881 and 42nd National Day

881Finalposter800Royston Tan is a bastard – make me cry on National Day! But congratulations Mindee and Yann Yann – Papaya Sisters rock!

I’ve said before that if we get one good local movie a year, we’d be lucky. Last year we had Colin and Yen Yen’s Singapore Dreaming and then Tan Pin Pin’s Singapore Gaga, so that was pretty much a bumper crop by our standards.

Last night, we paid good money to watch our first Royston Tan film, 881, and damn it was good money well spent. This film alone makes for a bumper year.

I’ll have to admit an earlier aversion to his debut, ’15’, even though my friends told me it was really not a bad piece despite its run-in with the censors (‘aiyah, rebel film wannabe’, I thought), and we thought we’d watch 881 because the subject was interesting enough (hungry ghost getai), we knew the actors personally, and we’d already watched Harry Potter V and Simpsons wasn’t playing at the hour we wanted to watch a movie.

It turned out to be a happy conspiracy of factors, because, dammit, if you have no other plans this weekend, go buy tickets now and watch already. And even if you had plans, cancel them and go buy tickets and watch already.

It blew us away, this bloody Royston Tan film, and that’s really ’nuff said, unless you take pleasure in knowing that the token Mediacorp-contracted actor has no lines in the film because his character’s a mute, and his voiceovers are done by Royston himself anyway.

What’s not to like about a film which if you were to summarize in a summary sort of thingie, you’d call it a ‘Hokkien Musical Which Is Something Like Moulin Rouge‘?

Don’t wait for 881 to make its rounds on the European festival circuit. Go watch now, and tell the Ang Mohs you watched it at your local cinema first.

One half each – title track music video from 881

Mindee Ong and Miyagi circa 2000: Lookee you now, Mindee, we is so proud of you! Naomi says, basket, make her cry on National Day! Well done!

So taken by Royston’s film we were that I’m writing this blog post back to front, because we had planned to make an evening out of National Day – going out to eat, skipping the parade because we’d already seen two rehearsals, and then catching the movie before heading home and to bed.

OK, where was I? Ah, yes, we started the afternoon out at Tanglin Mall, because a good coffee was needed to kick-start our day, and there still isn’t anywhere else (or anywhere convenient) that serves as good a coffee as Caffe Beviamo. Just check out the crema:

Crema e gusto!

Then we looked around at the new furniture/lifestyle/dunnowhat shop that had been making us curious because it’s predecessor ‘Barang Barang’ had several months ago suddenly closed shop at both Tanglin Mall and Great World City, boarded up, and all we could hear were sounds of renovation. Called ‘iwannagohome‘, this shop is tons brighter than Barang Barang because of the huge number of lights they use. It’s worth a look or two before you decide, hmmm, I don’t have so much spare cash to buy these things which I can probably find in Thailand or Indonesia if I had the time and spare cash to fly there to buy.

Sometimes, warped shoppers’ logic can save you a bit of money.

Then it was off to the Straits Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt for dinner, which we thought was pretty apt because it’s a buffet, and how much more Singaporean can you get at a buffet? Actually, you can, when you realise the price is not bad either – $42 per person, to commemorate the 42nd National Day. This is also where I get to say that for that price, it’s really really worth it when you can eat as many bowls of the “Mini Buddha Jump Over The Walls soups as you can manage:

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Mini Buddha Jump Over The Wall – or is it Buddha Jump Over the Mini Wall?

A meal like that was always going to make on feel downright patriotic, wherever you may hail from. A jumble of cuisines, fresh fruit and desserts, brisk service. The only thing that was lacking was the horrible, horrible choice of music. We know it’s called the Straits Kitchen and you’re trying to recreate a ‘Straits’ ambience. But Canto and Mando pop tunes, and maudlin Malay slow rock ballads do not make for a good digestive accompaniment. That was probably the only salah thing about dinner, though.

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Quick, dude, they’re not looking. Pour the rest on the floor!

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When I eat chili crab, I need two finger bowls because I’m messy like that

For the rest of National Day, I hear people enjoyed themselves, and we saw a couple dressed in red and white waiting for a cab to probably take them to the floating platform. So patriotic, so Singaporean, we thought. Then we saw another couple, also in red and white, and walking ahead of the other couple so that they’ll get a cab faster. More Singaporean, we thought. And no better day to display that.

National Day
Unbeknownst to Auntie and Uncle, another Auntie and Uncle have just walked 20m up the road to snatch a passing cab. Majulah Singapura!

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Talent II


TattooistSo what if it’s got Mediacorp Raintree Pictures in the credits. It’s a slick-looking production, and hooray for Caroline Cheong and her billing in this NZ-Singapore filem production called The Tattooist.

I’m definitely going to watch this one. NZ films are generally good, even though the last time I watched one was that “My ancestors came on the back of whales” film, called “Whale Rider“, and that was a while ago, because the lead actor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, is now expecting her first child.

The Tattooist opens August 31 in NZ, and probably at the same time or not long after that in Singapore.

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Patience, young Jedi

New Year'sI’m not blogging as often as I’d like to be, mostly because days have turned into nights and vice-versa because of work, which is quite fun in spite of the frequent brain-jams I’ve been getting for various reasons.

One of the said brain-jamming moments is when I’m sitting here on my computer, trying to type out another three pages of Hossan’s Barry Manilow spoof when I’m suddenly aware of the upstairs neighbour’s kid (or actually it could be the parent, or any human occupant of the upstairs flat, or a very intelligent pet, or… ok I’m scaring myself) trying his or her darndest to hammer out on their piano, the main Star Wars theme song, very, very diligently, very, very slowly. For an hour.

Now I’ve the Star Wars theme stuck in my head, and worse, it’s in the broken piano format.

I should be glad they’re not singing along to it though:

“I like to play the Star Wars, to play the Star Wars, on this piano!
At night, I play the Star Wars, I play the Star Wars, song for a while!
I may not be the best pianist you’ve heard in your entire life,
But you can be sure, I’ll play for you for free!
You may not be the greatest fan of this stupid movie theme
But sing along, and then you can’t stop too…”

– repeat ad nauseum to the tune of Star Wars

Think I might print this out and slip it under their door.

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Lesbian footage and other disturbing scenes

I read with consternation that Starhub Cable Vision was fined $10,000.00 by the MDA for screening lesbian footage when the ‘reality‘ show ‘Cheaters‘ was screened.

How could I have missed that episode?

For those not familiar with Cheaters, it’s a program that is so bad, it’s good. The last time I watched it, they featured a cheating boyfriend, caught on camera f***ing another woman in his girlfriend’s living room. The footage was then shown to the victim (the girlfriend who engaged the Cheaters crew) outside the restaurant the cheating boyfriend was dining at with the other woman.

This was so that the victim would be riled up enough to put on a good show of confronting the cheater and his ho.

Compelling exploitative television, and disturbing only because of its exploitative nature.

And so the cable company was fined $10,000 for showing lesbian footage, even when the offending bits were pixelated the same way as the offending bits of the heterosexual cheating acts like the one I watched.

From Yawning Bread, I found that there was such a thing as the Programme Code for Subscription Television, Para. 4.2 of which reads:

Information, themes and subplots on lifestyles such as homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transvestism, paedophilia and incest should be treated with utmost caution. Their treatment should not in anyway promote, justify or glamorise such lifestyles. Explicit depictions of the above should not be broadcast.


Homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transvestism are lifestyles?

Wait some more.

Paedophilia and incest are lifestyles?

Though I’m not sure if ‘Cheaters’ has been pulled from the channel completely (where it was slated under the ‘Family Tier’ of SCV’s offerings), I must say that there is something incongruent with the fine and the fact that Channel 5 recently aired the movie ‘The Salton Sea‘ without so much as a complaint letter to the Forum – there were enough drug references and drug usage in the first half hour of the movie alone to put down a horse.

Almost as shocking as the time when I was thirteen, and the whole family sat down after dinner one night to enjoy a pirated tape copy of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman‘. Nothing prepared us for the quite explicit, though quite stylised sex scene between Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

Those were the longest three minutes of our young lives, as my parents, brother, sister and myself sat, transfixed because we didn’t want to look at each other, mortified because we were wondering how much more explicit the scene would get.

Thankfully, the scene ended, and my sister broke the silence, saying ‘wah, never censor one ah?’

We couldn’t muster anything to add to that comment, so traumatised we were. It was only a few years later that I borrowed the movie again to really follow the story.

My family never sat down to watch another video together again. If I remember correctly, we went from watching E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial to An Officer and a Gentleman to nothing.

Um, so… don’t complain about censorship ok? It saves you from embarrassing family moments like that.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Marjorine from the album “The Very Best of Joe Cocker” by Joe Cocker of which I have the original CD.

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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Get your own racecar nickname here

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is the silliest movie I’ve watched this year, and boy am I glad I watched it. It made up for recklessly deciding to visit Vivo City (more on that later), the nation’s newest and biggest mall, all because ‘it’s Monday and there won’t be so many people’.

Apart from the bonus of having Sacha Baron Cohen playing the ridiculous French F1 driver ‘Jean Girard’, there were enough gags to carry the movie through its entirety, beginning with ‘Ricky Bobby’s’ (he’s got two first names!) mantra, “I wanna go fast!”

I was interested in seeing how much they spoofed Days of Thunder, Tom Cruise’s flop of sorts about the same subject matter, and so I was glad to see Will Farrell’s (Ricky Bobby’s) tribute – running around half naked (undies and helmet) thinking he’s on fire and praying to ‘Baby Jesus’, ‘Allah’ and Tom Cruise.

Of course, the other link between the two movies is that John C. Reilly played ‘Cal Naughton Jr’ in Talladega Nights and ‘Buck Bretherton’ in Days Of Thunder.

If there were any low points in the screening of the movie, one of them must have been the censoring of the scene where I think ‘Ricky Bobby’ kisses ‘Jean Girard’. (I wouldn’t know for sure, because it was censored, you know? Even if the dialogue appeared to be leading up to that).

The other would have been the behaviour of what appeared to be extremely homophobic students from St Margaret’s Girls’ School sitting next to us, crouching beneath the seats every time an overtly gay joke/scene was played out on screen. So distracting.

But take those, and the Monday crowds away from Vivo City, and you’ll have spent a very worthwhile, what, $8?

Talladega Poster
Get your own Talladega Nights poster here

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of The Ballad of Tom Jones from the album “Shine, Vol. 10” by Space of which I have the original CD.

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