Monday, December 9, 2013

Kolumpo [movie]

The other day I was about to watch the second installment of The Hunger Games movie - after having heard a few good review of it from a few people that I know - but as luck would have it, the seats were full and I was not ready to wait for a long time for the next one (which would be 3 hours away). Not wanting to waste my trip, I decided to try and catch a local movie which had been generating some antipication a few days before its release: Kolumpo (it was a few day after its premiere when I watched it).

There are a few points I wanted to rant about local movie, and they come about before the movie even started - but I'll save it for later.

Kolumpo, which is a street slang for Kuala Lumpur, is a pretty straightforward series of short stories: divided into three part, each focusing on different characters. Having said that, it's pretty fun to see how the little side characters would later be given a much more prominent role in different stories - I'd certainly like to watch it again just to give a much closer look at which character from which series which had made an appearance in another part, hehe.

I'd like to think that the movie, beside trying to show the relationship between the characters and Kuala Lumpur, is also racially divided. It's perhaps something not surprising, given how this is an important issue here in the country where people could get their jimmies rustled over it... but I digress.

The first part focus on Rahul, an Indian immigrant as he try to survive in the city along with other fellow immigrants after finding his original job offered being scrapped off. Completing the cast is a friendly employer, his midget nephew, an Indonesian gangster... and potatoes.

Even reading  it is also the most depressing as well. There isn't really something like a light at the end of the tunnel - I won't spoil, but I'm sure you can pretty much guess what it is - and that is admittedly something which you could find truly happening out there in the city.

I can't help but start to think how these people really live their lives out there. Some of the scene might come across as funny, but when you take it in how this is something that is happening out there, it becomes sort of a tragicomedy.

Perhaps that is why the next two stories is more positive in their outlook:

The second part focus on Gienna, a single Chinese woman which early in the stories is shown to ignore the call from her mother. A seemingly insubstantial meeting with an old senile woman, Nek Wok, takes us through the theme of development and family. As with the previous story, this is a pretty straightforward affair.

I'm not very familiar with the majority of the relationship between the current generation and their parents in the Chinese family, but I felt that this story try to address the theme of family. Even early in the story, we can see how 'touch and go' the relationship between Gienna's nephew and his mother. After some hindsight, it does seem to form something of a prelude to the main story.

Another small thing that I noticed that recurred in the story is how rude some people are to each other - it might be small, but I feel that it's a good jab at how most of us are nowadays.

The final part starts off with a monologue by a student, Hafidd - hence perhaps explaining the urban and rather hip introduction to the story - as he lament on the fact that he haven't dated anyone before. A late night meeting with a girl by the rather funny name of Siti Nur Hayy - complete with a scene of identification card verification - lead them to some musing and bantering on the city, life, and - yes you guessed it - love.

If I were to describe a typical Malay movie, this story would be it, in the sense that love being the central theme. Having said that, this story isn't as mushy or lovey dovey as you would find in the majority of love Malay movies out there - the quirky trait of Siti coupled with the straight-man character of Hafidd was entertaining to watch as they went about and talk about random things and, similarly, meeting with a few random people. As with the rest of the stories, there isn't really any big twist or unexpected ending, although it was slightly different from what I imagined it would be, which is quite a good thing.

As this story is set during the night in Kuala Lumpur, I was intrigued at the scenery, thinking 'I didn't know you could find such place in the city?' (the garden being the most prominent one).

Overall, what I liked about the movie is the really small things, such as how the seemingly insubstantial side characters would play an important role in the story... or would somewhat turn up later in another story. And on the second topic, I had a good laugh too at noticing a few cameos.

I had earlier envisioned the movie to be a serious affair at potraying the city, but it's somewhat something more of a relaxed affair. Its good dosage of humour mixed with a more serious topic seem to work well, as it doesn't fall into either too joke filled or too serious.

While the movie tout itself to show how the characters give life to the city, I feel it could well be something of a social commentary as well. And what better way to do it by choosing the city as a background, a melting pot of different people from all walk of life?

On a side note, prior to the start of the movie, I could count the preview of Malay movies which consist of: two gangster movie, one ghost story, and one love movie, featuring Malay gangster speaking with Chinese accent, explosions, some story about haunted house, and a really corny song starting with 'aku cinta padamu' and subsequently followed by 'aku rindu padamu' while dramatic scenes are being played.

Looking back at the recent Malay movie that I watched and quite enjoyed - KIL, Psiko: Pencuri Hati, and this movie - I realize that it's almost inevitable that love will be a second or third important theme in our movies. With that being said, I have my eyes set on 'hipster' or urban setting movies, or those with a much grittier subject, as being something which I would enjoy without having to roll my eyes.

So yes, kudos to the people who made these movies amongst influx of those aforementioned movies.

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