In the Show – May 26th 2009

Last Thursday, Hong Kong’s Museum of Art housed one of the biggest parties in town. Celebrities and socialites, artists and architects, top executives from the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey group, and more than a hundred reporters and photographers descended on the venue for the grand opening of the exhibition, “Louis Vuitton: Passion for Creation”. Running until early August as part of Le French May, the exhibition has been tailor-made for Hong Kong and is the first to show the group’s collection outside Paris. It also involves top international artists and local artists, but some complain that taxpayers’ money has been spent to for an event that’s mostly about promoting a commercial brand.

In the movie “Outlander” an alien monster comes to Earth in the 8th Century and in the land of the Vikings. It could have been an interesting concept, but – says our reviewer Gary Pollard – it’s spoiled by an over-reliance on Hollywood formula.

In our studio, we head “Over the Rainbow” in the company of Dorothy, otherwise known as the seventeen year old Natalie Lipin, who is performing the role in a current production with the Hong Kong Singers.

To see a streaming video of the show, please click here

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In the Show – 19th May 2009

What a difference a year makes.

The lead sponsor of last year’s Art HK 08, the first Hong Kong art fair, was the Lehman Brothers. The event ended on a high note, having attracted more than 20,000 visitors and sold over US$20 million worth of art. By September, the global credit crunch and the collapse of major financial institutions, including Lehman Brothers, had taken the economy into tough times. With recent premium items doing poorly at auction, and a general drop in the art market, many approached this year’s fair with caution.

Art HK 09, which ended on Sunday, opened with no lead sponsor. However despite the economic downturn, the price of the booths had not dropped.

Instead the rent per square meter had risen from US$450 to US$500. The fair had also increased its floor space by 4,500 square meters. Yet the number of galleries attending had risen from 100 last year to 110 this year. They came from 24 different countries. The organiser said there was something for everyone, with pieces ranging from HK$8,000 to HK$80 million. Many said the downturn has brought both advantages and problems.

In our movie review, Gary Pollard talks to us about “Angels and Demons” which – despite its box-office performance, he says is basically a bad and boring film based on a bad book.

Running until the end of the month in Hong Kong is a festival of Chinese documentaries , organised by veteran local documentary film director Tammy Cheung. Inspired perhaps by the availability of cheaper video production materials documentary is undergoing something of a renaissance in mainland China. Other films in the festival come from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

To see a streaming video of the show, please click here.

Or here’s a video of the Art Fair story

In the Show – 12th May 2009

Kicking off the musical performances in this year’s French May on Saturday night were three very different bands. Opening the show was local indie band My Little Airport. They were followed by Lyon-based dub band, High Tone. While High Tone was electronically combining and recycling elements from a number of sources, Nouvelle Vague was recycling from the past in a different way. Nouvelle Vague began in 2003 as more of a concept than a band. Producers and multi-instrumentalists, Marc Collin and Oliver Libaux took songs from groups like XTC, The Clash, The Cure, Joy Division, and Depeche Mode, and recorded them with a stripped down acoustic arrangement and in a bossa nova style.

Chanticleer was founded in San Francisco in late 1978 by musicologist Louis Botto, who was studying early music, such as the music of the Renaissance. He noticed that men and women were not traditionally allowed to sing much of the music that he was studying. And he gathered some male friends that sang in their falsetto voices to sing the women ’ s voices as they would have done when the music was composed.

Anyone watching The Works last week may remember that we were speaking to Lu Chuan, the director of “City of Life and Death” about his movie examining the massacre of Nanjing. As a movie about a historically contentious subject, it has attracted both criticism and praise, and it’s certainly significant that such a film could be made in mainland China. But how successful is it as an actual movie? Reviewer Gary Pollard is in the studio to tell us.

Jing Wong is a young Hong Kong-based singer songwriter who takes his music out onto the streets of the city. Tonight he’s performing in The Works studio.

To see a streaming video of the show, please click here.

In the Show – 5th May 2009

Two years ago, The Works visited Chinese director Lu Chuan at his studio situated in a Japanese neighbourhood in Beijing, as he was in preparation for his film on the Nanjing massacre: “City of Life and Death”.

nanjing

In a country where films have long portrayed the invading Japanese as one-dimensionally evil, Lu Chuan stressed he did not want to resort to nationalist sloganeering.

The movie finally opened in mainland China on April 22 this year, drawing widespread media attention and heated discussions. Audience reaction is split, especially over the character of the Japanese solider. Some thought the film portrayed the Japanese too positively, going as far as calling Lu Chuan a traitor. Others considered it an amazing breakthrough.

There’s been a trend lately for comic book movies to aim for profundity. Batman, Watchmen, Spider-Man, the X-Men – all have been working hard to show us that the “graphic novel” is worthy of serious consideration. The recent Batman movies have taken us back to the caped crusader’s origins to present a much more angst-ridden individual than we usually see. The latest origin movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” shows Wolverine himself to have a bit of angst, but it’s mostly a much lighter affair than others in the series. Our regular reviewer Gary Pollard tells us more.

“The isle is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” The emphasis on the visual often leads us to neglect the details of sound in our daily lives. Over the coming month, the festival “Around” will consist a series of activities dedicated to listening. A journey to Mo Tat Bay and Tung O on the southern side of Lamma Island will take participants into a retreat of sound. Twenty local and overseas artists are taking part in the festival. Most of the overseas artists are taking up residence in Mo Tat and Tung O for ten days. Their installations and live performances are site-specific works that respond to the surroundings.

To see a streaming video of the show, please click here.