Thursday, 27 February 2020

An afternoon with my dear friend Dennis and Jan. Paris on a crisp and sunny winter afternoon.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Now and... now
When I arrived in Paris, I immediately visited my parents. But the one other thing I made sure to do as soon as possible was to get tested for the VIH.
I do lead a healthy life, and to have survived the AIDS years in the late 80's and during the 90's, to have seen friends on their deathbed, to have been a volunteer at the LGBT center in Paris, I certainly played it safe. Many of my friends have caught the virus. Young or less young ones. How it happened now longer matters, but what matters is that it can happen to everyone. Fortunately, the current treatments are very effective and one can live with AIDS just as if it were a simple flu. 
However, I cannot forget those years, and when Mike went to the ER last November, we thought at first that he had a flu or some infection. He got tested and it took three long months for the hospital to find out that he was VIH positive. 24. So young... How did he get it? I didn't know much about his past life before we met. I'm supposedly his first serious relationship. He told me about some American bloke he used to date before. "A jerk" Mike said of him.
So during the three months, I tried to comfort Mike and make him realise that it was now very easy to live with it. IF ever he had it. "The doctor said it could be VIH", he added.
But three months seem too long when such test can only take days...
What happened?
Could I have been the one? I play it safe, but one can never be totally sure. I comforted myself with the thought that a positive and healthy mind = a healthy body.
One tries.
Last week I went to the hospital to get tested. The result would be given a week later. The seven days were hell. I remember how I went with Chih-Wei to get tested and how the week of wait were terrible. We sighed a big sigh of joy when we knew we were fine.
I sighed a big sigh of relief and utter joy when the doctor announced to me that I was in a terrific condition. 
Another sigh of relief from Mike, who felt dreadful at the thought to have possibly 'shared' his virus with me.
Oh life.

China boy and crocodile

Girls talk...
Girl 1: "Mommy, look! There's a Chinese boy who is sitting behind us! (Chinese BOY?? Oh thank you gurls!) .... Chinese people eat crocodile! (looks at me)

The girls talk to each in a low voice and giggle.
Girl: "Why is the Chinese boy sitting behind us?"
(game of peekaboo between the back of the chairs, as I was reading a novel where an old lady who had Alzheimer is accused of murder))
Girl 1 (looks at me): "Aaaah! The Chinese boy looked at me in the eyes!"
Girl 2: "There is a Chinese restaurant in front our home..."
Girl 1 (with a horrified look): "In front of your home???"
Girl 2: "But my friend says that they're eating normal food..."
Girl 1: "They're not eating crocodile? (looks back at me)

My stop. I stood up and took my bag.

Girl 1: "The Chinese boy is standing up!!!! ... Why do all those Chinese people come to OUR country?"

Girl of African heritage saying that... Sweet irony....

Me (to the girl): "You know, I'm not Chinese. I'm Vietnamese. And we don't eat crocodile. People eat crocodile in Australia. You know where Australia is?"
Girl 1: ...

Friday, 21 February 2020

My nephew: "Bác An, what's your job?"
Me: "... erm... You don't know?" (I would have thought his parents told him...)
My nephew: "No. I don't. Or maybe they told me once and I don't remember." 
Me: "I'm a composer" 
Me nephew: "Ah! Like Ông Nội (paternal grandfather)."

The good thing is that my nephew is curious about others.

Vũ An

One day with my nephew Vũ An who's now on winter vacation. I made the gift of these big fluffy bear claws which he wore the whole day. 
We went to eat Hong Kongese roast, we went to see skate-boarders, as he is also learning. We watched a film (Call of the Wild, with Harrisson Ford, based on the Jack London novel. But Disney produced it, everything was toned down... The little boy liked it, c'est ce qui compte.)
We browsed the bookstore, and I got him a cut-out/pop-up one about mythical monsters. And we walked a lot!!!
A very witty and talkative boy. 
"I'm very talkative. I know I'm very talkative. I talk non-stop! I'm the most talkative of my class."

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Parasite - The Black and White Version: I love black and white photography and was curious to see what would/could have been done on this particular facourite film of mine. 
I cannot exactly say I was enthralled by the experience. The colour version was already so masterful that watching it in black and white was more like an interesting parallel experience than anything. And I couldn't help trying to recall how it was in colour as I was watching it. As my friend Sean said in a post regarding the topic, if Bong had shot the film in black and white, he would certainly have shot it differently, as tones and details appear differently. I'm thinking of Charles Lang's magnificent black and white photography for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, where every single detail mattered. Even if filming in monochrome may now be technically different than in 1947, Parasite felt grey to me. Some scenes worked wonderfully to me, when others cried for colours. Perhaps there is a symbolism that escapes me. I recall a few terrific black and white films I saw recently: Cold War, the Lighthouse or Leto. The thought of colours never occured to me as I was watching them. 
Perhaps it would have been interesting to change certain things, whether the music or the sound design.
When Ash showed me the first monochrome version of The Third Wife, I felt the music didnt stand up well to the monochrome reworking, as colours were a component of the music, in a way. When later, she decided to make the film a silent one, it become imperative that a whole new score be written! However, silent films are another topic.
I recall another monochrome experience: Logan. I only saw the black and white version and found it beautiful. How would it have been, had I seen the colour one first?

That said, it is still a great experience to watch Paraside again in this new light.

Absolutely no regret!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Film scoring...

Ròm, Thưa mẹ con đi (Goodbye Mother), Be Water, Asa ga kuru (Comes Morning): I finally registered all the music I composed this past year for those four films at the SACEM (French Composers Society), track by track.
It's a fastidious task, as every single piece has to be named and registered separately (half a day for each film score!). 
I have to say that I'm globally quite happy with what I have written, particularly for Ròm. I'm quite satisfied that I could tap in my inspiration for the other films as well, considering the conditions, restrictions, demands, lack of time, challenges of all sorts from the directors. It's still a miracle to me. If asked, I wouldn't remember exactly how it happened. It just came like a storm and I ... juggled!
I recall reading about Stevenson who said that it wasn't him but elves in him who came during the night to knit all his stories together, that art for him, was to wake up, grab pen and paper to catch them before they fade away. 

Saturday, 8 February 2020

At the gym one last time before going to the Land of Camembert.
Every moment is precious...
Played the piano, Granados, Sibelius, Schubert and Brahms.
Every moment is precious.
Now off to the airport. 
Bye Taipei. 
Every moment is precious...

Monday, 3 February 2020

After Sundance

The Sundance Festival is now over. Thanks to my friend and fellow composer Goh Nakamura, I had bits of news about how the film was received, how our work sounded and what went on. Don't count on Bao to keep us posted...
I'm very happy I got to know and befriend Goh-san, even if we collaborated the distance. Sadly, the music we composed together didn't make the final cut, but it was very good stuff. Maybe one day it will make it to some other project... 
I have no idea what will happen with Be Water from now on. I hope a lots of people will see it and discover the man, generally lesser known aspects of the legend that he was - it's always shocking to me how people fundamentally lack curiosity and happily make do with very superficial bits of information or no information at all.
Bruce Lee's fight to keep his integrity, his struggles to be seen beyond people's narrow and discriminatory eyes are still very much issues we Asians have to face.
"Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own"

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Even though I have worked like a mad dog from Mars this past year (and the years before), I still feel that I have been somewhat lazy and have done next to nothing. I guess that comes from an upbringing when, as a child, my brother and I were always kept busy doing or learning something: school, homework, music conservatory, daily practice of the musical instrument, being a boyscout... Work vs. play.
It took me a lifetime to be kinder to myself and live my life in my own pace, but obviously, I'm my worst 'parent' as, in the background, the impression that I do nothing worthwhile is still looming...
Anyway, I was lying in my bed this morning, observing birds (warblers?) gayly hopping from one branch to another and drinking the water from the leaves.
And I thought: "How wonderful is it to be a tree. Whatever it is, whatever shape it has, it still have a full life of its own. Every leaf matters, birds need it, bees need, we need it."