Category Archives: Reviews

Pulang

Last Tuesday, I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to watch a new movie called “Pulang” (Coming Home), directed by the amazing Kabir Bhatia based on a true personal story shared by Primework Studios’ CEO, Ahmad Izham Omar. It is a story about his grandfather who left his grandmother and father to sail, see the world, get more fortune so he can come home and provide a better life for his family but in the end, he never came back.

Poster Filem Kabir Bhatia Pulang 1

I think people have soft spots for real/true stories that we don’t really have much comments on the story itself as it is a personal journey by someone. I will try not to give any spoilers because it’s one of those movies I really want people to watch.

Kabir Bhatia is one of the renowned directors in Malaysia. I remember being invited to do a blogger’s screening for one of his earlier movies – “Cinta” back in 2006. Having Kabir Bhatia on board to direct and visualise Ahmad Izham’s story was a great choice – and knowing Ahmad Izham from his unique eye for talent, quality and standard, I’m sure he won’t settle for anything less than what the incredible Kabir Bhatia could bring to life on screen. So we are already assured that it would be a stunning movie.

But I was more blown by the visually stunning shots done by the Director of Photography/Cinematographer, a new name I have yet to see as an audience (or maybe I haven’t been paying that much attention) – Zambree Haras. The movie is beautifully shot so it create an ambiance that is close to Lovely Bones and The Big Fish kind of feeling.

I am really trying my best to reserve my comments on the acting. The only spot on acting was Erwin Dawson’s being Ahmad. (I’ve deleted many sentences for this part of the review, haha).

I wish it has a better or heavier percentage in just one genre. Right now it looks a bit 50/50 – 50% action and 50% drama. However, we all like a lot of elements in a movie so we can always be distracted to something else when something else doesn’t catch our attention.

My other comment is that I wonder if there are different types of make-up artists in the Malaysian film industry – like one for really transforming someone into a different age and one just to make up a character to look nice on set. Maybe it’s time for our make-up artists to consider really exploring expertise in these areas – transforming characters.

It’s a story with many angles of development, this movie in particular focused on narration by the main character, Che Thom, wife of Othman, another character who also narrated it from his story and the grandson, Ahmad who narrated on his journey to fulfill his grandmother’s last wishes and put the pieces of the story together to find closure for everyone. I wish we could also see Omar’s story, the son who was left behind and how he grew up having an absent father as his ultimate role model and his life with the mother, waiting for his father to return back home.

I am very glad I get to watch this movie and have discussions about it afterwards. My boss, Ngai Yuen who watched the movie too told me, if we’re having such a discussion about this film, it means that it’s a film good enough and worthy enough for a discussion. We need to bring back intellectual discussions to the film industry, not fluffy media questions like “What did you do to cry for this scene?” or “Was it good working for this director?”. I rather ask “What would we do differently?” because that shows another person’s ability to adapt the story and the story’s potential to be presented in a variety of ways.

Pulang the movie opens today, 26th July 2018 in cinema nationwide. My mom already asked me to bring her to watch this movie. So let’s all bring our loved ones to watch it.

Hopefully we have more people talking about movies, constructively.

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4th GES 2013 – Day 1

When Don Tapscott (Wikinomics) profiled the audience at #GES2013 , he never asked if anyone is from the NGOs. How sad. We are a demographic.

Did I not get the memo that I’ll get free lunch here? Sigh. All I want to do now is charge all my gadgets. Except iPad. Forgot bring adapter

Girl in front of me reading her conference schedule out loud making me confused whether I need to respond to her or not.

Two quotes from Melody Hossaini – “Women are leading in business.” “Future of business is social enterprise.” Gonna bombard you with Qs!

Thanks @Melody_Hossaini for your answer. Make sure you come to our You Go Girl! session tomorrow! #GES2013 (most on track/point answer)

OMG, I want to puke everytime this person speaks. Selalu off track.

I wonder if there’s anyone from Youth Ministry sitting in the audience for the Youth section: Are We There Yet? in #GES2013

…Apa la mamat ni melalut??!! Ya rabbi. Your answers tak akan pernah menjawab mana-mana questions.

I find that stationing at one table charging your gadgets could also act like a pitstop to know people who stops by. #GES2013 #win

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

Lost in Translation

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Another feel good Sunday spent with @faizakhbar over projects, chats on films and dinner. Now I know the history of Babel.

—–

So, I was telling him how I wanted to write a story about Jentayu and we were talking magical realism, then we talked about Deepa Mehta’s Midnight Children and then it went to Babel. First, I didn’t know that Babel was the third installment of a trilogy by Alejandro González Iñárritu after Amores Perros and 21 grams. 21 grams is of course my favourite.

Faiz was telling me the underlying link for all the stories in Babel is misscommunication. And then he goes on telling me the history of Babel. I looked it up as well and became fascinated that how the tale of the Tower of Babel talks about how human race was divided and languages were created from this historical event.

Whether it happens or not, that is beside the point. The point it how it was interpreted in the film.

I kind of like the movie, Babel. I had to watch it 2 times because apparently I’m not so smart (as I thought/appear to be).

But what intrigued me most is that how can we interpret an ancient story into modern lives. Which is what I wanted to do with Jentayu.

I’ll take my time writing it. After all, I’ll only die when I reach 40. That’s 9 years for me to create this magic.

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!