31 August 2006

Cinema: Singapore Dreaming

This film by Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen, boasting fine acting and sure-footed direction, is an exploration of the way we see a good life as one underpinned by consumerism and status. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

the filmmakers have improved their techniques, but too many things are too sensitive so they may have no stories to make films with

unlike blogging, filmmaking requires money, and who would bankroll a movie if there is risk of being banned in the home market?

rezipping said...

Although I have high regard for your ideology, I am sorry to say that your appreciation of movies and films has failed to impress me ever since you raved about Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together in one of your emails.

Nevertheless, I caught Singapore Dreaming last evening after reading your review of the movie, but partly because I wanted to see how I could disagree with your review.

I really liked it. There was a good mix of funny, sad and thought-provoking bits and on the whole, it was very entertaining to watch. I especially liked Yeo Yann Yann's portrayal of the eldest daughter, Mei, who was very real, multi-dimensional and who was the sole reason Ma's decision at the end worked for the film.

I don't agree that Singapore Dreaming, being a narrative film, lacked a central character. The central character was Ma. Unfortunately, the subtle nature of her character was hidden in the midst of the other louder, more glaring members. But her ritualistic marketing, cleaning, brewing of "liang teh" was in itself a counterpoint to the idea that all Singaporeans are after the 5 C's. There, in our own family, might be a living example of a self-sacrificing woman whose ideals are much higher and more honourable than any of ours, yet how much respect do we entreat her?

You might say then that the film should have placed more emphasis on the central character than the setting, that the film has focused too much commenting about family's materialistic pursuit of the 5 C's so much so that the narrative has lost its backbone. But I think rather than a downside, this trend of Singapore films having a strong commenting voice about the local social realities is a healthy one for the local industy. From Eric Khoo's repressed PAP supporter in 12 Storeys to Jack Neo's unmotivated EM3 students in I Not Stupid and now the materialistic HDB dwellers in Singapore Dreaming, local films have been growing with this very unique style. Rather than saying that our films need to follow certain narrative formula elsewhere, we should instead develop this unique characteristic in our local films.

cocoa bean said...

I watched Singapore Dreaming last saturday after reading it about it in TalkingCock.com. I watched it with my mother, my sister, my husband and 2 young sons.

Even before the movie started, we could not but notice how empty the cinema was - there was no one else but us. After the show ended, we turned around and notice one couple seated way back.

My mother, my sister and I were really excited to watch the show having read very good reviews about it. My mother told me that a radio DJ claimed that he/she had watched it thrice!

When it comes to the movie itself -we watched patiently waiting for the plot to unfold, waiting for it to make a poing - but there was none. We all found it hard to sit through the move. What story was it trying to tell? We left the cinema feeling bewildered! And that we have wasted our saturday morning.