December 08, 2007

Another Real Movie

Dr. X posts this from a Porsche in Orchard Road:

"If you get the chance, Singapore Dreaming is a very worthwhile movie. Cinematically speaking, of course, Singapore is to Hong Kong as Gary Coleman is to Shaquille O'Neal. To lengthen the odds, this was basically a first film for the creative team.

"But there is a certain democratic power to movies. It is possible, if you make a film about something you know, in a place you know, it might stand up for a long time. As the critic Anton Ego says in Ratatouille, 'not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.'

"Singapore is peculiar for a lot of reasons, and it is hard to imagine another place that has much in common with it. Maybe New York, a bit... Like New York it is a crowded city on an island, a financial center, with a middle class work ethic verging on the suicidal. But unlike New York, Singapore has no apparent outlet for all that neurotic energy. It's not a party town. If, for some reason, you imagined life to be more than the famous five C's of Singapore - cash, career, car, condo, credit card - you'd be challenged to do much about it. And, as the film notes, there is a 6th C: coffin.

"Another appealing thing: Singapore Dreaming puts out a bit of Chinese slackerism. Hong Kong cinema, like Hollywood, generally presents shiny people in new cars and nice condos. But this film shows you life the way it looks. In a recent interview one of the directors said: 'There is this work hard enough you will achieve middle class existence...and that's not really the truth.'

"I imagine that most of Asia is where the U.S. was in the 50s - entranced like by middle-class pleasures, but dimly aware of the absence of something...something that if you don't get it, eventually you go totally nuts. As evidence, I submit this film as Exhibit #A. It's quite good.

"In October Singapore Dreaming won the Best Asian/Middle-Eastern Film Award at the 20th Tokyo International Film Festival."

"[Addendum: Sorry, forgot this in the initial post. Think of it as The Graduate meets Chan is Missing.]


Blogger First Sea Lord said...

A thoughtful essay. I have this horror that Singapore is the foreshadowing of a joyless, highly controlled, empty consumerist future, which may not be fair to either America or Singapore, but it's good to hear someone's awake.

December 8, 2007 at 8:54 AM  

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