Sunday, July 30, 2017

At the Fountain of Youth Again

I went to Comic Arts Fest KL a grumpy old man forced to wake up early on a Saturday morning and went home on Sunday night a kid again.

I was reborn, resurrected. This happens every year. This small two-day arts fest, focusing on comics, is so full of hope and filled with dreamers that I can't help but be swept away with the enthusiasm.

We had a panel on Saturday at 4pm, where I wanted to reveal the harsh realities of the comics industry. How the numbers spell a difficult - yet hopeful - circumstances for anyone wishing to tell a story in comic book form.

I had gathered a small amount of knowledge - and always fear those with a little bit of knowledge. If you know nothing, you generally shut up. If you know everything, you would be wise enough to keep silent. But the one with  a little bit of info and armed with statistics from dubious sources, and hastily-cobbled estimates, usually make the most noise.

A few minutes into the event, and I see people beaming excitedly with new books, new stories and I just couldn't stay negative. It's impossible. There are certainly lots of things to bitch about, but why should anyone do that? It wouldn't solve anything, and only add to the cacophonous orchestra of whinging I've always hated.

I mean, these people don't give a fuck. I used to not give a fuck. What happened? I got old.

I felt the spirit stir within me once more.

So we did the panel and I made the decision to focus on the more hopeful stats. I left out a few, because I am ancient  and forgetful. The fact that comics sales is probably increasing as compared to some other publications. I don't have the numbers to back that up, of course, but reactions from bookstores show much excitement on comics as a thing they can sell.

Anyway, fuck the numbers. Fuck it to hell. I can tell you about the age bulge in South East Asia (bell-shaped curve, bulge on the manpower sweet-spot, ours is a young population with like 60-70% below 40 or something). I can tell you the trends of print sales in two or three major markets around the world(comics the ONLY print medium in North America to experience a positive growth in the past five years, but probably not last year). I can probably extrapolate the growth - or decline - of the print business for the next 5 or 20 years in this region (magazines to continue decline, books holding steady, possible growth).

And all this is bullshit. Because nobody knows what the future holds. What's real, are the emotions.

When my friends from other areas of the creative industry dropped by CAFKL, they were all enamoured with the energy and the vibrancy of youth and creativity.

"And these people are actually good!" said one best-selling author who has sold tens of thousands of books. She overspent her budget on art and souvenirs, of course. She and her friend listened patiently while I rambled on enthusiastically about the ideal size of conventions - regurgitating what I heard earlier.

"I can't break their dreams, man," said one old hand in the comics industry. We shared knowing looks. Even though both of us know nothing and are incapable of influencing anyone.

And these kids, this young community of artists, are not stupid. Or ignorant. I had breakfast on Sunday and had the pleasure of talking to a few. They know the market is still too small to make everyone rich (there are some who do make serious money). Or even to accommodate everyone.

And yet there they were, armed with their prints and zines and button badges and fridge magnets, not giving a damn.

It would be so pedantic and condescending to assume that these people, charging at windmills, don't know what took me three years to find out. That it's so damn difficult to make comics mainstream again. To erase the stigma that comics is just a medium for kids when it holds so much potential. That we don't have proper systems or structures for a lot of things.

But is that so bad? Not having systems, structures, or rules mean that you can set your own and avoid the mistakes of other sectors of the creative industry. The fact that there's not much money in comics as compared to TV means that the big corporate people have yet to stroll in and stake their claim and rob everyone blind. No big bodies have any resources to focus on such a (by comparison) small industry.

I've rambled again. I dunno, man. I don't know shit. I've failed so many times in life, maybe it's time to step aside and let these young dreamers attempt another charge at the windmill. Who am I to judge? Where I and others have failed, maybe they will succeed.

Until such a time, I'll keep my company alive, hoping that the next comic book we publish will unlock more things and opportunities until one day these titles will hit critical and we all live happily and then die ever after, never returning as zombies.

I feel happy, sated after I have had my fill of youthful energy. I feel like a vampire. I hope I didn't suck anyone's energy. I don't think I did.

The CAFKL organisers were efficient, as always. I'm always impressed with their professionalism and their own attempt to ride this tornado of chaos. And I'm always thankful they organise this small comics event every year and allow us - the small guys - to hawk our wares and try to share art and the little stories we do.

Thanks to all those who stopped by our booth to say hi or grab a few comics. Thanks to all the fellow sellers. I got your stuff, but wish I could get more.

Now, I need to go and probably sleep till noon.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sampai Jumpa Lagi, Ruhayat X!

Dua minggu lepas, kawan aku yang dihormati Amri Ruhayat dah meninggalkan kita.

Amri ialah antara penulis yang telah meyakinkan aku yang menulis dalam Bahasa Malaysia pun boleh jadi cool. Sejak itu, aku pun meluaskan penulisan aku daripada eksklusif dalam Bahasa Inggeris kepada BI dan BM.

Amri ialah seorang yang sentiasa cintakan idea. Kau boleh nampak keriangan pada muka dia bila dia bercakap pasal idea. Dia paling suka bila kawan-kawan berbincang pasal idea-idea dan projek-projek kreatif.

Kadang-kadang, Amri akan mencelah dan beri pendapat, atau lebih kerap sebenarnya, buat lawak sambil kutuk orang. Lawak Amri biasanya ialah pura-pura tak faham atau tersalah dengar sesuatu benda yang diperkatakan.

Hmm. Tadi aku cuba tulis contoh lawak dia tapi hambar. Sebab Amri je biasa buat lawak Amri. Aku tak biasa sebab aku tak melawak, macam Donald Trump. Aku amat serius, dan itulah lawaknya.

Lemas dalam dakapan kekasihnya yang sejati ini (idea), Amri seringkali tidak menyiapkan idea yang dia ada. Niatnya ada, tapi kesanggupan untuk menyiapkannya tiada.

Asalnya aku fikir dia ni malas, atau tak fokus. Macam aku jugak, aku fikir, sebab manusia itu self-centered. Tapi sebenarnya aku rasa dia terlalu sayangkan idea sampai dia akan melompat daripada satu idea ke idea yang lain dengan amat cepat.

Juga, dia tak perlu nak siapkan apa-apa sebab aku rasa dia dah cukup berjaya buat apa yang dia nak buat. He has nothing left to prove.

Sebagi seorang insan, aku perhatikan yang Amri amat tajam pemerhatiannya dan amat compassionate. Banyak kali dia nampak aku stress atau marah dan dia akan tegur aku sebab dia tau aku hanya perlukan interaksi atau perbualan bodoh yang takde kaitan dengan masalah atau dunia.

Masa aku marah sebab diperkotak-katikkan oleh beberapa orang bekas kawan, dan bila aku tersilap menyatakan fakta pelukis, dia ke depan dan borak dengan aku pasal bidang yang dia tau aku mahir.

Dua tiga hari sebelum dia meninggal, aku melawat dia di hospital tapi aku tak sanggup nak cakap panjang. Takde benda pun nak bagitau dia, kecuali, thanks.

Terima kasih, Amri.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

J Revolusi, Logan, Adiwiraku dan Adakah Kita Tak Berbakat?

SPOILER ALERT! Like, GILA BABI SPOILER!

Selamat Tinggal Yang Pertama

Logan ialah filem pasal kegagalan dan kekecewaan. Dan ini filem X-Men paling best setakat ini. Filem terakhir Hugh Jackman sebagai Wolverine. 17 tahun dia bawak watak tu, dalam sembilan atau 10 filem. Ini juga ialah filem kedua terbaik Jackman, selepas The Prestige.

Logan menceritakan pasal Wolverine yang dah tua dan jadi Uber/Lyft/Grab driver, healing factor dia dah tak berfungsi dengan sempurna. Nak keluar kuku adamantium dia pun cam segan-segan je. Nak lawan penyanggak curi tayar pun payah gila.

Ini bukan Wolverine/Logan yang boleh lawan mutan-mutan terkuat dunia - ini orang tua yang hidup segan, mati tak mahu. Logan yang dah letih, macamana aku pun letih. Prof X lagi la teruk. Dia dah nyanyuk. Ada penyakit otak yang membahayakan orang sekeliling dia.

Macam anak yang taat dan soleh, Logan jaga Prof X dalam satu tangki air untuk pastikan kuasa dia tak bunuh orang.

Muncul la pulak seorang budak kecik - Laura Kinney aka X-23 - yang ada kuku dan kebolehan macam Logan, sebab dia diklon daripada darah Logan.

X-23 berjaya menggunakan kecomelan dia untuk paksa Logan bawak dia ke satu lokasi yang tertera dalam komik X-Men (X-Men wujud sebagai komik dalam dunia Logan).

Road trip ini bermula ganas dengan serangan orang jahat yang nak tangkap X-23. Scene paling aku suka ialah bila diorang nak langgar pagar pakai kereta. Pagar kawad berduri je. Kalau filem lain, kereta diorang dekat je, pagar tu dah terbang ke Uranus. Tapi dalam filem ni, sesuai dengan tema kegagalan dan kekecewaan, diorang langgar tapi tak lepas. BEST!

Semua watak orang dewasa dalam Logan mengecewakan, sebab memang tema diorang pasal kekecewaan. Wolverine yang takleh heal dan ada sakit adamantium poisoning (agaknyalah), Prof X yang nyanyuk, dan orang jahat yang juga mengecewakan semua orang.

Semua orang yang Logan jumpa dalam filem ni mati atau terseksa, sama macam komik dan cerita asal Wolverine. Kalau kau pernah baca pasal Wolverine kat Madripoor dalam komik, dia noir abis dan asyik cakap pasal sesapa yang menyayangi dia atau duduk kat keliling dia, akan terseksa atau mati.

Aku suka gila cara diorang handle X-23. Separuh cerita dia tak cakap apa, cuma stare tak puas hati pastu jerit-jerit dan kelar orang pakai kuku adamantium. Best! Dan bijak, sebab bila budak tu bercakap, suara dia memang suara budak perempuan 10 tahun - tak macho langsung.

By that point in the movie, ko dah tak peduli dah suara dia cemana sebab X-23 best.

Semua benda pasal Logan best, kecuali ending dia yang terlebih cheesy bagi aku. Bila Logan duduk lepas lawan dan nak mati, dia cakap, "Laura, Laura, Laura" - ini bukan Logan, tapi Hugh Jackman yang berlakon. Pastu X-23 cakap, "Daddy, daddy!" Fuck that shit.

Patut dia takyah cakap. Just nangis je kuat-kuat pastu baru la Logan cakap, "So that's what it feels like." Pastu mati selepas dapat rasa jadi bapak orang.

Filem ni cerita superhero kedua dalam masa 2 tahun yang stakes dia bukan pasal nak selamatkan/musnahkan dunia tapi pasal benda yang jauh lebih kecil. Filem satu lagi ialah Deadpool dan dua-dua filem ni jauh lagi best daripada KEBANYAKAN filem superhero yang asyik berlawan dengan awan jahat atau lampu yang menyala ke langit.

Aku suka sebab dia hold back dan restraint, keupayaan untuk tahu kat mana nak push dan kat mana nak hold back, bukanlah sesuatu yang ramai filmmaker paham.

Evolusi UTK Drift

Cakap pasal krisis yang memusnahkan dunia, tadi aku baru tengok J Revolusi yang mnengetengahkan plot Ultra Virus yang menjadi senjata bio yang mampu bunuh semua manusia. Hollywood pun dah mula sedar yang krisis kemusnahan dunia ni dah tak best, dan filem kita baruuu nak find out benda sama.

Judo, Skodeng, Eddie dan anggota UTK lain perlu mendapatkan virus itu kembali sambil menyelamatkan adik Judo, (watak yang dilakonkan) Fazura.

J Revolusi dipasarkan sebagai sebuah filem Malaysia yang 'tidak memalukan'. Kalau ko baca Grand Brilliance punya Twitter account, ko tengok dia retweet orang yang cakap "eh, tak malulah dengan Filem Malaysia lepas tengok J Revolusi" or something like that.

Aku fikir, "Sapa yang malu dengan filem Malaysia?" Aku tak malu pun dengan filem aku sendiri, atau filem-filem Mat Rempit atau Apa Celop Toqq atau Cinta Kura-Kura. Atau Tanda Putera, Strawberi Cinta, Bahaya Cinta atau mana-mana filem tak best yang lain.

Aku rasa 'bangga' ni bodoh sebenarnya. Dia macam satu penyakit. Satu 'virus' atau 'Ultra Virus'. Ko nak bangga dengan sapa? Dengan mat saleh? Mat saleh pun undi Trump. Mat Saleh pun buat Suicide Squad. Mat saleh pun buat Batman v Superman - filem paling anjing dalam sejarah anjing.

J Revolusi cuba menjadi sebuah filem gred B. Jenis yang kalau ko pasang TV memalam buta pastu ada cerita orang tembak-tembak, ko tengok la sebab takyah pakai otak. Masalahnya, J Revolusi kena pakai otak gila babi.

Pasal apa? Pasal dia ada banyak plot holes. Ya, semua filem ada plot holes, kecuali Babe - filem sempurna.

Contohnya Fazura betray family, UTK dan negara senang nak mampus, aku rasa. Tak strong. Ada banyak elemen macam auction scene tu setup tak betul,

Pastu ada banyak masalah dalam storytelling. Ada member aku point out, Eddie (Izara Aisyah) pakai baju siang, tapi pergi ke auction malam. So Eddie pakai baju tu lama gila la, dari tengahari sampai malam.

Member sama cakap Judo pengsan 6 bulan pastu sedar je terus orang jahat nak buat pertukaran virus dengan tebusan - part ni, member aku salah sebab Judo sedar seminggu lepas operation and 6 bulan kemudian BARULAH jadi macam dalam filem tu.

Aku nak tambah, ada orang jahat jatuh ke arah jalan, tapi mendarat atas kereta yang dah parking. Pastu ada air kat bawah kereta tu. Darah ke apa? Cemana darah boleh mengalir cepat ke bawah - nevermind.

Pastu diorang cuba buat fast-cut, multiple angle yang tak jadi. Bila gaduh je, nak tumbuk sekali, ada dalam 4 cut sesaat, semua tukar angle sampai ko tak tau apa jadi, sapa tengah buat apa, kat mana, etc.

Masa misi pertama pun, aku tak paham apa yang tengah jadi. Sapa tengah serang, kat mana, blablabla. Akibatnya, takde stakes. Audience tak tau pun penting ke tak mamat A bertumbuk dengan mamat B dan diorang kat mana.

Kalau ko tengok filem yang buat cut camni, Captain America Civil War, ko nampak dan tahu la jugak apa tengah jadi. Captain America ditolong Scarlet Witch lompat masuk bangunan, Falcon gaduh kat luar, Black Widow gaduh kat luar. Orang jahat lari, Black Widow kejar diikuti orang lain.

Action dia ko boleh follow, walaupun pakai teknik sama.

Pastu, on the other end of the spectrum, ko ada John Wick yang diinspirasikan oleh Oldboy. Action ko dah cukup power, jadi takyah cut. Ko just buat shot pan sikit je kiri ke kanan.

Scene Oh Dae Su (Oldboy) gaduh pakai tukul dengan ramai orang, camera work John Wick yang takde gerak banyak sangat.

Malah, Marvel's Agents of Shield pun siap buat long cut berapa kali dah season ni (Season 4) masa nak tunjuk action.

Dari segi action, untuk sebuah filem yang cuba ketengahkan action, J Revolusi tak best sangat.Takdelah teruk muntah darah, tapi still tak best.

Lakonan jugak tak best, secara purata. Cerita dia member aku tulis, tapi aku cakap gak la, banyak plot holes.

Despite all this, sebenarnya aku agak terhibur dengan J Revolusi, kat certain parts. Mungkin pasal sebelum aku masuk panggung, aku dah turunkan expectations aku ke tahap terendah mungkin - sampai aku rasa suicidal, baru aku pergi tengok.

Cikgu Pinang Tunggal

Kalau J Revolusi pasal nak selamatkan manusia daripada "WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION!" kata salah seorang orang jahat, Adiwiraku pulak cerita pasal cikgu dan bebudak kat sekolah yang agak terpencil, cuba nak participate je choral speaking peringkat daerah.

Sekolah tu memang dicop sekolah loser dan cikgu dia pun jenis sukarelawan Teach for Malaysia.

Adiwiraku - title ni tak best langsung - ada sumber cerita yang amat AMAT rich. Cerita dia kaya dan subur dengan benda-benda best macam kisah pelajar kat kawasan tu - jenis benda orang bandar tak paham sangat dan amat bagus untuk diorang tengok.

Cerita pasal cikgu memang bagus dan senang nak cari benda menarik nak ketengahkan. So dari segi cerita, Adiwiraku memang takde masalah langsung. Based on ini sahaja, korang pergilah tengok filem ni sebab cerita memang ada dan cerita dia rich.

Malangnya, penceritaan dia tak best. Awal-awal cerita dah start narration yang dictate semua benda dan bukan dalam cara yang charming atau kelakar macam Jean-Pierre Jeunet atau Wes Anderson.

Ada babak yang best masa awal-awal tu, contoh bila ada bebudak maki hamun kiri dan kanan. Tapi narration aku rasa salah letak terus.

Show, don't tell. Diorang tell gila babi, so rugi sikit kat situ.

Pastu, pasal fokus. Dah ada cerita yang best, yang rich, so director and writer kena decide apa yang dia nak letak dalam filem. Ko takleh letak semua sekali sebab nanti yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendung berciciran.

So masalah dia ialah cuba nak buat banyak sangat benda pada satu masa. And ada babak yang sengaja nak perah air mata yang aku fikir tak perlu sebab kalau ko relax je pun orang nangis.

Aku nangis gak tengok filem ni, tapi bila dia cuba nak buat aku nangis, aku stop nangis.

Aku sarankan kalau ada sesapa nak berlakon atau berangan dia pelakon, silalah tengok Adiwiraku sebab bebudak yang bawak watak diri sendiri memang best nak mampus. Kalau korang pelakon takleh bawak watak real macam bebudak tu bawak watak diri diorang sendiri (admittedly lagi senang la) baik korang toksah berlakon.

Kesimpulan

Aku penat. Aku penat macam Logan penat. Dan aku nak cakap yang tema Logan pasal kekecewaan dan kegagalan amat sesuai untuk apa yang aku rasa sekarang.

Aku mula fikir, adakah industri filem Malaysia tak keluarkan filem-filem best sebab memang kita ni tak berbakat nak hasilkan filem best?

Tak cukup berfikir kat sesetengah tempat, terlebih-lebih kat tempat lain. Takde taste.

Aku rasa ya. Takde bukti yang menunjukkan kita berbakat.

Directing tak best. Acting cam haram. Writing pun ke laut. Semua tak best.

So, sekarang ada dua benda je filmmakers boleh buat - stop buat filem dan berhenti membanjirkan pasaran dengan filem tak best.

Atau embrace our own mediocrity. Tak reti la aku nak cakap dalam BM. Redha kot?

Tapi, ya. Aku memang penat.

Sebab tu aku akan hilang kejap next week.

Balik kang, corporate job aku suspend 2 bulan and aku nak tulis skrip filem suka-suka.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Not Minding What Happens

Somebody called me using an urgent tone today. She recounted her own dramas, and how she perceived she has fucked up something.

It immediately put my own fuck ups into stark contrast. As I listened, and began dispensing advice, I am also listening to myself.

"Your first enemy is your own mind," I told her. "Only we, ourselves, can create an enemy or a monster tough enough to take us down. Normal humans, they are not so powerful, or clever."

I meant every word. If there was a room full of myself, each one of us would know exactly how to fuck the other up. We would be in possession of all the buttons, history and would also know the exact timing to push what to get the desired result. And that is assuming that every copy of you has that same negative motivation.

In a room filled with random people, every single person is taking input, making observations and thinking all in relation of their own selves. Everyone is self-centered, therefore 99.999% of their time and brain-time is dedicated only on how these things make them feel, look to others or how they can benefit.

Humans are animals - neither good nor bad. They are always in fear and they always think about themselves. The methods may differ, whereas one would think about how people perceive him or her in terms of kindness, firmness, intelligence or grace, another might think how they could get some to react in ways more beneficial to him/her. It is all self-absorbed bullshit.

Even with different psychological make-ups - the ancient Greeks divide personalities into four, Jung postulates 12 archetypes - their final focus is always the self.

For most of the ignorant, unaware humans, they just want to be told they're special. This information is extremely powerful for manipulators - whom I hate.

You can fuck any girl in the world if you make her feel or think she's special. You can make anyone do anything if you are the button they can push to get that pellet that makes them feel special.

This is coercion. It is very powerful, dangerous and to me, dishonest and evil.

So the second thing is, people are not so focused on you. You don't matter - they do.

The third one is that imagining everyone else as a giant conspiracy to take you down is towards the self-harming part of paranoia. The truth is, that's what would happen if you are facing a room or a world full of you. Thankfully, we do not and everyone is not so organised.

"The secret to happiness," I said, "According to one of those gurus, is saying this - 'I do not mind what happens'."

This is being space. To allow life and the world to happen to you without judgment or baggage. It is extremely difficult, but if you could do it, it is the only way to function.

Not minding what happens brings with it calmness, a sense of purpose and extremely effective actions that are not laced with destructive emotion.

When you enter into a situation without expectations and without judgment, not minding what the facts that are soon to be revealed are and how things will unfold, you are setting yourself in a position to act effectively to anything that happens.

It would also not damage you emotionally or physically as it takes away a lot of stress.

I am glad my friend called me. That was exactly what I needed to hear as I slog through this mountain of work in front of me.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

He got a heart attack, that's what happened.

I used to live in the future. Always needing to be several steps ahead - or several years ahead - of everyone else.

I fancied myself a futurist and the depression and stress that comes with the self-afflicted temporal displacement were badges of honour. Scars that proved I am better than everyone else.

I was proud of my drive. It defined me from the rest. While others whined about how much work they had to do, I did literally six times their workload, and then piled on theirs on top of mine.

I longed to say to these lazy people this line, "Enjoy your salary this month - it's free."

I rose higher and higher, eventually reaching levels I never thought possible. And always, every step of the way, I was far ahead, flung to the future.

Here's how it looks like.

The future has infinite possibilities. To make sense of it all, I classify things, events and happenings into gradients. Basically, indefinite flowcharts with no boxes, just possibilities that has no borders. Instead, they are gradients, like colour.

Say, you want to start walking from A to B. Every decision you make will lead you to either falling down a flight of stairs (red) or get to B safely (indigo) if these are the only possibilities you want to acknowledge. Anything you do will lead you to these two extremes, or more often than not, it can be anything in between.

I=As I walk from A, I exist on A, between A and B as well as all the colours between red and indigo. And I prepare for each possible outcome, which are also gradients. I often thought this was what they meant when they say, "be all you can be."

I pushed too hard and like Icarus, I fell. I was really sick. I almost died. Then, slowly I recovered. I regained my footing and I let go of the old drive, replacing it with presence. For a while, I was truly happy. I was at peace because I didn't mind the future. I was calm and serene in the present.

Now. Well, now you have an idiot like Trump, who stands for stupidity, at the head of a country that might destroy the world, and here in Malaysia, we have idiots pushing for hudud. I am surrounded by stupidity and stupid people. The politicians are all stupid - on both sides - and taking all our money. How can people so stupid take all our money?

I'm not just talking about BN. I am also talking about DAP, PAS, PKR and Parti Bersatu.

I am beginning to ask myself - do I really want to live on this planet anymore? Nothing I do will ever save the world or anyone. I am not that important or powerful.

All possible futures point to decay.

Maybe I should start pushing until I stop or am stopped. Tick tock. Tick tock.






Thursday, February 16, 2017

Kesejukan Sepandang Layang

Semalam aku tidur pukul 2 pagi. Hari ni aku bangun pukul 7.30am dan terus buat kerja. Rajinnya!

Aku amat busy sampai nak main game lumba kereta pun takde masa.

Bapak aku kat kampung, sebelum dia sakit, pernah marah aku pasal dia tak faham apa aku buat.

"Aku tau apa kau buat kat KL tu," dia cakap.

"Amende?" Aku tanya.

"You sit around everyday and you play with your computer. That's not the way!"

Aku tergelak masa tu. Rather unkindly. Bapak aku dunia dia, dunia typewriter dengan stencil yang jenama Robot tu. Pada 1996, memang dia ada beli PC daripada abang aku, tapi dia tak reti pakai sangat. Aku je terhegeh-hegeh sambung kat modem 14.4kbps untuk cari porn.

Bagi bapak aku, komputer ialah alat untuk main Solitaire atau Freecel. Mungkin dia fikir aku duduk berjam-jam depan PC, main game kad.

Sebenarnya, apa dia fikir tu tak salah sangat. Memang aku main game kad. Nama dia Hearthstone. Berjam-jam. Tapi bila aku ada masa lapang la. Aku jugak main game lumba kereta yang perlukan planning macam handle kompeni gak.

Mak aku bengang baru-baru ni sebab dia cuba korek apa benda aku buat kat KL ni tapi aku cakap kat dia aku menganggur. Takleh la dia nak gossip. Hahahaha. Walaupun aku tahu spy dia ada dok baca Twitter, Facebook, blog dan tengok Youtube videos aku. To that person, fuck you. Dumbass motherfucker.

Keluarga aku maybe suspect aku gay sebab aku suka buat lawak gay. Heh. Salah orang la wei. Aku tak gay. Yang gaynya, yang itu. Bukan hal aku.

Sekarang ni, aku tengah handle tiga kompeni aku sendiri. Takde satu pun yang berumur lebih 3 tahun. Maksudnya semua perlukan usaha lebih tanpa jaminan untung lagi.

Ada 6 judul komik yang aku terbabit sebelum April ni. Ada 3 projek jangka sederhana (6-8 bulan) dan satu projek ongoing.

Aku jugak ada personal projects. Passion projects yang mungkin takde duit pun.

Hari ni aku kena pergi print something - 200 mukasurat - dan kemudian pergi meeting untuk projek yang aku rasa aku kena tolak. Pastu kena balik rumah tunggu delivery pastu malam nanti kena keluar meeting lain.

Hari-hari aku keluar pagi/tengahari, kalau balik kang kena sambung buat kerja pulak. Balik tengah malam pun buat kerja gak.

Dalam masa 4 bulan ni, aku dah dua kali burnout. Aku dah cepat marah orang. Ini tanda-tanda besar aku kena pergi cuti. Jauhkan diri daripada KL dan keluarga.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Burning Man

I'm feeling the strain.

Been going out full-throttle on all fronts for the past six months. I am beginning to snap at people and losing my cool at whatever stupid thing I see. Even though there will always be stupid, meaningless things everywhere, all the time.

It's that time of the year, when I feel burnt out. Already scheduled a vacation soon. But can I survive these next few weeks?

My health has taken a back seat to chasing after stuff. I was already running four projects and two companies. Today, I started another initiative. All the while doing my taxes on all fronts, like a good adult.

The strain is real. But work doesn't kill you. Stress does. A doctor told me this. So it must be true.

When I work, it's like there is only one thing that exists and it is the goal, the objective. All else fades away as I allow the intensity to consume me.

I am well-suited to games that require min-maxing, but after a while, I'd grow tired. Spent. I treat life the same way. You go all out or you go to hell.

I guess it's time to shift into lower gear and cruise for a bit. I won't survive another six months of this. Some things will have to change.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Flu Fighter: Old Man Edition

I was going full throttle at the end of December all through the first week of January, when I was hit last week with a flu virus. Or bacteria. Rhinovirus, right? So yeah, virus.

When I was younger, the shortest amount of time I fell sick was three hours. Nowadays, it takes a week, it seems.

I'm past the worst but still feel a bit weak. Rather than pushing it, I am going to go to sleep soon, after taking my meds.

There are so many things that need tending to. Pisses me off, actually. I have several deadlines looming, but since I gave myself a few days margin, I think I can wing it through to the real deadline.

Still angry. But that doesn't help. I still worked through the feverish conditions but progress is slow. I ended up watching a lot of YouTube videos while drinking lots of soup and eating oranges.

I stopped drinking juices for a while now, and focus entirely on oranges.

Man, I'm getting old. The parts are not working as well as they did. But they had a good run. I had a good run. Can't complain, really.

But... come hell or high water, I will finish these things I'm doing by tomorrow night, 24 hours before the deadline. I stake my grandfather's reputation on it. Not mine, obviously.

I am better, really. Just the tail end of it. The weakness that comes with being sick.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Of Writing and Being Clever

So here I am, at 2am, just after rewriting some parts of the movie script I am doing. I'm allowing myself this because I worked on my corporate stuff over the week, so this weekend, it will be this project and a few others.

I got feedback on my first draft from friends and a professional script doctor. I would really recommend working with someone who can comment professionally on your script, especially someone who is used to extremely different working arrangements and styles.

Method Writing

I started this project wanting to break free from my usual scriptwriting routine. Here's how I did it last time:

1. Synopsis

- Just a few paragraphs

2. Rough Treatment

- This details the acts, whatever format you choose

3. Scene Breakdown

- This step usually doesn't exist, but I used to work with production managers who want to know how many locations and how many actors with speaking and non-speaking roles are in how many scenes. This helps in calculating the budget, payments and duration of shoot.

4, Actual script - first draft

- Then you fill in the scene breakdown with stuff like dialogue and whatever.

5. Polishing

- this usually takes the most time and can take as many rewrites as possible.

6. Shooting script

- This is purely optional. You break up the scenes into shots to help the director and the AD. In fact, sometimes the scriptwriter doesn't do this in Malaysia.

I got bored with this method really fast, so for this project, I went all chaotic evil from the get go.

It jumped from one stage to the next and all over, because I wrote what I felt like writing, how I wanted to do it.

It's quite a mess now and I'm cleaning it up. I think it will be quite good after a few polishes.

Feedback is very important and knowing my extremely charming (in the way serial killers are charming) and dominant personality, I needed to apply shutting up and listening to people who know their shit.

You can always agree or disagree with feedback, but your goal is always the final product. And I want to push the thing as far as it could go because this story has already surprised me that it got this far. And I can't wait to close the book on this one, because I am working on other projects as well.

Relevant Questions

The script doctor asked me questions I found in scriptwriting books but never took seriously. It is different, hearing someone say it than reading it in a book.

Some of them are like, "Why are you writing this shit?"

And my answer would be, "To have fun!"

"So why would anyone go and watch this movie?"

"To have fun!"

I wasn't being glib or clever - and we'll talk about that in a while. I am being serious when I say I am writing these damned things to have fun. And I hope the fun translates to the audience.

Being Clever

One of the things I learned over the past few years about movies and writing them, is that it's not such a good idea to try and be clever.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden asked Edward Norton, "So how's it working out for you, being clever?"

See, I have a deep-seated psychological issue of needing to be the cleverest person in the world. I believe everyone has that. They think, even in their stupidity and moments of sheer foolishness, that they are either smarter or they deserve to be smarter, BECAUSE.

It is linked to the primary driving force for all humans - to want to be or be seen as superior to others, due to their own insecurities.

I know this, because I have it too. I can only recognise things I see in myself.

I would like to say that after embodying the teachings of Eckhart Tolle that I have attained a level where the ego couldn't reach me, but that would be a lie.

I struggle with all these things on a daily basis. I am still insecure about my intelligence, despite being the Greatest Mind of the 21st Century. I do observe it, and notice it, whenever it pops up, but it doesn't mean I am any better at handling it.

I did do a short film that was too clever for everyone else. It had subtle hints at a bigger story, some wanky subtext shoved in all over the place. And when it was screened, nobody got it.

So I realised at the time that I write movies to reach out to the audience, to you. So understanding how stupid all of you are in understanding the glorious me, it would be stupid of me to assume that you would be so desperate and insecure yourself to want to understand every single fucking facet of any of my work.

Nobody has the time for that, except me.

The work serves a function to someone - anyone - and it is from their perspective. And while I enjoy puzzles to a certain degree and have dedicated my life in the pursuit of certain subcultures, I cannot expect the same of you. Any of you.

So let me mansplain everything to you, the inferior person, in an inferior language you could understand and one I wouldn't have any rejections over - fun.

Because in an existence with no real meaning, you should just have fun. Or else.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Roundup, Paraquat and Gramoxone

Not many would understand the joke in the title. Those three are names of pesticides, insecticides and/or herbicides popular with Malaysian farmers.

If you grew up in the rural areas, like I did, you might have encountered these things and I assure you you won't forget their smell. Nothing smells like poison more than those three.

But the most toxic has no smell. It's an illegal Type-1 insecticide  called Lannate Malaysian farmers get from Thailand, smuggled through customs and any form of control.

You get Lannate if you have a wild boar problem, like we do in our village. Wild boars are the most intelligent of all animals. They can detect poison and/or traps. Probably due to their superior sense of smell.

But they can't smell Lannate.

So you mix Lannate up with some chicken entrails and you leave them out on the ground. The next day, a wild boar would have all four feet up in the air.

You don't sell any animal killed with Lannate. The toxicity is so potent, if ducks were to spoon for worms at the site where the boar died, the ducks would die. If flies land on the ducks, the flies would die. I saw this, when I was a kid.

You sell the dead boar to people, and you'd be killing them.

Now what does this have to do with a yearly roundup? Well, absolutely nothing. It's not a metaphor or subtext or whatever.

I don't even feel like doing a roundup now because I feel toxic. I was betrayed yet again recently, and it will take time to heal. Meanwhile, I still have loads of work to do and my back still hurts, meaning I can no longer sit down for long periods without taking any rest.

If anything, 2016 saw me embark on a path to reconcile my newfound peace and happiness with my old work drive.

I once did what to me was an amazing amount of work within short periods of time. It nearly killed me, literally, and I was testing if I could go into that mode again these past few months.

I have so many things to do. So much, that I am beginning to feel like I don't want to do them.

I think I'll feel better tomorrow. And I hope going back to my old working habits would not be too similar to drinking poison.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bebas Hutang PTPTN!

Hari ini, aku pergi bayar baki pinjaman aku dengan PTPTN yang berjumlah RM1962.67. Selepas diskaun 15% (insentif kalau bayar semua baki pinjaman), aku membayar RM1668.61. Sebenarnya, aku bayar RM1669 dengan 39 sen aku wakafkan untuk kegunaan yang baik-baik sahaja.

Maka berakhirlah, aku harap, kisah aku dengan PTPTN yang bermula sejak aku menamatkan pengajian pada tahun 2003. Kisah aku dengan PTPTN bermula dengan maki hamun tidak terbatas. Kemudian masuk mahkamah. Akhirnya dah settle.

Aku masih fikir semua yang pinjam PTPTN wajib bayar balik supaya generasi selepas ni ada duit nak pinjam kalau pergi Universiti. Dan aku tak setuju dengan pendidikan percuma yang akan aku jelaskan di bawah.

Sebelum tu, meh aku cerita pasal kisah drama nak mampus aku dengan PTPTN.

Kisah Penuh Drama

Aku mula bekerja pada akhir tahun 2003 tetapi hanya membayar balik pinjaman PTPTN dalam beberapa kali setahun selama beberapa tahun. PTPTN mula menghantar surat ke alamat aku di kampung. Mak dan bapak aku yang ada darah tinggi, sakit jantung dan kencing manis selalu panik bila ada surat kutip hutang PTPTN.

Surat itu surat firma guaman. Aku difahamkan setiap kali hantar surat mungkin ada cajnya yang dikenakan oleh firma itu. Kalau dia hantar kepada semua peminjam PTPTN, dah berapa tu? Siapa yang bayar? Masuk dalam jumlah pinjaman aku ke?

Jadi, aku telefon PTPTN suruh jangan hantar kat mak bapak aku, tapi begini jadinya:

Aku: Boleh tak jangan hantar surat kat mak bapak saya? Hantar kat saya.

PTPTN: Kami takleh berhenti hantar sebab kena telefon PTPTN pantai timur.

Aku: Bak nombor PTPTN pantai timur.

Aku call nombor yang dia bagi.

Aku: Boleh tak jangan hantar surat kat mak bapak saya? Hantar kat saya.

PTPTN: Kami takleh berhenti hantar sebab kena telefon PTPTN HQ.

Aku: Tadi saya call HQ dia cakap suruh call pejabat ni.

So gitulah beberapa kali sampailah aku dah marah, aku call PTPTN.

Aku: PTPTN ni nak kutip bayaran ke, nak hantar surat?

PTPTN: Kami takleh berhenti hantar sebab -

Aku: Camnilah. Kalau tak berenti antar surat, saya akan berenti bayar.

PTPTN: Berenti lewwww.

Aku pun berenti bayar selama lima tahun. Dapat pulak surat suruh aku naik court. Court majistret. 

So aku buat dua benda: 

1. Aku tengok Boston Legal tentang cara nak fight kat court.

2. Aku jumpa lawyer mahal dan mintak nasihat free.

Lawyer mahal suruh aku buat bank draft 10% jumlah pinjaman aku dan produce in court sambil cakap, "Saya memang nak bayar tapi diorang ni asyik harass mak bapak saya yang sakit di kampung ."

Berbekalkan nasihat lawyer mahal yang diberi percuma dan kemahiran Boston Legal, aku pergi mahkamah majistret.

Masuk mahkamah, aku tidak dibenarkan bercakap, sebaliknya hanya digembala seperti lembu untuk cakap ya atau tidak di depan majistret.

Bank draft yang aku bawak aku koyakkan di luar mahkamah sambil memberitahu peguam yang mewakili PTPTN yang ini semua tidak adil. Pastu aku telefon lawyer mahal cakap nasihat dia tak berguna sebab gitu jelah benda yang jadinya.

Kemudian, aku telefon PTPTN.

Aku: Okay, saya nak mula bayar bulan-bulan ni. Berapa PTPTN nak? Saya patut bayar 120++ sebulan tapi saya sanggup bayar RM500 sebulan sampai habis.

PTPTN: Kami taknak duit awak! Kami nak isytihar awak bankrupt! Kami nak sita harta benda awak. (Yang ni real ni. Almost verbatim. Aku tak buat cerita. Memang pegawai kat telefon tu cakap camni)

Aku: Kak, saya takde rumah, takde kereta. Yang saya ada cuma PC dan meja PC. Nak sita, sitalah!

Bengang dengan PTPTN, aku tak bayar lagi selama dua tahun.

Lepas tu, aku rasa aku patut bayar balik apa aku pinjam. So sebab aku ada banyak pengalaman buruk cakap dengan pegawai di telefon, aku pergi HQ PTPTN masa tu di Wisma Chase Perdana.

Elok la pulak pegawai yang handle kes aku. Siap tolong aku lagi, dan aku bayar dalam RM2,000 pastu start standing instruction dengan bank for RM300/month.

Aku tanya CIMB: "Memandangkan PTPTN ni kadang-kadang walaupun saya bayar dia buat cam saya tak bayar je, apakah kaedah bayaran bulanan yang paling banyak paper trail dalam dunia?"

CIMB menasihatkan aku buat standing instruction pakai cheque. Maksudnya setiap bulan, pada 17 hb, CIMB akan keluarkan cheque daripada akaun aku, hantar cheque tu ke PTPTN. Akan ada TIGA rekod cheque ni - kat CIMB, kat aku dan kat PTPTN. Kos? RM5 sekali keluar. AKu tak tau berapa banyak pokok aku bunuh demi memastikan ada rekod bayaran aku.

Ternyata, pilihan ini tepat sebab dalam dua tiga tahun lepas, masa baki pinjaman aku sepatutnya dalam 6-8K, aku dapat call from PTPTN.

PTPTN: Nak tukar ujrah kewwww?

Aku: Emmm... Taknak! By the way, berapa baki pinjaman saya?

PTPTN: Ada dalam 16k kot?

Aku: Aik? Kalau ikut kiraan saya, patut tinggal dalam 6-8K je. Akak jangan cakap PTPTN tak terima pulak.

PTPTN: Tak tau lewwww.

Aku pun runsing, jadi aku pergi CIMB dan mintak dia print semua rekod bayaran aku pada PTPTN selama lima tahun. Berbekalkan timbunan kertas setebal satu inci, aku ke PTPTN untuk mengesahkan baki pinjaman aku. Nak tau berapa?

RM6-8K. Seperti kiraan aku.

Aku pun hidup seperti biasa dengan kesedaran yang aku akan habis bayar PTPTN pada 2017, sampailah Najib keluar TV cakap, "Sapa bayar abis PTPTN dapat 15% diskaun! Gwiyomi!"

Aku cam, fuck yeah, bitch!

Aku pun tunggu client bayar dan kemudian pagi tadi aku call PTPTN - pertama kali dalam masa 8 tahun kot. ELOKKKK pulak dia jawab bila aku tanya baki pinjaman aku. Makcik yang kurang hajar dulu dah tak kerja kewww?

Aku pun ke Menara AmBank yang kat sebelah Menara PTPTN pastu keluarkan duit kat ATM sebab Menara PTPTN takde ATM rasanya.

Pastu aku settlekan baki pinjaman aku. Pastu aku lunch kat sebelah dengan angin bertiup kencang. Aku rasa macam baru membunuh seekor kerbau yang mengganas. Aku rasa macam baru lepas berak di banjaran pergunungan Alps. Aku rasa macam aku naik kuda di kawasan Steppes.

Kisah Tauladan

Jadi, seperti masa-masa lain aku berurusan dengan ajensi kerajaan, bercakap dengan pegawai di telefon sepatutnya dielakkan. Aku gaduh dengan PTPTN dulu pun sebab bercakap dengan orang di telefon dalam 8-13 tahun lepas. Yang sekarang ni dah okay dah.

Aku syak yang dulu, pegawai kerajaan yang jawab telefon ialah mereka yang bermasalah atau dihukum sebab apa-apa kesalahan. Sekarang ni macam dah meningkat dah kualiti manusia yang jawab telefon.

Tapi paling bagus kalau ko pergi cari sendiri orang yang handle/ada access kes kau. Aku alami benda sama kat LHDN, ASB, FINAS dan PTPTN ni ha. Gomen ni kira manual la.

Lepas jumpa dengan orang yang memang handle kes kau, cepat je penyelesaiannya. Dia bagi ko option yang ko ada, so ko pilih le apa yang sesuai.

Hada Aku Kesah

Sekang pasal bebudak bodoh duduk hisap jerebu tengah padang mintak PTPTN dihapuskan atau nak education percuma.

Kalau PTPTN dihapuskan, sapa punya duit yang hilang? Duit PTPTN datang daripada duit cukai orang yang bekerja/berniaga. Senangnya mak ko teran ko keluar puki, pastu nak suruh aku bayar ko belajar yang takde le pandai mana tu?

Pastu kalau takde PTPTN, mana bebudak ni semua yang rata-rata mak bapak takde duit nak hantar anak dia ke universiti (macam mak bapak aku) nak cekau duit?

Loan PTPTN interest dia 4%. Loan bank, dulu ada education loan dalam 6%. Sekang ni? Ambik la personal loan yang bodoh nak mampus tu, dengan interest 10% hire-purchase (10% atas jumlah asal pinjaman dan bukan baki pinjaman) pastu melingkup la ko nak bayar sampai mampus.

Pastu ada hati nak mintak education free. Negara yang education dia free cam Canada, Germany, tu semua cukai pendapatan dia berapa? 40%? Kita bayar cukai dalam 20-25%, itupun berapa kerat yang bayar? 

Semua benda nak free, orang cakap bangsa subsidi marah la pulak. 

"Kita tak perlukan subsidi!"

Pastu bila minyak masak dan minyak petrol/diesel punya subsidi kena tarik sikit demi sikit, meraung macam anjing kena jolok jubur.

Ya, PTPTN banyak kelemahan dia, daripada website yang kadang-kadang okay, kadang-kadang tak okay, resit bayaran yang takde nombor pinjaman, dan kelemahan gomen yang memang kita sepatutnya dah maklum.

Ya, PTPTN dulu ada orang tak faham konsep yang jaga telefon. Ya, aku pernah gaduh dengan PTPTN selama beberapa tahun.

Tapi pada akhirnya, PTPTN ialah satu benda yang baik untuk memastikan pengurangan mat rempit dan bohsia di tengah jalan. Sebab kalau berpuluh ribu budak lepas SPM atau STPM tak ke universiti atau kolej, diorang nak buat apa? Hisap kote? Rompak rumah aku?

Najib dan BN bukan PTPTN. PTPTN, sama macam PR1MA, BR1M, dan mana-mana inisiatif kerajaan, diwujudkan bukan oleh ahli politik, tetapi pengkaji dalam kementerian dan kerajaan. Orang pandai-pandai dalam MoF dan JPA yang mungkin penerima biasiswa sebab dah pandai sangat. Atau bapak dia kabel kuat. Whatever.

Ahli politik ni ambik kredit je daripada idea dan usaha penjawat kerajaan. Diorang bukan pandai pun. Aku tengok sesetengahnya mungkin terencat akal.

Dulu ramai marah MACC, pastu puji la pulak. Kimak apa? Ko patutnya pertahankan institusi kita daripada dipergunakan dan dibuli oleh ahli politik.

Kesimpulannya ialah, PTPTN ni walaupun banyak masalahnya, masih lagi langkah terbaik untuk membolehkan orang belajar kat universiti. Kalau nak improve, bukan dengan hapuskan semua hutang PTPTN tapi dengan lancarkan banyak benda yang tak lancar dalam tu. Dan bayarlah balik apa yang ko pinjam. Ko ingat ko boleh lari?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - SPOILER ALERT

SPOILER ALERT!

SPOILER ALERT!

SPOILER ALERT!

SPOILER ALERT!

SPOILER ALERT!

This movie could have been the greatest Star Wars movie of all time. The premise is simple and excellent - a HEIST MOVIE! SET IN THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE!

Imagine The Italian Job or Ocean's Eleven - IN SPACE! With lasers and blasters and crippled Jedi Masters... but no.

And this, to me, is its greatest sin. What it could have been.

Synopsis first. Jyn Urso's mother was killed by some dude in a white cape, so her father goes to work for him, building a Death Star.

Jyn was rescued by Forest Whitaker and then TIMESKIP! We jump from one planet to the other and it's disconcerting. What the fuck was happening? Who is this dude? Is it the same dude? Different dude? That guy's a different race, right? Am I racist? Wait, who's the pilot now? Is it racist to confuse two dudes and not registering their (probably) different ethnicity at all?

I'm confused about Jyn's emergency boyfriend and the pilot dude.

Anyway, it all doesn't matter because they all meet at Forest Whitaker's pad and the pilot gets mind-raped and loses his marbles, but then he isn't because somebody reminded him he's acting as 'the Imperial pilot'.

Pilot: I'm the pilot! I'm the pilot!

*Pushes buttons and shit*

Jyn Urso would have been so good as the character who hates the Empire peeps because they killed her mother and kidnapped her father, while the Rebel Alliance distrusts her because her father is considered a traitor. At least that's what she SHOULD have been.

Some wonky shit makes her underdeveloped even though having most of the screen time. Rey, despite all you haters, have more depth in one stupid scavenging expedition than Jyn.

MAJOR PROBLEM ALERT!

Jyn's conflict and possible anger towards her father was resolved and we see her getting closure when she listens to her father's hologram message.

MAJOR PROBLEM ALERT ESCALATION! MOON PRISM POWER MAKEUP!

So you're Galen Urso and you're telling the Rebels you are not a traitor/Empire macai because you incorporated a fatal flaw in the Death Star. You should lead with that in a short hologram message and not try to reach your daughter whom you haven't seen or heard from in years.

The message could have been like this:

Galen: Yo Rebel scum! I got a flaw in the Death Star bitch! And to my daughter, if you can somehow hear this message, I was never a traitor. Don't you let anyone tell you otherwise.

But no. The message was mostly, "Jyn, I love you honey. Sorry about growing up without me and shit. You did grow up right? You didn't get killed or end up as Bantha poodoo? Stay away from pod-racing!"

Then, Jyn, after years of being told she is the daughter of a traitor, can say, "fuck yeah, daddy-o!"

Imagine the memory Snape showed Harry Potter. Imagine that scene. Imagine if Jyn wanted to go and kill her father to wipe dishonour from her family, and then finding out her father is actually a good guy.

But no. Okay.

Jyn's reaction meant she had closure over her father's death BEFORE he died. So when he died, I didn't feel anything. And neither did Jyn. What a waste of a great actor.

And then. And then!

There was a Rebel meeting. For some reason, Jyn got to the main table. The big girls' table.  I know this is the Rebel Alliance, but what?

Fine. The Rebel council rejected her plans. But some followed her anyway. Why? I don't know because these fuckers around me KEPT ON FUCKING TALKING.

If you talk in the cinema, I curse you, your kids, your grandkids, your great-great grandkids. I kill you so hard, your ancestors will die!

Anyway, Emergency Boyfriend dude gave a lame speech about whatever.

Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut KimYe and his Life Partner are a delight, for the most part. They followed Jyn simply because she's 'the Chosen One' in some respects, and that's fine.

So these rebels who rebelled against the Rebels, went on a suicide heist mission to some planet somewhere.

Now this is what this movie is supposed to be - this fucking heist. Imagine if they did the heist tropes - the scouting, the planning, the plans failing and improvisation saves the day, etc. That would have made this movie perfect.

But no.

The heist was as exciting as the infiltration in The Force Awakens, which is the weakest part of that movie. It's still fun, but I had trouble following what the fuck was going on most of the time.

BECAUSE, on top of the heist, was this grand space battle. Now, this is possibly my favourite grand space battle of all time. It had everything in it and for the first time, Y-Wings are important.

Big up to Y-Wing, motherfuckers! Fuck the X-Wing retards. Y-Wing forever!

But where's the A-Wing interceptors? Books no longer canon? Fuck, man. And what the fuck is a U-Wing?

The giant space battle was tactical and great. There's just one problem - its placement in the movie.

We've seen how another movie separated the best spectacle from the climax without diminishing the stakes in the climax at all. I'm talking Captain America: Civil War, bitch!

In Civil War, the airport scene, which is the best fight scene and the biggest spectacle, happened somewhere in the middle. The giant space war should have happened somewhere in the middle and leave the fucking heist alone.

And then the heist was when each of the characters died one by one.

The most pathetic was when Jyn hugged her Emergency Boyfriend as destruction nears. That relationship was as hot as Rey and Finn and a hug was fortunately not a pay-off and nonsensical.

You know, if the two had just scrounged around and found a carbonite thingy and frozen themselves in carbonite and get blown into space so that in Episode 8 or 9, somebody would thaw them and we can have Rey and Jyn back to back as the female Luke and Han Solo, that would have been the greatest thing ever!

But no. They died.

I think.

I don't care.

That's a major problem. I cared about Rey. I don't care what others think, but I like Rey. I thought I'd love Jyn, but I don't.

I wanted this movie to be good. And it delivers great fun at times. But when I think of what it could have been, the only thing I can do is quote Donald Trump. Sad.

2/5 - you know you'll throw your money at it anyway, regardless what anyone says. And it is worth it, for the Y-Wings alone!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Desolasi

Coming at the heels of Apprentice, Hanyut and Interchange, Desolasi didn't seem like it could gain any attention or acclaim from the more urban crowd.

However, the urban crowd and film buffs would ignore or write off this flick at their own peril. Because despite all its problems - and Desolasi has many - this film firmly cements Syafiq Yusof's credibility as a filmmaker, if his earlier movies haven't already.

We'll get to that soon enough. First, the synopsis.

Time Enough at Last

Desolasi tells of a man in descent. Syamsul Yusof plays Aiman, who was born with a mysterious illness that was not explained at the beginning of the movie. He was abused by his father, and his life went down a spiral of despair.

He often prays to God to take all his problems away, asking, "Why me? Why me?".

 One day, he wakes up and finds that he is alone in the world. The whole of KL was empty. Petaling Street, Batu Caves, everywhere Aiman could reach on his motorcycle was devoid of humans.

This was the mystery box - why is he there? What happened? Is it fantasy? A morality fable? Sci fi? A tumor in his brain was my very first guess.

The concept is similar to a Twilight Zone episode - Time Enough at Last in 1959. It's like how Interchange draws from the same vein that inspired another Twilight Zone episode, Still Life.

Unfortunately, the story was not revealed in this linear fashion. It was told in medias res - it starts in the middle. Then we have flashbacks to his birth, and then intercuts between the world with no people and flashbacks to what got Aiman to this world.

A Sermon in Thunder

The main problem I have with the movie, and I'm sure most of my friends would experience the same challenge - is the amount of preaching done throughout the movie.

The first five minutes alone was an indicator to the rest of the movie as Aiman narrates about how humanity is devoured by greed and how we have lost touch with God and prayer.

This is consistent throughout the movie, so if you want to watch it and don't like being preached at, you would need to learn to filter all the preachiness, which is a large part of the movie.

I, for one, do not appreciate any form of religious message anywhere, so I assumed the preaching was not for me.

If you get rid of all that, or if you can tune them out altogether, what remains is pretty good.

12 Angry Men

Aiman demonstrates mostly only two emotions - angry and angrier. This is almost his entire character, but he does it well.

Aiman's confrontations with his father are delightfully visceral and realistic. It is like the villain Keting from the Bohsia movies demonstrating his anger towards an imam in front of the mosque.

Any scenes with anger in this movie feels heightened, sometimes cartoonish, perhaps, but in a good way.

His descent into despair and the fury that he internalises are delightfully portrayed with cuts to what he really thinks versus what's happening in real life.

In fact, this entire movie, and perhaps Skop Productions' offerings in the past 10 years could be summed up with the phrase, "Nah, ambik ko!" and then pressing the face of the audience onto whatever is on screen  - boobs, cars, guns, special effects or even religious messaging.

The amount of derivative special effects shots and scenes in this movie is astounding, with no clear cohesion of styles. They had a spaceship, some fish, a fucking dinosaur, Skop Productions stock machine gun effects, and some that look like they were lifted from commercials.

It's as if they just raided the final year projects of students of a multimedia college somewhere and plonked in as many as they could into Desolasi.

It is vulgar, but a vulgarity done in earnest. It's a very vulgar and angry movie - something only young filmmakers are capable of doing.

The anger that we see in Aiman is perhaps compensating for something. The need to fortify yourself or your ego with enough audacity before doing anything artistic can be masked well with anger or other things such as arrogance.

Mystery Box

Anyway, back to the story.

Aside from Aiman berating his father, the thing I enjoyed most watching this movie was guessing where did all the people go?

The movie did a wonderful job keeping me guessing, because I can't dismiss anything. The filmmakers displayed that they were willing to do shit and take the story to parts unknown, and tell whatever fuck kind of story that suits their fancy, with no apologies and I couldn't predict what the was going to happen next.

Nevertheless, I had my theories for the disappearance of everyone and here they are, almost chronologically, while watching the movie:

1. Cancer. Brain tumor.

2. Fable. God REALLY did send him to a world with no one in it.

3. Alternate universe

4. He's part of an experiment.

5. The Matrix

6. Vanilla Sky

7. Sony trying to come up with the next gen VR console and Aiman is roped in to create angry AI, for the boss fights.

Yeah. It's like that.

The answer is, surprisingly, a little bit of everything on the list. It is as silly and dumb as anything Damon Lindelof has ever done. If you hate Damon Lindelof, you will probably hate this as well.

Narrative Momentum 

Filmmakers use visuals and dialogue to move the story forward. Using only dialogues is the weaker technique, unless you have really great lines.

Desolasi doesn't really rely on dialogue but each scene carries a kinetic energy that drives itself forward, no matter how silly everything is.

It helps that the filmmakers have balls to do this story, at the risk of alienating their own fanbase and/or receiving ridicule from the more 'cultured' KLites.

Nitpicking

Syamsul Yusof has absolutely dreadful taste in clothes. Everything must have their brands or logos extra large and plastered in front. I think if Ralph Lauren designed a flag with his logo on it, Syamsul would be the first to buy and wave it around.

Also, for some reason, some people hate Syamsul Yusof just for being Syamsul Yusof. Maybe he rubs people the wrong way or there is retribution in effect - I don't know.

I do believe casting an unknown would have been better for the movie.

I also would much prefer if the story had been told in a classic linear fashion, because some of the most interesting parts of the movie is what Aiman does as he discovers that the world is devoid of people.

Conclusion

In the end, Desolasi is messy, preachy, silly and sometimes dumb. Despite all this, and because of its audacity, honesty and earnestness in crafting, it didn't annoy me at all. I can overlook the preachiness and the silliness and the oversized logos because in some moments, Desolasi was fun. It looked like the filmmakers also had fun doing it and that translates better than anything, usually.


2/5

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Interchange

Exiting the cinema after watching Interchange, I was overcome with intense anger. It has been a week and I have calmed down a lot.

This is me being personal: I was cheering for this movie. I wanted it to be good. Dain Said is my favourite Malaysian director for Bunohan, which I think is the best Malaysian movie ever made. So regardless how Interchange was going to turn out, I still consider him as number one.

At least until some other director makes a better movie than Bunohan, which, looking at some of the stuff that will come out, is not that far away.

I also know some personal friends who worked on the movie and I wanted to say nice things about their work.

Plus, 2016 has been a horrible year for a lot of people. The energy I have been sensing is mean-spirited and sometimes stupid or evil, which are basically the same things. I just needed to see some glimmer of hope, and I wanted Interchange - yes, a movie - to show me some hope.

BUT.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths, Synopsis first. Synopsis first.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
(As if it makes any difference.)

Interchange is about a series of gruesome murders that leave the victims drained of blood, with their veins and arteries on the outside. There are puncture wounds on the bodies, and tribal beads or something beneath their eyelids, plus feathers of extinct birds at the scene of all the crimes.

Detektif Man (Shaheizy Sam) is investigating the murders in his suit, because this is not Malaysia, but a city called Metropolis without Superman, and he ropes in forensic photographer Adam (Iedil Putra).

For a murder mystery, there is only one group of suspects working together - Iva (Prisia Nasution) , Belian (Nicolas Saputra), Sani (Nadiya Nisaa) and a guy running a photo shop (Chew Kin Wah).

Seeing Red

In short, I can say the movie is visually stunning. And nothing else.

There are some shots that are just splendid. One in particular had Adam (Iedil Putra) and Iva (Prisia Nasution) standing on the balconies of their apartments, facing each other. So close (just two elevator rides away) and yet so far. That's just brilliant work from Dain and cinematographer Jordan Wei.

Adam's introduction as he wakes up to a collage of photos he has been taking - all of the people 'trapped' in the modern birdcage that is urban living, the motif of bars and isolation to further reinforce the idea that these people are captive to something. It's just beautiful.

The neo-noir shots are good - the mood is all great and dark and whatever. The tribal stuff is cool. The locations made to look nothing like what they really are. All signs of expert handling of the camera.

There is really a lot of thought, care and effort put into these shots. I almost wish I had watched the movie with the sound muted.

Because everything else sucked. Like, really bad.

The Sound and the Fury

First up, the dialects. Was this supposed to be Sabah? Sarawak? Some weird amalgamation of the two states? Adam talks like a Sabahan with brain damage, which he could actually be. Detektif Man speaks KL BM. Iva and Nicolas Saputra sounds Indonesian, but maybe I'm biased.

Sani, though, sounded like she was channeling Siti Tanjung Perak. A most disconcerting inconsistency of dialects.

The characters are not characters - they are symbols. They don't talk like normal humans, they don't really move like you or me and the acting was stilted and awkward with no chemistry whatsoever. The dialogue was horrible simply because they are not what human characters would say and don't say things how humans would say it. They mouth off these lines because they are merely symbols - puppets for a concept.

This is crucial because halfway through the movie, I couldn't care less if all of them were attacked by Alfred Hitchcock's birds from The Birds or Big Bird from Sesame Street. When the audience can't empathise with the characters - because they are not human - then there's a big problem IF you want people to care about the stakes and the story.

Staking the Plot

Which I suspect the film doesn't want you to. Because there are no stakes whatsoever. And there isn't much of a story. There are so many holes in the plot, it hinders any suspension of disbelief. In fact, the suspension of disbelief was more on how could it be this nonsensical?

There was a scene when Adam first went into the evidence room of Metropolis PD. He just went in and flipped a few boxes over, until the lone security person who was manning the place came back and told him to knock it off.

Really? A police evidence room less guarded than my old high school library? Seriously? I had to do some Jason Bourne shit to steal books from my high school library. Even made some oversized pockets for my bespoke pants early in the year.

Anyway, consider this evidence room scene with the documents room scene in Apprentice. In Apprentice, you feel the fear of being caught, the claustrophobia and whatever intense emotion enclosed in just a tiny space. In Interchange, it was like "what the fuck are these boxes doing here, man?" And Adam did those things with no repercussion.

There are so many things that don't make sense, and it's not just a man turning into a bird like in Manimal.

The reveal was that the 'victims' of these murders were tribal people whose photos were taken by some white dudes. Because they believe that their souls are captured, their souls REALLY are captured in the photo plates and they become immortals.

And after a mere century, they are all emo tribal goths trying to end their lives because life is so unbearable. Really? After a measly 100 years? There are people today who have lived over 100 years. If you ask them today, would they want to die, I predict most would say no.

If it was 1,000 years, then yes, I believe that is plausible but then there would be no cameras back then. But I don't want to live that long anyway, so yeah, let's give that the benefit of the doubt.

And then, if you REALLY wanted to ensure your ritualistic suicide is not interrupted by, say, the police, you can just gather everyone in a warehouse or a secluded retreat and kill everyone, one by one.

Adam was roped in by a femme fatale (Iva) for absolutely no reason. Detektif Man, and Shaheizy Sam gave the most believable performance,  also at one point said, "You can take anyone else, but not Adam!"

WHY?

No relationship that would prompt such an outburst so close to the 'climax' was ever hinted at. Was it homosexual? Pedagogical? Financial, maybe? I dunno, man. Seems weird.

I was half-expecting Detektif Man (for mankind, maybe? How the normal man can't possibly fathom the intricate symbolism of these characters) to turn into a tiger and reveal Adam is the Chosen One who could kill immortals like him.

And then we'd have a Birdman vs Were-tiger thing in our hands and I would watch the shit out of that movie.

Some scenes are seared into my brain. Like how Iva awkwardly dropped a tribal knife in front of Adam. It was made to be so deliberate, I just. I just can't. Running out of steam here.

Nitpicking

Talking about steam... never mind. If you have too many plot holes, and all movies have them, the audience will stop focusing on the story and start picking on details. And there were so many to pick.

Iva had this thing about ice. She would chew on them, ask for them but NEVER ran the ice cubes down her body. What the fuck? Was she trying to be sensual? Signifying that she is so organic and passionate inside even though her outside demeanour could freeze your weekly groceries?

Then there's Belian. He's some sort of totem or God and his name seems to indicate him as either a diamond (in the rough?), or a dowry or some shit you buy.

In the end, the story of Interchange could have been about how we are all trapped in modernisation, colonialisation and whatnot, and the only way out is to let a birdman suck all your blood and take you to the skies. Perhaps the skies refer to lofty artistic ideals?

I am left disappointed with Interchange. But that's my fault. I had unrealistic expectations that it could never fulfill. I wanted it to be a movie and not an art-piece that by right should have been muted.

1/5

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hanyut: A Review Before I Forget

I had high hopes for Hanyut, along with Interchange. And we all pay for our expectations.

I mean, with an RM18 million budget, one of the most renowned directors Malaysia has ever seen at the helm, plus one of the best Malaysian actresses to have ever graced the silver screen, what could go wrong?

The answer, seems to be everything.

First, there are vicious behind-the-scenes stories that are even more swashbuckling than the tale and the characters in the movie. The fact that it premiered in Indonesia first despite being made in part with Malaysian taxpayer dollars has always been puzzling to me.

The movie was reportedly:


produced using the accumulation of a RM10 million loan from Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), a RM6 million grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and a RM2 million investment from FINAS. 
- Source


That's enough money to make 36 bad Malaysian movies or three mediocre ones.

The buzz around the film festivals where it was shown was not that encouraging, and it even had two Facebook pages promoting it. One in English that stopped being active in 2013 or so and another that started right after that. Wonder what's the story behind that.

Anyway, after getting rid of a dreadful early poster and shelving all the backstage shenanigans, the film was finally going to open in Malaysia... to lacklustre fanfare.

Promotions for movies such as The Journey, Polis Evo and Ola Bola were so potent that you couldn't help but notice them. Granted, this cost millions of dollars but for a movie that cost RM18 million, Hanyut didn't even have a premiere or gala night, did they? This is something even small movies like Pecah had.

Anyway, though the tale of the making of Hanyut will entertain and confound humanity for decades on end, let's look at the film itself.

Hanyut is based on Joseph Conrad's Almayer's Folly. An early novel about a Dutch man in a Borneo jungle, looking for gold.

The movie starts quite promisingly, with a scene of Mem (Datin Sofia Jane) having her daughter Nina forcibly separated from her by her husband Kaspar Almayer (Peter O'Brien).

It seems, however, that the character Mem was broken from this point on to become a cackling, mentally-disturbed woman. And that's all she is. A bitter, spiteful hag who doesn't look like a hag because Sofia is a stunning woman.

Her talents are wasted as she gives a performance perhaps more suitable for a stage play rather than a movie. The emphasized words and manner of speaking feels so put on. The fact that she looks to be almost bursting out in tears in most scenes is quite disappointing, having known the actress' capabilities on screen and on stage with earlier roles.

Almayer's quests are trying to find the mountain of gold Mem's father had told him about AND finding a place for himself. Almayer's very obvious longing for home is shown with his constant talk of moving back to the Netherlands even though he has never been there, having been born in Singapore.

This was also represented as the unfinished construction of a grand house he wishes to live in. The house is called Almayer's Folly by some white people - as in it is a folly to try and build something like that in a Borneo jungle. However, this point, that is the title of the book it was based on, is hardly explored further than one or two throwaway lines.

Key to Almayer's plot to find the gold is his dealings with a Malay prince - Dain Something-Something (Adiputra). Now Dain (or Daeng? Ahaaaaa) is also seen as a pirate to some. Almayer needs Dain to go on an expedition to find the mountain of gold

There are other players in the fray - Raja Ibrahim (El Manik) and his deputy Orang Kaya Tinggi (Khalid Salleh), Abdullah (Alex Komang) and nephew Sayed Rashid (Bront Palarae) some white guys (the British) and oddly-enough, a scorned kuih-seller.

When an older Nina (Diana Danielle) arrives from Singapore, things get more complicated as Dain takes a liking to her and arranges to take her away with support from Mem, behind Almayer's back.

Sayed Rashid tried to marry Nina early on but was refused by Almayer. This plot point lead to absolutely nothing and Sayed and uncle Abdullah remains in the story as the designated assholes for the rest of the movie.

Nina is a character shown to have inherited her parents' longing for a home, like her father, albeit for a family with no more fighting as well as a sense of having been betrayed, like her mother.

Diana did a decent job, but there's nothing here to shout about. Dain's character seems intriguing in the beginning but in the end turned out to just be that. He is a schemer shifting between Raja Ibrahim and Almayer and that is good, for a while. His dialogue with OKT and Raja Ibrahim are some of the best in the movie, especially with the use of indirect language.

However, pity Adiputra as the movie deemed it necessary to subtitle his speech in English but not sub any of the white people. His accent is not atrocious or hardly noticeable at all,  or the Singaporean education system has failed as much as the Malaysian one. For a movie that shows how Malays dealt with the colonialists in the past, it seems to also demonstrate how we deal with them today.

Back to the story. Throw in a murder, gunpowder, treason and plot, and you have the ingredients for a very good Hallmark movie.

Unfortunately, the movie never managed to harness all these things or even go firmly in any direction for the characters or the story. Almayer's revelations about his motivations are patchy at best, and shifts between going back to the Netherlands and finishing his goddamned house. Decide, man! Or shift and make the shift noticeable. Or show you pivot between the two as a man on the brink of shattering his dreams and losing all hope.

Things are hinted at and not force-fed to the audience, sure, but it is like a run on sentence with no punctuation. Just like most of this review.

It was like the whole project was a nasi lemak with chicken chop wrapped together in banana leaf way too small to contain it. You end up with quite a mess.

2/5 stars.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ulasan Filem: Apprentice

Masa diajak pergi tengok filem Apprentice daripada Singapura beberapa minggu lepas, aku fikir dua benda je:

1. Alaaa, satu lagi filem artsy-fartsy yang akan membuatkan aku tertido.

2. Mesti buat lawak Donald Trump dalam The Apprentice.

Sebaliknya, apa yang aku tengok malam ni ialah sebuah filem yang amat kemas dan menyebabkan keyakinan aku pada filem aku sendiri goyah.

Ya, keyakinan aku pada filem aku sendiri semakin menurun sebab dua hari sebelum ini, aku menonton The Handmaiden karya Park Chan-wook. The Handmaiden ialah filem Korea paling hebat pernah aku tengok, dan aku dah tengok empat - satu kerja yang sukar sebab aku tak suka filem Korea sangat. Aku terpaksa menonton pelbagai filem buruk yang lain supaya keyakinan aku kembali ke aras lama - terlebih yakin.

Lepas tu aku pergi tengok pulak Apprentice. Lepas ni mungkin kena tengok lagi banyak filem buruk untuk jadi orang yang terlebih yakin kembali.

Anyway, Apprentice mengisahkan Aiman (Fir Rahman), seorang mamat penjaga penjara yang mula menjadi apprentice kepada seorang algojo atau hangman bernama Rahim (Wan Hanafi Su). Misteri latarbelakang Aiman mula dibongkar sedikit demi sedikit dan rupanya dia ialah anak kepada seorang penjenayah yang hukuman matinya dilaksanakan oleh Rahim.

Kalau pondan review filem ni, mesti dia tengok watak Aiman pastu jerit, "Mo-TIF?!" dan itu antara misteri filem ini - apa yang Aiman hendak sebenarnya? Balas dendam macam dalam filem Korea? Rebel menentang bapak dia yang memang penjenayah, atau nakkan jawatan algojo yang menjamin gaji lebih banyak?

Aiman tidak menjelaskan identiti dan latarbelakangnya pada tempat dia kerja - satu kesalahan yang berisiko. Jadi wujudlah satu keadaan 'kejar-mengejar setempat' antara Aiman yang mengejar butiran kematian bapanya dan pendirian mereka yang melaksana hukuman mati, Rahim pula mula mengesyaki Aiman selepas pada awalnya melayan Aiman seperti anak sendiri.

Filem ini mempertaruhkan hubungan dan interaksi antara Aiman dan Rahim, yang memang menjadi. Menonton Rahim yang membunuh ayah Aiman, menjadi ayah ganti kepada anak muda itu amat 'warm', sedih, dan mengujakan pada masa yang sama. Ini satu pencapaian penceritaan, arahan dan lakonan yang hebat. Satu emosi rumit dengan pintalan perasaan yang berkelumit antara satu sama lain.

Perasaan dalam penjara yang menjadi salah satu tema filem juga memang dapat dirasai, dengan kongkongan ruang dan penataan cahaya, mencerminkan watak-watak yang semuanya terperangkap dalam penjara masing-masing.

Aiman dengan motif atau tujuan yang kabur, juga rahsia yang dikandungnya mengikat perlakuan dan pergerakannya yang sedia mengikut disiplin ketenteraan yang mencengkam. Rasa bersalah Rahim yang telah melaksanakan hukuman mati ke atas mungkin ratusan banduan - satu perasaan yang disembunyikan dengan baik tetapi akhirnya terserlah dalam beberapa babak. Kakak Aiman yang terperangkap dalam peranan wanita Asia yang mengutamakan keluarga.

Tema kongkongan, ikatan dan pemenjaraan juga ditonjolkan dalam pelbagai alatan plot. Antaranya kabinet yang menjadi tempat Aiman bersembunyi ketika kecil - melambangkan persembunyiannya daripada hakikat dan dunia luar.

Konfrantasi Aiman dan Rahim dibuat dengan amat baik, penuh emosi dan sarat kenyataan sosio-politik tetapi mengekalkan gaya yang amat amat masuk akal. Dengarlah dialog semasa pertembungan mereka yang terakhir - jarang kau dengar Bahasa Melayu digunakan dengan amat berkesan dan bersahaja untuk isu yang rumit.

Pengakhiran cerita ini juga sudah sempurna, dengan konflik Aiman sepanjang cerita dikitarkan sekali lagi dalam masa yang lebih singkat dan padu. Pilihan setiap watak dengan penjara mereka di akhir Apprentice sememangnya buah yang berbaloi ditunggu selama lima tahun pembikinan filem ini.

Ada beberapa benda saja yang aku mahu tetapi tak dapat daripada filem ini. Antaranya, aku mahukan Rahim menjadi seperti Christoph Waltz dalam Inglorious Basterds apabila dia memberitahu Aiman yang dia sudah tahu rahsia Aiman dalam satu plot twist, dan bukannya ditunjukkan bagaimana dia mendapat tahu rahsia Aiman. Tetapi ini cuma personal preference.

Lepas habis tengok, dan mendengar susah-payah serta cabaran yang pengarahnya Boo Junfeng hadapi, serta kepandaian Junfeng menyelesaikannya, aku terus rasa rendah diri - satu emosi yang asing buat aku.

Maksud aku, fuck, ini barulah filem. Skrip aku tulis semua frivolous stories. Tapi lepas tu aku fikir, "Aku nak impress sapa ni?" Dan aku pun sedar yang semua orang tak berguna, jadi aku pun rasa best dengan diri sendiri balik dan boleh rekomen filem ni kat semua orang tanpa rasa terancam.

Pasal isu capital punishment atau hukuman mati, aku sebenarnya fikir sesiapa yang dipenjara wajar diberi pilihan sama ada hendak terus dipenjarakan atau memilih hukuman bunuh menerusi suntikan morfin yang banyak.

Aku tak fikir nyawa itu penting kalau kehidupan kau penuh kesakitan, tapi itu hanya aku dan belum tentu aku akan memilih kematian berbanding hidup penuh kesakitan.

Tak, aku memang akan pilih overdose morfin. Tapi itu hanya aku, dan aku tau apa aku mahu.

Apprentice membuat aku fikir pasal penulisan skrip aku, pasal filem, pasal nasib Interchange yang mungkin terpaksa berlawan dengan filem ini di sesetengah festival, pasal capital punishment dan pasal melepasi halangan membuat projek kreatif dengan cara yang bijak. Ini petanda karya yang bagus. Bukanlah filem terbaik dalam sejarah Asia Tenggara, tetapi memang antara Lima Terpenting.

Pergilah tengok filem Apprentice di beberapa panggung GSC (International Screens) sekitar Malaysia. Filem ni artsy-fartsy, jadi tak banyak panggung. Tolonglah pergi tengok. Layari www.gsc.com.my.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Eye of Paranoia

Imagine if Donald Trump follows through with his promises. He bans Muslims, deports millions of them, and helps set Baitul Muqaddis as the new capital of Israel.

Meanwhile, China endorses East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, pouring billions into building it, leading a reluctant coalition of Sunni Muslim countries.

Russia courts the Shiite Muslims.

China invests in South East Asia, getting support for its claim of the South China Sea.

France and later Germany join the right-wing club with UK and US as new Governments are voted in.

Certain Asian leaders begin to be targeted by the US. China calls foul and defends the leaders. Trump doesn't back down.

The first missiles were not even noticed by most people and most countries.

The winter that year brought a harvest of slightly radioactive potatoes. But who harvests in winter?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Psycho-Babble

They say many things. They say that how you treat others reveal a lot about yourself. I find this to be true.

People who want to threaten other people often try to scare them with what they themselves are most scared of. Physical violence. Financial ruin. Public humiliation. Depending on what they threaten others with, reveals what he or she is most afraid of, most of the time.

People like me, always conscious and paranoid of others psycho-analysing them, would always give false trails.

They say also that in order for you to not be angry or irritated at people, you have to understand them. Look at things from their eyes, from inside their heads, their souls.

For years - decades now - I have always been annoyed by people who try to get you to seek their approval.

These primitives use a tired and popular technique - they lambast or put down whatever you're doing, focusing on how what they think of the issue or subject at hand is paramount to whatever is supposedly desired by the target.

Consider a subject - Lisa - studying ballet, doing an arabesque perfectly. In comes Maya who proclaims, "I will only acknowledge you as a dance genius if you could do a grand jete perfectly!"

This is extremely stupid, because while executing an arabesque perfectly is nothing, so is a jete. And doing both will not make one a dance genius.

What we can see from this exchange is Maya, trying to dominate the relationship between her and Lisa by positioning her approval and acknowledgement as the main goal for Lisa. This is Maya inflating the value of her views and approval on Lisa's own self-image and whatever else.

I am not a trained psychopath, so I have no idea what this is called. I just know that it is an extremely primitive and basic attempt at manipulation.

If we study Maya's motivations, it could be caused by any number of things.

For one, Maya could be Lisa's trainer so it is true that Lisa should probably listen to her words and try to do a grand jete as per her teacher's instructions. Lisa must remember that her sense of self-worth should not be tied to anything Maya says or thinks, despite whatever relationship they have.

Another possibility is that Maya could be trying to compete with Lisa for a role, the attentions of an ambiguously gay man, food or shelter. Her primitive brain started competing with Lisa on all levels, until her mouth simply blurted out what was in her brain.

Lisa could want Maya's approval, or she could be totally oblivious to Maya's views. That is her choice.

This is all fascinating to me. How insecurities are infectious and the only way to survive and not allow the insecurities to infect your soul, is to stand there and allow the ego size fluctuation to pass.

Yes. The answer is to not have any reaction whatsoever.

The primitives will try again and again. But while energy and time are limited to all physical bodies, space - which is what you are when you remove yourself from the equation - is vast and infinite.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Malaysian Psycho

A lot of dumbass people on the Malaysian Twitter scene were talking about depression and other mental illnesses. And I was like, you fuckers don't know shit.

So I consulted a real-life psychologist. Cause fuck you and your dumbass parents and grandparents. I kill you so hard, your ancestors will die.

Me: Hello, psychologist.

Psychologist: Hello, psychopath.

Me: Now that we got the formalities out of the way, here's my question: what do we do with crazy people? Kill them, yes?

P: Define crazy people.

Me: Republicunts, of course. Politicians in general. And... yeah, how about that most mild of mental illnesses - depression? It's like having a cold, right? Take some oranges and sugar and you'll be okay.

P: What do you want? What kind of insight?

Me: Clinical.

P: Drugs.

Me: Really? What kind? I want to die of a morphine overdose at some point. Morphine - it's grrrreat!

P: Nah, I mean, treatment for mental illnesses is drugs.

Me: Lucky bastards. Okay. So what can normal people - cause people with mental illnesses are freaks - do for them? Cause we normals are so fucking cool and shit.

P: Well - depression - yes? Get them to focus on one thing. One goal.

Me: Like 1Malaysia?

P: No, like, quilting. Or writing a book. Or do something. Takes the focus away from the bullshit funk they're in. But it must not be something they think they are good at.

Me: Like if I get depressed, my one thing can't be fucking thousands of beautiful girls? Because having sex is how I define my self-worth and ego.

P: Yes.. I mean, no, ah... yes. It has to be something like a project.

Me: Lego? DnD? Drawing?

P: Yes.

Me: I see. Because idiots peg their value and sense of self-worth on things they do, doing those things as the one goal could trigger their dumbass depression again, yes? Tell me I'm a genius.

P: You are truly a genius.

Me: Of course. So anyway, what is the worst type of support you can give these depressed lunatics?

P: You mean, if you want them to keep their depression? Molly-coddling them.

Me: Ah, meaning? Telling them they're great? Telling them not to listen to those who 'make them feel depressed' and only focus on those who 'make them feel happy'? Because feelings are just a shadow-play created by the brain, hooked on endorphin, dopamine, serotonin...

P: Uhhh...

Me: And love is equivalent to eating lots and lots of chocolate?

P: Errr...

Me: Because this would prevent them from developing the skills necessary to face the world in general? It creates personality disorders that center their sense of ego and self-worth on validation and they then become addicted to attention, sympathy and a host of other things that could manifest in a deviant, manipulative persona that could also hurt others?

P: Hey, psychopath, you are NOT a certified mental health expert. SO you shouldn't-

Me: That's all the time we have today. Join us next week when we discuss the female G-spot  - myth or the Whipple's Tipple.

And that was the conversation I had with a health expert.

I myself suffer from some form of anxiety. Social, perhaps. Paranoia, definitely. I have a distinct aversion to anyone trying to mess with my brain or manipulate me. My response mechanism over the years is, once exposing the manipulation attempts, is to destroy everything.

This stems from my own insecurities about my intelligence that has manifested in me working very hard all my life to remain smarter than everyone else. And I am. I am the Greatest Mind of the 21st Century.

This is why it is difficult for me to form attachments with people, because most people have insecurities and trust issues that compel them to try and control other people through whatever way. I work in the media, and most of the primitive side of the industry is trying to control and manipulate people's behavior through communication.

Think of communication as some sort of programming language for people and you get the sense of deluded grandeur and self-importance these people have.

I have spent most of my life now, understanding people and what I have uncovered validates my misanthrope.

I also keep a very small circle of friends - people I deem as more sincere and secure than others.

I'm still a chronic approval-seeker. My anxiety issues compelled me to smoke and overeat until I had a heart attack that nearly killed me two years ago. I deal with these things on a daily basis. I wake up and I tune my mind. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have several projects to focus on. Not for my depression, because I am the best at what I do. I do not attach my sense of self to these things. That, I save for porn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mr Boron - World's Most Boring Man

So I had today all planned. There are some plumbing maintenance at my apartment, so they said there wouldn't be water till tonight.

I thought I'd go for a morning meeting, then spend time at my alumni's clubhouse, to use their swimming pool and restaurant.

I handled a few issues on my way to the meeting and felt like I was kicking ass on my daily chores and projects.

Then, in the middle of the meeting, I got an email saying something I thought I was done and over with a month ago resurfaced with new requirements. And that this information was not given to me in the past few weeks, because. Just fucking because.

This, threw all my plans out the window. I had to go home, hunker down and see if I could settle everything before the end of the working day.

Luckily, I was with a friend so I unloaded my anger and hatred - with the intensity of a thousand suns - how everyone is stupid but me, how I am a genius trapped in a dumb human society. I went on for about 15 minutes. And then I felt better.

On my way back, I decided to say yes to all the other things I said no to today because I had set today aside for just one meeting, some emails and a whole lot of swimming.

Now, I get to settle my water heather issue, go for another meeting at 8pm, work on two proposals, wrangle around two quotations and do a bunch more stuff.

This also means that tomorrow morning, I need to go and get some stuff binded and then sent somewhere, before my long lunch engagement.

I need to watch it. This is how I got the heart attack last time.

This is also why I can't take on any other job in the next three months. I'm full for the year. Plus, some projects look set for six months next year and there are ongoing things that need my attention.

I say this with gratitude. After my heart attack in 2014, I thought it would be almost impossible to work or get a job or do my projects like last time. I concentrated on recovery for a few months before a kind soul offered me a job. Worked at it for a year plus and then quit to focus on my business endeavours.

My businesses are very small. Almost miniscule. I know this after working with some big ass companies with revenue by the billions, employing thousands of people. The things that I do now are microscopic in comparison.

And yet I am happier than I have ever been. I still get angry, usually at the same old shit. People withholding information for no goddamn reason, especially. But I'm more or less okay.