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881 (Singapore) (2007)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:49 am
by justindeimen
Courtesy of MX


Theres no better argument for the severity of form witnessed in Royston Tans 4:30 than his Getai (song stage) themed, 881. The films dangerously epileptic flashiness is pockmarked with plenty of familiar Stephen Chow paraphernalia pandemonium, mania, indulgency, lunacy etc as if to suggest a broadening of his repertoire to include more commercially viable (potentially vapid) notches to his belt. And to his credit, Tan channels more than just the Hong Kong comic maestros playfully absurdist takes on conventional wisdoms but also audaciously attempts to mimic filmmaking compatriot Jack Neos distinctive use of local patois to reinforce his assaults on the heartlands fragile sensibilities, and in the process finds himself traversing the same pitfalls Neos seemingly encumbered by even after a decade.

881 drops a bomb of overwhelming pageantry on the serious business of Getai, a series of concerts performed for spirits during the seventh lunar month in various estates around Singapore. While being ethnically isolating or perhaps just intensely focused on a singular Singaporean theme, the film aggrandises the antics assumed with the sub-culture and amplifies it into camp hyperventilation. Much of the fun comes from the acceptance of musical staples (songs apparently culled from real Getai sources) with no requirement to pin down a number against the hoary extravagance of a Getai stage or inside a character's head.

Tans stylistic flourishes through explosions of colour and visual panache, aims for ebullience when its main duo, the Papaya sisters (Yeo Yann Yann and Mindee Ong) relish in their newly refined ability to sing, granted by a flamboyantly decked out Goddess of Getai played by a fearlessly exuberant Liu Ling Ling in a separate role, in addition to the sisters goofy guardian and mother to a stoic stud (Qi Yu Wu) who refuses to choke his chicken from time to time.

Regardless, the film certainly takes its time in circling the drain at its terminus, taking a few pit stops into accidental hilarity along the way through the sheer overwrought verbosity of familial melodramatics that border on parody and eventually desiccates the brimming life force from the rest of the proceedings that endeavours to move along at the speed of light. Granted, eventually Tan soldiers through the silliness of taking a crack at female bonding to get to its inevitable, grandiose showdown between the Durian skanks and petite yet potent Papaya sisters, but by then all anyone can be thankful for is that Royston Tan understands why a good @#%$ joke never grows old.

Re: 881 (Singapore) (2007)

PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:41 am
by hengcs
I am watching it this National Day.

Re: 881 (Singapore) (2007)

PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:35 am
by hengcs


The official website

My thoughts

To be honest, I think it is the weakest of his 3 films ...
In order of decreasing preference ...
(i) 4:30
(ii) 15 (the 25 min version, not the movie version which is kind of draggy)
(iii) 881

But let's start with what I like ...

(i) definitely the costumes ... to be fair, it may even have a chance of being nominated at the Golden Horse Award this year (will they be submitting to the organizers? gonna thnk me for reminding hoh ... just kidding ...) ... however, winning dep on which other films are in competition ... maybe Lust Caution?! maybe other period drama?! etc ... but frankly, the costumes at the "getai" (i.e., stage show) is worth commending ...

(ii) the songs ... well, they are well performed ... also, the main theme song is very meaningful ...

(iii) the film starts off well (in terms of art direction/cinematography) ... and it boasts of POTENTIAL ... BUT BUT BUT as the film proceeds, the potential is not exploited ... it does have a great setting/theme ... very Singaporean; very local; rather unqiue ... but somehow, in its entirety, the film does not deliver ... why?! (see next)

what i thought could be better ...

-- it tries to adopt the "formula" of FIRST LAUGHTER, THEN TEARS ... but somehow, it comes across as rather contrived (and "familiar" from other films) ... also, it does not "build" sufficiently in terms of plot/characterization to make you feel very sad when misery finally sets in ...

-- i am fine with puns or even crudeness (that are relevant) ... but somehow, it fails this time ...

-- i am also fine with "fantasy"/"martial arts" like segments (i.e., the flying darts, etc) ... i thought it could be very well exploited ... but somehow, this time, it feels more like secondary school kids "fooling around" with each other when they play pranks ... again, it is not well executed ...

-- i know it exists ... but the "fight" between the old and the new (or the east vs the west) is getting a bit "repetitive" ...
cf. the parallel between these two films ...
(a) In 881, "papaya sisters" (chinese/tradition) vs "durian sisters" (westerners/modernization)
(b) In 15 the movie (NOT the short), "hokkien beng/gang" (chinese group) vs "angmoh gang" (english group)

It does boast of potential, but I humbly think it is the weakest of his 3 films ...

Re: 881 (Singapore) (2007)

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:16 pm
by hengcs
It is Singapore's submission for Oscar 2008.

The box office in Singapore has been reasonably encouraging ...