Monthly Archives: August 2005

Skrin Award and Short Films

One thing that we can be quite certain after the Anugerah Skrin TV3 2005 last Friday is that Azwan and Aznil is getting further and further apart in the MC skills. There is no doubt now who is “Aku No. 1”. Azwan was really terrible, his incessant, boring talk and his very ugly wardrobe to his plead to the media not to report the glitch in the presentation of one of the awards is deplorable. So long to free speech and fair reporting. It is also very depressing that he does not realise that to MC effecively, the MC should not hide his eyes behind dark glasses! He just effectively denied himself a very critical instrument in getting emotions and messages across.

Despite being a very “syok sendiri” event, TV3 at least has made the effort to do something. We have the best TV3 cameraman, best TV3 host, best TV3 lighting man etc. I understand that this is TV3’s internal appreciation thing to thier staff but the quality will not get any better if it is not opened to everyone in the industry. But well, we already have the Oskar PPFM (award ceremony was last night), I hear someone saying… Be it, then.

You will immediately notice the low quality production when the focus is soft, the lighting not well planned, the audio feed breaks, the live sound miking terrible, lack of coordination and the whole thing looked like it was recorded in the 90s. One wonders when TV3 is going to come up to at least Astro’s standard. Not that Astro is particularly superb but is surely better. First step is probably indulging less in “syok sendiri” things and start getting more competitive.

The night belonged to Afdlin Shauki. He grabbed 3 of the biggest awards, Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Director but not Best Film. Hmmm… how does one define Best Film then? And for all it’s worth, the Best Film award went to “Paloh”. I was speechless….. It is also quite disappointing that “Sepet” did not participate. To me, “Sepet” is still the Best Film in the past year. I also like “Buli” a lot, so given that “Sepet” did not participate, “Buli” should have won. Oooppss…. I should be rooting for my company’s own films but I have to be honest here…. ;-) Anyway, we did win one top award though.

Last night, I was supposed to give a talk in the AEC short film awards workshop at Holiday Villa Subang but given that I am already engaged in another appointment, I could not attend. Last night, I was supposed to touch on “back to reality” for indie filmakers and I am quite well versed in getting filmakers back to reality when I am to talk about the financial and distribution aspects of it. I was to touch on budgeting, cost controlling, project feasibility studies and distribution, those stuffs that I do at work. It will be great to meet up with these people and talk to them. In them I can see great passion but they need to come down to the ground a bit.

I was present at the launch ceremony for this short film thing a while back and they presented a few short films from last year’s participants. With all due respects for their passion, I have no clue what those short films were about despite me being able to sit through and enjoy, and rewatching those supposedly artsy films by Tsai Ming Liang and gang. These shortfilmakers are really getting too pretentious, if I can use that word. They got too philosophical and too metaphorical, their films need to be explained to be understood.

A lot of new filmakers nowaday forgot that films are supposed to tell a story by means of moving images. If the audience cannot catch the story and have to be explained later what it means as if they are so dumb and shallow, it will not work. I can see that these people has some interesting concepts but the whole storytelling is bad. They need to understand that to be successful, they need to be storytellers, not silver screen Hegels.

Anyways, it is a healthy thing to have and with a new bunch of wannabe directors and support from Astro and sponsors, we should be able to see a new breed of Chinese filmakers coming up when they mature in time.

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Filed under Movie Awards, Movies

Tournaments and Happiness

The quarterly Japan Club weiqi tournament is finally over and with a bit of luck, I managed to get 3rd place in Group A, i.e. the Dan level group. No trophies but there is a cash prize, which is quite good. The top three positions were all taken by Malaysians and Ishikura-san, the Japanese rep, was quite disappointed because of the 11 players in Group A, there were only 4 Malaysians, the rest all Japanese. They will try again next time, which should be somewhere in November 2005.

During lunch time, we had a conversation with Lao Zhuang (old Zhuang) who came from Taiwan and is now 80 years old. He is still extremely strong, both physically and mentally and is a very formidable weiqi player as well. He got the first place in the tournament. Since all of us are young chaps to him, he usually speaks of his own experience while dispensing some advice, mostly on how to improve on weiqi and sometimes on life.

This time, he was speaking on the importance of financial independence for young people. According to him, young people nowadays are too idle and sometimes too idealistic without enough effort put in creating wealth and be financially independent. They are simply too lazy, living in a comfort zone because everyday passes so easily and there is enough food on the table. There is nothing much to worry about, or at least nothing that he or she is really worried. Real worry to Lao Zhuang of course means not having food to eat and to die. He has been through a lot of hard times and him pointing out this fact is completely reasonable.

Come to think of it, I am myself very lazy. Yes, I have a job that I have worked and is working very hard for. I take time to indulge in things I like, spending time and money in expanding my knowledge and experience. This is all fine and gives an illusion of a very well balanced life (except, errrr… not enough exercise which sees layers of fat accumulating).

But I am not doing enough. I am not vigorous enough. I have not given enough thought and spent enough time to DO something. I am only working and indulging. I am not working hard enough to accumulate enough money to be financially independent and the fact that I cannot fully pay for my house and car and have to take a loan from the bank is a fact that is really quite embarrassing no matter how normal and common taking a bank loan sounds to people in this so-called modern and new economy.

I still have a lot of spare time which I can use to do some wealth creating jobs or at least use it to help some people in a certain way. But instead I am using my spare time to “improve” myself by watching movies, listening to music, reading books, playing weiqi and the sort. All self-centered and not revenue generating. Instead, they contribute to the decline of my EBITDA, instead of improving it.

Now, this is all so very strange because deep inside, I do not believe in all these. I do not have a high opinion of people who thinks only of wealth creation. When someone tells me that his favourite author is Robert Kiyosaki and the greatest book he has ever read in his life is the “Cashflow Quadrant”, I look at that fellow with a certain eye, almost like a snob and I respond with a certain smirk and say “Lucky you”.

But sometimes I also do feel a certain lack of vigor on my part for my complacence in not generating more wealth from my free time to pay for my house and car and all the sort of things. I am taking it too easily and as Old Zhuang said, “Young people nowadays are too lazy. They are living such an easy life that they have lost sight on what is really important.”

I don’t know if what he said is really right but something inside me pleads that I consider and think of his remarks, at least this is from a person who has lived and survived for 80 years now. Surely there must be something right with that number of years being a human.

“The great questions about happiness are concerned with its definition and its attainability. In what does happiness consist? Is it the same for all men, or do different men seek different things in the name of happiness? Can happiness be achieved on earth, or only hereafter? And if the pursuit of happiness is not a futile quest, by what means or steps should it be undertaken?”

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Two Latest Malay Movie Posters

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Poet-Philosopher

I want to be a poet-philosopher. I think poet-philosophers are the greatest bunch of people who has achieved a certain state of mind that ordinary people could simply not comprehend. They can see and feel things that ordinary people are just too dumb or too numb to notice. They have a certain air of peace, of calm, of wisdom and of reassurance around them. I really want to be a poet-philosopher. Or at least let me be a friend of a poet-philosopher so that I can feel the peace, feel the calm and wisdom, and be reassured that this world is not as bad as it seems.

I would like to share here a poem by Pablo Neruda. This poem is quite popular and Yasmin has recently posted this poem too. I just want to post it here too to grace my blog. This is from “The Poetry of Pablo Neruda”, edited by Ilan Stavans. The translator is W.S. Merwin.

**********************************************************
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, “The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

**********************************************************

Strange, after typing this, I feel happier.

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Film Library

To begin this post, I would like to share this link sent to me by someone (thanks :-) in response to my previous post re the nature of existence. Here it is Survival Game.

I have forgotten when I began to like watching movies and as far as my memory serves me, I can recall distinctly the image of me sitting next to my grandma's feet watching some Tamil movies on our 14 inch TV when I was very young. The whole image in my mind now is in black and white except for some red stripes on the deck chair that my grandma likes to sit on.

However, the process of actually getting “intellectual” with movies started only a few years back, I think about a decade ago when I began to systematically and deliberately source for movies to watch. We used to have a laserdisc rental house near my friend's house and he got us to start watching the laser discs in his house.

The interest became very intense after I joined this film production company that I am still working for. I get to meet new friends, join forums and film appreciation clubs. I began to start experimenting. It was really a great journey and right now even, I am still only surveying the tip of a huge and interesting iceberg. Everytime I hear a new name or a new title, I get all excited. This is really so much fun.

Because great movies are hard to come by and we are bombarded consistently by Hollywood movies, except for the GSC international screen, the Kelab Seni Filem and the now defunct film place in Stonor, I had to buy some of the movies that I really wanted to watch and the internet is really a great medium. The Fox Home Video at the Bangsar Shopping Center helped me a lot in getting those movies as well.

So, as time goes by, I see the number of movie titles in my shelf accumulating to now nearing 500 titles. Not many, of course although a lot of these movies are top class masterpiece from the world over instead of endless Hollywood titles. I know of people who has thousands of titles but that is not the point. The point is really that I am enjoying this whole journey of watching and collecting very much. These movies have given me so much pleasure and taught me many lessons.

Great movies that I have watched I will normally try to restrain from buying and spend money on movies that I have not seen instead . This seemed logical but sometimes the desire to just buy that “La Strada” or that “Music Room” or that “City of Sadness” is so huge. But I hope to be finally able to have a respectable film library in the future and pass them on to someone else who are equally or more interested than I am.

By the way, Malaysia really needs a good film library. I hope someone is looking into that. Rais Yatim probably?

Okay, so, here's the list of the titles that are in my tiny library, in pdf format. You can download it here. If there are any titles in this list that you are interested in, I always welcome enquiries or some sharing or exchange programme (which is one key reason of my publishing of my list here ;-))

Do note that the list may contain errors. The fact that I managed to get this list together is a miracle already, so please pardon me. Would appreciate it if you can let me know by e-mail if you spot any mistakes. Thanks.

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I Live in My Skin

At one point in time I had a very weird problem with myself. Am “I” independent of my body? Where is this “I” ?

Anyone would know that this is a philosophical problem, sort of an ontological problem (or some would even say that this is a religious question), asked and attempted to be answered, by a bunch of brilliant people, ranging from the time before Plato to the Nyaya-Vaisesikans to the phenomenologists, the existentialists, the prophets, the buddhas, the novelists, the poets, etc. etc. but for me, this problem is very real and it affects me and my actions.

I can read all I want from these people and still not getting an answer. Of course, it won't be that easy. If reading all these books by all these people will enlighten me, then computers should already know that they are merely computers. I need to meditate on the problem and drawing from the thousands of years of wisdom, I have to figure it out myself.

First of all, I have to look at myself. Like Mr. Okada, I can confirm the existence of my body by feeling it, the fingers, the eyes, the ears, the toes, the beating of my heart, that my eyes receives light, that I can smell the scent of blooming flowers etc. I can feel my body through pain and exhaustion. I can feel it with joy, laughter, tears, anger. All these, at least as far as I can verify, exists. The fact that I can verify these things exists should, rightly, tells me that I exist. I am conscious of the existence of the “I” that is verifying the existence of my body and its chemistry. That much I know and this is as far a Descartes went when he pronounced, “cogito ergo sum”. (However, I can't accept his extension from this conclusion to “proof” that God exists. Well, that is another argument which I shall not deal with here.)

I can also verify my existence by affecting other objects that I believe exist with my actions. As the phenomenologists like to say, if I can feel the dimensions and identify the properties of the object by physical and mechanical means, then surely it must exist. If I can kick a fellow and if that fellow gives me a snear or kicks back, then that fellow must exist. I would not be imagining him, would I? Or maybe I would. I could have imagined the whole thing. My mind can create the scenario and produce the necessary sensory perceptions and feelings. Afterall, all our knowledge, our feelings, things that we said we have “verified” in the paragraph above, are all due to the way our body is “wired” to “tell” us that information. Can I really rely on these “wires”? To verify that I exist and to believe that “cogito ergo sum”, I will have to trust that these “wires” are working properly and not playing tricks on me. How can “I” be certain at that?

Now, I am damn confused again.

Well, maybe I try to look at it from another angle. When someone peels my skins off without anaesthetics, will I feel the pain? Yes, I think I will. Do I want this pain to end? Yes, I think I would. So, if that someone stop the motions of peeling my skins, would I cease to feel the pain? I think it would and I very much like that someone to stop that action.

If I cease to exist in this world, would I still be physically present? Well, I think maybe I would not. At least I will not move unless I am a zombie or something but that zombie is not me. It is something else. So I don't think I will be physically present the way I used to be. Do I know for sure that my soul will go to heaven or hell or just linger around and then one day my body will be miraculously resurrected as if new? Well, I am not certain about the first one and no, at this point I don't think I believe in that and re the resurrection, I think it is just pure fiction and imagination.

Then you think and believe at this moment, right now, that your physical being is what you are and all you can do is to merely leave a legacy, a religion, or decendants to succeed you?

Well, I think at this moment, I do believe it to be so. I surely would not wish someone to skin me alive to proof their point.

Then, my dear friend, you should take more care and look after your teeth because you can be damn sure that they will rot.

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Filed under Philosophy, Thoughts & Commentaries

The Game to Beat All Games


Saw the above news in The Star a couple of days ago and I find myself very much inspired.

“…{it is} something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.” – Emanuel Lasker, chess world champion.

Now, this quote is more arrogant :-)

“Those interested in impressing others with their intelligence play chess. Those who would settle for being chic play backgammon. Those who wish to become individuals of quality, take up Go.”

The Koreans are really good at Go (called “Weiqi” in Chinese and “Baduk” in Korean). They are currently in the number one seat in the world Weiqi listing and the intensity and devotion the Koreans have for the game is phenomenal. I witnessed this phenomenon when I was in Seoul some time back. Weiqi is everywhere. I go to Dong Dae Mun, I see hawkers watching Weiqi programs on TV. I take the MRT, people are reading the Weiqi section in the newspaper. I switch on the TV in my hotel room and I see Weiqi programs on TV 24 hours a day.

Weiqi is really a great game. I say that not because I play the game on an addictive level but I sincerely think so. I played international and Chinese chess before playing Weiqi and if my opinion can be trusted, I think Weiqi is a far more interesting game, both intellectually, psychologically, emotionally and artistically.

I also think that children will benefit greatly from learning this game. It helps them work through logic and at the same time, because the nature of the game requires it, to keep an eye on the big picture. The game encourages the kids to be creative, to look at things in more than one way and to have a global perspective for their actions. It is both a science and an art.

The highly respected magazine, Economist, featured the game a few months back and you can read the article here if you are interested.

There are several other sites that you can check out:

A very fun way to learn the game: The Nihon Ki-in website (Japan Go Association).

You can also check this document out: The Way to Go

More links and information: Go Resources Index on the Web

For news on Weiqi: Go4Go.net

And finally, to play the game, you can go to the online Weiqi servers. I recommend the Kiseido Go Server. Once you have registered, you can go to the Malaysia room. There are lots of people there especially at night.

If you wish to play real life, we play at the Japan Club every Saturday from 3.00pm to 8.00pm. Lots of people play there and there are a lot of people who is very willing to teach :)

If all fails and you are interested, you can always let me know. I am definitely very eager to tell you all I know about this brilliant game.

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