Chinese New Year has entered the 11th day today and this coming Sunday will mark the 15th day, referred to commonly as “Chap Goh Meh”, and marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebration. Well, I am heavier by a few kilogrammes but it was all fun except for the hot weather that befalls Chinese New Year, every year.
The Chinese New Year (“CNY”) movies are all bad, so far, although I do like PROTÉGÉ (which I do not consider a CNY movie -“Hor Sui Pin”) quite a lot despite the many cuts but still, there is originality in the story and Zhang Jingchu’s performance was superb. Although Derek Yee has better movies (ONE NITE IN MONGKOK, C’EST LA VIE, MON CHERI), PROTÉGÉ is not bad by any standards.
The OSCAR is bad mostly, especially so when INFERNAL AFFAIRS suddenly became a Japanese movie and that THE DEPARTED actually won Best Picture and Martin Scorsese actually won his Oscar for Best Director for it. Somehow somewhere, I felt good because it meant something for the Hong Kong film industry but felt bad generally because I did not think highly of THE DEPARTED and thought Marty has done much better movies.
However, yesterday redeemed all those bad experiences, lousy CNY movies and the Oscars. This is because I saw three great movies almost back to back yesterday: MUKHSIN, THE GO MASTER and I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE.
Whao! Whao! Whao! Clap! Clap! Clap!!!! A movie fan’s day.
I saw Mukhsin in the preview yesterday with Yasmin, the cast and crew and a host of other guests. Particularly pleasant is that it is the first time in my 8 years’ experience in the industry where bloggers are formally acknowleged. There is a separate registration marked “Bloggers” right in the center, with “Media” and “Guest” by its side. Bloggers are also acknowledged in the speech. This is cool.
Before I say anything, I will like to say that I LOVE, love MUKHSIN. There are so many great moments in MUKHSIN, far more naturally and matured compared to SEPET and now quickly ranked as my favourite Yasmin Ahmad movie, with SEPET at number two and then GUBRA. I have not watched RABUN though. Some moments in MUKHSIN are very magical, for example, the opening rain song dance scene, the very subtle kite flying scene, the Nina Simone scene is so poetic, so subtle, it shooked me deep down in my heart. Such a sweet movie it is, so real yet so sweet, so bittersweet. Towards the end of the movie, I feel tears forming and because the hall is rather full, I held the tears. If I am watching it at home, I would have let those tears flow like a stream in spring. Afterall, I am a sucker for movies like this.
Next up, Tian Zhuangzhuang’s THE GO MASTER which I have been wanting to watch for so long and finally managed to watch it from a screener from Berlin. Wow! I am a Go player and Go Seigen is like the Go God to me, as well as to a lot of Go players. The movie is beautifully shot, the story beautifully told. It is a movie for us Go players, a dream come true, to watch the life of our idol on screen. However, fortunately, the movie managed to steer clear of all technical Go playing and did not succumb non-Go players to the torture of not knowing what is happening. It has a few defining Go games, such as the Shin Fuseki game and the Atomic Bomb game but it does not affect the flow of the movie itself. The story is intact, well told, of how a Chinese Go expert endures those trouble times of World War 2 and how he struggled to live his dreams. Brilliant movie.
Next up is Tsai Ming Liang’s movie that I have been waiting to see for a long time, I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE. As in Tsai’s other movies, his minimalist style puts to great effect another study of human loneliness. While I would prefer his earlier THE WAYWARD CLOUD, this movie is also particularly effective and affecting, combining elements that made Tsai his mark – use of water, old songs, Lee Kangsheng, loneliness, sex, long takes, minimal dialogues etc. I have followed most of his movies from REBELS OF THE NEON GOD up and for each one, although I am risking sounding pretentious here, I love each one of his movies, which I find really calming to watch. Leisurely, I take my time to look at the screen, taking in the details at my own time, feeling the movie and then suddenly, getting pleasantly shocked by some ingenius scenes, and then more. The same magic happened in I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE.