Wednesday, 25 March 2009

滄海拾遺--轉走舊時夢


我心難煽動
只因未解凍
情像一個夢

春變冬
我甘願冰封
再不受操縱
怕傷害嚴重

從前被愛惜,異常受用
如今,看通了
為何要被動?
幾多恩與愛
始終變現實
往往結局受痛苦
無情戲弄


每天常轉動
轉走舊時夢

作曲、編曲:黎小田
填詞:黎彼得
專輯:淑女/黑夜的豹

像我生於上世紀七十年代的人,除了顧嘉輝以外,最熟悉的作曲家可能是黎小田。如果說顧嘉輝是無線的御用音樂人,黎小田在麗的電視的地位同樣舉足輕重,像《天蠶變》、《大內群英》、《大地恩情》等電視劇主題曲都出於黎小田的手筆。

我對樂理一竅不通,但顧嘉輝和黎小田作品風格的獨特之處,還是聽得出來的。某程度上,兩位似乎受到中國傳統音樂的薰陶甚深,曲風都有一點傳統樂曲的風味,但聽將下去又截然不同。不知怎地,總覺得黎小田的音樂瀰漫著幽怨或詭異的氣氛,與顧嘉輝的氣勢磅礴可謂各擅勝場。即使黎小田於八十年代開始也為無線創作很多電視劇主題曲,但曲風基本上沒有太大改變。各位聽聽Anita一九八五年以男性打扮作封面的那張唱片,除頭三首歌外,其餘八首全是黎小田為Anita主演的電視劇《香江花月夜》創作的歌曲。當年就有同學批評那些歌曲節奏太慢、異常沉悶,我倒是覺得淒苦太過,不忍卒聽。雖然說影視歌曲也是為了配合劇情,然而從《香江花月夜》到《胭脂扣》,大概我們也應該知道一切不只是巧合。

坦白說,在《淑女/黑夜的豹》專輯中收錄一首中國小調風格那麼濃烈的歌,的確是有點格格不入。不過,這首歌旋律優美,黎彼得的歌詞一貫言簡意賅,耐人玩味,也算得上是佳作。當年沒有派上電臺,可能是出於配合野性形象的考慮,非關歌曲本身的質素。

Anita的演繹方式與《朝朝暮暮》有點異曲同工,同樣是以「愁」為基調,但就沒有《朝朝暮暮》的起伏跌宕。《轉走舊時夢》在平淡中見功力,聲音一片慵懶困倦,頗有哀莫大於心死的感覺。同樣以懶洋洋的磁性歌聲名聞遐邇,白光總給人煙視媚行的印象;Anita唱來卻別是一般滋味。她可以煙視媚行、可以目空一切、可以氣若遊絲,也可以情意綿綿、盪氣迴腸。

聽《轉走舊時夢》的時候,我彷彿看見張愛玲筆下穿著旗袍、被困在大宅門裡的閨閣女子,對著大廳裡滴滴答答的座鐘輕輕嘆息。至少,這麼具體的想像,是來自Anita的歌聲。

Arrogance for No Reason

Just delivered a long-planned project yesterday. Thank God everything went pretty smoothly and the result was more than what we expected. The client also appreciates our efforts throughout.

What intrigues me most though is how some people in the project behave. I have come across many different people in my current job, but only until recently have I ever met arrogant and ill-mannered people like those.

I found myself boiling with anger when those guys completely ignored my colleagues as if they were not there. They didn't even have a glimpse of my colleagues except throwing a few cunning stares from afar. I really wonder what they were thinking in their heads. It is by no means a proper way of treating people, especially when you are meeting them for the first time. On what grounds do you think you are superior? Just because you are the client? Or just because you do not agree that we should be engaged in the first place?

While I was really pissed off when those guys deliberately refused to treat my colleagues with respect when we supported the event on-site earlier yesterday, I can't help sympathising them for failing to recognise how big this world is and how little we, human beings, no matter how capable we are, can achieve. Looking down upon someone for no reason but the fact that we are commissioned consultants is by no means cool or sensible. It simply shows how uneducated and unprofessional they are.

What a contrast it was when a senior member of those guys, a well-respected and deeply experienced former journalist, greeted our team politely as soon as she saw us. Interestingly, those guys do not seem to respect their new colleague as much as she deserves either. This is the typical factionalism and protectionism at work that I am most sick of.

Unfortunately this is also something that comes with human nature that few organisations would be immune. It is a question of extent rather than existence. I just hope God would grant me more emotional preparedness and skilfulness in dealing with those stupid creatures and, more importantly, fewer chances of running into them on all fronts of my life.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

大膽破格--舞劇《帝女花》觀後


坦白說,看到香港舞蹈團要改編《帝女花》,還請來新派導演鄧樹榮和編舞邢亮共同創作,心裡就忍不住嘀咕,不知道唐先生的作品會給改成甚麼模樣。然而衝著唐先生的金面,還是不應錯過的。

當粵劇觀眾都鍾情於《紫釵記》、《牡丹亭驚夢》、《再世紅梅記》等風花雪月的劇目之際,更應該慶幸《帝女花》得到其他人的青睞。

結果不出所料,面目全非。

甚至這部《帝女花》,能否稱得上「舞劇」,也很成疑問。

我不敢說自己看懂了多少。反正後現代講究的不是懂與不懂,而是感受和詮釋。看到一半,我索性拋下原著的包袱,把這部作品當成一般的舞蹈來看,心中反而稍覺釋然。

其實,有一些場節的用意,還是算得上清楚的。例如第一場〈樹盟〉,很明顯重點在於周世顯在七百個官宦子弟之中脫穎而出。把雕闌玉砌的鳳臺看成比武招親的擂臺,其實也無不可。兩者的本質還不是一樣?不過長平公主要比的不是身手,而是才華而已。

〈乞屍〉裡慧清與長平公主身分對調,緊接下一場〈庵遇〉,相當流暢。穿起緇衣素服、改名換姓的前朝公主,仍然對自己的身世念念不忘。她一步一步的走向那件象徵自己真正身分的朝服,萬般不捨地看了又看、摸了又摸,最後還是狠下心腸扔掉。誰知周世顯還是尋上門來,讓她無法與前塵割捨清楚。不過最煞風景的就是男扮女裝的新住持,目中無人地把玄機一語道破,還要指導兩位舞蹈員怎樣怎樣,我真是多長十個腦袋也無法弄清楚這裡面的含意。也許,導演以為觀眾都看不明白?

最後〈香夭〉沒有人物,只有一部錄音機,兩道從天而降直射地面的紅光,中間有一面徐徐落下的時鐘。錄音機裡播放的正是任、白演唱的〈香夭〉。這個場景是全劇之中我最喜歡的。既然是遠去了的傳說,金童玉女歸班復位也好,彩鳳釵鸞同殉國也好,早就人去樓空,要歌頌長平公主和周世顯的壯懷激烈,還是留待原著去做吧。空空如也的舞臺,就像是提醒我們,空氣裡凝住了一段無色無味的傳奇。兩道紅光,可以是碧血長天,也可以是鸞鳳和鳴。反正長平公主和周世顯選擇在新婚之夜服毒殉國,鮮血的殷紅早就跟那吉服的艷紅分拆不開。

在現場的時候,我本來以為自己完全看不懂原著裡我最喜歡的〈上表〉,如今仔細一想,其實也不盡然。〈上表〉裡那一大群各自表述、各自精彩的人,就像改朝換代之後繼續營營役役的官場眾生相。崇禎皇帝的屍首躺在舞臺中央,可是誰都沒理會,也許不是忘記了,只是視而不見。現實中有多少事情就那樣橫亙在我們心裡,但就是沒有功夫認真理會?對於那些急於向新朝效忠的人,崇禎皇帝之死,大概也是一種揮之不去的無可奈何。

〈上表〉裡其中一位舞蹈員長篇大論的嘮叨了大半場,還說自己是長平公主和周世顯的雌雄同體,不禁失笑。難道長平公主與周世顯之間兩心如一、同心同德的親暱,來到後現代就只剩下「雌雄同體」四個字?真是寒傖得可笑。忠、孝、仁、義這些傳統的道德價值,往往被後現代評論者譏為助紂為虐的秦磚漢瓦,所以這個版本說成兩人殉國只是為了追求終極的自由,就顯得順理成章、其來有自了。

這部《帝女花》完全顛覆了原著,只是借用原著的分場架構重新詮釋,大膽破格的程度,頗令人驚訝。熟讀原著的觀眾,要接受也恐怕極不容易。昨晚看到《帝女花》的開山祖師仙姐在座,不知以她引領時代尖端、推陳出新的氣魄,對此又作何感想?

滄海拾遺--朝朝暮暮

我說冷風無力令老樹搖動
你說雪花飄忽灰色天地中
厚厚信紙卻不可以抱擁
只有透著紙背塑造你面容

我說氣溫前夜令我著涼後
你說最好多飲溫馨的熱酒
我卻已經再不需要處方
早已過時的語句如何問候

我沒法再知
現在現在你哭或笑
說了吃了多少怎會不重要
這道理我懂
然而事實並沒法相信
情若真的久遠
不在乎平常分秒

如何明白凌晨在你是黎明
你我那可分享偏差的繁星
我看我的信紙堆滿卻無聲
彷彿你在觀看雨或雪
但誰能做證?

作曲、編曲:徐日勤
填詞:林夕
專輯:淑女/黑夜的豹

按我試聽

二十年前,是香港移民潮的另一個高峰。在粵語流行樂壇,也湧現了很多政治意味濃烈的作品。不過那些大都是樂隊的創作,個人歌手的作品仍是以感情為主。大概是因為出於現實的考慮,如今回頭細看,總是不忍深責。

Anita一九八九年的作品《朝朝暮暮》,就是在這種背景下產生的。這首作品不談政治,只是娓娓訴說人在地球兩端的疏離。那兩端,不必是戀人或夫妻,就是朋友、家人,感覺何嘗不是一樣?

小時候聽關正傑《雪中情》,歌頌的是分隔兩地的矢志不渝,如今再聽,總有點楊過與小龍女十六年之約的況味。對人情不渝的信心,可謂到了不可思議的地步。《朝朝暮暮》裡寫遠隔重洋之後一點一滴的疏離,感覺更貼近世紀末的生活,所以也更令人傷感。

《朝朝暮暮》的編曲瀰漫著淡淡而幽遠的哀傷,沒有呼天搶地、沒有聲嘶力竭,卻總有本事讓人心裡隱隱作痛。那些漸遠而近、清脆玲瓏的敲擊樂聲,彷彿雪花雨點紛飛而至,又像繁星滿天、月冷風清,意境幽遽空靈,營造了兩人相隔的距離感。

林夕的詞,往往在平凡中見不平凡,這首《朝朝暮暮》可見一斑。寥寥數語的「我說」、「你說」,在一問一答之間,滲透了多少盡在不言中的冷漠。表面上的噓寒問暖,早就淪為有名無實的虛應故事。因為身處不同的時空,就連天色、氣溫都不一樣,說來說去,對方也不見得會懂,彷彿只是各自表述,完全沒有交流;更何況,面對不同的處境,誰敢保證人心不變?

Anita的演繹,以一個「愁」字為基調,起段懶洋洋地,聲音充滿了思念和無奈。因為有了鋪墊,經過一段答非所問的「你說」「我說」之後,終於忍無可忍,在副歌裡發洩出來。「我沒法再知,現在現在你哭或笑」這兩句,讓人真切地感受到那個女子渴望知道自己關心的人過得怎樣,但問來問去不得要領的氣餒和憤怒。儘管她算是一個理智而成熟的女子,明明「這道理我懂」,卻說「然而事實並沒法相信,情若真的久遠,不在乎平常分秒」。不必深究誰會變心、誰先變心,光是時空的距離,就足以讓人對自己、對別人失去信心。正是因為這樣,在發洩過後,Anita的聲音仍是當初的無奈,也許還有一點點無能為力的悲涼。

想起當年聽說過多少「太空人」悲歡離合的故事,其實就是這麼一回事。以前文藝創作中經常出現的單純、天真和死心眼,不知不覺間消失殆盡,大概我們都變得愈來愈現實、愈來愈膽小,連相信自己的勇氣也沒有,情願在支離破碎的現實中,埋怨那些已經消逝了的純真和美好,給自己帶來多麼不切實際的幻想。

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Consumption of Despair

Despite all the technicalities of Slumdog Millionaire and the thought-provoking questions it raises, there is something of the film that I don't want to appreciate.

Even though I trust that the director and the screenplay may not have the ulterior motive of portraying India as a fallen civilisation of filthiness, poverty, child abuse, organised crimes, ethnic and religious clashes, a global sweatshop of customer service and IT support, I must admit that I am most disturbed and uncomfortable being presented with all these so intensively within two hours.

I can't help wondering why I am still fed with all these stereotypes. Does it have anything to do with the British director and screenplay and the mental discourse they unconsciously underwent when making the film?

No wonder post-colonialism has emerged as one of the most popularly debated and studied issue in the academia. But forget all the intimidating jargons and non-reader friendly discussions. Just take a look at how cities and nations that are formerly colonies of the West are popular culture commodities and you will have a good sense of the power structure of international politics.

Two surviving civilisations of the East, China and India, for example, are often portrayed as exotic, mysterious, autocratic, corrupt, poor, dirty, falling behind the civilised world in terms of economic and social development but by Western standards. Too much emphasis has been put on the colourful costumes and props and exotic experience in Western eyes. Yet few have enquired the long history and sophisticated philosophy of why these civilisations have become what they are, let alone attempting to understand and appreciate the fact that they are so unique that deserve full respect as independent entities on equal footing.

Unfortunately Slumdog Millionaire can't seem to spare itself from falling into the fallacy of cultural superiority of the West. On the one hand it does draw public attention to the social problems of India, yet on the other it is also reinforcing the consumption of someone's despair in India from a superior position. Somehow I feel like one of the arrogant colonisers sympathising with their subjects living in poverty and despair, without being aware of the fact that they are a major source of the grievances. Superiority of the West is yet again reinforced through the consumption of others' despair that may be underestimated or exaggerated in the biased production.

What is even more disturbing to me is not the confrontation between the East and West. Rather, it is the general fact that the well-off around the world are increasing their consumption of others' despair as a lenient form of abuse. Charitable organisations, be they international or local, often focus or even exaggerate the suffering of those in need to call for donations and support. This is perfectly understandable, but I just can't help feeling a chill down the spine as if I were encouraging this form of lenient abuse and benevolent deprivation of one's dignity.

Perhaps the next question is: how can we call for attention and action to help those in need without abusing them as inferior creatures but equally respectable individuals, even if we don't really mean to be abusive?

Reminding of the Power of Destiny


The debate over Slumdog Millionaire in Hong Kong seems to last shorter than expected. On the first weekend after the British production swept eight Oscars, including the Best Film award, the Sunday of Ming Pao Daily News devoted a special report on it. Not surprisingly, most writers marked their fingerprints on cultural interpretation of the storyline. With all the intimidating cultural studies jargons floating around, few were bold enough to admit that it was at least a good watch for the audience.

This is precisely why I have been so fed up with the self-proclaiming critics in Hong Kong. They are actually not film critics. They do not actually review films, but interpret them like a piece of artefact taken out of context. The so-called commentaries are often nothing more than a piece of casually thought and written blog entry dotted with misused jargons and fuzzy thinking to show off one's "learnedness".

Although I do agree with some of the issues raised in the interpretation - or "reading", the preferred verb to which almost every human activity is reduced - of the film, I believe the film deserves compliments for being a highly entertaining and thought-provoking production. At the end of the day, it is still a good-to-watch film.

Technically, Slumdog Millionaire contains all elements that make a film entertaining and absorbing: Great music, compelling images, breath-taking plot and fit-for-job line-up. Two hours passed so easily without even checking your watch. Even though some parts may seem a bit too deliberately calculated and too sensational, these artificial designs do not prevent it from being good to watch. What else can you ask for a piece of entertainment works?

Content wise, Slumdog Millionaire raises a lot of questions for the audience and this is what I enjoy most. The biggest question, I suppose, is the one that appears at the beginning of the film: Why does the barely literate slumdog win the jackpot?

It's written. It's destiny.

What a great reminder of the power of destiny.

Modern culture doesn't seem to teach us to believe in destiny. Modern culture seems to brainwash people with the thought that hard work will often end up with success. At least those who are seen successful refuse to admit that they succeed purely because of good luck. They are more than happy to tell their success stories by emphasising how hard they have tried, but they do not realise that they are actually feeding those who are looking up with addictive poison of fallacy.

With so many success stories and fascinating technological advancements, we have become too proud of ourselves to realise there is someone or something behind us. Be it God, Allah, the Nature, the Dao or the cause and effect relationship in Buddhism, you name it. For many years I am truly convinced that there is some sort of programming going on in this universe that pre-determines everything before we ever come to realise.

Human beings are born free. We have free will. But how free can we be? Think about our personality, the circumstances under which our decisions are made, and the occasions on which we are supposed to make a decision for ourselves or for others. Do we really have a choice at all times? More importantly, is the availability of choices intrinsically good? Is the right to choose by all means plausible?

While many commentators focus on the cultural imperialism of Slumdog Millionaire, I would rather pay attention to the theme of fatalism. Jamal's winning of the jackpot prize can be seen as a Godsend reward for his love, kindness, integrity and innocence. His despair and grievances since childhood are now handsomely compensated overnight. This compensation theory is commonly found in Chinese folklore to encourage endurance and hard work with the ultimate hope that all the endeavours would one day be rewarded, if compensated. This is the way of God, the Nature or the Heaven. Some may go on to criticise that this is nothing more than the deceiving doctrines of absolute rulers, but what is wrong with being innocent with integrity? We should blame those who abuse innocence, not innocence itself.

So if you ask me the takeaway of this film, this is my answer: Be good and be yourself. The Nature rewards souls of love and integrity.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Broken Record

Now I know 10 days have passed since I last updated my blog. But it seems like 100 days or more.

Today I broke my personal record again - staying awake for work for 28 hours with only 2.5 hours of sleep and no coffee at all.

Some 10 years ago when I first set the record of the sleepless 28 hours, countless cups of coffee were drenched down my throat.

Thank God that the notorious headache hasn't stricken me. But I could feel something like a grill stone sizzling hot inside.

The alarm bell rings immediately. I shall never drive my liver too hard. There are serious consequences that I can't afford to shoulder.

On the spiritual side, how much I miss the days when I could relax on weekends with friends, although they were just a couple of days away.

It's just Monday and I can't help looking forward to the weekend – one without work but some quiet moments for myself.

Friday, 6 March 2009

無情有情

事隔兩星期,總算可以坐下來,記述一點看完兩場「上海越劇院」在「香港藝術節」演出的心情。

第一天晚上,和Shirley結伴看了久違的《紅樓夢》。我本來就不敢抱太大的期望,只道是多年不見,欣逢盛會,可惜結果仍是失望。戲文沒演到一半,我和Shirley已是頻頻看錶,最後更落得嘲弄英文字幕翻譯的無聊玩意兒,如今想來,總覺得辜負了良辰美景--儘管仍有機會在劇院裡看戲,我應該是感恩的。

當年王文娟、徐玉蘭的電影版《紅樓夢》,迷倒了多少人,如今由她倆的徒兒錢惠麗和單仰萍擔綱,雖云駕輕就熟,但背負的擔子有多重,不問可知。情況就如Patricia說的,「上越」跟「雛鳳」一樣,師父顛倒眾生的經典落到弟子手上,一字一句不容有失。即使弟子也是成名已久的萬人迷,誰不知道那當中有多少其實是師父的餘蔭、老戲迷愛屋及烏的「虛火」?讀讀小思老師二月二十八日在《明報》專欄上的評論,就知道錢公子和萍姑娘在老戲迷的心目中,永遠只是師父的代替品。

不過老實說,錢公子和萍姑娘在《紅樓夢》的表現,實在不怎麼好。以我自己的看法,就是「滑了頭」,太注重技術上的細節,忽略了戲劇最感人的力量--投入感情。演戲最忌諱自覺,如果意識上覺得自己在演戲,師父的唱腔、動作,不敢挪動一分一毫,唱到哪裡就拔高、演到哪裡就手一抬、眉眼一揚,一切都是那麼理所當然,缺少了自然流露的感情,最後落了箇形似神不似,一副沒有靈魂的軀殼。沒有靈魂,自然難以打動觀眾的心弦;既然打動不了,戲又怎會好看?

更何況演的是「滿紙荒唐言,一把辛酸淚」的「情書」《紅樓夢》。若是少了三分感情,《紅樓夢》只能是一篇富貴公子紅塵夢斷的流水帳。

我無意深責錢公子和萍姑娘,畢竟她們背負的,並非普通觀眾能夠想像和理解的沉重。我只是心疼,這是一種怎樣的無奈和悲涼。

來到第二天的《追魚》,情況卻有天壤之別。

《追魚》也是王文娟、徐玉蘭的名劇,但知名度比《紅樓夢》稍遜。王志萍和鄭國鳳一開始就全情投入,緊緊抓住觀眾的情緒,就連我這個十多年來毫無寸進的越劇觀眾,看字幕的功夫也沒有,竟如那些儂來儂去的老觀眾一般,早把唱詞聽了個清楚明白。

《追魚》的好看,不在於〈觀燈〉那些獵奇式的熱鬧,也不是在於土法炮製的蝦兵蟹將,更不是王志萍那些叫人目瞪口呆的側手翻直落一字馬功架,而是在於全臺演員的戮力投入。活潑可愛、勇敢率直的鯉魚精小姐當然是討喜的,所以時至今日,宮崎駿筆下的波兒也一樣叫好叫座。但是除此之外,張珍的忠厚老實、那些蝦兵蟹將的善良和熱心,也叫人看得又好笑又感動。就是因為這份觸動,所以連眼前的舞臺也格外亮麗起來。 Patricia說第三晚演《西廂記》時,滿場觀眾不住談論《追魚》怎樣怎樣好看,還有《追魚》落幕時經久不散的掌聲,就是明證。

不過,最讓我感動的是,王志萍和鄭國鳳謝幕時忍不住緊緊擁抱的真情流露。舞臺上的患難姊妹,大都幼承庭訓、進退有度,幾時見過如此毫無拘束的激動?偏偏就是這份戲裡戲外的真情,教我無法忘懷。