One of the signs of local Malaysian movies has still a long way to go compared to say, their Indonesian counterpart is media screenings. Just today, I attended the media screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s THE HAPPENING in the morning and then proceeded to another cinema for the screening of SEPI, a new local Malay movie in the afternoon. The attendees is markedly different, I can perhaps say that it is as if I live in two worlds. In the Shyamalan screening, I see a lot of representatives from the English and Chinese media plus also from the Malay media but in the Malay movie screening, almost ALL the representatives are from the Malay media. Journalists from the English and Chinese media could not be seen. I find this very disheartening and I don’t think any good can be done to the local film industry if this continues on.

The arguments goes both ways: the non-Malay journalists think, mostly, that Malay movies are really crappy movies and is a major waste of their time. Malay movies only interests Malays, ergo, only journalists from the Malay media need to attend. From the producers and distributors point of view, well, since these non-Malay media journalists are so arrogant, to hell with them! We don’t need them anyways to make the money. Its a lose-lose situation.

I would really like to appeal to the non-Malay media journalists to attend more and more of the Malay movie screenings and cover the local movie scene with as much zeal as they would want to cover IRON MAN. The quality of local Malay movies, or movies from those handful of Malay directors, is improving and I think deserves more attention and publicity to bring in more non-Malay cinema-goers.

SEPI is a case in point. The movie is not bad, even very good if compared to one of the recent supposedly big box office movie. The stories are quite strong and the direction is purposeful. It is also technically good (unlike the boom mikes that keep coming in frame in THE HAPPENING – I can’t understand how this can happen in a production of this scale – maybe the video-assist is faulty or someone is confused on the aspect ratio). Afdlin Shauki playing the Adam role is the most affecting and together with Vanida Imran, the pair is simply superb. There are quite a few flaws in the storyline and I thought the director compromised the ending but still, it is a pretty decent local Malay movie. It is nowhere near the league of TEMPTING HEARTS or COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY (oh my Buddha – these two movies simply took my heart away) but this is a different argument altogether.

There is a handful of producers and directors that truly wants to break out and I hope to see more and more non-Malay media journalists at these Malay movie screenings.

By the way, THE HAPPENING is really not very happening. I think I am getting sick of Shyamalan’s style and he should really stop making movies like this. It is worsening and at this rate, he may be out of the business in no time if he doesn’t work on something refreshing. The movie started really well, then half way through, it loses steam and it felt like he himself doesn’t know how to end the story. It just floated like that, very unconvincing. Al Gore turned spooky. Even the very graphic scenes couldn’t lift the movie up if there are no fresh ideas that can hold up. No fresh stories that can hold up.

Anyways, I plan to watch KUNGFU PANDA again this weekend. This time, the Cantonese version.

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