Thursday, December 11, 2014

Terbaik is Yet to Come


That was what I felt when I stepped out of the theater. Terbaik Dari Langit had ended, and the talks had begun. I chuckled to myself, thinking that perhaps this is the second installment in their "feel-good movie about depressed people" trilogy (the first being KIL [2013]). Not that there's a need for it to be. To, you know, lend the film credibility or somethin'.

There was an air of celebration about the whole thing, as there should be. For the first time in a really long time, the audience could finally talk about the film and the film alone; we didn't have to talk about things that film-makers should already know but take for granted, i.e. technicalities, presentation worthy of cinema, and so on.

In other words, things that'd make you go, "Itu pun nak kena cakap keee?!"
Now, I will go on record and say that I don't think Terbaik Dari Langit is the Second Coming of Malaysian Films; and also I won't be reviewing it. Instead, I'd like to talk about something bigger. Something that can't be talked about in isolation whenever we talk about the film (and hasn't been talked about in isolation when talking about the film).

Malaysian cinema, as we're already aware, is in really bad shape. Nobody can really say what's "in" right now; movie stars and celebrities can't pull in audiences anymore; and studios have been trying to make less for more (as in, more movies with less money). The current solution is apparently to care even less about the story, cut all corners, and dumb it down to caveman levels (Which is toxic, because if you don't care about your product, why should we?).

But there is also a group that's doing the opposite, things that seem counter-intuitive to studio execs: because people seem to think that local films are chu-kia, we gotta ramp it up. That was what Terbaik Dari Langit is about. Take comfort in knowing that this is a labour of love. People involved took pride in their work. Everything from the acting, camerawork, to scoring; all invited us all to do something we seem to have given up on for a while - to feel.

However, I'm not saying you should go easy on the film because of that; what I've said in the past still stands.

In fact, I'd even venture an opinion and say that there was a weakest link (perhaps even two) that'd either make it or break it for you, but that's where the fun begins - talking about whether or not it worked for you. A film worth watching should be worth talking about once it's over. You can't inculcate a film culture if our films don't make a good conversation piece!

Finally you'd be able to experience something comparable to the international standard. I don't know if I can describe it well enough, but it's that feeling of not needing to massage your temples because what's presented to you doesn't look, sound or feel like a movie; and you're free to just talk about the content and the presentation.

Simply put, it's like watching a 100-meter dash. By right, you should only be concerned about the dash itself, and not things like the track being uneven; a runner wearing his shorts backwards; another runner's shoes don't match; another going the wrong way, and so on. This analogy applies to the current state of local cinema, I'm sure you already noticed. A majority of our 70+ films this year barely cover the basics of what makes a feature film, yet have the gall to charge people to go see it.

Of course, there's a really good chance that everyday movie-goers either wouldn't care what Terbaik Dari Langit's trying to achieve here, or perhaps the significance of it will be lost on them.

Like tears... in rain.
That is to say, it might be an event for the likes of me. But once the lights are off, the glitz and glam fade; it's just another movie to the general public. I'm hoping it would make a big (enough) splash. But if it doesn't, I guess it's okay for now. Currently it's more important that them dinosaurs in the higher-ups take notice, and perhaps consider returning the power back to creative people.

If only... 'cause for them to take notice, Terbaik Dari Langit would need to make millions. It's the only language they speak. *shrugs*

But hey, let's not be Bruce Wayne and mope. On to happier days ahead!

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