Friday, January 9, 2009

Malaysian Cinema: A Glance

"A glance at our local movie scene..."

, like what I always say about any other year, is just another sequence of numbers. How long is not nearly as important as how much or how well you spend your time. To officially kick off this movie-themed blog, here's an article about the local movie scene.

Cinema of Malaysia can be traced back to the year 1933, with release of Laila Majnun; a tale of two ill-fated lovers.

I am hardly able to watch Malaysian films prior to P. Ramlee films and the ones after that, for any decent Malaysian would agree that the golden age of Malaysian cinema lived and died with the great Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

Being somebody with an extensive literature background (pretentious? Ah ha...) and a keen interest in the film industry, I am very much insulted to see how mainstream local films often degrade their audience by not even trying to impress. More often than not, we see them recycling lines, plots and story arcs. What is worse, the films are often as pointless and useless as a blunt knife. Granted, virtually every other cinema of any other country are not necessarily better, but I have always looked up to my own country and had always wanted the best for her. And I am always disappointed to see how local producers are not even trying to live up to the former glory of Malaysian cinema with rubbish produced by the likes of Yusof Haslam and Razak Mohaideen; the two plagues of Malaysian cinema. It's very obvious that their primary concerns are box-office counts and not the quality of their releases.

To be honest, I possess no qualifications when it comes to the business of film-making, hence making my views regarding it appear devoid of credibility. But bear in mind that I have been an audience all my life, and my preferences are not limited to popularity or the "cool" factor. I take movies seriously as a form of art. So I am entitled for opinions as well, although some might say I am too harsh a critic. Maybe I am.

I don't think Hollywood is the nexus of great movies, but one would have to admit that with the amount competition going on over there, the standards are much, much higher. This is something we could learn from.

I am NOT against the local film industry, nor do I look down upon it. I love movies regardless of it's origins. What matters to me is a good story. What I think we need is something uniquely Malaysian. A need, which I am pleased to see, is now fulfilled by recent releases such as Yasmin Ahmad's Sepet [2004] and Afdlin Shauki's Baik Punya Cilok [2005] as well as Gol & Gincu [2005]. They may not be as popular or as financially-successful as Yusof Haslam's Sembilu II [1995] or Yusry KRU's Cicakman [2006], but there are more substance in 5 minutes of Sepet than all of Razak Mohaideen films combined (I will never acknowledge his title of "Professor"). I am not exaggerating, but I am unable to endure even a full five minutes of his movies because every second is an insult to my intelligence. Hence, making it hazardous to my health. I am pleased to say, I have been clean from them for years now.

Please do not throw any nationalistic sentiments at me, for I am just as patriotic, if not more patriotic than most of you. Why? Because I will not settle for mediocrity. It's like you are telling me to support local production regardless of it's quality. I don't know about you lot, but I don't like to be tantalised. I don't like it when Razak Mohaideen is likened to Steven Spielberg (I swear I'm going to stab the radio DJ who said that). Why are we so easily pleased? Why do we incorporate racial interests in our choices? Don't be such fools. I have heard it myself. I hear people saying, "Cerita ni biasa aje, tapi support la cerita orang melayu". Why should I? If it's bad, just say it's bad. For it is in fact, and in reality, bad. Why should there be genetic factors thrown in the equation? My advice, don't be foolish.

And you don't need big budgets to make great movies. Great film-makers such as Jackie Chan, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino and Shane Carruth has continually proven that. So budgetary concerns are no excuse.

So what other excuses do we have?

1 comment:

albarn said...

"because every second of it is an insult to my intelligence"

indeed, godfather.

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