Category Archives: Entertainment

Akuan Penonton

Movies is all socio-economics and culture.

Why Bollywood is a thriving economy?

People simpan duit sebulan to watch a movie and it’s their escapism. My dad once told me, how the peladang and pesawah di India simpan duit semata-mata untuk tengok kehidupan ilusi for 3 hours. Movies for them is escapism. Satu kehidupan yang mereka impikan. And going to the cinema is a whole day outing. They get to watch one and a half hour of the first half, then during intermission they get to keluar panggung to makan and discuss on what has happened and what will happen, then masuk balik panggung to know the ending.

Kalau ending orang jahat tak mati, ini memang boleh sampai bakar panggung punya type of audience.

For us, the Malaysian culture masih music, not so much on movies. Look at what is flooded and hyped for. Konsert Jom Heboh. Konsert Gempak Astro. Imam Muda pun buat ala konsert sekarang.

Masa kecik kita grew up dengan Bintang RTM. Hiburan Minggu ini. Konsert boybands la apa la. Urban ke, mainstream ke, music it is.

Masa zaman 80s, mak saya akan bawa kami naik bas dari Selayang ke pekan Kuala Lumpur, just to watch movies. Kami akan makan kat Chow Kit road. Minum air Sudi – a can drink produced by Sudirman.

For us it was outing yang ditunggu-tunggu. Sekarang it’s sad sebab saya tiada masa untuk bawa Mama to go to the movies.

Last 2 years, Mother’s Day saya ambil cuti. Bawak mama tengok filem Chow Kit. Panggung kosong. Saya beritahu Mama, saya booked panggung for her. Felt quite cool although in real nature, it was sad to see a Malaysian film with only 2 person filling up the hall.

Going to the movies also became a ritual antara saya dan adik-adik. Zaman Harry Potter dan Twilight. Itu quality time saya dengan adik-adik. Usually it is a much anticipated outing with them. Especially sebab selalunya saya sibuk belajar di kampus dan pulang hanya ketika cuti. Now, both of them have their own driving license. Mereka lebih suka pergi tengok wayang bersama rakan-rakan.  And saya pula, sekarang saya sibuk tolong orang lain buat movies. Saya tiada masa untuk do my former rituals with loved ones. Sedih sangat.

Bagi saya, going to the movies is my culture. Kalau orang tanya siapa Abby Latif, apa yang dia tahu pasal buat filem? Saya audience kamu. Since 1982. Itu je.

For me it’s easy. The culture you want to create, you got to live it first.

Sekian mukadimmah hari ini. HAHAHAHA.

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A 2-minute Read

Date with Serena Chong tonight. I don’t really get to say this often. 😀

#2minsolo Suaka – I think post Panggung Muzik, Fikri Fadzil have found his niche, real live soundtracking. It works to his favour.

#2minsolo Can You Hear Me – It makes you curious on what’s going on in Ngai Yuen’s head but Carmen Soo performed it brilliantly.

#2minsolo A 2-min Introduction to Vasthu Sastra by Mr. Selva – An interesting piece. Mr. Selva looks very biblical, not so fengshui-ish.

#2minsolo High Speed Car Chase – Good thing I didn’t doze off. It’s 2 minutes of relaxation of breathing thru our fast pace life. 🙂

#2minsolo Lights, camera…..! – Such a moving piece! Thank you Aunty Fati … This is the first piece I watched and I can still feel it.

#2minsolo Slimy Seaweed – I’m a bit lost except that I do understand the road is very congested in front of IJN. Grief relives moments.

#2minsolo Tumpah! – Zahim attempts a very improv interactive performance in his piece. It’s almost what we would do at his kitchen anyway.

#2minsolo Tercicir – Thank you for introducing Anne James to me thru this piece. I really wanted to hug her after but I couldn’t. One day…

#2minsolo Toilet – A very heartfelt piece directed by David Wong. Cities are built by perseverance, dedication and the need to survive.

#2minsolo I Fly To Thee – is a submission of his prayers. Good luck, Vernon. Blessed be.

#2minsolo Cengkih – I wished the performer acts like a storyteller and looks at the audience when she was reminiscing memories of grandma.

Schooling a Fantasy academy

I am proud to say I am included in that 0.1% of the Malay population in Malaysia who DISLIKES Zizan Raja Lawak.

Ya allah. Nak mamposlah aku tengok budak ni nyanyi. Zamani mesti sedih gila.

The boy prolly hasn’t been born yet when this song was released. Langsung takde feel rock kapak langsung. Rasa nak lempang je.

“Lagu tu berat untuk awak sebab awak ni langsung takde jiwa rock kapak! Awak tak reti doh! Awak boybandnye lagu je boleh.”

At least aku tak sezalim Roslan suruh perform belakang stage. Aku suruh carik lagu lain je.

Minah ni ayah dia paksa nyanyi. Bapak aku paksa aku gi sekolah!

Okaylah. Yang ini aku kasi chance. Skirt dia indah betul bergemerlapan.

Ah sudah! Your downfall is your trying-too-hard last 1 minute on stage. WHY??!!!!!!

Zizan, the real flat top hair cut is the one Edry is doning – not what you have on your head tu.

What is this final song they are singing. Are you killing me???!!!!!!

My first 30minutes into this AF season resulted to 1. Oh. Takde change pun. 2. Seriously?! 3. Anyone want me to do weekly live commentary?

Fiesta lompat atas pentas. Where is that respect and dedication to impress your choreographer?

#ulasanfilem Tanda Putera

Poster_Filem-Tanda_Putera

I wished Tanda Putera should just focus on the friendship of Tun Razak and Tun Dr. Ismail and their families. Then it’ll be more impactful.

I suggest you watch it soon. Very pleased to watch a lot of footages the public never get to see from the archives.

Now everyone wants to do a movie about Kak Jah, the Prime Minster’s stenographer. ;-P

15 minutes of fame… starting from now

I don’t deal with fame very well. As friendly as a person that I am, I am very well aware of the space that requires privacy. One that is very very fragile to intrusion and would react severely when it is trespassed.

Having said that, I am very open to sharing. But not so much. Just to those I would choose to share themselves with me.

In that sense, I’m picky. I am very very selective of my circle and audience.

Then again, I am known for my very short attention span. If you don’t interest or intrigue me, I won’t be able to remember you.

Fame, is a tricky business. You need a lot to deal with the attention that is thrown your way, and you must be able to attend to it because that’s all that you’ve ever wanted.

Fame, however is also a song. Sang by Irene Cara. For the movie/TV series titled “Fame” as well. In which she sang,

“I see it coming together,

People will see me and cry.” 

That’s just crazy. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is FAME.

What’ll Break You? Maybe the Apocalips.

The world as we know it, will end.

 

That was the Apocalips, as interpreted by playwright Ivan Yeo in a double bill play I went to last Friday night. Double bill because it is a two-play combo, first you have What’ll Break You and after the intermission, the second play, Apocalips. Indeed a smart thought out interpretation by director Ida Nerina to have two plays at one night, both thought provoking and heart wrenching.


 

Okay, heart-wrenching should not be a suitable word for What’ll Break You because I didn’t cry, but the performance by Zahim Albakri was indeed heart-breaking. What’ll Break You sits in the interrogation room with Mr. Whiteacre (Zahim Albakri) and his said attorney Kevin Schmidt (Gavin Yap). Quite an emotionally draining performance by Zahim although I couldn’t really grasp Kevin Schmidt’s character in this one. One moment there was compassion and the next, quite stone cold. But if you’re used to watching CSI or Crime & Investigation TV series, you would definitely imagine the quality and standard of Ivan’s writing at par with any Hollywood products.

 

Apocalips, on the other hand focuses on three couples whose lives at the end were intertwined. One couple, Chris (Ash Nair) and Wendy (Tania Khan) questions the possibility of a future together, another couple, Troy (Zahim Albakri) and Nicole (Stephanie Van Driesen) questions the possibility of falling in love and the other, Jude (Gavin Yap) and Benjamin (Vince Cheong) questions the possibility of being together. The amazing twist is the apocalips where the world, as we know it, ends. In this piece, although not as emotionally heavy as the first play, is more thought provoking and current. It deals with everyday drama and dilemma in relationships. Although these issues were set in different circumstances, it is still relatable. I haven’t seen Ash Nair, Tania Khan and Vince Cheong acted before and for newcomers, they’re pretty good. Stephanie on the other hand, is a natural. I’ve first seen her as Betty in the Secret Life of Nora and I thought she was brilliant in the musical, and still brilliant in Apocalips. As for Gavin and Zahim, I rest my case. Although, this is the first time I can visually imagine Zahim with hair. 😉

 

You can tell by the very short review I’ve just made, I’m not someone from the production or theatre industry. But I would like to congratulate Ivan Yeo for his brilliance and I wish, his works will get a space in our television because of the lack of English TV productions in Malaysia of late. I remember meeting him at the Kr8tif Digital Conference in December last year, introduced by a mutual friend. Didn’t know then, I was in the presence of greatness. But I guess that’s humility. As the divinity lies in the smallest thing, greatness lies in the presence of the unknown.

 

Although I couldn’t get in touch with the writer, I did get to catch a little bit of Ida Nerina’s time for an interview and I’d like to really thank her taking the time to attend to my (pretty naive) questions. Please excuse the organic fluidity, it’s just natural for us as friends. 🙂

 

Q: Is this your first time directing a full length theatre? I know you have directed some comedy sketches for Actorlympics. But how is this different from the ones you’ve been involved with (as behind the scenes)?

     IDA: No it’s not, I first did a director’s workshop being mentored by Joe Hasham and the late Krishen Jit & directed a Jit Murad piece called VISITS. I had 3 female actors- all brilliant! Melissa Saila, Liza Othman & Sofea Jane! I know…like WOW, right? 😉 About a year later (circa 2003?) I re-staged VISITS as a full production under Zahim & Jits’ theatre company DramaLab. This time I had Liza Othman, Vanidah Imran & Sarah Shahrum. Jealous yet? In March this year, I put together 8 writers, 8 stories, 16 WOMEN actors (ALL SUPERSTAR NAK TERMAMPOS!) doing about 8 minute pieces each for Capricomm for the 100th International Women’s Day. It was So much FUN! I guess the difference with this piece is I have testosterone involved with the 4 guys. Plus it’s my first venture to learning the ropes of co-producing under my little company “big EyEs Entertainment” with Susan Lankester’s company Catwoman Productions. (It’s all about the money, money, moneyyy…- LOVE that song!) FYI, there is NO direction in Actorlympics- it’s all off the cuff. A series of improvs. No script. Nothing. Even the ideas come from the audience!

 

Q: How was the cast selected? We know some are your friends, but were they picked to suit the characters based from the scripts? I always wonder how theatre casts are selected.

     IDA: Well the truth is, Sue & I knew we needed and wanted 2 male actors who can switch roles in one night swiftly. That reads damn good actors who.. yes, are aesthetically pleasing too. Plus if you want to get these very busy big names, you’ve got to dangle something that will make them go…”Ooh, that’s going to be a challenge!” And the truth is, I have wanted to direct Zahim for many years now. I just didn’t have the right text. And Gavin & I have worked quite a few times together. I saw him last in “Someone To Watch Over Me” and thought to myself, “YEP! Sue & I made the right decision!” His acting has matured and grown with him it’s pretty amazing. And his PROFESSIONALISM is just unbeatable!  The other roles, we had a reading/audition organised almost 2 years ago. Stephanie blew me away for the simple fact she came with headshots and resume and even a change of clothes in case I wanted to see her in ‘Nicole’s’ office attire. Tania actually gave the best read, to be honest. The 2 other boys know this – we had a really tough time casting for Chris though we found someone by May, and actually had a different Benjamin initially. But then they both pulled out in July- for their own different reasons. So the search for Father Benjamin & Chris re-started. I caught some of Vince in AF1, and when Sue put his name towards me, I thought if he could do those different genres of music- he can damn well learn to act properly! And I had seen and heard of Ash, and when he came to meet me for a reading, he gave a pretty damn good read. So here we are. That’s how I cast my cast. 🙂

 

Q: I really like the twist in Apocalips, did you put any adjustment or personal input in it or its all from the playwright’s script/story?

     IDA: The writer. We had minor adjustments made of course, but it’s otherwise from Ivan’s head. I just made it farcical.

 

Q: This, I heard, is Ivan Yeo’s debut as a playwright. How did you find him or how did you come across the script?

     IDA: It’s Ivan’s first PLAY. he’s written short films and tv shows… I’m not sure if he has had any of them produced though. He’s got a twisted, quirky, brilliant mind. LOVE!

 

Q: The first play, What’ll Break You seems quite short, although quite heavy. I would love to see it interpreted on screen. Would you venture into that? Usually, movies are adapted into plays. But do you think Malaysian audience or even the theatre people ready to adapting plays to screens?

     IDA: Yes, I would. But let me get over this first. Well, Zahim just adapted Jit Murad’s “Spilt Gravy On Rice” into a big screen flick. And from what I’ve seen, it looks pretty damn good! Actually Jit (and Ivan)’s writings read like a film. It’s been up to the directors to translate them for theatre… Re: What’ll Break You/Apocalips, Ivan and I (& hopefully Sue too!) actually want to take them to singapore… Must find the other Ivan in my life then… Ivan Heng of WildRIce.

 

(Ida, eyeing for Ivan Heng, huh? 😉 ) Well, I hope you guys who are reading gets to learn a lot from the production as I have when I got the answers to my questions. Please please please go and watch it for yourself. And no, I’m not paid to do this review and promote the play(S). As artists, we crave recognition. And I think they’re as good and deserving of such praises and recognition.

What’ll Break You / Apocalips is currently being staged at KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) from 3rd November until 13th November. Call 0340479000 to book your tickets today! I guarantee you, it’s totally worth it!

The Pandora Box is opened. Out came Yuna.

First of all, I’d like to thank my friend Juan Lyn (@qwertyjuan) for giving me the last-minute ticket because she couldn’t make it. I guess, instead of letting it go to waste, might as well give it to someone who would appreciate and enjoy the show. And I did Juan, I seriously did. Despite the time crunch (was told 2.5 hours before the show and my printer wasn’t working!), I managed to sort out printer problem i.e. putting ink into the cartridge, run a 4km run at the park, got home change and dash to the show (without dinner).

 

I haven’t been to the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas for awhile. I used to tell myself, I would visit it often. Because I have a certain fascination with strings. My eyes can go from one violinist to another, from one cellist to the next, and just trying to single out their sounds individually. The last I went there was for my brother’s show in October last year. My brother, Muid Latif, a digital artist, had the opportunity to do a live digital art called Painted Notes accompanied by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, a pinnacle of his artist life. (Watch the Video here ). And my first time was going for Noryn Aziz‘s showcase in January 2010. It’s the age, I know. The age from concerts to … orchestras. Too bad we don’t have Opera shows here. 😉

 

So, Yuna. I wasn’t really like a diehard fan. I adore, that she writes and creates great music. Her talent is undeniably amusing by itself. But I guess, what I don’t like is how the crowd in Malaysia, somehow idolises a person. Maybe it’s just the industry that I don’t understand. I find myself, being comfortable in a more intimate show, and waiting till the end of the show, going up to the performers and make friends with them, rather than idolises them. Yuna, I would say, is a trendsetter. You don’t see many hijab-wearing indie artists or musicians around. Maybe that’s why her following (or fan) is massive. As my friend said, when I met him there, “Ramainya Yuna kat sini.” And it’s true. It should be a flattering gesture, I think. Especially to be a fashion trendsetter. It’s just… well, it’s killing individuality.

 

I just got strayed off my point (as usual). I was glad I got a corner seat, at the end of the row, especially being alone. Then what do you know, in came a group of people, and I know a guy, Khairul Anwar or @karrotgold as he is famously known on Twitter. Weird huh? We tend to call people by their screen name. So I call him Karrot. Good to see familiar faces. Saw a couple of friends at the show as well. When Karrot asked me, if I know and memorise her songs, I realised that I wasn’t really a huge fan because I don’t even know the songs. Well, I know one or two. But that’s just it.

 

When the band got settled down and out came Yuna, a gorgeous tall slender girl in such a nice dress with a head wrap ala Erykah Badu, she has a regal presence, despite her indie background. Then she started singing and you remember that magic she brings in her music. Wearing a long sleeve long dress designed by Syomir Izwa (have a look here ), she look so regal and poised, even with a guitar strapped around her. I guess since I saw her entering the scene with Deeper Conversation a few years ago, she has blossomed into a fine young superstar. She kind of embraced her star quality.

 

She sang a lot of numbers from her United States’ EP. Too bad she wasn’t selling those at the DFP. Like I mentioned before, I don’t know half of her songs and I don’t memorise her songs (heck, I don’t memorise my own poems.) I’ll just comment a few which struck a chord with me. In no particular order, these are the mental notes I’ve made because, my mental is out of order so just bear with me.

 

She composed a new ala-Portishead song called “Fear and Frustrations” .. I love the song very much because it proves her versatility in her composition talent. However visually, I find it odd to see such a sweet and formally dressed young lady sitting and singing that kind of song. Maybe because I’m so used to watching Portishead on youtube, how hippy and indie their underground gigs are, with Beth Gibbons singing while holding a fag in her hand. So it’s pretty much the mindset approach we have in set, in our mind.

 

She also sang “Penakut” .. I first heard the song in Hujan Panas, a shortfilm made by Nadiah Hamzah. Apparently Nadiah Hamzah also used Yuna’s “Deeper Conversation” for her other shortfilm “Sub Rosa” .. As a writer, I totally understand Nadiah Hamzah’s fondness in repeatedly picking Yuna for her film soundtracks. Like Yuna mentioned last night, she’s taking us on a journey to the soundtrack of her life. And there’s always a story in each of her songs.

 

She called upon her favourite person, Hezry Hafidz or more fondly known as AG and then she sang Coffee  Coffee. That’s one song that can make me cry, again and again. With lyrics like, “In High Definition, I’m dreaming of you. With my disposition, I’m losing my cool…” it almost speak the words we have in our hearts. Although the version I kept on listening on SoundCloud is the clean one, but her performance was nevertheless a good one.

 

Throughout the showcase, I was giving her a 6/10 and 7/10 until I saw the strings. When the cellist first came out, I was just smiling. Then, the two violinists came out and I was already grinning with satisfaction. No, you can’t do a show in DFP without strings! And of course, the cool naked Double Bass the Bassist Efry was using was totally sexy! At the end of the night, I gave it a 9/10. 🙂

 

Since I last saw her performed in Malam Nada Biru showcase last year, she has improved a lot. Pulling out cute jokes and being current with the Twitter comments and so forth. Maybe I have seen a lot of seasoned performers’ performances, that I criticise her audience engagement easily at times. I almost forgot, she’s a newcomer. Despite her regal presence under the spotlight last night, you can still see the fidgety and awkward tall talented girl.  She needs to feed the energy from the audience as much as she is giving us the emotions from her songs. And that, is something you need to feel on stage, not just learn from stage coaches. I would not say this if I don’t know what I’m talking about, because, although I grace a different kind of stage, I do understand how scary it is to feel the audience.

 

But don’t mind my little irrelevant opinion. What I can say is, the Pandora Box has been opened. One of the secret plaque is this newfound love for Yuna’s music. Even my friend who initially doesn’t like her, said she’s a potential 10/10. We just hope she’ll grace the international platform so we can share our pride with the world.

 

P/S: I wonder if Nadiah Hamzah would direct Yuna’s music videos. That’s be superb though! One for MTV Asia!