Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Kua Simi?!

Besides the directing duo of husband and wife team Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen who did the upcoming (and excellent may I add) Singapore Dreaming, there was another duo team who did a feature length film, and S11 is it.

It's very different from all the local fare this year, because they dared to tell a tale in a non-linear style. Centered around the worst night of their lives, 3 characters converge at a Paya Lebar petrol kiosk, where their lives will forever be changed. The loner Terence, perpetually stuck in mono because of his lack of lam-pah-ji (balls) to break out of the monotony of his existence. The loser Ben, who was fired from his job, and is always cowering in the presence of his domineering mother. And finally, the lolita-like babe Michelle, who owes loansharks a debt of money, and has only the night to figure out how to repay it.

The 3 characters do not have equal screen opportunity though, and their segments are fairly obviously split with the use of intertitles. While the character motivations are obvious for the loner, who has to decide if it's worthwhile to risk it all for his mundane job, or the scooter riding hip chick Michelle, in the rebellious years of her school days, to determine how to wriggle her way out of trouble with a capital T, the best segment would have to be the loser's.

Ben, in his Doraemon pink t-shirt, brings in the laughs throughout his segment. He stammers in life, but in his day-dreams, he's the confident hero with a swagger, who can inspire awe amongst the evil-doers with just his name - Chen Hao Nan, from the Young and Dangerous Hong Kong gangland franchise. Not to forget too is his fantasy self spewing gung-ho threats, which sound more funny than they are theatening. His had the most opportunity for character development, as he decides to change his life by smoking it away.

Besides the three leads, there are a host of supporting characters, but they are mainly gangsters and thugs, who provide cannon fodder for comedy and with dialogue laced with colourful Hokkien vulgarities, crude as they may, but funny they sure are (ok, so sue me, but I crack up each time a screen character swears).

There are plenty of cool shots in the movie, from the opening animated credits, to a memorable gambling sequence. There's also a running gag with the Red Fur Dog label, either as a subtle dig at Caucasians, or at Guiness Stout, since there's no product placement fee, nor was there (probably) any intention to flout with trademark infringements.

But it's not all fine and dandy though, as the third segment with Michelle, being the last segment, may have suffered from an overkill of scenes being repeated (though at different angles and point of views). The repetition may have slowed the pace of the movie, as the audience would more or less deduced what had happened from an earlier segment, but I guess this is part and parcel of having a non-linear narrative. Also, some dialogue pieces with Michelle, explaining her predicament, felt slow and dragged the pacing somewhat, with a fairly out of the blue scene that looks at her family background.

Although there were familiar elements and scenes like the riding of motorcycle scene (comparing it with Kelvin Tong's Eating Air), S11 is a daring attempt at a story which is rather challenging given its premise, and style of narration, for a local film. Watch it if you can, and you'll probably open your eyes to the different styles and stories that local filmmakers are capable of spinning.

S11 opens exclusively at The Picturehouse from 3rd August.

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