Ruining Our Lives for an Ideal

Certified Copy A few days ago, I finally caught the film Certified Copy at the local art cinema.  Directed and written by Iranian Abbas Kiarostami and starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, the movie is an afternoon-long discussion by a man and a woman as they visit a Tuscan town.  Their conversation covers a lot of ground and it is never clear whether they are or are not a married couple.

As the story opens, we see that he is an author in town on a Saturday afternoon for a speaking engagement about his new book, in which he argues that copies of masterpieces are as valuable as the originals themselves, in that the copies can bring us to the originals and a greater appreciation of them.  She is in the audience but has to leave early, giving her number to the organizer of the event.  

The following morning, he shows up at her shop and she drives him to a nearby town to see a famous painting there that was, after hundreds of years being assumed to be an original work, determined eventually to be a copy.  It is on that journey that their conversation happens.

I won’t talk about the film as a whole, although it is worth watching.  What struck me, so much so that I grabbed a notepad from my bag and scribbled it down, was a phrase uttered by a secondary character. 

The man and woman stop for a coffee at a small shop.  The man steps outside to take a phone call and the old lady running the shop speaks with the woman.  She assumes that the man and woman are married, an assumption the woman does nothing to dispel.  In fact, the woman complains about her husband’s long absences for work, propensity to shave only every other day, and his other faults.

The old woman running the shop observes that it is a Sunday morning and the man has taken his wife out for some coffee, whereas most men would instead choose to sleep in.  “It would be stupid of us to ruin our lives for an ideal,” she admonishes the woman.

It would be stupid of us to ruin our lives for an ideal.

That line seems a very apt piece of advice, both about relationships (certainly!) as well as our lives in general.  It also seems to balance nicely the entry I recently wrote about being the best possible version of ourselves.  While perfection cannot be achieved and we should certainly strive to be our best, what is the value of striving if the cost is the ruination of our lives?


Filming a Dramatic Rooftop Chase

Sorry – the video was locked on YouTube.  I have fixed that and you can now view it.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see something while I’m out and about that is worth shooting.  That’s why I almost always have my camera in my bag.  Case in point, after having lunch with Tawn the other day and walking up to the Ploenchit Skytrain station, I noticed some very bright lights on a rooftop.  Sure enough, they were filming a scene from a movie.

Turned out to be some sort of an action movie, based on the appearance of the main actor probably an Indian film.  Our hero in the dark suit was chasing across a rooftop, firing his revolver wildly at a thuggish looking Asian gangsta (go stereotypes!) holding a machine gun.

Quite a crowd gathered on the station platform and surround car parks to watch the action.  It looks like the filming was being done by a remote camera that slid down some cables (pictured below) from an adjacent building while the actors ran across the room, producing a sweeping shot.  A lot of work just for one shot that lasted a few seconds.

Over the next few days, they shot a few more scenes at the same location – or at least filmed different takes of the same scene – but nothing so dramatic as this.  I shot some footage and edited it down to a 90-second bit for your viewing:

I hope you enjoy it.

Colma: The Musical

By some yard sticks (meter sticks – need to transition from imperial to metric) Tuesday night’s film festival operations were not incredibly busy.  But by other measurements, the day was really packed.

Of the eight shows Tuesday night, only two were sold out.  But both were the back-to-back 700 seat auditoriums and the first show started 10 minutes late and Q&A ran long afterwards.  So we had 400+ people lined up in the hallways outside of the auditorium.  For those of you who’ve been to the Kabuki, you know how small that space is.  For those of you who don’t, it’s a hallways about 150 feet long by 20 feet wide.  And about 300 people had to pass through that area to get to the two auditoriums at the far end of that hall.  Upstairs we have a 80 x 20 foot space where about 200 of the people queued up for the balcony.  Madness.

No comparison to tonight, where of the eight shows, five are sold out including both the large house shows.

But the highlight of the night was the world premier of Colma: The Musical (film by Richard Wong and music, lyrics and story by H.P. Mendoza).  For those who don’t know the Bay Area, Colma is a small town of 1100 between the City and the airport.  It is home to the cemeteries where San Francisco’s dead are buried.  There isn’t much else there except the Serramonte Mall, two Targets (yes, two!), and recently an In-N-Out Burger opened next door to a Krispy Kreme donuts.

The story, mostly plagiarized from their website:

“New York’s got New Jersey, San Francisco’s got the place where Colma stays.” Three friends, fresh out of high school, in the small San Francisco suburb of Colma, where the dead outnumber the living 1,000 to 1, tackle the age old question that has plagued humanity: “Now what?”

Billy is a young actor with big dreams. But there is nothing big about Colma. He is faced with the choice between the easy: being complacent and ending up in a dead end job; or the selfish: going after his dreams regardless of how it affects the people who care about him.

Rodel can be the life of the party – if he feels like it. But at home, with his brother in prison, he carries the pressure of being the “good” kid in his family. Coupled with the loss of his mother, Rodel finds his already waning relationship with his father further strained by a secret he desperately keeps from him.

Maribel basks in her youth and embraces its carefree lifestyle. Turning 19, she begins to realize that youth, like everything else, is temporary, and starts to question whether being young is based on one’s age, attitude or actions.

Together, they unwittingly begin the lifelong process of self-discovery and self-reliance – But at what expense?

The thing that really steals the show is the music.  CDs were available for sale after the show and 18 hours later, the grooves in the disc are noticeably deeper as I’ve been listening and re-listening to the tracks.  Many of the songs are highly infectious.

It was really fantastic in the style of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  I don’t know if Richard and HP will find a distributor, but hope they will.  With some further development I think this could be a really successful stage musical.

A lot of the success of the Festival can be attributed to the great volunteers.  Literally hundreds of people give their time and in theatre operations we have a special group of about a dozen volunteers who work as our House Managers.  They actually have their radios and headsets on, coordinating the start of each show, ensuring the audience is seated, guests are located, introductions are made, Q&A sessions are timely, etc.  It would be difficult to run the Festival without them.

Paul, Mabel, and Serena are three of those House Managers.  They’ve all volunteered for several years now and last night after the last show we went up to the Colma: The Musical after-party where they made silly faces for the camera.


Festival Interns showing their skill at Latin dancing:


I miss Tawn.  Still eleven days to go before I’m home in Bangkok.