Thursday, 25 January 2018

Detective Dee 2

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Directed Tsui Hark, 2013

"From legendary action director Tsui Hark and the creators of international smash hit Detective Dee - Mystery Of The Phantom Flame comes the captivating tale of Dee Renjie's beginnings in the Imperial police force. His very first case, investigating reports of a sea monster terrorising the town, reveals a sinister conspiracy of treachery and betrayal, leading to the highest reaches of the Imperial family." (IMDb).

Note: I was unable to track down a copy of Detective Dee 1 to watch for free online

French with English Subtitles


The Cult

From the album Love, 1985

Hot sticky scenes, you know what I mean
Like a desert sun that burns my skin
I've been waiting for her for so long
Open the sky and let her come down

Here comes the rain
Here comes the rain
Here she comes again
Here comes the rain

Hot sticky scenes, you know what I mean
Like a desert sun that burns my skin
I've been waiting for her for so long
Open the sky and let her come down

Here comes the rain
Here comes the rain
Here she comes again
Here comes the rain
I love the rain
I love the rain
Here she comes again
Here comes the rain

Oh, rain
Oh, here comes the rain

I love the rain
Well, I love the rain
Here she comes again
I love the rain


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Circle of Two

Directed by Jules Dassin, 1981

"In Toronto, the fifteen year-old student and aspirant writer Sarah Norton meets the sixty year old painter Ashley St. Clair in a cafeteria while hiding from her stalker boyfriend Paul. Ashley hasn't painted for ten years. He agrees to read the poems that Sarah has written. They start seeing each other at his studio and Sarah falls in love with him. Ashley feels a platonic love for Sarah that becomes his muse and he decides to paint again. Paul spies Sarah in Ashley's studio, and misunderstands their relationship, he attacks her in a cornfield but she defends herself." - Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. IMDB.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Laughing Heart

Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Charles Bukowski

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Neighbours With Noisy Dogs

This says it all really: dogs in general are a pest in the neighbourhood. Not cats. Not goldfishes. Not hamsters. Just dogs.

Common Pet Problems

"Pet problems among neighbours can range from the most common, such as Persistent Dog Barking, dogs fouling the payment, and Aggressive Dogs when out and about but dogs are by no means the only culprits.  Other complaints include cats straying into your garden and digging it up or fouling it and people who keep birds such as pigeons whose droppings can become both a nuisance and a health hazard. Then, there are also associated issues such as pet neglect."

"VSLVSL - No: Tell the council and get them to tell the owners to do something legally or they will have the dogged removed. We did this. I have no regrets, the neighbours dog was very loud and constantly barking - and it was not acceptable. The council letter made the neighbours take action. People should not have to put up with stress from their neighbours in this or other forms - people should have a Right to live in unstressful environments." - Gelion.


(You can't)

Certain selfish, aggressive dog owners actually train their dog to bark as a weapon rather than utilising ant-dog-barking devices, whistles and shock collars to teach them to be quieter for the purpose of neighbourly peace. "Dogs can be trained using positive reinforcement (food treats, verbal praise etc) to reduce barking." Evidently, they do not appreciate peace and quiet unlike most of us!

Leaving a dog unattended

"It could be worse - you could have a neighbour like mine who has 3 dogs he keeps outside all the time that bark from 2 in the morning till I set off for work at 8. But added to that he now has a cockerel which starts crowing at about 6. No I don't live in the country, I live on a housing estate. Selfish selfish people! :rant:" - Joey.

"You need to phone the council not the RSPCA. The dog isn't being mistreated, but it's causing a noise nuisance which comes under environmental health. They'll probably ask you to keep a noise diary and/or bring out some recording equipment (if they have any available :rolleyes:)." - lolliew.

"What's all this tripe about "dogs bark, get over it"? You can TRAIN a dog you know! Mind you, the kind of people who don't give a damn about whether their dog is barking while they're out probably also don't give a damn if the dog is correctly trained. My parents had a rescue dog and even he was able to be trained - he only barked if anyone came to the door. If a dog is barking otherwise he is poorly trained." - Mathom.

"The answer is very simple, get rid of the dog! You will get no more visits from the RSPCA, you will no longer p*ss off your neighbours and your poor neglected dog wont be left on its own for hours on end pining for its pack (you) thats abandoned it." - waldershelf.


"A dog which is left alone all day is not well-cared-for. Dogs require company." - Heyesey.


"Continuous barking is not a sign of boredom - it's unhappiness at your absence. The dog is suffering psychologically. Unfortunately the RSPCA don't take this into account. Train the dog - you know it makes sense! :thumbsup:" - Don.


"It seems to me that some people own a multitude of dogs for the single purpose of eliciting complaints from neighbours. For myself I can't imagine what function is served by having dogs running around your yard. The whole phenomenon is a mystery to me. Dogs are animals and will behave as such, and that pretty much exhausts what any rational man can say about them. Many dog owners are stupified by the fact that many people are not as enamoured of dogs are they are. Some people - such as myself - look at a dog and see nothing but a creature of appalling stupidity and abject uselessness. The fact that these animals also seem happy to bark endlessly merely throws a further spotlight upon their utter imbecility." -Witham.

"Why don't you move house and take your noisy dogs with you." - stewpot54.

So, there are no excuses for either allowing or making a dog bark loudly and frequently every day, indoors or outdoors, full stop. and particularly not in the company of it's owner(s).


Neighbour complaint to council about my dog barking 24/7!!

"And, finally, if you want a dog that will not bark at all get yourself a Basenji."

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Mysterious Evil Spirits: Siren Snake


Aka The Monster Memoir Snake

Directed by Zhang Sheng and Ge Wen Zhe, 2017

Screenwriters: Zhang Sheng, Ge Wen Zhe and Liu Lingqi

Starring : 毕梦格 / 林晨 / 韩明霖 / 麻家铭 / 李之浩 / Bi Meng / Lin Chen / Han Minglin / Ma Jia Ming / Li Zhihao

Long ago, there was a book called Mystic Sketchesit which recorded the battle between people and demons. The war lasted for aeons  and both sides lost countless lives. In an effort to win the war, some people created special jade pendants that provided them with magical powers. The combined the auras of both Earth and space. These jade pendants were worn by people known as 'Capturers' who were able to use them to kill millions of demons. Since their victory, demons dare not appear in the human world.

A thousand years later, two snake demons named Jin Mang and Mo Man, who are sworn sisters, return to the human world, boldly but unwisely. All because Jin Mang wishes to find her true love in the human world. To this end, she steals the 'red line' from the Master and wears it as a bracelet on her human form. She and Mo Man stealthily attend a college solely so that she can find the right guy, the one who is her destiny. She quickly finds him on the campus and the adventure begins...

I believe this is a modern version of an ancient story in which a snake demoness assumes a human form and goes in search of her true love who is a Taoist scholar.


"There is a magical book called Xuanmo Notes, recorded in the book between the clan and the fairy battle, the existence of the clan clan catcher, they use jade as a weapon to fight with the fairy, the two sides after the war, the fairy exits world. A thousand years later, the spiritual snake sisters Jin Mang and Mohito came to the world for searching for true love. Jinmang fell in love with the painter Ji Jiangning and Mohito had the emotional entanglements with the deceased monsters. However, Uncle Duan Chang found the truth, Love in the face of fate of the tragedy will pay the unthinkable price."


Lord of Shanghai 上海王

Directed by Hu Xuehua 胡雪桦 [Sherwood Hu], 2017


Shanghai, 1905. The rule of the Qing dynasty government is hanging by a thread as the “open city” is controlled by western powers and adventurers. Among the most powerful in the city is Chang Lixiong (Hu Jun), head of the Hong triad. When Huang Peiyu (Qin Hao), a representative of the anti-Qing Revolutionary Alliance arrives by boat, he is almost arrested by Song (Liu Peiqi), the city’s garrison commander, but manages to escape thanks to Chang Lixiong. Though Chang Lixiong does not immediately contact Huang Peiyu directly, Song suspects the former’s involvement. Chang Lixiong further annoys Song when, at the Yipin bordello, run by Xin Daiyu (Bai Ling), he sees Song abusing a girl and forces him to sell her. Xiaoyuegui (Li Meng) is a peasant girl from Pudong, across the river; but Chang Lixiong installs her in luxury in the bordello. After another failed attempt to arrest Huang Peiyu, Song has Xiaoyuegui kidnapped to try to force Chang Lixiong into the open; but she’s rescued by Huang Peiyu. One of Song’s spies, who also works for the Blue Dragon Society, tries to kill Chang Lihong at Yipin one night; instead, Xiaoyuegui is wounded. In retaliation, Chang Lihong orders his loyal minder, half-Chinese orphan Yu Qiyang (Feng Xiaoyue), to massacre Blue Dragon Society members. Chang Lihong and Huang Peiyu finally meet and forge an anti-Qing alliance, but Song and his men ambush them outside the building. In a showdown, Song is killed, but afterwards Chang Lihong is also mortally wounded by another hand and dies in Xiaoyuegui’s arms. She leaves for Pudong, Huang Peiyu is elected head of Hong triad, and Yu Qiyang is sent to Japan. Ten years later, in 1915, Xiaoyuegui 小月桂, under the slightly different name Xiao Yuegui 筱月桂 (Yu Nan), is a popular singer, though she still longs for Lili (Ma Weiei), the child she had by Chang Lihong but was forced to sign over for adoption to Xin Daiyu, now married to western businessman Jensen (Johann Urb). Yu Qiyang is back from Japan and contacts her and Huang Peiyu. When Yu Qiyang protects her against the unwelcome attentions of the spoiled son (Purba Rgyal) of military commissioner Lu (Tobgye), Huang Peiyu steps in as her protector. A war to the death breaks out between him and the Lu family.


Based on the 2003 novel by Chongqing-born writer Hong Ying 虹影, gangster drama Lord of Shanghai 上海王 is a straightforward commercial potboiler whose name cast is far better than the film deserves. Directed and co-written by Shanghai-born Chinese American Hu Xuehua 胡雪桦 [Sherwood Hu], it moves like an express train, has a typically 1980s look and approach, is plastered with intrusive music from end to end, and is only made watchable by its over-qualified lead players. The artistic bar for period Shanghai gangster movies has risen dramatically in the past decade, with recent examples like Gone with the Bullets 一步之遥 (2014), One Step Away 触不可及 (2014) and The Wasted Times 罗曼蒂克消亡史 (2016) leading the way. Lord of Shanghai simply looks corny and old-fashioned by comparison, and lacks the superbly tooled entertainment values of The Last Tycoon 大上海 (2012). Shot in early 2014 and finally released three years later as the first half of a diptych, it crashed at the box office with only RMB14 million. The second part, originally to have been released a month later on 16 Mar 2017, has gone MIA.

Elder brother of the more talented film director Hu Xueyang 胡雪杨 (Living Dream 牵牛花 童年时代我的梦游故事, 1996; Ice Speed 冰与火, 1999), Hu, who’s in his mid-50s and whose roots are more in theatre, has one of the most bizarre filmographies in the Mainland industry, including prehistoric drama Warrior Lanling 兰陵王 (1995) shot in Hawaii in an invented language, a Tibetan version of Hamlet called Prince of the Himalayas 喜玛拉雅王子(2006), and the laughably messy scifi/basketball drama Amazing 神奇 (2013). Throughout his career, he’s maintained close ties with Shanghai Film Group, which is again on board for this one, his least out-there production to date.

Lavishly outfitted, it has a conventional studio look, commercial 1980s/1990s storytelling techniques and a screenplay (co-credited to Hong Ying herself, plus veteran writer/journalist Pang Bei 庞贝) that’s entirely incident-driven with almost no downtime. Playing like a cut-down version of a much longer movie, it barely makes sense in several sections, and especially the final half-hour as it hurtles towards a running-time of less than two hours.

Even though it starts in 1905, during the final years of the ailing Qing dynasty, the film is basically another riff on the Shanghai gangster genre usually set during the Republican 1920s or 1930s. Hong Ying’s novel (see first edition, left) traverses three generations of crimelords (of which two are showcased here) but the irony is that the real Lord is actually a Lady – the great survivor Xiao Yuegui, a peasant girl from Pudong, across the river, who rose on the arms of powerful, ruthless men. Now 40, actress Yu Nan 余男 has both the physical stature and the bearing to make her believable when she appears an hour in as an adult, and to add flecks of character here and there; but she’s also well trailed in the first half by 26-year-old actress Li Meng 李梦 (Rock Hero 摇滚英雄, 2015; Young Love Lost 少年巴比伦, 2015), who isn’t given much dialogue but holds her own on the screen against older actors like Hu Jun 胡军 and Bai Ling 白灵. (Taiwan actress Guo Caijie 郭采洁 [Amber Kuo] plays Xiao Yuegui’s adult daughter in the so-far unseen Lord of Shanghai II 上海王II.)

Hu, 49, dominates the first half as crimelord Chang Lixiong in a performance that’s minimal acting and mostly physical presence, but does the job without giving much insight into what makes the character tick. Hu leaves the more impassioned stuff to the younger Qin Hao 秦昊, 37, as an anti-Qing revolutionary who allies himself with Chang Lixiong and eventually takes over his position. Again, it’s a solid performance by Qin within the limits allowed by the script and editing, but the film simply trades on the actor’s charisma rather than being at all revelatory about his character. Drifting around somewhere in the middle are half-British Taiwan actor Feng Xiaoyue 凤小岳 [Rhydian Vaughan], who’s not all convincing here as the crimelords’ ruthless fixer but should come more into his own in the sequel, and Bai, 55, almost unrecognisable under her wig and make-up in an eccentric performance as a bordello madame.

Widescreen photography by Polish-born, US-based Andrzej Sekuła (Pulp Fiction, 1994; American Psycho, 2000) is fine but brings nothing special to the table, while production design by Canada’s David Brisbin (My Own Private Idaho, 1991; The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2008) adds nothing to the Shanghai Film Studio backlot look. Visual effects are also routine, apart from an eye-popping montage showing the fall of the Qing dynasty and passage of 10 years halfway through.

Hong Ying’s novel was previously adapted into a 32-part TV drama, The King of Shanghai 上海王 (2008), starring Hong Kong’s Zhong Hanliang 钟汉良 [Wallace Chung] and China’s Yuan Li 袁立, and directed by Hong Kong’s Pan Wenjie 潘文杰. An end title dedicates the film to the director’s mother, Shanghai-born theatre actress Gu Menghua 顾孟华 who emigrated to the US in 1991. A good chunk of the dialogue is in Shanghainese, as well as occasional (clumsy) use of English.


Presented by Shanghai Film Group (CN), Hu’s Entertainment (CN), Shanghai International Culture Communication (CN).

Script: Hu Xuehua [Sherwood Hu], Hong Ying, Pang Bei. Novel: Hong Ying. Photography: Andrzej Sekuła. Editing: Zhang Jiahui [Cheung Ka-fai], Chen Xiaohong. Music: Johnny Klimek. Production design: David Brisbin. Art direction: Shen Lide. Costume design: Mo Xiaomin. Sound: Zhan Xin. Visual effects: Zhuang Wenhua, Zhuang Yan.

Cast: Hu Jun (Chang Lixiong), Yu Nan (Xiao Yuegui/Cassia), Qin Hao (Huang Peiyu), Feng Xiaoyue [Rhydian Vaughan] (Yu Qiyang), Bai Ling (Xin Daiyu), Li Meng (young Xiaoyuegui/Cassia), Liu Peiqi (Song, garrison commander), Tobgye (Lu, general), Cao Kefan (Chang Lixiong’s private secretary), Purba Rgyal (Lu’s son), Xu Dongdong (Lu Xianglan), He Saifei (Jin), Wang Rugang (Shen Erye, Blue Dragon Society head), Tong Ruimin (mayor), Zhang Chenghao (Crocodile), Lv Junjie (Hong Wuye), Song Huaiqiang (Chen), Johann Urb (Jensen, Xin Daiyu’s husband), James Bennett (Thompson), Yao Xiaobao (Seventh Brother, Hong triad), Fang Ge, Wang Luoding, Chen Yongqing, Cao Yu (Shanghai crime lords), Apphia (black singer), Liu Rong (bordello assassin), Zhou Tingting (Xiufang), Ma Weiwei (young Lili/Lily).

First Part Only