We make things. Then things make us.Today we use them. Tomorrow we lose them. Later they reappear in our lives, at a flea market, on a film set, and lure us into a distinct time and place and its embedded emotions. They become props. Soon we realize they have the upper hand, forever holding an intimate, irreplaceable part of us hostage. And we learn, in time, all things are props, we have long been outnumbered. At least we own them, we think, until one day we glimpse ourselves through their eyes and catch an opposite picture: we are things in a world they shape; we are their props.
As a photographer and filmmaker I frequent prop shops. Manifested clearly in these kingdoms, the epic yet delicate love story between humans and things always intrigues me. Through Prophead I aim to reflect on the odd cycles and dynamics of that relationship. In each portrait I asked a prop shop patron to be photographed with a self-picked item replacing his or her head. When I raise my camera — a prop in essence, replacing my head — I see, via a prop’s gaze, an all-props world.
Although it’s great for those outside of Hong Kong to view these photos, I would highly recommend anyone local to visit the gallery (which is slightly annoying as you have to time it with your cinema viewing) as on a larger scale, the atmosphere and detail of the photos are intense and can be fully appreciated. They are on sale, too, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross Qinghai Earthquake 2010. And here I’d like to say, ‘props’ to Thomas! (Sorry, nerd moment. Yes, yes, pun intended.)
Prince of Persia
directed by Mike Newall (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile, Donnie Brasco, Four Weddings and a Funeral)
Now, onto the movie… It was my first time attending a premiere in Hong Kong, and one thing that struck me was the immense security. In a place where piracy is heavily monitored, all audience members had to leave any video cameras (you’d think no one would bring such a thing into the cinema to start off with, but because I’m on a documentary mission while in Hong Kong, I had the awkward honour of presenting my camera to security) as well as all mobile phones, lining up to tables of security personnel and individually bagging the prohibited items, in return for a yellow tag. This was also the first showing globally, due to the time difference, so piracy measures had to be so heavy – there was even a lady at the front of the cinema with binoculars looking at the audience for the whole show!
So after the queues and handling of expensive items, the movie itself was rather typical. I won’t go into any of the details or story as finding a synopsis is not hard (come on guys, just google!). The only thing I will say is that there is a magical dagger that can make the handler go back in time. Anyone who is familiar with the video game will enjoy how they have emulated many visuals into the film. As a brief review (or personal thoughts) it is what you’d expect from a Hollywood blockbuster, full of action and fast cut sequences, cheesy romance moments that last a bit too long, and laughable interjections with a couple of ingenious scenes.
The visuals are commendable, but is CGI-packed and you leave the cinema with not a very lasting impression. One of the comments I overheard the most was on the beauty of Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton, previously seen in Clash of the Titans, Quantum of Solace, Rocknrolla). Before viewing the movie I saw an interview of Jake Gyllenhaal (who plays the lead role of Dastan) on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on BBC, which was highly entertaining, and ended with Jake giving Johnathan Ross a gift of Prince of Persia Lego dolls (of which the conversation went into “So it’s you and the two ugly brothers”), and cooking an iPad. Don’t ask.
Anyway, my verdict is: if you like Hollywood’s blockbuster genre, go see it. Otherwise, for the rest of us it’s watchable if you don’t have to pay for it, but otherwise you’re not missing anything.