Did you not drown in this changing world - a brief review of 'Anita'

I have just done with yum cha on a certain floor of a shopping mall, took the escalator to find a cinema on another floor of the same coordinates, and spent more than two hours watching the recently well-received movie 'Anita'. To be honest, I was neither a fan of her music nor her movie. I'm not even sure whether to call her Anita, Amei, or Sister Mei. It seems to me that either one is embarrassing, and either one is inappropriate. So I decide to call her by full name as how we do to historical figures.

Anita Mui's most glorious years were gone when I was born, just as the city of Hong Kong was to me. However, the Hongkongers in recent years have always been nostalgic. The sort of good old days they are missing, no matter if that's the harmony under the Lion Rock without political disputes, or the Pearl of the Orient with all kinds of glory, everyone has to admit that Hong Kong in the past seems to be better than the Hong Kong today, sighing "why Hong Kong turns into this?" The pandemic has stopped me running around. Taking this opportunity I am also addicted to such sorrows and almost get lost... Oh yeah, so I planned to watch this film quite earlier on. The more it's like a castle in the air, the more romantic it is, and the more worth seeing it is.

We skipped the poor childhood of Mei Aifang and Anita Mui when they substituted birthday cake with stolen moon cakes, and jumped directly from 1960s to the 80s. When she was a child, Anita Mui watched Adam Cheng performed a Japanese song and she tried to learn the same just in case she might have to use it. She wrote a small piece of paper, using Cantonese to indicate the pronunciation and boned it up. She never really learnt the langauge and she ended up speaking English even when she was with her Japanese boyfriend. Falling in love is also spoken in English. She was the only child who was born in Hong Kong among her siblings, but that was her, sang in three different langauges in one scene, entertained guests from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan in a nightclub. A girl of the world, a girl of Hong Kong, such a mixed, chaotic Hong Kong filled with all sort of people.

The years of Anita Mui were the most popular times for J-Pop. Even the adjective 'popular' seems pale. In fact, many Hong Kong songs were Japanese music with Cantonese lyrics. I have a cousin born in the 70s or 80s - her idols were Kimura Takuya and Domoto when she were young, and now another cousin born in the 00s is a fan of BTS. J-Pop has been overshadowed by K-Pop, and in recent years, the term C-Pop began to emerge. The change in trend and culture happens always. Today, we have entered the so-called creator era, intellectual property is concerned and it seems that only singer-songwriters are respectable. But what remains unchanged is that today's Hongkongers are still 'men of the world'. Well, biliteracy and trilingualism are not enough, let's learn a bit of Korean in spare time, just right for watching Korean dramas. For those who would like to pay more attention to the local community, learning Hindi and Punjabi can be a good fit. Wanna exile yourself or be exiled from the society to Europe? French or German is a must. Let’s go to the United States - an English-speaking country is always more secure, but it's also home to many South Americans. It is said that Spanish is easy to learn, let's learn it too. Do we really need it? Or just feeling insecure? Learn a bit more, and another bit more, just in case.

Anita Mui needed surgery to remove the 'cocoons' from her vocal cords. She asked the doctor if she could still sing in the future. The doctor didn't answer directly, just said being a singer to make a living is unrealistic, just go find a job. Afterwards, Anita Mui looked at the job ads on the street, although she finally chose to pursue her ideal on the stage when she heard the singing of her dreams, she was still hesitant as she faced Michael Lai. The uncertainty towards the future was not exclusive to her, but to everyone. Not only the post-war Hongkongers are being materialistic, the preferences of 10A candidates now are still medical schools and law schools. It seems that we have changed, but somehow we are still living in that Hong Kong in 1934 as depicted in the 'Rouge'. Nothing has changed.

And, of course, our shared memory that runs through Hong Kong's history: emigration (or immigration, these two are both '移民' in Chinese). Hong Kong is an immigrant city, true indeed. Such waves of immigration/emigration were created not by policies, but the result of a borderland being involved in the great wheel of history where China and the West meet. However, who can see the end of the end? Some men see a happy ending when their stories end while the others might see a tragedy when their moments come. The uncertainty of life makes us choose. We all talk about free will, yet for some people being forced to make choices is actually a not 'free' will at all in their logic. If you have to stick on the path you choose, who dare say the decision made must be right? No choice, no liability, and no slap in the face. Even if a tragic ending comes, it is someone else's choice, someone else's fault. Choices, take courage.

Borrowed place, borrowed time, Que Será Será. Anita Mui in the film chose to stay firmly. The Hong Kong after 1997 is a Hong Kong with bad luck. Soros attacked the Hong Kong Dollar, financial turmoil, the 85000 policy, negative equity, disputes over Hong Kong residency, Leslie Cheung committed suicide, SARS, oh, SARS. There were thousands of people at the funeral for Leslie Cheung and all the extras were wearing masks on their faces. I was confused for a while, was it now when the screen was filmed, or was it years ago when Doctor Joanna Tse died on duty?

The joys and sorrows of human beings are never the same, thus there are a thousand Hamlets in the eyes of a thousand people. Some people said that this is an epic movie, the leading actress is Anita Mui while the leading actor is Hong Kong; some criticized that the film did not mention Anita's mother, the Concert for Democracy In China and Denise Ho. Some claimed that it beautifies Anita Mui too much, actually many people criticized her style in those years and her songs were banned and so on. Anyway, it is undeniable that the film has caused a lot of discussion and also aroused a lot of feelings. I said at the beginning that I am not a fan of her, but as a Hongkonger, I really feel deeply that every scene, every plot, every sentence in the script resonate with my soul. Last time I had this feeling when watching a movie was 'Men On The Dragon', I guess it's because of the 'leading actor'?

Ashamed, I don't remember many songs of Anita Mui's (although I can hum a few lines). So I googled a bit and let me put an end here by using the lyrics from the song ' Years like Water':-

With plaintive words my heart will sigh

The years like water they flow on by

Yesterday’s gone, the past can’t hold

While memories stay—tangled, never unfold

Shrouded in mist, my heart will pine

For bygone years that were left behind
My looks have altered, my world has changed

But my heart, my soul they remain the same

(Translation of lyrics by Wee Kek Koon: www.cuhk.edu.hk/rct/pdf/e_outputs/b79/v79p108.pdf)

The movie of the Daughter of Hong Kong is over, will you remember Hong Kong?