Mid Autumn Festival 2014

Mid Autumn Festival is just a few days away (Monday September 8th). For those who may not know much about the festival, you can think of it like Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is a time for family to gather and have a meal, stay up late, watch some TV specials (or a movie), brave the crowded parks (if you dare) and gaze up at the moon.

As with any holiday there are traditional things that most families do. One such task, if you have kids, is to buy them a cheaply made toy lantern that light up and screeches out an overly annoying midi rendition of some popular tune.  This year our little one was gifted a Hello Kitty variant…or should I say Kitty White.

Mid Autumn Lanterns 2014

Other pastimes include the eating of mooncakes [月餅], which by now have been on sale for months. This is akin to how some shops in the west start selling Christmas stuff well before Halloween has even arrived. This year, the family has decided to forego buying any mooncakes. My mother in-law is the only one who likes the traditional kind. In the past my wife and I have purchased a variety of the more contemporary ‘bing-pei’ [冰皮月餅] flavors. But year after year we’ve found that we end up not eating a majority of them, because despite the various fruit and cheesecake iterations, they all still taste like bean paste.

One of my own personal habits (with just about any holiday) is to screen some relevant movies or TV shows. One of the Mid Autumn themed movies I will recommend here is He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Father [新難兄難弟] (1993). This is a classic bit of nostalgic cinema featuring both of the Tony Leungs on screen together as father and son. The plot follows a bit of a Back to the Future arc, but centered on Mid Autumn Festival rather than a flux capacitor. I’d put a trailer up, but in fact I could not find one on YouTube (but you can in fact find the whole movie uploaded there, not that I am advocating people to watch it there…even though it is out of print >_<).

For those who happen to be in Hong Kong there will actually be an outdoor screening of the film on Monday evening. This is taking place in Sheung Wan (on Hong Kong island), which is a far cry from our home in the New Territories. And given the number of folks that will be out and about, and the ways that the transport networks tend to get bogged down during holidays, it is doubtful that we will make it to the screening, preferring instead to watch the film on DVD from the comfort of my air conditioned living room.

Mid Autumn Screening 2014

Another film I will throw out there (and I have mentioned this one before) is My Sweetie [甜絲絲] (2004). For all intents and purposes this is a silly local comedy starring Sammi, Stephy and Mrs. Leon Lai Gaile Lok. A key part of the plot involves the two main leads having a family dinner together for Mid-Autumn Festival.

It’s cheap silly fluff, and to be honest I am pretty sure I am the only one out of the LoveHKFilm group that likes this film. As Kozo puts it, “If My Sweetie has a positive, it’s this: it’s so uninteresting that it doesn’t register as insultingly terrible…”. Still it is a holiday, so what’s wrong with a little fluff. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival folks.

 

UPDATE:  Kevin Ma has also reminded me on Twitter that Ann Hui’s film The Way We Are [天水圍的日與夜] (2008) also takes place around the Mid Autumn holiday, and if memory serves Clara Law’s Autumn Moon [秋月] ends on a Mid Autumn Festival celebration.  Both are excellent films, but are more on the heavy side of things for my taste.   Still, they are excellent recommendations for anyone looking for some cinema relevant to the holiday.

There Once was a Kid from Canton…

CantonKid_site_bookToday marks what would have been the 5th anniversary of the old East Screen West Screen podcast and just over five years since the formation of Kong-Cast.com. It is also very close to another anniversary of a website now gone and nearly forgotten.

Some of you may not know that this site was not my first foray into throwing content about Hong Kong up on the web. Back in the mid 90s, I had experimented with a doing an audio program using real media files of myself talking about and playing Cantonese music from Andy Lau, Anita Mui and other personal favorites. The Internet was young and Napster wasn’t really a thing yet. I think I recorded and uploaded 3 episodes before the site in question (a Geocities site for all you old-time web 1.0-ers out there) was promptly shut down. Neither bandwidth nor copyright, as it applied to the Internet, was really a part of my vocabulary at the time. Ah the inanity of youth!

By 1999 I was back at school studying my B.A. Asian Studies at F.S.U. At that point my love for Hong Kong films had been going on for over a decade. Knowing this, my Mandarin language professor at the time implanted the idea of creating a review website for Chinese movies and thus was my 2nd venture into content creation on the web born. Perhaps it was a kind of Chinese soft power inception, but needless to say it served as the catalyst for where I am today.

So with the promptings of my Chinese professor in mind I went about setting up my own review site and slowly built it up over time. And thus was (the now long defunct site) CantonKid.com born.

All that remains of the CantonKid site today is a backup folder with the original HTML architecture. In the mid 2000s I lost the site domain name in a rather unscrupulous squatter jump by the webhost I was using at the time. But that’s a rather lengthy story, perhaps best saved for another time.

The site was done using frames (anyone still remember those?), so it doesn’t even display properly on modern browsers. The core content is still there though, and some have even asked if I might ever repost it, but going back and looking at that now is a bit like reading an old essay or early novel draft, where you just shake your head at the horrendousness of it all.

So, after feeling a bit nostalgic, last week I decided to do a Google search to see if there was still any mention of the old site lying around in some long forgotten recesses of virtual data-space.  What I uncovered shocked me for a moment.  I actually found mention of the site in the book, Once Upon A Time in China: A Guide to Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Mainland Cinema by Jeff Yang.  It’s a book I even have on my shelves, but had not ever read through to the back pages of.  The surreal nature of seeing the site that I had created mentioned in published print was only surpassed by the honor I felt at being included in with so many of the early webmasters that I have grown to admire, some of whom I am now blessed to be able to call friends.  It seems odd that something which has long vanished, save for a few faint echoes, still resonates somehow in the work that I do or the relationships that sprang from it.  I guess the Internet is kinda funny like that.

PoF: The Dynasty Report Debuts

POF_TDR_001

So this is it, Project A, as mentioned in the previous post.  Podcast on Fire: The Dynasty Report is the current ‘official’ title, but that is subject to change.  Technically it is a sub-category within the Podcast on Fire series and as such will occur on a semi-regular basis, dependant on both new-releases in Hong Kong (which are few and far between) and the scheduling for the other programs in the PoF line-up.

Kenneth Brorsson (of Podcast on Fire) and I began talking about this idea some weeks back.  I knew I wasn’t really down for doing a solo podcast, so Ken pitched the idea of him acting as a springboard for discussion.  I liked the idea and jumped at the chance to work within the PoF network.

Though do I miss being in the producers chair, the plus side for this co-op allows me to talk current films (which I love doing) and Ken magnanimously handles the technical producing (which is a boon with my current 2 year old daughter so often on hand).  As with any new podcast, the format is very experimental at this stage, so the plan is to see if it works and tweak it where we can.  If you’d like to send feedback for the show, you can do so through either Ken or myself and we will be sure to pass it along.

I will post show updates and trailers here, but the stream, feed and general notes will all be found over at the PoF site here: http://podcastonfire.com/2014/08/podcast-on-fire-184-the-dynasty-report-overheard-3-z-storm-the-great-hypnotist/

On this freshman episode we cover some of the June-July 2014 releases.  These include;

OVERHEARD 3 [竊聽風雲3]

Z-STORM [Z風暴]

THE GREAT HYPNOTIST [催眠大师]

Blogging and podcasting on movies, media, and culture from Hong Kong, China, and abroad