Tuesday, January 31, 2006

my untold scandal

patience is not the best of my god given virtues and by becoming a byj fan, it is seriously putting me to the test.

it has been quite a while since yong joon made his public appearance & i'm definitely not counting his 2006 greeting in kob coz he was just sitting there, the reception of the vod in my pc is not that clear and its so darn fleeting ! i like watching yong joon when he's on the move. i like the graceful strides of those long legs, the elegant turns of that manly torso....& those big capable hands...i simply want to have a longer glimpse....a full back & frontal body glimpse.

so, i guess it will still be a few more agonizing weeks of waiting, and its time for my plan B again...while waiting, do something... in 2 words, continue blogging..

now, this definitely sounds pretty corny but i just realized another french connection to yong joon.what else but his debut film Untold Scandal!! well...ok....i'm trying to sound surprise here!!! as every warm blooded byj fan and die hard korean movie fanatics know, this film was based on the classic 1782 French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) by Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803). once again, i will try to do a very quick trip down memory lane to have an overview on this famous piece that somehow made an indirect association to the acting career of yong joon.

though its 2 years behind, this will also be some kind of a homage to Untold Scandal since i was not yet around & missed the fun when its success was celebrated by byj fans & the fact that its also one of my favorite films!! obviously, i like the daring performance of yong joon in this film.i think he brought elegance & humor to the character of Cho Won/Valmont and he was such a suave and poised playboy !! and i also like the performances of the two lead female actors.

the film in its entirety is an artistic experience for me and in particular, i love the exquisite art design, the unique & impeccable baroque music, the stunning cinematography. i've seen the film a number of times and it always amazes me whenever i see its visual elegance, those gorgeous period costumes, the lush but subtle colors of the characters. actually, while watching the film, it feels like you're watching a living painting, as if you're walking through a mural breathing with life....so tantalizing^^

i came on board as a byj fan long after the hoopla on Untold Scandal but i was able to catch up with the readings of all the movie related news articles, interviews, watched the vods & got to know how yong joon landed this role, the hardships he went through to capture the very essence of the character of cho won. i guess the koreans were just as excited to see their tv drama king show off his acting skill together w/ 2 of korea's respected actresses. as a result, the film became one of the biggest hits in korea in 2003. its no. 6 in top 10 highest grossing films (including hollywood films) selling 3,345,268 tickets (figures from korean film council) .

ok, just to reprise the gist of this novel,Les Liaisons Dangereuses is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals who use sex as a weapon to humiliate and degrade others, all the while enjoying their cruel games. It also depicts the decadence of the French aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution, the novel is simply filled with dark undertones simply because it explored the themes of seduction, revenge, and human malice.

i learned something here....it says that the book is an epistolary novel, which basically means a literary technique in which a novel is composed as a series of letters or diary entries written by the various characters to each other. in the case of the novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the story unfolded entirely via correspondence among the characters. the epistolary form used by Laclos somehow added greater realism to the story, greater dramatic impact and offered subjectivity of interpretation. however, this novel, which was published in paris only seven years before the french revolution, -- was rumored to be not a work of fiction but a collection of letters actually circulated concerning true events. hmm, even then, the public's fascination for spreading rumors is so like today !!Les Liaisons Dangereuses was made into a number of films, tv adaptations, a famous stage play by Christopher Hampton (1985) and even an opera. it was also translated into English many times, with Douglas Parmée's recent translation (1995) generally being the preferred version. It is the origin of the saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold", a paraphrased translation of Laclos' "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.". Untold Scandal, which was effectively transposed & depicted in late 18th century korea, was the fifth film adaptation after Roger Vadim's Les Liaisons dangereuses (1959) starring Jeanne Moreau, Gérard Philipe; Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons (1988) starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer (based on Hampton's play) ; Milo Forman's Valmont (1989) starring Annette Bening, Colin Firth, and Meg Tilly and Roger Kumble's Cruel Intentions (1999) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Philippe, and Reese Witherspoon.

inside stories here.....co-stars John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer gave memorable performances as the illicit lovers, but they also made headlines by having an affair during production. -- a situation later paralleled by Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon, who fell in love and conceived a child while filming Cruel Intentions (& they're happily married now !) . ha, that got me thinking.....hmm, no...of course not....nothing remotely similar happened during the filming of untold scandal though i wont be surprised if one or two ladies in the cast or crew got attracted to yong joon aka Cho Won.

this reminded me of the article in quilt translated by happiebb.

yong joon was doing this love scene with jdy and the camera moved slowly and rested on yong joon’s buttocks. suddenly he gave a loud shout, “no! you can’t shoot like this!” yong joon stood up, pulled the clothes to wrap around himself * OMG !!* and said “my buttocks is not my best part, can you shoot more muscle instead? that’ll be better.” & everyone in the set broke into laughter.

huh? hello? his buttocks not his best part? how can he say that? was that a joke or what? i can stare at that part of his heavenly anatomy for as long as it takes.......oooppss, i did it again... *blush*blush*blush*

anyways, Untold Scandal was shown in a number of international film festivals and got good reviews from foreign critics. in rottentomatoes.com, a popular online database of film reviews, the film got a high "fresh reading" rating of 89% (out of 100%) from 27 film reviews & this rating was derived from the critics' ranking of the film . unfortunately, Untold Scandal got a very limited screening in the states and europe (confined only to filmfests, special screenings in various film societies) and it failed to make the cut of at least 50 reviews to qualify for rottentomatoes' annual "golden tomato award" for 2005!!!!! seriously, if it only got a wider distribution in the states, it would probably have made a louder noise in the critics' circle.

Marta Barber, a critic from Miami Herald wrote that "Bae Yong-joon is not as devilish as John Malkovich, who played the role in the American film, but he is more playful in his deceits. He's also more believable as a man for whom the ladies would fall." oh yeah, she is so right & i like the fact the he gave a different twist to the Valmont character. as Cho Won, he definitely convinced us of his love for Lady Sook much more so than Malkovich for Pfeiffer.

this is really so awkward, but better late than never. i think director E.J. Yong did a great job in this film. this boyish looking 41 yr old really see to it that an almost perfect marriage should be orchestrated when east meets west in his film version. the pre production alone of the film took 10 months including the period for studying on the architecture, customs, and clothings. In order to find places where the graceful scenery is melted in, they spent one year for the site-hunting before shooting the movie and used Okyeon Jeongsa in Andong and Woonrim Sanbang in Jindo as the main stages. i would like to make special mention to 3 people: the art director, Park Sang-hun ( my mother the mermaid), music director, Lee Byeong woo (rules of dating) and cinematographer, Kim Byeong il ( sympathy of mr vengeance) for their exquisite work. i usually just sit it out watching a film and concentrate on the character development w/o that much thought on the aesthetics, but it all changed after Untold Scandal.

to quote Erika Franklin, film critic from Firecracker Mag, who gave this advise to those who have not yet seen untold scandal -

"If all else fails to tempt the would-be viewer, consider this: with so many Western remakes of Asian origin now in circulation, this film affords a rare opportunity to see a remake working in the opposite direction: how many people can claim to have ever seen a Korean period drama based on a classic French novel?"....... and what a delicious remake.

sources of info- byj's quilt, wikipedia, nytimes.com, koreanfilm.org, firecracker media, answers.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb, tiscali/soda pictures, cine21, film2.0

Friday, January 27, 2006

music and him

its gives you this warm feeling writing about the things & people that gets the attention of yong joon. from this perspective, you will have a deeper appreciation of his personality & character. it makes you understand somehow what makes him click, what makes him so appealing to lots of people. he has this depth that the more you dig, the more you discover nice little things about him.....

take the case of his interest in music. it was mentioned before that yong joon loves listening to music & has no particular genre that he favors but named a few titles and names as his favorites. he may have his current favorites to date but those reported before are worth looking at coz those are also reflections of yong joon's taste. but before i proceed, i noticed that yong joon seem to have this inclination towards european artists ^^ he likes a french director and a french photographer and in this occasion, we'll be reading about his favorite italians...approvazione!!

for instance, it was reported that yong joon enjoys listening to the film scores made by the famous Italian composer Ennio Morricone (1928 ~) this prolific maestro composed the scores of more than 500 films and TV series. morricone is most known for his sparse and haunting music and he got oscar & bafta nominations for his scores in the films "bugsy", "malena" , "the mission", "the untouchables" & "once upon a time in america" to name a few. morricone also have this famous collaboration with great italian directors like sergio leone, bernardo bertolucci, giuliano montaldo that resulted in unforgettable film scores. morricone's film music were even recorded by other famous musicians like hugo montenegro, john zorn and my favorite cellist, yo-yo ma ^^.

in particular, yong joon likes the music of morricone in these 2 films, the 1988 italian film "cinema paradiso" by giuseppe tornatore and "once upon a time in america" starring de niro & made by italian director sergio leone in 1984.
wow, knowing that yong joon have seen & i'm sure enjoyed these 2 films just made me realize ( over and over again !!) he's really one serious dedicated actor. these films are considered 2 of the best, particularly "cinema paradiso" w/c is ranked as one of the all time top 100 films. noted american film critic james berardinelli wrote, " Cinema Paradiso is widely regarded as one of the best foreign language films ever to grace american screens. light and romantic, this fantasy is tinged with just enough realism to make us believe in its magic, even as we are enraptured by its spell. This film is sometimes funny, sometimes joyful, and sometimes poignant, but it's always warm, wonderful, and satisfying. Cinema Paradiso affects us on many levels, but its strongest connection is with our memories. ."...i love how berardinelli described it, btw, i adore this film critic & of course i loved him even more when he praised the performance of yong joon in april snow and the film as a whole during the 2005 toronto filmfest :)

yong joon also liked "once upon a time in america"starring his favorite actor, robert de niro. i'm sure yong joon loved not only the music but the entire film as well. actually, this film was a huge hit in cannes and very successful in europe but got poor reception in the US coz of its alleged "butchering" or drastic editing but its uncut version, according to reports, was by far considered leone's most critically acclaimed film, and today it has a large cult following. though it is not leone's most well-known or liked film, "once upon a time in america" is now considered a classic film.. btw, sergio leone was first offered to direct the film "the godfather"...hmm, wonder how it would have turned out ?? cant imagine francis ford coppola out of the picture !!

know what, reading the stories behind these great films just makes me appreciate even more yong joon's outlook in his craft. & his taste is so varied. and oh, i would love to see his film collection !! i can just imagine all these classic films lined up in the cabinet walls in his viewing room. wow, the man is not only a serious book lover but a film aficionado as well.

now on the lighter side of films, yong joon also likes the music of morricone behind this feel good film "love affair" starring husband & wife, warren beatty/annete bening (remake of the classic "an affair to remember") btw, i have a cd of the love affair OST...beautiful music indeed, i love the piano score, but the film.....well, lets just say i still very much prefer the original w/ the great cary grant :).
it was also reported before that he likes the music of the japanese new age pianist, yuhki kuramoto, particularly his piece, "second romance" from his most famous new age album, "romance". "second romance" was included in the OST of his 1994 drama "salut d' amour" and was also chosen by yong joon as the background music of his old official site.

not contended with just listening to great music, yong joon probably thought that its another challenge to learn some musical instruments. knowing this guy, once he sets his heart in one thing, he will go the distance and really do his best to get the most from it. ok then, it was said that yong joon's only sister has a degree in music, major in piano, so, our man probably thought that he just have to give it a try !! i'm not sure though if he got piano lessons or it was self taught but people are saying that yong joon is a very good piano player, but if asked, he always says that he still needs a lot of practice.....humble as usual.

it was also reported that yong joon plays the guitar & if i remember it right...i think he said in an interview that he taught himself how to play the guitar. he even made this impromptu performance in the "bicycle thief cafe" in samcheok during the filming of april snow. many witnessed his performance and they are unanimous in saying that he played it well !! and what piece did he play ? none other than the classic "moon river" from the 1961 film "breakfast at tiffany's", a sentimental favorite song of mine coz this was one of my dad's all time fave. anyways....i was just totally floored when i learned that he played this song. i love this song and obviously, he loves it too !!!

moon river was composed by two of the best in making film scores, henry mancini (1924-1994) for the music and johnny mercer (1909-1976) did the lyrics. this dynamic duo also did the beautiful music of "days of wine and roses" (hats off to jack lemmon) & "charade"...i love these films !!!! also, the great johnny mercer did the lyrics of these all time classics, "fools rush in" & "that old black magic"...these songs just remind me of my getting to be hopelessly helpless craziness over yong joon ;)

just want to share this....the timeless audrey hepburn, star of "breakfast at tiffany's" wrote a letter to henry mancini after his "moon river" music score was added to the film...it reads ....

Dear Henry,

I have just seen our picture - BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S - this time with your score. A movie without music is a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality. Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring. Everything we cannot say with words or show with action you have expressed for us. You have done this with so much imagination, fun and beauty.

You are the hippest of cats - and the most sensitive of composers!

Thank you, dear Hank.

Lots of love, Audrey

so nice huh ? what she wrote is very true. music can sometime make us feel like flying, even soar to wonderful heights!! sometimes it just makes me speechless and in awe on the genius of these artists who can make such beautiful music.actually, mancini and mercer composed "moon river" to complement that reflective scene in the film where audrey was playing the guitar by the window. mancini said, " and audrey’s big eyes gave me the push to get a little more sentimental than I usually do. those eyes of hers could carry it I knew that. "moon river" was written for her. no one else has ever understood it so completely. there have been more than a thousand versions of "moon river", but hers is unquestionably the greatest"....

*blush* i think this has gone too long....got carried away again with all these super talented people & discovering this side of yong joon ^^

and so.... yong joon....how can you not love this guy? what i wrote is probably just a very small fraction of yong joon's interests and favorites. isnt it exciting to know what are the other things or who are the people that stirs his interest & thus, can give us a better insight on the real yong joon ? but even from the limited info we know so far, it gives us a glimpse of yong joon being a reflective person, a sensitive man who appreciates the mystique of arts.....a book lover, a film lover, a music lover.......a perfect lover ? almost.

sources of info ~
byj's quilt,bbc,
busan.go.kr,imdb,umich.edu,wikipedia,official sites of the artists

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

living the dream

bae yong joon, the future film director. sounds nice :)

yong joon is a man of few words, but when it comes to his future plans, he does not mince his words when he says to all and sundry that he wants to become a film director in the not too distant future. he is even vocal about his favorite directors, the likes of chinese directors ang lee, zhang yimou, chen kaige...... and the french director claude lelouch. ok, the chinese directors are very familiar to me, i've seen crouching tiger, hero, farewell my concubine & i like them all!!

but who is claude lelouch ?? yong joon mentioned in his chosun monthly (june 2005) interview before that he likes the directorial style of lelouch in his film un homme et une femme. while reading that arcticle, the french words looked familiar to me...its like a man and a woman but i want to make sure so i checked the film in the net and i discovered a lot of things about this director who made this film in 1966. its english title is "a man and a woman" after all, at least i remembered something from my basic french w/c unfortunately, i'm now way beyond remembering what i studied ( i didnt even finish the course :( ).....french is a very classy language but kind of difficult for me to learn. just like my clumsiness in photography, i also have this slowness in learning new languages...grrrhh...what a pity !!! oh, looks like i'm digressing here...

so, monsieur lelouch, who is not only a director but also a screenwriter/producer/cinematographer, made his most famous film during the great era of the 60's. new york times called "a man and a woman" the ultimate date movie of the 60's. looks cute huh?..actually, from what i've read, its an effectively and strikingly simple film with lush photography, with little dialogue spoken & conversations are heavy on symbolism. ha, the film sounds very familiar....so bae yong joon in april snow to me & lelouch is also known for making movies based heavily on improvised dialogue...umm, another very familiar style...i wont be surprised if lelouch is also a great favorite of dir hur jinho of april snow.

other films that are said to be similar to the style of "a man and a woman" are two for the road, starring the classic audrey hepburn ; the way we were of streisand & redford and "before sunrise" of ethan hawke & julie delpy. waahhh...i just saw "before sunrise" & its sequel "before sunset" about 2 months ago and they are just wicked !!! i cant choose between the two..i like both films!!. here's my confession time.....i saw "two for the road" and "the way we were" about a year ago together with "picnic" w/ kim novak & "dr. zhivago" of omar shariff. i have this "old movie" fanatic friend who told me that i've got to see these films coz they're just great classics......i'm also into old movies coz of my dad but this is the first time i saw these films. so, i spent several weekends watching these films and i just fell in love with them and i want more more !!! i especially like "two for the road" !! dont know why, but i just find it gloriously confusing following around the escapades of this married couple. anyways, i just got hooked on these amazing great love stories...i should have been born 50 years ago !! back to the main man....yong joon strikes me as the kind of director-to-be who will be influenced by the lelouch film style in "a man and a woman". probably he is willing to explore the lush visuals, improvisation approach & spontaneity of the french director. nonetheless, yong joon is also interested in the film style of the chinese directors so we can expect from him a convergence of directorial styles influenced by these talented directors from different cultures and he will come up with a style & flair entirely all his own. i'm really looking forward to the time when yong joon finally embarks on the directorial field. i know he is happy being an actor and is always willing to learn and challenge diversity in his roles but you can also sense ( at least for me!) that his heart longs for directing a movie, creating a film that will showcase and highlight his vision, his sensitivity and innate artistry in the craft. and when that day comes, he will probably become the handsomest & sexiest film director around....move over george clooney ^^

Sunday, January 22, 2006

those decisive moments

so, this topic is so common knowledge, at least to all his fans, that yong joon's other passion is photography. i must admit i know next to nothing about the art of photography, all i know is to use my good old olympia digicam w/c sometimes i also end up ruining the photos!!! i'm such a clumsy photographer that on the brighter side, my friends would rather have me pose for the camera than stay behind it!! good strategy huh?!

ok, i'll be blogging this short topic coz i simply find it fascinating talking or writing about guys who are so good in photography w/c btw, is one of my major frustrations. i like that idea of capturing the moments, those precious moments that comes along when you least expect it and must be spontaneously preserved through those lenses.

its also a well known fact that yong joon carries with him his camera wherever he goes. he especially loves to take pictures of the cast & crew of film, drama or whatever project he's doing. taking their photos while they were working or just hanging out in between shootings. he has a preference for black & white photos and thanks to the latest technology, he's now using a digicam ^^ i think he's using right now is a professional camera from the Canon EOS 1D Mark II series & the price ranges from US$5000-$9000. (tnx to bb for this info)

in one of his print interviews, yong joon mentioned that one of his fave photographer is the famous french photojournalist, henri cartier-bresson (1908-2004). mr cartier-bresson also uses black & white photos and he advocates this approach of snap shooting that catches "the decisive moment", w/c incidentally was the title of his show w/c was the first photographic exhibit ever to be displayed in the halls of the Louvre and likewise, the title of his most famous book of photographs where he mentioned that, "in photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject, the little human detail can become a leitmotif" ....i really like that ^^ .
i also think that there are no hard rules on w/c subject to capture as long as it conveys a meaning that can be expressed in an emotion that will make us appreciate more the ordinary things around us. now, how about some samples of the master's works ? here are some of the famous photographs of mr. cartier-bresson ~~

i guess mr. cartier-bresson is a great influence to yong joon's style of photography. aside from the choice of b&w film, yong joon also seem to like capturing the beauty of people or things as they are.....the reality of here and now, as mr. cartier-bresson puts it... that's so cool...

yong joon mentioned before that in the future, it is possible that he may hold an exhibition or even come up with a book that will feature his extensive collection of photos. wow, that would be pretty exciting for him & for us too!! imagine, unveiling to the public all those wonderful moments he captured. maybe the pictures will even tell us what yong joon was feeling at the very second he took those pictures....interesting revelations!! anyways, a few photos yong joon took were posted in the net, i really would love to see more but these are just the very few i've got :) ~~

photos of the production staff, the director and his co-star during the filming of Untold Scandalhis Hotelier lead lady, song yoona, during the shooting of the drama..i like this photo ^^

i think he took these photos during the making of The Image either in Thailand or Malaysia....colored ones but very nice!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

and here's my top 10 list !!

how about making my own top 10 list for 2005! my exclusive selection of famous people who tweaked my interest for the past year. well, lets just say that some of them are newcomers, others are late discoveries and a few are regular mainstays. actually, i started doing this since 2003 and this is my first time to go public..so to speak ^^

anyways, this is definitely not a serious take on these guys, just some silly homegrown thoughts from a starstruck gal ^^....drum roll please....

10. angelina jolie - this lady rocks !! i know that lots of good and not so good things had been said about angie but i just love her edginess & she makes a difference w/ her role as a UN ambassador. she is such a woman of contradiction...i wonder how her and brad's kid will look like...
9. denzel washington - this guy is a regular mainstay in my list since i started making my top 10. this is the guy lots of ppl are saying to have the perfect facial symmetry ! of course, the guy is simply gorgeous aside from being the total actor.
8. johnny depp - i simply adore the versatility of this actor. his choice of roles is so varied and you can say that again in his taste in clothes too ^^ a hard working actor and he truly deserves recognition for his performances....the film was not really raved about but i love him in chocolat w/ juliette binoche.
7. jon stewart - i love david letterman & he's my no. 11 this yr but this time around i will give the floor to jon, america's most beloved "fake news anchor", that's accdg to him !! love his talk show, love his style of "attacks" on the higher ups & he gets away with it w/ us laughing on the side ^^ looking forward to his oscar hosting job ( but i will miss billy crystal *sad* )
6. dan brown - a friend of mine has been bugging me to read his book since 2 yrs ago & i just kept the book in my drawer, forgot about it. what a stupid thing to do @#$! i remembered it in 2005, read da vinci code & i got immersed in it!! & i love angels & demons too !! another must see film for me this yr, da vinci code w/ tom hanks..
5. lance armstrong - love the tenacity of this guy. i would glue my face on the tv, even if its a spanish or french channel just to watch tour de france. the "maillot jaune" or the yellow jersey just looks good on him. sheryl crowe must be singing her heart out everytime this guy wins !
4. anderson cooper - he looks seriously serious everytime i tune in to cnn but when i started following the events after katrina, i just got hooked on this silver haired yale guy!! love his reporting style, love the way he controls himself even if the emotion is just getting too much to handle especially during his coverages of natural disasters. his mom, the gloria vanderbilt, must be very proud of him.
3. tiger woods - the kind of person i want to be when i grow up...become a multimillionaire by the age of 21 ^^, oopps, sorry, i'm just past that age ! anyway, he's another mainstay on my list. i really make it a point to watch the majors just to see what this guy will deliver. i admire his motivation, his dedication...quite a serious kind of guy but can be funny too...just dont click on the camera when he's making his tee shot.
2. jamie oliver - wicked !! love it when he says that expression !! i'm not really that good in cooking but when jamie started showing the televiewers how enjoyable it is to immerse oneself in the kitchen, i just got hooked !!...wicked !! errr, actually, i got hooked watching him on tv coz he makes cooking look so cool but the cooking stuff itself....well, i think i will still give it a pass & continue contributing in my small way to the progress of the fast food industry :)
1. bae yong joon - what a big surprise !! i never thot he would make it to the top!! hahaha, what more can i say ?? the title of my blog says it all ^^