kayangan the movie

I received an invitation from some lovely people to attend a preview of the movie “KAYANGAN“, a local movie that will be released in selected Malaysian cinemas come 9th August 2007. Being a supporter of most things local ( unless they are known to really suck beyond reasonable doubt ), I heartily agreed. Now I am regretting my decision a little, because… well, I belatedly found out that the movie had a whole list of Malaysian royalty involved. Dude, the producer of this film is the director of Antah Group, ok? He looked really nice, mild and friendly throughout the press conference, but well… if I write disastrously negative things about the movie, will heads roll?! I mean, RPK is not exactly in the best of situations now, is he?

Kidding lah. I thought it was funny. Anyway… like someone said during his opening speech, there are bound to be negative remarks alongside any positive ones, yah? Sekiranya patik silap tulis, patik mohon ampun. Daulat Tuanku.

Kayangan - Mas and Tengku Amir

Kayangan ( which means something like Mount Olympus, not really heaven ) is a romantic comedy, the first feature film by Raden Pictures Sdn Bhd ( assisted by Grand Brilliance Sdn Bhd ), and directed by Y. M. Raja Ahmad Alauddin ( also director of ‘Qaisy dan Laila’, ‘Lurah Dendam’ and ‘Hati Bukan Kristal’ ). It tells the fictional story of Tengku Amir (Teuku Zacky Azwar), a prolific businessman and member of the royal family falling in love with a commoner, Masiera (Nur Fazura), and I think the official synopsis will serve to elaborate better:

When two individuals from different worlds meet by chance, life becomes a kaleidoscope of twists and turns. “Kayangan” sees the lives of Tengku Amir, a royal prince at the forefront of the corporate world (played by Indonesian sensation Teuku Zacky Azwar), and Maseira, a simple lass from a quaint little village in Negeri Sembilan (played by rising star Nur Fazura Sharifuddin) converging by way of a most unfortunate (and embarrassing) occurrence.

Maseira is then exposed to the glitzy urban world of Tengku Amir when she accepts his offer of employment with his family’s company. Despite her initial unease with new surroundings, Maseira slowly adapts to the bright city lights without abandoning her down-to-earth nature. However, both have to deny the romantic feelings developing between them. But why?

The film has abundant comedic twists and turns, impending tragedy, heart-wrenching despair and entertaining scenes. Supported by a soundtrack written by Ajai that promises to be a hit with viewers and listeners alike, both young and old, “Kayangan” is set to captivate and capture the imagination

Will differing backgrounds prove an insurmountable barrier? Or will love conquer all? Come to cinemas this August 2007, and be whisked off to “Kayangan”.

Kayangan - Tengku Amir cajoling Erina
Tengku Amir cajoling his spoiled and materialistic girlfriend, Erina

The Bad in a nutshell:

1) The first 5 minutes (after the montage of how important Tengku Amir was) were rather torturous. It was like being slapped with Murphy’s Law, and everything in the beginning too! It is one of the movies where good money is not spent on proper sound production, so you have the actors sometimes speaking out of sync. I later learnt that Teuku Zacky’s Indonesian accent was too strong, so they had to use another actor’s voice to say the former’s line. But the sound thing is a thorn in my arse lah.

Sorry that this had to happen in the beginning of the movie. But the opening scene was too pretentious for my liking lor. Maybe what transpired was inspired by real life, and maybe it was my problem for not being able to relate to the scene, but that was how I felt lah.

2) Overacting seems to be something that we have to get used to. But sometimes it gets OTT, especially with Dynaz Mokhtar’s role as Erina, Tengku Amir’s spoilt girlfriend. Another reason why I fully support sound to be recorded on location is that the actors would not have so much time to overact, over gesture, over anything because they would have to deliver convincing lines as well, and if they can’t do both, they would have to skip the over performing part.

3) The ludicrous stage performance by Dee and Opie during a proper dinner function. Was that supposed to be the comedy part of this movie? I feel that they could have done well by forgoing this slapstick, which came out from nowhere, and everyone present was supposed to be enjoying it so much that the whole scene was very unconvincing.

4) Tengku Amir’s attraction for Erina. Maybe it is to Dynaz’s credit for her ability to portray such an annoying role, but come on lah… you the handsome prince with both looks and money can get any girl in the world, and you settle for this annoying piece of trash (the role, not Dynaz)?! Makes me geram want to slap someone. Well I have a reaction, so maybe that’s a good thing…

5) Tengku Amir’s original PA who was pregnant = not funny at all and OTT. Sorry.

Kayangan - Erina and Suraya
Erina and Suraya eyeballing each other

The Good in a nutshell:

1) After a while you get acquainted with the characters and focus on the story, so the whole bad sound/ voice over thing passes you by. That’s a good thing, right?

2) I liked the performances by Fazura, Eja and all the kampung folks. In most local movies, I find that the performances by the kampung folks to be the best, maybe because they are veterans and have starred in one too many ‘Cerekarama’, which I actually enjoy. The only irritating part of Fazura was when her role latched on to the whole ‘KL is the state of capitalism’ bs. Har har. That’s comedy.

3) Costumes were rather awesome! Rich and colourful. Me likey.

4) Positive portrayal of blogging in the movie! That is so refreshing in this country 😉 You’ll have to watch ‘Kayangan’ to see the role of blogging here. Reminiscent of ‘The Perfect Man‘ though.

5) The little side stories, and everything else not mentioned.

Kayangan - Tengku Alyssa reading a blog
Tengku Alyssa reading a blog on her laptop

And now, for the Most Awesome Part:

THE SOUNDTRACK!!!!!!!!!111111 The theme song, “Kayangan”, written and composed by Ajai, sung by Ajai and Tunku Mimi ( who also came up with the story of the movie, who was present at the press conference and looked rather hot ) is very catchy, pleasing, and I can’t wait to buy the album so I can listen to it over and over again and again and again.

I also really like the rest of the songs on the album. You can listen to clips from the soundtrack here, then you should really go out and buy the album because I think it’s awesome 😉 Ajai, you are hot.

Kayangan - Blossoming romance
Tengku Amir and Mas discussing on how to spend RM2 million…

I guess this is the part where I tell you to go watch the movie. Well, only if you want to, beginning 9 August 2007. But I must stress to you not to get your expectations up, and just go with the flow, so to speak.

Overall KAYANGAN is idealistic, but maybe that is not a bad thing. Some funny and heartwarming parts here and there, and will definitely be a hit with those who enjoy romantic films. There will be a ‘Kayangan The Roadshow’ in Penang (5th August at the Seberang Perai Carrefour), Selangor (11th August at Mydin Subang Jaya and Selayang Mall), Seremban (12 August at Terminal One) and Johor Bahru (18 and 19 August at City Square, Plaza Angsana and Danga Bay). Go catch the stars of KAYANGAN at those dates and venues, and to end, here’s the trailer for the movie ‘KAYANGAN’…

sumolah! great expectations

Sumolah movie poster

I had great expectations and hopes for this movie. Maybe it was the hyped-up marketing, as one CinemaOnline reviewer puts it, maybe because I’d enjoyed Afdlin Shauki’s previous movies and stage acts, maybe because for nationalism purposes I’d wanted it to be so good to sweep me off my heavy feet.

To call a spade a spade, I unfortunately left the cinema hall rather unimpressed, and I’ll tell you why.

Movie synopsis:

Ramlee ( Afdlin Shauki ), a down and out loser accepted a challenge to finish 20 plates of sushi within one minute. He lost the bet, and had to work in the Japanese restaurant ‘Boleh Sushi’ headed by Honda ( Patrick Teoh ) to pay off his debt. Soon he was friends with his colleagues, Haris ( Awie ) and Andy ( Radhi Khalid ), learnt values of hard work and even fall head over heels with Honda’s half-Malay, half-Japanese daughter, Siti ( Inthira Charoenpura ).

Soon Ramlee realised he had been tricked to be the 3rd member of Boleh Sushi’s sumo team, and had to take part in the Malaysian Sushi Association Amateur Sumo Wrestling Championship (MSAASWC). During training, he had an encounter with a member of a rival sumo team, Akira ( Gurmit Singh ) who was also Siti’s ex-flame. Will Ramlee be discouraged, or would he embrace the spirit of ‘nokotta’ so pimped out in the movie?

The Good: Afdlin Shauki is an awesome comedian. His timing is always spot on, and he played to the stereotypical expectations of a fat person. I liked the introduction to sumo; not sure how accurate it is, but it was interesting to learn something new. The trip to Japan was lovely, but I suppose the credit goes to Japan for having all these bootiful sceneries. But overall I find the movie colourful.

Kartina Aziz as Ramlee’s long-suffering mother was aptly casted. The easy chemistry between Ramlee and Akira (even though they were rivals) was noticeable, maybe because Afdlin and Gurmit had worked before on other projects. I liked their sharp exchanges, had me LOL-ed at times.

Gavin Yap’s portrayal of a damn skinny but punk crazy sumo fighter was funny. I can’t make up my mind if he was maybe out of place, but he definitely provided comic relief. Maybe unintentionally? I don’t know, but the whole cinema LOL-ed at his antics.

The OK: Patrick Teoh’s portrayal as a Japanese dude who made Malaysia his home wasn’t as memorable as I’d hoped it would be, sometimes even frustrating. Reason = they had him speak English like a typical Chinaman, something I thought that could have been done without. I didn’t think it added value to the movie, him enunciating the way he did. Performance-wise, he delivered according to his given role.

Gurmit Singh was funny at times. But during certain scenes when he was acting smug or arrogant, I almost expected him to break out, “DONCH PRAY PRAY AR!!!!!!” I grew up watching this man on Channel/TCS 5 ok.

Everything else: if I didn’t put it in ‘The Good’ or ‘The Bad’, they all fall under ‘The OK’ category.

The Bad: I have a major, major grip with sound. Someone explained to me before how Afdlin directs/ acts in his movies, and does not record sound on-location. I think it is a serious overlook in any movie-making attempts, because IMHO sound is critical and crucial in the deliverance of a movie. I really, really dislike lip-syncing in movies, and throughout Sumolah! I couldn’t help but to wonder how much more I’d enjoyed the movie if it weren’t for the bad sound parts. Lip-syncing is bad. Lip-syncing is annoying. Lip-syncing is fake. Lip-syncing derives the audience of emotional connection with the characters. Nothing can replace sound/ dialogue recorded the same time the roles were acted out. It is just not the same.

Plus if sound was recorded real-time, they could have made do without the extra ‘er… err… heh.. hehh.. ermm..’ produced when they record it in the studio. Acting shy, uncertain and abashed need not be so painful to hear.

Props to Inthira for having to learn and memorise her lines in Malay at such short time, but I thought her character was quite redundant. She is pretty, she looks hot in a kimono, but I’d have preferred her to be given a stronger role. Not to say that being a morally righteous, culturally-aware, hardcore motivator is something to be dissed, but… that’s it? Also her performance was too subdued; perhaps due to her role, but I’d seen Nang-nak and she was brilliant. Erm, you make the connection lah 🙂

I also felt Sumolah! tried too hard to emphasise certain moral values, especially at the end of the film. Too much, beb, too much. It was also too long lah… 2 hours 20 minutes… as lengthy as Spiderman 3 but not as much ‘isi-isi penting’ because they were repeated over and over again.

I know that Celcom and Ogawa are the main sponsors of Sumolah! They were also heavily pimped throughout the movie, and at times it was just too much lor. Some parts were like pure advertisements for both Celcom and Ogawa — so much that when Haris was on video-call with his sweetie, I’d expected something like ‘Celcom 3G brings you closer to family and loved ones’. Blah.

I don’t even want to talk about Ogawa’s blatant, in-your-face product placement. Just a note to all advertisers: yes you poured in/ will continue to pour in money to the movie industries, local movies need more support, but please leave the creative control alone kthx.

Overall: Like I’d said, I’d expected better. I hope whatever I’d written will not discourage the people who worked so hard to bring Sumolah! to screen. I know Zona put a lot into the production, you can read their production diaries here. There’s always room for improvement, kan? 😀

I was telling James about the movie, and he asked, “Cicak-man vs. Sumo-lah… who wins?”

In that case, Sumo-lah! wins the best movie of the year, y’all!

(Sumo-lah! is showing in Malaysian cinemas now. Go catch it if you want to, before it is too late, i.e. Pirates 3 coming out and the cinemas get overcrowded.)

i hate moag the movie

For some reason I had the urge to re-read Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha ( a book which my cousin might remember belongs to him… did I buy you a new copy? If not, remind me yah 😀 ) — definitely one of my favourite books, even if it was factually incorrect (though beautifully written) and incurred the wrath of the geisha whom Golden interviewed.

Then I re-watched the movie inspired by the novel starring the usual Asian suspects, and I remembered why I hated the movie so much.

So for the sake of old arguments (it was a 2005 movie), I would like to reinstate the reasons the movie didn’t do it for me, especially after reading the lovely flow of Golden’s words.

I’ve never liked Zhang Ziyi. I don’t think she can fucking act. The new Gong Li?! Pirahh! I hated her in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I hated her in Rush Hour 2, I hated her in The Legend of Zu, I hated her in Hero, I hated her in House of Flying Daggers, and I hated her in Memoirs of a Geisha. I didn’t even bother watching The Banquet because I know for sure I’d hate her in it too. Throughout the movies I’ve seen her in, she alternates between 2 facial expressions that denotes her as either a sulking child or a smirking bitch. Niamah, every time she has screen time, I feel like taking a blunt fruit knife to my creamy, slender wrist and very slowly and most painfully carve ‘WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!??’. Freakin’ Sanjaya in a cowboy hat is more entertaining than you, bitch.

Dear Gong Li, I love your older movies, especially your performance in Farewell To My Concubine. Your Chinese accent transports me to an empire long-gone, crushed by the power-hungry rebels and communists. But as the new era dawns and Hollywood beckons, I, a semi-ardent fan among thousands plead you to do us all a favour; stop conversing in English. No one understood what the heck you were on about when you babbled ‘n prattled in MOAG. You lost your awesomeness in the ditty movie. Sad thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. Tell it to their Hollywood faces, fuck you and your attempts to make Asians look bad with lame dialogue; I am sticking to Mandarin, so there bitches. But I don’t think it will happen because even if you so happen to find my blog, you wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway.

Wahai Yang Berbahagia Datuk Michelle Yeoh, you are a fine specimen of a Malaysian who made it big on the international scene. I don’t really know what else you should do, seeing that your last couple of movies really sucked; erm, The Touch, wtf was that all about?!? And the best part of Silver Hawk was Richie Ren doing the KRACK KRACK KRACK KRACKKKKKKKKKK!!!!! I heard Sunshine didn’t make the grade either. Let’s hope you are awesome in Mummy 3. Also, you were a young 43 in 2005 for MOAG. But you weren’t that young for girly-laughing scenes. I hope you kungfu-ed the director for making you look bad.

Ken Watanabe, please marry me. I am yours for the taking. I am going to make you a very happy Samurai, and I shall teach you how to articulate certain English words that you seemed to have so much difficulty with in MOAG.

On second thoughts, you kissed Zhang Ziyi. Perhaps not.

I hate MOAG the movie with a vengeance. It could have been so right. The set, the cinematography, the lighting, the costumes, the make-up were so beautiful. Why did everything else have to be so wrong?! I hate you Rob Marshall. I hate you Robin Swicord. I hate you Steven Spielberg. And I hate you most, Zhang Ziyi. Thanks for nothing.

movie: jangan pandang belakang – not that bad leh!

What’s with me and Malay movies? Heck I don’t even watch that many Chinese flicks anymore (but that is because I think no one can replace Stephen Chow as the slapstick mastah, and Zhang Yimou keeps making artsy-fartsy movies with weak storylines and weaker actors — erm, Jay Chou, wtf herro!!!!!).

Anyway, I caught Jangan Pandang Belakang last week because I didn’t fancy waiting 40 minutes for another movie. Sort of like a spur-of-the-moment purchase. The title is basically the age-old warning not to ‘look behind you’ if you feel that you are not alone, especially since ghosts and spirits are stereotyped to be sneaky beings who would only approach you from behind.

The movie began with a traditional Muslim exorcism, as seen in the photo below:

Jangan Pandang Belakang - traditional exorcism

The evil spirit was captured and put in a bottle (to be thrown into the sea), but the victim died. Fast-forward to a couple months or years (no idea) later, Darma (Pierre Andre) received news that his fiancee, Rose had mysteriously passed away. I kept waiting for the part when he was really grieved, but it never happened. Dude, the woman you are about to marry and spend the rest of your life with just fucking died, show some emotion can or not?!

Anyway the circumstance in which Rose died was mysterious, so Darma and Rose’s twin sister Seri (Intan Ladyana) decided to do some CSI to find out what the fuck happened. Again, Seri perplexed me. Woman, your TWIN SISTER just fucking died, omg show some STRONGER emotion already!!!!! At least Darma cried later a bit, but Seri… omg takde perasaan ke?! Death?? Never coming back?!?!?!?!

But that was the extent of my grip. Mostly kayu acting by the main protagonists, but the rest of the cast were good, if not brilliant.

Moving on… Darma and Seri found a voice message by a terrified Rose, that she thought ‘something’ was bothering her. Soon Darma realised that whatever was bothering Rose was bothering him as well. Weird noises in the middle of the night, something knocking furiously at the door and stopped when Darma reached for the door knob, the typical shock shock horror horror suspense suspense stuff associated with ghost movies.

Jangan Pandang Belakang - scene from movie

So Darma made a trip back to his hometown to seek help to rid the ‘gangguan’. Along the way, some stuff happened, pretty good even with my eyes closed…

Okay, lazy to write more. So overall of Jangan Pandang Belakang:

The Good: Khatijah Tan, the nenek (opah), nice lighting, shock horror setaraf dengan adegan-adegan yang menyeramkan yang terdapat dalam filem-filem seram Jepun dan Korea…

The OK:: The script and storyline. Sometimes they make sense (good), sometimes they don’t (bad).

The Bad:: Pierre Andre and Intan Ladyana’s acting, or rather the lack of it. Maybe Pierre Andre has found his other calling — he co-wrote the story with some other fella.

Jangan Pandang Belakang - hantu, arghhhh!

Jangan Pandang Belakang is showing in nationwide cinemas now. If you have seen the movie, did you disagree with my thoughts, or you have other opinions? Share lah.

chermin: mixed feelings

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to watch the movie “CHERMIN” with fellow bloggers :- TV Smith, PinkPau, Sultan Muzaffar, Faisal Mustaffa and Valarie at KLCC.

To be honest, it wasn’t a movie I would have gone to watch on my own. The trailer was less than impressive, and being a die-hard horror film buff (even though I’m darn scared of them) I’d seen more than enough mirror-related Asian horrors.

Chermin - Dual Universe
Have you ever wondered who is looking back at you in the mirror?

‘Cos I am lazy to summarise the movie, here’s the official synopsis:

Chermin is a horror/suspense thriller about a woman who is haunted by a vengeful spirit trapped in an antique mirror. The plot centers on Nasrin (Natasha Hudson), whose face has been disfigured from a ‘mysterious’ car accident. When her mother Kak Siti (Khatijah Tan) discovers an antique mirror hidden amongst old family heirlooms, Nasrin finds herself strangely drawn to it. Nasrin’s fascination with the mirror turns into obsession and she starts taking on the persona of the mirror spirit, Mastura (Deanna Yusoff). On her quest to regain her past beauty, Nasrin submits herself to the mirror spirit by satisfying the mirror’s need for blood and revenge. Will she able to sacrifice love for vanity? Is she able to look inside herself and see the beauty within? Or is what is reflected in her heart a shadow of the mirror?

Chermin - Gossiping villagers
Dayum, I hate gossiping villagers too…

The good: The haunting score was awesome, and definitely brought the movie to another level. Sort of like a Red Violin vibe. Award-winning composer Adelina Wong delivered; and hers is a name I will look out for in future. Sound effect/production was also excellent, and I am glad that CHERMIN had the expertise of Addaudio in this area. From the batch of local movies I’ve been watching, I noticed that the ones where they had a hand in was always good when it comes to sound. It may seem a trivial matter to some, but BELIEVE me it is most important in the delivery of the movie. I am sure that most of you have watched movies where the lips don’t sync with the words. That sucks.

The director also use lots of colours in her movie: the combination of that with lighting effects is something I find visually pleasing and different. Reminded me of Hero. I loved the wardrobe, especially those worn by Deanna Yusoff — very traditional, so beautiful, rich in colours and quality (well you could tell if something is expensive). Visual effects were also above average, except for some surreal parts where it seems as if watercolour was dripping down from the edge of the screen.

The set/location was quite good and beautiful as well. The movie was shot in Janda Baik in Pahang; I don’t know exactly where it is, but I would assume it has lots of trees and small roads, perfect as a backdrop. I love the furniture used in the movie. I want some of that 😀 (not the mirror though, my own mirror scares me enough as it is).

The car accident scene was done very well. At first I had thought it was a CGI — but then I learnt that it was a real car being wrecked by a trained stuntman. Woah, that’s gotta hurt the pockets 😛

There are some scenes that I felt were really good, for example when the group of women were present for the doa selamat, and when Nasrin eavesdropped on the gossiping villagers.

Khatijah Tan is a top-rate actress. She should get a Suanie Award.

Chermin - movie stills
Movie stills from CHERMIN

The OK: The storyline is not something drastically different from what is already present in the movie horror scene. Honestly speaking, I feel that after Shutter, most other shock factors pale in comparison. Well maybe that shouldn’t be a comparison basis; after all Thai movies are so far ahead than ours. But we can always strive to jump the queue, right?

The exorcism ritual reminded me of the famous scene in The Exorcist when the girl was screaming and speaking in a manly voice. Except this one was blood-overload, kinda scary. And the eyes, omg. Give me a choice between a ghost with long hair and a ghost with scary eyes, and I would run to embrace the former. Well of course I would try to run away from both if I could help it…

I would put most of the acting in this OK category, with the exception of Khatijah Tan. Some are OK not bad, some are OK tolerable, some are OK get on with it.

Chermin - Waking up in horror
Shit, blood everywhere!!!

The Bad: What’s with the CGI lizard-like devil running around here and there? I felt that was unnecessary, and unintentionally brought comic relief to an otherwise ok horror movie. I couldn’t help but to be reminded of Constantine whenever the thing appeared on screen, and that is not so good because I think Constantine is a damn excellent movie. So after CHERMIN I went home and watched Constantine on DVD. Keanu Reeves can’t act to save his life, but I’d forgive him anyday if he would be the father of my children. Or maybe not, don’t really want my kids to turn out blank and stupid.

Well, I don’t really want kids, period, but that is besides the point.

There was one scene that stupefied me. Hypothetically, if you see your girlfriend appearing out of nowhere in your house in the middle of the night, wearing a nightgown drenched in blood with a zombie look on her face, you would scream and go WTF WTF WTF, right? I don’t know if it is overpowering love and affection that caused Yusuf to calmly express himself along the lines of, “Nazrin, are you ok? Nazrin? Nazrin? Nazrin??” but I doubt it.

Speaking of Yusuf, he was played by Farid Kamil. I was trying to remember why he looked so familiar and where the heck I’d seen him before. Now I remember. Protagonist in Remp-It!!! Sorry, couldn’t place him without the helmet, the bike and the bad lip-synching.

Chermin - coffee with director
Me, Sultan Muzaffar and Pinkpau with the director of CHERMIN, Zarina Abdullah

We had coffee with Zarina Abdullah, the director of CHERMIN before the movie. I learnt that it was her debut feature film, and I’d say that overall, CHERMIN was quite impressive for a first-time director. Congrats congrats, especially on CHERMIN being accepted at the Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy.

Zarina admitted that she is a shy and soft-spoken person in nature. We learnt that she hails from Kuching, has a civil engineering degree and masters in IT from UK, and prior to CHERMIN had only directed shorts.

I asked her if there was any supernatural incidents on set and she said yes, there were some weird stuff happening. Not to her, but to her actresses and crew. Apparently something was even caught on screen; she didn’t realise it until the post-production guys pointed it out to her. I didn’t notice it, but it was a whitish presence in a car scene that was definitely not supposed to be there.

When asked why she chose to do a horror when the current market is saturated with similar movies, she said that when she did the movie, there weren’t much around, except for the Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam series. It was only recently that we have horrors such as Syaitan, Jangan Pandang Belakang etc so must be a coincidence.

Why spell it CHERMIN and not ‘cermin’? Because the story is based on an old mirror and Zarina wanted the old spelling to reflect its antiquity.

What’s her all-time favourite movies? The Exorcist (naturally), Shawshank Redemption, basically the classics. Zarina said she would have a hard time writing a love story, so maybe later.

TV Smith asked Sultan Muzaffar if he thinks the Yusof Haslam era was over, and the latter said yes. Thank the gods.

I liked Zarina; she was nice, friendly and pleasant. And like I said, CHERMIN was quite an impressive debut for a first-time director — she is only 27 years old to boot! Here’s looking forward to more Zarina Abdullah movies. Go Go GOoOOOOoo!!!!

mukhsin – orked’s first and memorable love

Trust me to delay this review well after its release date 🙁 Sorry, thousand and one apologies, I had too much stuff on my hands, and I hope you grand and brilliant peps don’t strike me off your guest list… I am useful, I swear!!!

Mukhsin - font banner

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the preview for Yasmin Ahmad‘s latest offering, Mukhsin at Midvalley. It was a large hall and there were plenty of familiar faces (fellow bloggers lah). The seats allocated to bloggers were fully occupied. So I muka tembok a bit and sat in one of the seats allocated to the press. Bwahahahahaha!!! I made acquaintances with the two girls sitting beside me (who were real press peps), and found out that one of them is Pelf‘s sister! Such a small world… Then I spotted hot chick and beckoned her to sit beside me.

Mukhsin - Orked and Mukhsin
Mukhsin and Orked sitting in a tree… not (yet)

MUKHSIN is the story of first love, of second chances, of friendship and of relationships. Sounds very Yasmin Ahmad, eh? The protagonists are a 10-year old Orked (Sharifah Aryana) and a 12-year old Mukhsin (Mohd Syafie Naswip) from a nearby village who quickly become fast friends. Misunderstandings caused from jealousy soon ensue and threatens to jeopardise their friendship. Will their relationship last like the evergreen sawah sceneries, or will it falter like Alan Yun’s kayu acting? That, you will have to watch the movie to find out.

Mukhsin - Orked with mother dancing in the rain
Orked and Mak Inom dancing in the rain

So far it has been like Star Wars — the director made the final three movies and decades later, made the first three movies in the series. Thank goodness we didn’t have to wait that long, so let’s recap a bit here.

1. Mukhsin — a young Orked meets a boy named Mukhsin and they fell for each other in a way that only children can
2. Sepet — Orked in her late teens meets Jason, they fall in love and only Yasmin Ahmad knows if Jason died at the end of the movie
3. Gubra — Apparently Jason died, so Orked married Arif. He cheated on her so Orked sought comfort in Alan’s arms. Alan was Jason’s brother. But at the end of the movie, apparently Jason didn’t die. ARGHHH WHY YOU MAKE IT SO MYSTERIOUS AND CONFOUNDING!!!!!

Like that lah.

Mukhsin - Orked calling fellow playmate 'cretin'
Orked playing groom to her neighbour (brilliant lil’ actress) playing bride

In MUKHSIN, we see a younger Mak Inom (Sharifah Aleya) and Pak Atan (Irwan Iskandar), Orked’s parents who were already breaking social norms in their kampung. The girls in the family rush out to dance in the rain when daddy and friends play traditional music (‘Hujan’, an original composition by Yasmin Ahmad’s dad). Orked attends a Chinese school instead of a national school. She speaketh powderful England, and at one point exclaimed, “cretin”, a word that I myself only understood when I was 20 years old. She would rather read books and watch football matches than to play with her friends. Her family openly laugh at other villagers. That pretty much would ostracise you in many kampungs.

It also shaped Orked to be what she became in SEPET and GUBRA, so it was interesting to see.

Mukhsin - Orked and Mukhsin's bike
Kesian Orked seorang…

I was quite happy that MUKHSIN was not as self-indulgent as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong — I loved SEPET and GUBRA, but I also thought that there were too many ‘wank fest’ moments. Most of the time I was grinning to myself, lost in my own childhood memories that Yasmin Ahmad so brilliantly captured, even though we don’t know each other, let alone grew up together. Some sceneries were breath-taking, such as the ones at the open green paddy fields. The main actors and actresses were brilliant in their roles; I especially love Mohd Syafie Naswip as the bright-eyed MUKHSIN. It was almost unbelievable that he had never done this before. Apparently he fell in love off-screen also lah, so maybe that helped his performance 😉

Adibah Noor as Kak Yam is always lovable and entertaining. Irwan Iskandar as Pak Atan was cute; though hard to imagine he would be Harith Iskandar later on… hahahah…

Some of the supporting actresses were awesome too, such as Orked’s next door neighbour and her pregnant mother, and Mukhsin’s auntie as pictured gossiping with Kak Yam below.

And anyone knows who is the YOUNGER JASON?!?!?! OMG SO KIUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

Mukhsin - Kak Yam gossiping
Kak Yam and Mukhsin’s aunt making ice-cream

Some parts I am not too happy about:

– Kak Inom’s wardrobe. For example, check out the photo above where she was dancing with Orked. To me she was wearing something quite modern, and I had thought that this would be a movie set in the 80s, if you were to keep up with the storylines of Sepet and Gubra lah. They didn’t have those kind of clothes in the 80s… not even in England where she had studied! Just something that kept coming back to my mind, not quite right lor. Sorry lah, it just bugs me like that.

– Bits and pieces where I felt the writer/director was trying too hard to prove her point. There was a scene where Kak Inom pretended to punish Orked, and when the uneasy tell-tale guests left, the whole family burst into laughter, not bothering to hide their amusement from their guests. Cute idea, but I felt the implementation was a bit too forced and corny.

– The whole thing with the actor/actress who played Orked and Jason in SEPET. Someone said it was sweet to bring back the two, but I felt that their presence was unnecessary. Again, like trying too hard, too forced like that. May have not been her intention, perhaps she just felt like it, but to me it was like the whole bit tak ngam. Story flow and attention broken. Just not right lah.

I’m sure there are others, but not significant enough for me to list down here.

Mukhsin - Mukhsin and Orked

There were also many parts that I liked, some of them involving subtle digs at Yasmin Ahmad’s critics. Who can forget the infamous ‘pencemar budaya’ phrase? Well now it’s immortalised in Mukhsin, so… 😀

The manner of which Mukhsin falls in love with Orked — that was quite something too. Not once did Mukhsin tell Orked of his love, but his actions and the feelings he brought forth were so powerful and touching that words would just be a hindrance.

Overall, I liked what Yasmin Ahmad has done with MUKHSIN, more than Sepet and Gubra. The good storyline and script coupled with the actors/actresses’ stellar performances made the movie very sincere to the point of nakedness — where everything that could be offered has been offered and there is nothing more to give. Yasmin put so much heart in her movies that they touch the hearts of the audience, sometimes more than she could know. I’m glad that she won accolades at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival. Thousand of miles better than any reptile wannabe 😛

(Hahah, I am so not getting an invite to watch Cicak-man 2 :P)

MUKHSIN was written and directed by Yasmin Ahmad, and produced by Grand Brilliance. You should watch it like, now!

(It opens in Singapore two weeks after its release in Malaysia. It opened in Malaysia on the 8th of March. You go do the counting.)

Mukhsin - Suanie with Adibah Noor
Camwhoring with my favourite local actress, Adibah Noor!

More MUKHSIN reviews:
Sultan Muzaffar, Budiey, KlubbKidd, The Drowmage, Ted’s Thoughts.

You can watch the trailer for MUKHSIN below, then remember to watch the entire movie in the cinema, yeah 😉

p/s: Tengku Iesta is quite hot 😉 😛

movie review – mukhsin

If I tak sempat write the full review before the movie comes out (8th March, this Thursday), please go watch it. It’s teh great.

UPDATE 12 MARCH:

Full, proper Mukhsin review here.