Learning to behave

Even without rereading my diatribe against Night and Fog in Tin Shui Wai, I know I’ve tarred myself with several shades of dastardliness.

Did I have the right to cast aspersions on a film production, a process in which I have no experience or expertise? Was I going too far by decrying the depiction of fact? Who was I to deny the victims their day on the projector screen? Did I mean to be so unbearably boring in my lavish abuse of the English language?

Take cold comfort in that there was no snark intended, and that I’ve found out for you that adrenaline is a bad, bad drug to write on in the wee hours of the morning. Ah, and my views are not beholden to any advertiser or personal ties. So just take my take for what it is — a cyber-cringe from a garrulous grinch.

It’s clearer to me now that 天水圍的夜與霧 should be admired for how it was structured, set and shot — two hours’ worth of yarn was spun smooth and sure. But this crank’s concerns remain:

  • Why did we have to witness the rape, abuse, self-mutilation, and the premedidated murders of a woman and two children with such detailed violence? To warn the Rihannas of the world? To jolt a jaded public to their senses?
  • Why were public servants — the bureaucracaesars — like social workers, police and teachers shown to be mere tools of an implacable fate? Why did the director resort to stock characters?

I still find it hard to imagine recommending this to anyone except future crime-fighters. You can engender dialogue out of this audience abuse, but you’re going to need a steady hand to steer the stoked towards meaningful action, instead of getting sucked down a whirlpool of revulsion.

Maybe I’m just bitter about having my expectations defied (utterly so when Simon Yam did the crazy-man-roaring-into-camera thing) by an Ann Hui film. But then maybe somewhere in her oeuvre are similar meditations on rotten cores masked in tired rags.

3 thoughts on “Learning to behave

  1. Hi starbreez,

    >>Why did we have to witness the rape, abuse, self-mutilation, and the premedidated murders of a woman and two children with such detailed violence?

    I believe that the violent scene served some purposes. Maybe Ann Hui thinks that a tragedy can help to explore what we are. Maybe she wants to show us the whole story is just absurd, originated from the dark side of human nature. After all, it is not a documentary to portray what happened in Tin Siu Wai.

    Your writing is really nice. Would you mind me sharing it at my blog?

  2. Hi loong5, what you say about the purposes of the violent scenes sounds reasonable — I haven’t thought about it in that way before. The chain of events really is absurd and almost cartoonish. Do you think Wong Jing (王晶) had anything to do with it?

    However, I think the problem of the message getting lost in the violence is still there — but maybe not every audience member will be as disgusted as I was. I’m really interested to know what Ann Hui herself thinks of all this!

    And sure, you’re welcome to share what I have to say!

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