不怕贼偷,就怕贼惦记

我来中国以后几乎每周都遇到骗子。有的出租车司机不愿意打表,而说“朋友,那个地方很远,给你便宜一点”。有的售货员多要我几百块钱。有的人试图给我伪造的钱币。当然我一般不受骗,不过我在这个陌生的社会已经上了几次当。

我最近的一次被骗使我很愤怒。那天午夜我从北京语言大学南门走出来,右手拉着一个箱子。路边停着一辆出租汽车,司机帮我把东西放进行李箱里后我们就开往我的家。达到地点时司机要了我11块。我因为没有零钱,就让司机等我去旁边的一个商店买某种小东西,然后再交给他钱。这样我就给司机留机会,他在背后拉我的行李偷走了。我问站在楼前的两位保安车到哪儿去了,可他们只说它往前开走了。黑夜里找那辆车是没有希望的,出租车都差不多。随后我打110问我该怎么办,可是他们也帮不了我。第二天我写了一个书面报告去公安局报警。车号、型号和出租汽车公司我都没记住,我只记得时间和司机大概的样子。两位警察都很负责任,拉我去看电眼的录像、询问保安等等。我跟警察说“整天有人试图骗我,他们肯定会有一天成功”时,他们笑笑并补充,说了“不怕贼偷,就怕贼惦记”……说得太对了。被偷走了的东西不太昂贵,可是对我很重要。警察还没弄完,所以我不写详细的情况。说实在的,这件事不大可能成功,但是我还没放弃希望。

事后诸葛亮是很容易的,我似乎不应该相信别人。我仍然不是特别傻的,不少留学生也遭遇了相似的事情。事实上,不仅中国这样,全球都有骗子。不管怎么说,北京给我的印象中有了一点苦味。

今天吃火锅了

今天又去了民宝火锅城,想起来第一次去多么麻烦。菜单上的汉字大部不认识,服务员说的话也不太明白。“点菜吗”,她问了。“我想吃一种东西,可是我不知道它叫什么”,我回答。“这个东西呢,是黄色、圆的……球……好像是用面做的”。服务员没明白,于是我又说了几遍,哈哈大笑地做手势。她终于问“求切半,对吗?”我没听清,可是已经说了半天,所以只点了点头。随后她把菜端过来,其中居然有我想要的面筋。成功了!

第二次去,点菜没有那么难。菜单上找到了面筋,就指了指给服务员看。“面基、面近、面什么?”我问她了。“面筋。”成功了!

我今天对菜单很熟悉,自信十足地说“麻酱、炸豆皮、土豆片、白菜、鸡毛菜、粉丝、腐竹、面筋。”成功了!

上面有错误的话,请帮我指出来。

怎么进入中国的blogosphere呢?

来中国以后我一直想多看中国人的博客,多用中文来写自己的文章。不过到现在为止,我写了很少(大部分是我的作业!)也没有看那么多中文博客。没写文章主要的原因就是我怕我的中文写得太差,谁都不愿意读。也许我对自己的要求太高。写那种随便的文章可能写得不美,但是写总比不写好。从今天做起我会多写一点!

我喜欢看电影,所以经常看一些Mtime的博客。还有什么比较好中国的呢?我估计新浪是中国最大的博客网,在他们最流行的博客中也看到了一些有意思的日志。好是好,可是新浪博客怎么没有trackback呢?再说,用Opera的话开不了讨论,是用某种JavaScript的。真是有点落后。大家都喜欢看哪些博客呢?提出自己的博客也可以,不要害羞!

最后我也想问,有哪些好看的网络漫画?看漫画挺好玩的,可是我从来没看中文的。

中国朋友,上面有错误的话请指出来,帮我提高我的中文水平。谢谢啦!

Zhang and me

Zhang is a random Chinese person, I meet him everyday. Sometimes he’s a man, sometimes she’s a woman. Sometimes old, sometimes young. Sometimes she drives a taxi, sometimes he’s a cashier. Zhang is everyone.

One day, I walk into Zhang’s store to buy some groceries. After finding my head far up in the sky Zhang’s eyes quickly fall to the floor, as if to see if I might be standing on something. While I buy my things Zhang whispers and gestures indiscreetly to his co-workers to check out the foreigner. I walk across to the checkout counter and Zhang starts conversing with me while bagging my things.

—You’re very tall, he tries.

—I know, I reply coldly.

—Are you two meters?

—Yes, two meters two centimeters.

—Wow, so tall.

Zhang goes on to tell his co-workers how tall I am, and then asks the same question Zhang always asks.

—Do you play basketball?

—No, I don’t play basketball. I don’t like the ball and the ball doesn’t like me, I reply trying to be funny.

—Such a waste, Zhang sighs and moves on to ask where I’m from. I tell him where I’m from. He looks impresed and continues talking, but I soon interrupt him.

—No, Switzerland has good watches, I come from Sweden. We don’t make watches in Sweden, and not famous chocolate either. Zhang looks slightly puzzled.

—Sweden is in the north of Europe.

—Oh, Sweden was it? Zhang seems to realize his mistake, but I’m not sure if he really knows where northern Europe is.

—How long have you been here, Zhang proceeds to ask.

—Hmm… seven or eight months.

—Wow, you’re Chinese is so good

—Oh not at all, my Chinese is far from good, I say while secretly smiling.

—Hehe, you’ve learned Chinese modesty too, Zhang mutters.

Zhang has individually bagged the toothbrush and the instant noodles, and now puts the two bags into a third bag. I hand over the money and we say goodbye. Tomorrow I will meet another Zhang in some restaurant and we will have the same conversation all over again…

早期中国电影《马路天使》

The 1937 Chinese film Street Angel is now available on archive.org.

我把1937年的《马路天使》放在archive.org上了。本片2005年被选为最佳华语片100部中的第11名。片中陈少平和小红的关系十分可爱,使我很感动。大家可以下面看看,希望你们也喜欢!

参看:上海底层的贫苦爱情——《马路天使》在哪里?

China National Film Museum

Today we visited the China National Film Museum out in the north-east suburbs of Beijing. It’s a huge complex with a three-story exhibition, an IMAX theater, a digital theater and the usual 35 mm theater. The exhibition focuses on the history of Chinese cinema from its beginning more than 100 years ago till the present. Since I am a big fan of Chinese cinema I recognized many of the actors, directors and films that I love.

I was disappointed, however, to find some glaring omissions – one of the best films by the most famous director was mysteriously missing. I’m talking about Zhang Yimou’s To Live, which was banned for its unfavorable treatment of the Party and the cultural revolution. Tian Zhuangzhuang’s The Blue Kite suffered the same fate. This makes me wonder what else might have been omitted. In the 1930’s film-making was heavily influenced by the politics of the day – might great films from this time be missing because of aligning with the Nationalists?


Where did The Blue Kite go?

The treatment of Chinese animation was very satisfying. Original sketches from Uproar in Heaven were on display, as well as information on Princess Iron Fan and other old gems. Furthermore there were sections on costumes, special effects and the abomination that is dubbing. All in all very nice, but I should warn that there’s very little information in English. Visit only if you’re a film buff, can read some Chinese and already know a fair bit about Chinese cinema.


Making of Uproar in Heaven

Having been through the 20 exhibition halls, we watched an IMAX 3D screening. It was a 30 minute gimmicky movie about the creatures of the sea, obviously made only to showcase IMAX technology. If you ever go to an IMAX theater, be sure to watch a real movie.


Watching IMAX makes you look stupid

Labor day in Beijing

In Sweden I usually demonstrate on labor day, but that’s obviously not an option in China. Instead we went to Houhai, a lake area north of the Forbidden City. I accidentally stumbled upon this big thing:

It’s the Bell Tower and is actually a tourist attraction, but I didn’t feel very attracted to it. There are a lot of Hutongs in the area – Hutong is what the old narrow streets in Beijing are called. More and more of them are destroyed to make room for the modern life, which is a pity in some cases. However, many of them are actually really shoddy. Would you want to live here?

Soon we arrived at Houhai. This area is very un-Chinese with reagge cafes, bars and the like. Nonetheless, walking around the lakes (Houhai is just one of several) is pretty nice.

Feeling kind of bored, we went to Wangfujing to watch a movie. If you get a chance to see Shanghai Red, do pass. It’s unoriginal, slightly pretentious and has corny dialogue, mostly in English (it’s a Sino-American production, I found out too late). Enough about that. I found a huge DVD shop and wandered around for a long time. I was kind of surprised to find Devils on the Doorstep, which I wrote yesterday has never been shown publicly in China. Finally, I bought Mongolian Ping Pong, by the director of the popular hit Crazy Stone.

In all, a great day for the international labor movement (and the international film industry). Last but not least, a warning from the kitchen of BLCU’s dorms:

Actor come director Jiang Wen

Jiang Wen (姜文) is a well-known name in China but appears to be fairly unknown to the rest of the world. As an actor he has worked with some of the biggest names in Chinese cinema, including Zhang Yimou, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. Out of the films I have seen, I especially enjoyed Keep Cool and The Missing Gun. An accomplished actor as he is, I like him even better as a director. In thirteen years, he has only directed three films, the latest of which has not yet premiered. Despite this, it would not be flattery to call him a master director. His style is his own, he fits in neither with the famous fifth generation directors, nor with the young, hip directors of the so called sixth generation.

Chinese films set during the cultural revolution are generally what might be called “trauma dramas”, heart-breaking films made by directors with dark memories from that era, sometimes to atone for their own complicity. Jiang Wen’s 1994 directorial debut film In the Heat of the Sun (阳光灿烂的日子) stands in stark contrast – it looks back at that time with nostalgia. A semi-autobiographical coming of age story, the film follows Ma Xiaojun (a young Jiang Wen) during his teenage years in Beijing. His father is in the army, which gives Xiaojun great personal freedom. Together with his friends he skips class, watches movies, hits on girls, smokes cigarettes and gets into occasional fights. The main focus of the film is Xiaojun’s infatuation with Mi Lan, who is a few years older than himself. His insecure, trembling voice and slight desperation as is spot on and landed Xia Yu a prize for best actor at the Venice International Film Festival.

In Jiang Wen’s own words, he worships Mao Zedong. The references to the politics of the time are plentiful and this film is quite unique in depicting the cultural revolution as an adventurous and cheerful time. This does not imply that In the Heat of the Sun is a propaganda film made to please the Chinese censors, if you have seen one of those films you will notice the difference. More than anything this is a nostalgic film, longing for the careless summer days of the past.

Compare with the three big “trauma dramas”:

In 2000 Jiang Wen directed and acted in his second film, Devils on the Doorstep (鬼子来了). It is shot in black & white and set during the Japanese occupation of Northern China in the 1940’s. One night, a man who only calls himself “me” knocks on of Ma Dasan (played by Jiang Wen) and leaves a Japanese captive and his Chinese translator tied up and gagged. At gunpoint, he tells Dasan that they must be kept hidden from the Japanese and he will be back to collect them after the new year. Fearing both the Japanese “devils” and the unknown “me”, Dasan seeks the help of the other villagers. There is no lack of comic relief in the film, especially in a scene where they interrogate the prisoners. The solider curses the Chinese and demands to be killed, while his translator instead shouts “He begs you not to kill him!” and so on. “Me” never comes back, and as time passes the Japanese prisoner begins to feel grateful to the townspeople, who treat him well.

Devils on the Doorstep is quite different from most Chinese war-time films. The Japanese aren’t one-dimensional devils and the Chinese aren’t brave heroes. Sadly, because of a debacle with the film censors, it has never been show publicly in China. Jiang Wen competed with it at the 2000 Canne’s Film Festival and won the Grand Prix (2nd prize), but without the film first being approved by the Chinese Film Bureau. This is unacceptable to them regardless of the films content. Furthermore, they allegedly weren’t too happy about the frequent use of “turtle fucker” (王八操的), apparently unable to appreciate such fine humor. I, on the other hand, have approved the film for viewing in all regions!

In a few months Jiang Wen’s new film, The Sun Also Rises (太阳再次升起), will premiere. It spans over about fifty years of history and tells a story in four parts: mad, love, gun and dream. The main storyline appears to be that of Old Tang and his wife who get relocated to the countryside for re-education during the cultural revolution. Tang finds out that his wife is having an affair with a younger man when he overhears her telling him that “my husband says my belly is like velvet”… (Source: 醉生梦死)

Some gossip. Jiang Wen has something of a playboy reputation and actually had a son with Zhou Yun, one of the actresses, late last year. The kid has come to a good start in the film industry, as Jiang Wen added a scene with him after principal photography was finished. What “role” the baby has is unknown to me.

The film was submitted and approved by the Film Bureau well ahead of time, so as to not repeat the previous failure. It was supposed to premiere at Cannes, but surprisingly it was not selected for the competition lineup. Jiang Wen is currently doing all he can to complete the film and hopes to have it included at the last minute. Failure to enter the Cannes Film Festival will likely also delay the public premier, as it would first premiere at some later film festival, such as Venice. (Source: sina)