to the credit of director Zhang Yimou (of 1988's acclaimed Red Sorghum) -- Ju Douis an odd and artful cinematic tapestry, shot through with threats of voyeurism, adultery, incest, and parricide.

Ju Dou is the pretty wife of miser Jin Shan, a tyrant whose abuse has already killed off two previous women. Jin's great wish is to father a child to whom he can leave his wealth; unable to do so, he lashes out at his new bride. This horrifies Tian Qing, the simple-but-goodhearted nephew who slaves at his uncle's dye factory by day, and peeps at his young aunt's bathing habits by night.

Discovering Tian Qing's peephole, Ju Dou waits for the bumpkin to act on his desires, and finally seduces him herself. When Ju Dou becomes pregnant, the two are forced to pretend that the child is Jin's; this deceit continues until Jin Shan is brought down by a paralyzing stroke. Bringing their passion out of hiding, the lovers cavort before the helpless old man. But in their innocence, they neglect their child, who watches the taboo love between his mother and "brother." As Tian Bai grows into an adolescent with a remarkable resemblance to "Puggsley" of the Addams Family, this proves to be the doom of all.

Like a certain American director, Zhang is obsessed with the horrors hovering just beneath the surface of the normal. His characters play out a twisted domestic charade, yet we are led to realize that it is not they who are weird -- life itself is strange when looked at too closely. The film's cinematography, which pans across cascades of brilliantly dyed cloth and too-perfect pastoral landscapes, lends Ju Dou a dreamy, druggy texture; Zhang's spectrum leans toward the color red, which he imbues with the power of fertility and death. Scarlet banners, vats of roiling crimson dye, and the angry vermilion of blood and flame stand out as the film's brightest sources of light. The actors struggle to remain vivid against a bold cinematic backdrop, and most succeed. Gong Li's fiery performance as Ju Dou is especially worth watching.

But perhaps the film's greatest asset is its refreshingly disturbing quality -- the way it knocks preconceptions of Chinese filmmaking head-over-backside. Unlike the kiss-and-shoot genre films of Hong Kong, Ju Dou has no "Hollywood on the Yangtze" pretensions. The pretensions it does have are at once both higher and smaller: It's not hard to imagine that the film's rippling red banners are instead crushed blue velvet, or that Twin Peak's Josie Packard might suddenly pop by for a cup of soy sauce. Ju Dou is the kind of film that a young David Lynch might have been proud to make, had he been born a few degrees east of west.

Ремонт, отделка и дизайн квартир от специалисти.

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GROWING UP WITH NANCY KWAN Publié le Mardi 24 Mars 2009 à 00:10:17

I am nine years old, and my Girl Scout troop has planned a talent show. Wearing a neighbor's blond wig, spiked heels, and my mother's slinky pink nightie and matching translucent cover-up, I dance with six other girls and lip synch to "I Enjoy Being a Girl," a catchy but sexist show tune from the '60s musical Flower Drum Song: "I'm strictly a female female, and my future I hope will be/ in the home of a brave and free male/ who'll enjoy being a guy, having a me." We wobble -- mustering all of our available girlishness -- in carefully choreographed femininity, ending with a dramatic kickline á là The Rockettes. For days before opening night, I had primped in front of my bedroom mirror and practiced batting my eyelashes. It's hard work, but I -- like the singer of the song -- am determined to be the "perfect girl."

Two years later, I see Flower Drum Song for the first time in all of its glory. There on the television screen is Hong Kong-born Nancy Ka Shen Kwan, daughter of a Chinese architect and an English fashion model, educated in England and trained as a dancer by the Royal Ballet, made up to look more Asian than usual (Hide the freckles! Accentuate the tilt of the eyes!). As producer Ray Stark declared in the Saturday Evening Post, "Nancy is many girls of many nations, packaged on one body. She certainly doesn't look Chinese." But she's singing my song, with her long black hair and slim dancer's legs, hips truly "swively and swervy" (just like in the song), high cheekbones under flawless skin. No wonder why she enjoys being a girl, I think. She's perfect. I look at myself -- my stringy hair, oily skin, chunky body with no noticeable hips or bust -- and make a mental beeline back to the comforting images on the screen. Here, nobody lingers in an "in-between stage," that awkward transition from ugly duckling to swan, which I pray will happen to me overnight. In movie musicals, even sadness can have a romantic allure.

Watching Flower Drum Song, I see for the first time Asian-American actors playing realistic roles -- as parents, children, lovers -- with familiar San Francisco as the backdrop (or, at least, a $310,000 replica of it), instead of far-off Hong Kong or China. As an eleven-year-old searching for a place to belong, Flower Drum Song isn't perfect, but it's a beginning.

When I reach high school, I am introduced -- via Sunday afternoon TV -- to The World of Suzie Wong (1960). Seeing this movie reminds me of an earlier time of my life -- when I was a toddler and my father dressed like William Holden, when movies were Technicolor and larger than life. Here is Nancy Kwan again, and now I am a young woman like she is, with my own concerns about sex and virginity. I admire the character of Suzie Wong (who sells her body, but not her heart, to support her baby) -- not only for her beauty, but for her stubborn belief in herself and the way she makes the world bend to her will. But I also think of my non-Asian boyfriend, who sings David Bowie's "China Girl" to me as a serenade, and of the older white men who ask me if I am Chinese or Japanese -- then tell me it doesn't matter, they like all Oriental girls.

In the years that follow, I suffer from frequent twinges of desire to be Nancy Kwan as I always imagined her to be -- a showstopper, never at a loss for words or a dramatic gesture; to be someone who turns all heads in her direction as she sweeps by, oblivious to her public. Until I go to college, "woman" is a word I reserve for my mother's friends, teachers, and females over 40 with kids or a paying job -- until then, I am proud to be a girl, to label myself and my friends as such. Weak in the femininity department even as a teen, I can't help but continue to envy Nancy Kwan's perfect girlhood. But this admiration gradually takes a back seat to anger and betrayal -- research in college (as well as friends' experiences and my own) makes me consciously aware of how Asian women are promoted as a target of men's sexual fantasies. For the first time, I feel manipulated and exposed. I wonder how many chauvinistic daydreams I've unwittingly immersed myself in, propaganda disguised as a romantic comedy or an old musical. At the same time, I try to separate Nancy Kwan from all this -- It's not her fault, I repeat, aware that she acted in a time when roles for Asian Americans were rare and often stereotypical, and "breaks" few and far between. Over the years sympathy softens my anger, but I can't divorce the actress from the role. I still enjoy her movies and see them often, guilty pleasures though they be. Like it or not, she is a ghost in my life, part of my growing up.

Two years out of college and working in New York City, I read a newspaper article. It tells me that Nancy continues to act, but is turning towards a new career behind the scenes, producing and writing her own projects. Out of curiosity, I call her agency and talk to someone who, to my utter amazement, labels me a "crazed fan" determined to "track her down at all costs." This phone call leaves me shaken and insulted, but unwilling to surrender. I turn to the library, determined to flesh out my two-dimensional memories of this childhood idol. A thorough search yields Nancy in a yellow cheong-sam on the cover of Life, some cheesecake photos, and a few articles as substantial as marshmallow fluff. The Saturday Evening Post article gleams like a string of pearls hidden away and forgotten -- an unexpected find. But is this Nancy today? Is it fair for me to think of her as if thirty years haven't changed anything -- to assume that things she said when she was twenty-two ("Every man wants to be stronger than his girl, and he should be. I think it right that man should feel superior.") still hold true? The television once again provides an answer, in the form of low-budget late-night commercials for a beauty product called "Oriental Pearl Cream." Here is Nancy again, older, but somehow ageless. Now that proclamations like "Her exciting looks herald a great future" (Variety) have long faded, perhaps this is all there is: well-preserved Nancy holding tightly onto the remains of her girlishness. And perhaps pearls "crushed into a fine, lustrous, gossamer-like powder and combined with exotic ingredients" are the key to her beauty -- but somehow, I don't think she'll tell. Like all us girls, Nancy has her secrets.

Проектиране и дизайн интерьера кухни.

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Jude Narita Fires Away on Politics and Art Publié le Samedi 21 Mars 2009 à 20:30:18

Jude Narita is an actress, a playwright, and the star of the one-woman-show Coming Into Passion: Song for a Sansei. The show weaves together a set of uncannily real impressions, ranging from a Filipino mail order bride to a backtalking sansei adolescent, to create a portrait of Asian America that is sad, shocking, and side-splittingly funny. A. Magazine.'s Anita Chang gave Jude a chance to take aim at some of her pet peeves.

You could just start by talking a little about yourself -- what it was like growing up Asian.

That's interesting, "growing up Asian." I think I just grew up -- in a fairly white neighborhood. I think a lot of how you grow up is affected by what you see around you. When you're a child, or a young adult, you're especially affected by television. When I was growing up, there were no Asians on television, nor was there any sense of pride of being Asian presented in the media. I was telling somebody else that I couldn't work with an accent when I first started out as an actor. Even after I'd been acting and studying for years, I never did an Asian accent. In my mind there was something distasteful about that, 'cause if you heard an Asian accent on television or in film, it meant something bad. It was the enemy, it was sneaky, evil; it was somebody who is going to torture somebody, or somebody you couldn't trust, or somebody who was stupid -- or a prostitute. There was nothing good about an Asian accent. That's a simplified way of putting how I felt.

You grew up in California?

I grew up in Long Beach, California. There's an Asian community there that's been networking for a long time -- and I was never involved in it. I'd be at home, and there'd be these meetings at the house -- y'know, the whole house would be full of Asians and I would just say, "Hi, guys." I felt that I was an artist and that politics didn't concern me. What I've learned since then is that politics is your art. Your art consists of your morality, your ideals, but definitely your politics, which is basically just your perception of the world: what's right in the world, what's wrong, and how it should be. Without that, you have no self-definition. So, I'd say that I sort of backed into growing up Asian.

You mean, you came in touch with your Asian American identity a little later.

Well, I came in touch with it not by default, but sort of with everybody else pushing it in my face -- saying that I couldn't go out for this or that part, because it wasn't an Asian character. Look around, and you'll run into Asians at every level in business, and every level in life. For them to be portrayed on television as, basically, three things -- newscasters, which is very recent, villagers, which is also very recent, and prostitutes, which is how it's been -- that's misrepresentation. Not to be able to act for years; to feel like, when you see something, that you could do it better...If you're not allowed to act, when the opportunity comes up to act in something, even though it's crap, you might do it. Where do you draw the line? You want to act, and you begin to feel like the part might not be that bad. But within the full context of the things, maybe the part is damaging. Maybe it's irresponsible to do that part. Where can the actor who hasn't worked in a year go?

It's a real short step from being told that you can't do what you love the most because of what you look like, to hating what you look like, to hating yourself. Those are very short steps.

How did that affect you?

I read a lot of plays during my student years; I was looking for a monologue, and I couldn't find one that meshed with what I looked like, whether it was Asian or not, that had something contemporary to say. So I wrote one, and I got such good feedback that I started writing more. It was by accident that I turned what was up until then a detriment, how I looked, into something that was part of the weaponry of an artist. The total arsenal of the artist. It changed my whole outlook on everything. It brought me around to "being Asian," not only being proud of being Asian, but being like a bullet about it. Being like a bullet from a gun about being Asian, as far as "Just get out of my way. Don't try to stop me." People respond to that and respect it. They don't want wishy-washy, middle of the road stuff. They want "X." Be defined. State your philosophy and don't be afraid of offending anybody. If people choose to be offended because they choose to misinterpret it, that's their problem. But if you're putting out something that is honest and reflective of reality, then that is not in and of itself offensive. There are things in reality that are distasteful, that can be dark. Talking about them doesn't mean that you've created them.

Do people refer to you as an "angry artist"? How do you feel about that?

Anger is a justified part of what feeds the artist. I don't think an artist should be driven by anger, but I really think it's a part of it. It's a package deal, and anger is in there. Anger and inspiration and love and compassion. It's like volcanos; volcanos aren't evil. Volcanos are how the earth is building itself again.

Do you have any concerns about the direction in which Asian America is going?

I think that Asians have started to disassociate...There's this one thing about Asians: it is important for us to be seen as individuals because we constantly get lumped together. We get collapsed together as Asians or 'Orientals' in any slur. It can be about driving -- bad drivers, anybody can be a bad driver. All kinds of people have cameras. A lot of countries make good cars. But what has happened in the media is that this hysteria that is being created where somebody has to be a scapegoat. And Japan happens to be the scapegoat, and what has happened is that Asian Americans are getting a backlash. Violence against Asian Americans -- this is being perpetuated by the media. By their misrepresentation of facts about the economy. Nobody's forcing anybody to buy anything. People are taking their hard-earned money, they're looking at the statistics, and they're asking people "What should I spend my money on?" -- whether it's an entertainment center, a camera, or a car. The thing that hurt the American auto industry is not Japan -- it was greed, management greed. That's what hurt it. No changeover in the factory line until it was too late. None of this is represented at all. This is dangerous. It's inflammatory journalism. And it feeds on this war attitude that has existed for generations -- as in, Asians have always been the enemy.

It's this love/hate relationship.

Right, right. It's the same traits that Americans are so proud of: "Build a better mousetrap." Or, "If you work really hard, you can succeed." My dad worked 20 hours a day when he first came over here. And yet, look at the Koreans, they're in trouble, what, because they cleaned up these delis and made them beautiful. And their families work in them, and they work long hours. Everything's presented in a positive light about white Americans and the negative aspect of the same characteristic, the negative name, if it's a non-white. The Japanese pilots who crashed and died in their planes were crazy, yet an American pilot who did that was a hero.

What I resent is that things are mocked if they're not white, like the Japanese management schools. People make fun of them, and yet they take the idea. There are American management schools structured in exactly the same way now, but that doesn't make the news. I call that misinformation and misrepresentation. It makes me very angry. I resent having qualities that people mock because of ignorance, of jealousy...economic jealousy and ignorance. I resent people being mocked because they are trying to speak a different language.

What are your suggestions for Asian Americans or any persons of color who want to pursue a career in art?

Well, you start with yourself and your feelings about things. You reach out, think, and wonder. What happens to you, to people you love, know and respect -- that's important. There are basic stories: you're born, you live, you marry, you love and raise children, you die. It's circumstance that makes the difference. When this guy told me, "Well, I'm writing this piece about this couple, and they're in love blah, blah, blah...", I said "Yeah, yeah. Are they Asian?" and he went, "No they're not, because I don't think I can get backing for it." I told him, "There aren't that many Asian writers. Let the white people write white, y'know!" And I guess I was so strong that he started backing out of the room -- "It was nice seeing you again, Jude," -- and he was out like a bullet. In the end I shouted out to him, "Well, at least make one of them Asian. Make it the woman!" But that was before I was really writing myself, and I realized that you can't ask or expect anybody else to do it for you.

What do you think about Asian American art? Is there such a thing? How about Asian American artists who try so hard to get away from being identified as Asian, who instead say "Just take my art for what it is"?

In the big sense, art is art, and I think we get into sticky waters when we say "Black artists" or "Asian artists." I think that, fundamentally, you're just an artist. Of course, your culture, your lack of culture, your identity, your sense of self-pride, your sense of self-hate -- they all combine to make your artistic statement. And at different times in your life, you have different levels of maturity as an artist.

Art is not elitist. Art is not "Guess what I'm saying," endure this culture, that experience, pay money and I'll make you feel like an idiot. Art speaks about the common things. It speaks about love, sorrow, dreams, desire, hope, regrets, and the human condition striving to become better. To become Godlike, in the sense that the artist speaks to something in everybody, and of course, people respond to different things; some respond to music, some to drawing, to the written word, to dance -- but there are universal responses. That's why there are universal images: poses of lovers, or of a mother and child. In any country, people know what they mean.

So where do you see yourself going?

I see myself always acting. I see myself continuing to write -- reluctantly, because writing is really hard for me -- in the sense of sitting down and doing it. I have to research, and ideas have to spark. And some ideas work, and some don't. The pieces that work well, and other writers will tell you this too, it's like something just shoots through you, through your hand. You're the tool, you're tapped into the source, and you just go "Thank you."

Авторский дизайн квартир в Москве.

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