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15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 1:58 am
by hengcs

I have watched the ORIGINAL short film version of 15 (about 25 minutes). Some people actually call it the "Ah Beng movie".

I have also watched the full length feature of 15 (about 94 minutes).
-- in Singapore, and
-- in San Francisco International Film Festival 2004.

I am not sure how much credit should go to the producer, Eric instead of the director, Royston .... I would prefer to suggest the latter ... why?

Mentioned earlier, this movie actually began as a short film and had garnered several awards (e.g., the Special Achievement Award at the Singapore International Film Festival 2002). Because of that, Eric urged Royston to make a full length feature.

Instead of rewriting the script with more details in between, he simply added two more stories, with two additional cast (because two of the original cast were missing/ or had been captured by the authority).

In other words, the original shorter version was actually the first story in the full length feature PLUS the ending song on the MRT (i.e., the subway) ...

** It is interesting to note that I (and probably most of my Singaporean friends) like the first story better, and feel that the movie should have remained as a short film. The two additonal stories kind of make the movie slightly draggy and less compact.

** However, it seems like most foreigners prefer the second story and third story better. Why?

I believe most Singaporeans would prefer the first story or original short film because it has a good mix of humor and sadness that many can relate to. However, due to localization, most foreigners will fail to grasp the jokes ...
e.g., the distortion of the national anthem
e.g., the education system and society we are in
e.g., the landmarks the protagonists visit when they are scouting for a building to jump
e.g., the lingo they used (a lot is really lost in translation!!!)
e.g., the last song on the train (which is rather meaningful in the original short film, but I recall it not being very well translated).
etc

I believe most foreigners tend to like the second and third stories better because they can relate to
e.g., drugs
e.g., tattoos
e.g., antagonism between two rival groups (in this case, the gangs who spoke either chinese/dialects or english)
etc

Noteworthy, the movie has caused quite some stir and controversy because
-- the original sountrack depict actual secret societies' chants (their mottos, locations, etc)
-- a frontal scene
-- ** Also, the movie has sparked some debate because some mutilation scenes were real and NOT enacted. Basically, the director passed the camera to these kids and requested they filmed their daily life or he simply asked them to speak and live as they normally would (i.e., without scripting) ... consequently, some scenes were indeed disturbing ...

In summary,
... I think the original short film version is worth watching because it is more compact and more powerful
... in order to better understand the humor, you may like to watch it with some Singaporeans ...


PS: The DVD is available.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 8:48 pm
by trevor826
I'm glad you posted your comments for this film hengcs, a lot of the problems affecting the kids in the film are universal from gang fights to drug taking and even suicide.

The thing is 15 looks as though it was made to appeal to that age group, teen angst, depression, loneliness, fear, all interspersed with MTV style breaks, these are the people who can't see it. The first segment is fine and works well but as you mentioned, "The two additonal stories kind of make the movie slightly draggy and less compact." I also felt that in a way it glamorised the lifestyle of these kids, the false bravado, the South Park style animated sequence, the stylised gang fights and was not as effective as the Korean movie "Tears."

The one thing I really didn't like was the fact that they were pushing the film as "reality" when it's obvious that some of the scenes which were supposed to be "reality" weren't, I refer to the supposed swalowing of the condom full of tabs, there is no way in the world that scene was genuine, if anyone tried that as full as it was they would choke to death.

So a stylised short film that should have stayed short. Two stories that while noteworthy are being hyped up for the wrong reasons, I have no doubt that some kids in Singapore commit suicide, offend adults, especially when in a group, have gang fights, take drugs etc. These are all universal problems, we get all these issues in Wales, I didn't expect the film to give hope or solutions but I didn't expect the "POP" style presentation that makes it all look so cool.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:21 am
by hengcs
Quote trevor,"
... I also felt that in a way it glamorised the lifestyle of these kids, the false bravado, the South Park style animated sequence, the stylised gang fights ...

... The one thing I really didn't like was the fact that they were pushing the film as "reality" when it's obvious that some of the scenes which were supposed to be "reality" weren't, I refer to the supposed swalowing of the condom full of tabs, there is no way in the world that scene was genuine, if anyone tried that as full as it was they would choke to death.

... I didn't expect the film to give hope or solutions but I didn't expect the "POP" style presentation that makes it all look so cool.

(1) There are two camps of thoughts, so I am not sure if the film succeeded in looking cool.
-- On one hand, it is apparent that the director wanted to convey to the audience (and Singaporeans), "Hey, do not overlook these group of people in society ..."
-- On the other hand, some people actually felt that the director was trying to appeal to film festivals or outsiders, "Hey, let me show you another aspect of Singapore ... esp. because Singapore has usually been portrayed in rather favorable light."

(2) As for the condom full of tabs, I think it is real. I even suspect it was filmed by the kids themselves, I am not sure. If you have watched Maria Full Of Grace, there are similar approaches too.

Anyway, the film has created quite a controversy.

The director even made a 15 minutes musical clip, "CUT", with characters that resemble the authority to "critique" our censor board. There were much discussion in the local newspapers then.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:38 pm
by trevor826

What gave it its cool (pop) look was the MTV styling. The club scene and the following drugged up scenes looked as though theyd come from the video for Smack my Bitch Up from The Prodigy.

The South Park style animation when discussing methods of suicide.

The almost Playstation style presentation of the gang fights.

I couldnt work out who the director was trying to appeal to, kids of a similar age? The general populace of Singapore? I dont think it was mant as a film festival crowd pleaser because it is too hip.

You noted it as maybe a "Hey, do not overlook these group of people in society ." to the general populace of Singapore but all I can say is what exactly is this group? They seemed just like the kids from the lower classes of any country, they certainly werent lacking in terms of a home etc. I know there are many kids like these in Wales and Im sure there are quite a few in the US as well .

Back to the drugs, you mentioned Maria Full Of Grace, and I have also recently seen a genuine documentary on drug mules,. Try watching the scene from 15 again, the kid would kill himself, the condom is jampacked and he doesnt open his throat up by tilting his head, he just tries to ram it down his throat like he was giving a blowjob. Im sorry but I truly believe this is faked, if Im wrong Id be more than happy to apologise.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:35 pm
by trevor826
I have to add that I enjoyed the film overall (particularly the first section) but am troubled by the things I mentioned and just wonder who the target audience is for a film like this?

I'd also agree with you hengcs that a lot has probably been lost in translation with "15".

Cheers Trev

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:50 pm
by trevor826
I saw a travelogue style documentary on Singapore the other day, as they went through some of the key places to visit I couldn't help noticing quite a few of the buildings that featured in "15" They were the same ones the kids were looking at when trying to find somewhere for the boy (sorry can't remember his name) to commit suicide.

My wife was pointing out how gorgeous it looked and all I could think about was the film.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:28 pm
by trevor826
Also recently saw a short from Royston Tan - Hock hiap leong (2001) which was the name of a well known coffee shop in Singapore, very kitsch and camp, reminiscent of the song and dance sections in The Wayward Cloud, I had seen the short a few years ago but noticed the directors name this time because of 15.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:51 am
by hengcs

(1) Quote trevor, "... I couldn't help noticing quite a few of the buildings that featured in "15" They were the same ones the kids were looking at when trying to find somewhere for the boy (sorry can't remember his name) to commit suicide. My wife was pointing out how gorgeous it looked ..."

yup, that was why it meant even more to the locals ...

(2) Quote trevor, "Also recently saw a short from Royston Tan - Hock hiap leong (2001)

maybe you should try searching the web for another "muscial satire", CUT, by him
www.imdb.com/title/tt0464925/

he did it to "counter" the censorship in "15" ...
he even chose characters that looked like the authority ...

while some people just laughed it off,
some people thought he had gone too far ...
well, both parties had their concerns and their side of the story ...

Re: 15 (2003) (Singapore)

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:13 am
by hengcs

If I am correct, his next film will be screened at Berlin Film Festival 2006

Movie: 4:30

It traces the relationship between Zhang Xiao Wu, an eleven year old Chinese Boy, and his tenant Jung, a thirty-something Korean man. Told entirely from the perspective of the boy, Xiao Wu, this story of two very different characters is less about friendship than about a shared experience and appreciation of solitude.