Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Music and Lyrics: The Art of Observing and Letting Go

There are not too many British actors in my favorite list. Sean Connery is one. Michael Caine is another. Pierce Brosnan is OK. But Jude Law and Clive Owen are a different story. Oh, Hugh Grant. I enjoy his comedy films too. But not until I watched Music and Lyrics (image below is scanned from the front cover of the DVD that we bought, pre-viewed, from Hollywood Video) that I find him to be a delightful actor with a sentimental singing voice.

Cast as a has-been in the music industry, having being unceremoniously dumped by his singing partner of the Pop fame, Hugh’s movie character found a revival of sort, precipitated by what else but the power of love. Drew Barrymore as a budding lyricist, honed by her writing talents that came with her own set of demons, is believable and refreshing.

Of the many songs in the sound track, I particularly like Way Back Into Love and Don’t Write Me Off. The first one is a duet, but I much prefer the first version he did with Drew, a catchy tune sung with love in the air in the little world of theirs to the elegant accompaniment of piano.

I recall a scene where Hugh and Drew (I prefer to use their screen names rather than the characters’) argue over the relative importance of the melody and the lyrics. And I kind of agree with Drew that melody only captivates one at the first instant but lyrics are the memory that endure. At the same time, I must also admit that we can always hum a tune or two but will have a hard time remember the lyrics, except for the chorus.

The movie is rife with repartees, kind of like a banter where both parties want to have the last word, like the following exchange:

Hugh: The best time I've had in the last fifteen years was sitting at that piano with you.
Drew: That's wonderfully sensitive... especially from a man who wears such tight pants.
Hugh: It forces all the blood to my heart.

See what I mean? Then Hugh made a reference to Florida where nothing grows except for oranges, or something to that effect. This must be the portrayal of the Sunshine State as a retirement colony.

About the only aspect that I find discomfiting is the song Buddha Delight (though I must admit that there is such a HongKong delicacy, literally translated as Buddha Jumping Over the Wall, presumably to savor the delicacy) being sung by Haley Bennett (as a teen singing sensation) amidst the gyrating males that smacks of something that is beyond the bounds of family entertainment. But the worst is yet to come: when Haley appeared from the bowel of a giant Buddha statue on stage, to perform among the dancers who wore saffron garments reminiscent of a monk’s outfit (I don’t seem to recall whether they are bald).

I think Buddhist people really practice forbearance for I am not aware of any outcry of such an undignified treatment of a great teacher. Actually, I did not even know there is such a scene in the movie. Otherwise I most likely would have refrained from watching the movie, or at least fast forwarded that “ill-conceived” segment.

This will be the only time I will gripe about this for Buddha taught us to observe and let go. That reminds me of a story of two monks crossing a river when they were accosted by a lady for help in crossing the swift flowing stream. The older monk readily carried the woman across the river, put her down, and went about his business. The younger monk, steeped in the tradition and mindful of the Buddhist code of ethics that there shall be no touching between a male and a female, was aghast at the perpetration of the older monk and could not resist confronting the older monk at the next stop on the latter’s impropriety. The older monk’s response? “Yes, I did carry the woman across the river, and have since put her down upon reaching the other side. But it seems you are still carrying her all this while.”

So observe and let go. Do not react. But meanwhile, I would enjoy the melody and the lyrics of Way Back Into Love and Don’t Write Me Off for a little while longer.

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