Cinta the movie

Cinta the movie posterYoung love, old love, new love, family love — CINTA explores these emotions and more in a 5 stories - in - 1 movie set in the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

At first glance, CINTA reminds you of Richard Curtis’ ‘Love Actually’ where a set of encounters and coincidences doesn’t run far from each other. Nevertheless CINTA is unique by itself, and is strengthened by the stellar performances of a few actors/actresses in the movie.

Since this is a blog and I am allowed to be biased, let me just quickly run through the 5 stories based on my favourite to my least favourite.

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Hot Car, fiery end.

This dark green Citroen Xantia caught fire beneath the LRT line at the Genting Kelang-Wangsa Maju junction at 1:24pm today. Took these pictures as the engine compartment burst into flames.

Several small explosions were heard but credit must be given to the firefighters who arrived at 1:32pm to douse the flames before the fire spread.

From smoke to flames - the engine on fire. Is this the owner of the car?

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Dude, Where’s My Bus?

After being taken for a ride by Rapid KL for more than two months, members from Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) staged a rally at the Jalan Tun Sambanthan bus stop opposite the KL Monorail Station to demand for accessible public transport on December 3. The rally was organised in conjunction with the International Day of Disabled Persons that fell on the same day.

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Champs at Bandar Utama Centrepoint

A few friends and I were supposed to play some tennis but the weather was not cooperating. We ended up at Centrepoint in Bandar Utama having to kill a couple hours. So instead of sports, we had to settle for food instead. Just to show that sometimes in life, you don’t always get what you want; spending calorie became adding calorie. God: 1, Human: 0.

Champs at Bandar Utama Centrepoint
looks exactly like a sports bar

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Movie: Love Conquers All

Love Conquers All
Love Conquers AllI’ve heard good things about this movie; that it was financially backed by the Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and that it won a couple of awards at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival. The reason for the former is simple — if your movie does not contain at least 70% of dialogue in the Malay language, forget government funding. And if other people are willing to finance your film, their faith has got to count for something in your ability as a director, a.k.a. knowing that it will not totally suck.

Similarly the latter speaks volumes; after all such accolades are not awarded lightly. At the PIFF this past October, LOVE CONQUERS ALL grabbed two awards — sharing the ‘New Currents Award’ (Best New Asian Filmmaker of the Year - “This film is using a known cinematic language in a nice way telling the life of a village girl who is going to a big city to work and face the reality and the morality of our time”) with another director, and the ‘FIPRESCI Award’ (Prize of the International Film Critics - ” for its audacious narrative structure and its intelligent work with sound and image”). Nice, very nice.

The young writer and director of LOVE CONQUERS ALL, Tan Chui Mui revealed to fellow blogger Lim Chang Moh that…

[…] the movie was inspired by a story about pimps told to her by a friend during her stint at the Multimedia University. “I was also influenced by the beauty of my hometown in Sungai Ular, near Kuantan, and I have incorporated scenes from the village,” she said. The movie was made at a RM100,000 budget.

Below is a synopsis of the movie that I shamelessly copied and pasted from the Tokyo International Film Festival website.

Small town girl Ah Ping moves to Kuala Lumpur to work in her aunt’s chicken rice stall. She encounters John at the public phone booth while making her ritual calls to her family and boyfriend back home. John follows her everywhere pursuing her fervently until she finally succumbs to him. First it transpires that he is involved in some shady deals. Then he casually reveals his familiarity with the tricks pimps use to lure girls into prostitution. When he does a disappearing act we watch helplessly as Ah Ping’s fate is sealed.

Note: It was not a chicken rice stall, but an economy rice stall. The movie was set sometime in the 80s, I am not sure if they had mobile phones back then. The main story of Ah Ping’s journey of self-discovery was slow to develop, and as it is with indie/arty movies, there are long shots of Ah Ping staring into space, as if dust mites could transmit to her vital information about the meaning of life. Actress Coral Ong Li Whei has a face that could be rather blank sometimes, so it’s perfect for these artistic moments.

The budding romance between Ah Ping and John was interesting to see, actor Stephen Chua Jyh Shyan did a commendable job playing the part of the hero-turned-baddie with a conflicting personality. The only problem I had was not with the actors, but with the storyline. In one part of the movie, John explained to Ah Ping in detail the tricks pimps use to lure girls into prostitution. So to me it was rather frustating to watch Ah Ping jumping headlong into everything that John warned her about. Love conquers all indeed, love is capable of changing a person, and it is not the type of love that I can understand.

I thought of the choices Ah Ping could have made, and the alternative paths she could have taken. I was left feeling disheartened, and I wondered about the script writer’s decision in creating the story as it is. Not that I would have preferred a fairy-tale ending, but it did make me question her intent.

Ah well, at least it was a story that made me think, eh?

Love Conquers All

The micro story focused on Ah Ping’s little cousin, Mei who corresponds with her pen-pal who lives in another part of town. I find myself very much drawn to the on-goings and development of her story which mostly depicts loneliness, and her relationship with her mother, Hong Jie (who is Ah Ping’s auntie). The chemistry between Mei, played by Leong Jiun Jiun and Hong Jie, played by Ho Chi Lai was intriguing to see, the battle of wills exhibited by both parties were frustrations of miscommunication examplified. Some of the more powerful scenes in this movie to me were the ones of Mei and Hong Jie.

I give Love Conquers All 3.95 stars out of 5. If it weren’t for the constant shaky camera movements (for some reason are vital to indie/artistic movies but gives me bad headaches) I would have given it a 4.15. Oh well.

LOVE CONQUERS ALL is written and directed by Tan Chui Mui, and produced by Amir Muhammad. The spoken language is mostly Mandarin with subtitles in English. It opens in GSC International Screens today at GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama and GSC Gurney Plaza (Penang).

Other reviews by: SwiftyPatrickLim Chang Mohyours truly.


Democracy, Low Yat style

It would be ridiculous for Microsoft to claim that there is a sudden resurgence of noise about Open Source because the community might be insecure as to the validity of their altruism. If a comparative media noise analysis were to be done, it is clear that the trumpet blows loudest from Microsoft’s new MD Yasmin Mahmood and her cohorts. I won’t be surprised that in a few months we will see some Microsoft effort in providing business opportunities for women, the way the political rhetorics have been slated in.

I don’t even blame her for it. After all, as a new broom you just have to learn how to sweep well or pay the price, even if you have to ride it occasionally. That’s just business, and she is just doing her job. The greater discussion here is not about Open Source vs. The Big Bad Wolf - although one would be inclined to think so in the scheme of things right now.

The ensuing discussion has been about the term Neutrality, and of course as some populist organisation called it, ‘Software Democracy’. I quite like the term, although for the life of me I cannot believe that software can ever be truly democratic, as in the way companies and businesses are run. What next? Employees vote for who will helm companies like TNB, Telekom Malaysia and God forbid, Microsoft?

It’s so easy to go on rhetorics about democracy and neutrality, until the stool (to borrow a term used by the medical profession) hits the fan. Then the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let’s talk about democracy to the chap who is using an Opera browser on a Mac platform trying to key in his tax returns on the LHDN website. The unfortunate sap would find that he just cannot do it.

e-hasil2.jpg

Even politicians have touted that one of the key objectives of the BILLIONS of taxpayer funds spent on information technology is the empowerment of people and businesses to enjoy a higher quality of life. The truth in the e-hasil proggie is simply that it serves to irritate the end-user, should he be using a different platfom than mentioned.

Okay, doing your taxes should not be fun. Granted.

The fact is that e-hasil is not the only one involved in this complicity. Even MDeC is not absolved from the same. The thing that needs to be looked into is the argument that ‘Neutrality’ should be really neutral, and given the examples above, no further argument are required. The point is made.

This is not about open source. Simply put, it’s about neutrality, and the democracy touted by some people is not only hollow, it’s as fake as Windows Vista that can be bought in Low Yat for five ringgit.


URGENT: Flood relief

It’s two days to Christmas and a lot of us are already enjoying our holidays.

But down South there are many families who do not have this luxury — stranded and isolated, involuntarily cut off from aid centres, their food and medical supplies are running low, and for some of the more unfortunate, non-existent.

As the waters begin to recede and a massive relief operation goes into full swing, Johor Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai issued an SOS “to all quarters to contribute food, clothing, blankets and mats“. (story link)

If you are able, please contribute to the relief effort by donating dry or canned food, CLEAN clothes, blankets and mats to aid the flood victims. You can send your donated goods to the following collection centres:

  • Puteri Umno headquarters at Putra World Trade Centre
  • Kontena Nasional premises in Seri Setia, Petaling Jaya (full address: Batu 9, Jalan Klang Lama, P.O.B. 6503 Seri Setia, 47307 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan)
  • Multipurpose hall at Parliament House

If you would like to give monetary donations, please read the following:

NSTP Flood Victims Assistance Fund

The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd has set up a fund to help flood victims in the southern peninsula.

Donations via cheque, bank draft or postal order made out to ‘NSTP Flood Victims Assistance Fund’ (Tabung Bantuan Mangsa Banjir NSTP) can be sent to: The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd, c/o Finance Department, 5th Floor, Balai Berita, 31, Jalan Riong, 59100 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur (Attention: Ms Aidah Nordin).

Kindly write on the back of the cheque donor’s name, address and contact number.

Donations to the fund can also be made at NSTP branches in Johor Baru, Klang, Alor Star, Batu Pahat, Ipoh, Kota Baru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Kuching, Malacca, Muar, Penang and Seremban, or its regional printing plants in Shah Alam, Prai, Senai and Ajil.

Thank you.


Better things to come with passing of new Bill?

THE Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Bill 2006, aimed at reducing maintenance and management problems of strata property owners, was recently passed to protect the rights of buyers of common property such as high-rise units including condos and apartments.

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Prawn Hokkien Mee in Lebuh Armenian, Penang

One of the dishes I never miss when I go back to Penang is the Prawn Mee, or in Penang, we usually just refer it as Hokkien Mee. Do not be confused with Hokkien mee in Penang and the dish of the same name in KL though. The closest thing to Hokkien mee in KL at Penang is called Hokkien Char.

Have I confused you yet? I’ll refer it as Prawn mee for the remaining of this post.

Prawn Hokkien Mee in Penang
small old school kopitiam

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Masih

Biarpun aku anak tanah-air

yang bercampur kaum migrasi dari gagasan rempah

diadukkan dengan kaum nun di-sana yang sepek

tapi aku masih anak bumiku.

Walaupun tapak jejak-ku resah

cuba menyentap upih-upih pertanyaan

disebalik kecaman yang dilempar.

Takziah ku-ucapkan

kepada bangsa tanah air

yang kian kehilangan arah

bagaikan rajawali yang dipatuk matanya.

Sambil meniti pentas dunia

yang asyik menjadi idaman

disebalik penjuru buah fikiran khalifah-ku.

Aku masih suram

dan masih terfikirkan

dimanakah arah semak kerimba ceria

Dunia seakan berganti

tapi aku masih disini

Biarlah

Janji aku masih anak bumi

yang mungkin bermacam warna

tapi aku tetap

dengan hitam-putihku