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Monday, July 02, 2012

A movie leading to a dream leading to an imagined movie...

Last night, he started to watch a film by one of his favourite Hong Kong directors, Johnnie To. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was Hong Kong's 15th anniversary handover, it just happened that he wanted to watch a familiar Hong Kong film with familiar Hong Kong actors. The film, ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, was a romantic drama with familiar trappings, part-NOTTING HILL, part-UPSIDE OF ANGER (he didn't know he could still remember this film), part-anything Nicholas Sparks.

In this film, a heartbroken movie actor stumbles into an high-altitude inn at Yunnan Province. Jilted by his bride on the day of his wedding, the actor has became a drunken mess. Things start to look better when an inevitable romance gradually grows between him and the innkeeper, but alas, the innkeeper has a sad tale too, as she is still waiting for her husband to come back after he has disappeared in the deep woods seven years earlier.

The person watching the film had a tiring day, his right arm still aching, the sprained finger still throbbing. He decided to pause the film and take a nap.

He then found himself in a carnival of sorts, but looking closely, he realized it was probably just a film market similar to the ones seen in major film festivals. There were all kinds of booths promoting different films, and strangely, movie stars were tending the booths. ("Wait. Was that Uma Thurman at the KILL BILL booth? What year am I at?")

There were many people, and he had to navigate through them, pushing past the people, the deafening noises, it was indeed more carnivalesque than a normal film market that he had attended in these past years.

Because he was in the landscape of dreams, wandering away from the maddening crowd instantly led him to another place. A quiet restaurant without any distinguishable characteristics. He was seated at a long table, surrounded by faces both familiar and unfamiliar.

People around him continued to chatter and murmur, but he didn't really pay them any attention. His eyes were on a woman sitting nearby, another damnably familiar face. If he knew that he was in a dream, he would instantly remark in disbelief the number of times she had haunted his dreamscapes. But he didn't, so all he saw was a someone he knew he had not seen for a very long time.

She was the same as he remembered her. Quiet, a tiny perpetual frown on her face, which made him wonder whether she deep in thought, or merely displeased with her surroundings. Her skin was very fair, under the dim lights of the restaurant, she seemed to emit a somewhat ephemeral glow.

The first time he met her was nine years ago.
The last time he saw her was seven years ago.
She should have been a ghost, imprisoned within the dungeons of his memory, yet there she was roaming freely, quietly, again unattainable, again untouchable. He never knew what he could say to her.

He overheard conversations of other people at the table, talking about an upcoming wedding tomorrow. The woman reacted at these words, smiling and nodding.

Immediately he deduced that she was the one getting married. Perhaps with the person he last saw her with, but he had no desire to know.

Excusing himself, he got up and started walking away.

But the conversations behind him continued...

"Hey, are you seeing anyone?" Asked a giggly loud lady, she sounded like a combination of numerous people he knew.

"No." The woman spoke for the first time, her voice soft and whispery. "I am still... just... waiting. Someone came today, I thought he would say something to me, but he didn't. He is leaving now."

Instantly, he whirled around, glaring.

"You brought this upon yourself!" He snapped at her. "Did you have any idea back then, how much I have..."

He paused, gathering his thoughts, aside from fiery anger, he was starting to feel something else. A paranoia that everything was collapsing around him, melting, falling apart, dissipating, and he knew without a doubt that he would not be able to finish his next sentence.

So, hurriedly, he blurted:

"These few years, all the films I made, all the things I achieved, did you know that I did them just so you would..."

And then he woke up.

Glancing at his watch, the nap lasted for almost two hours.

He sneered. Even in his dreams, he could never finish what he wanted to say to her. But then, he wasn't exactly sure what was he trying to say either.

Sitting up, waiting until he felt less contemptuous towards everything in general, he continued watching ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, a story of a movie star who fell in love with woman incapable of letting go of her past.

For no reason at all, in the past few days, a Korean pop song had been playing in his mind a lot.

The song, AFTER LOVE by Clazziquai Project, came in many different forms.

The original, which started with the quote of a woman who said “We can fly away, fly away together, like in the movies and shit”

The extra remix.

And then, the "female version", which was sung by the band's lead female vocalist.

The song came out in 2004. He didn't hear it until a few years after. But 2004 was the year he met her.

Therefore, as he mentally went through the dream he just had, he imagined that the dream was a movie with an abrupt ending, a cut to black before the protagonist could finish his climatic lines. And in this imaginary dream as a movie, there would be end credits, with either versions of AFTER LOVE playing in the background.