SEPTEMBER 16 ― I think it’s been at least a few weeks since I last managed to find a group of films playing in Malaysian cinemas worth writing about.
Ever since the summer movie season ended, it’s been a case of one major new release per week and just a wild lottery of smaller new films to fill the scheduling slots in local cinemas, and not all of them worthwhile of course.
The big story of the last two weeks is of course the stellar box-office performance of local film Abang Long Fadil 2, which racked up an impressive RM13 million in just 13 days, putting it in pretty good stead to catch up with or even beat all-time local box-office champs like Polis Evo, Ola Bola and Munafik.
We’ll have to see how that plays out in the coming weeks, but right now there are three very big reasons for you to visit your nearest local cinema, which makes this a pretty exciting week since it’s not that often that we get that many worthwhile films opening in the same week and competing against each other.
Already well on its way to becoming one of the biggest horror hits of all time, even after only one week, Andy Muschietti’s follow-up to Mama has surely exceeded even his producers’ wildest dreams with one of the year’s highest US opening weekends, beating even Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming and only behind Beauty And The Beast and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, with an outrageously impressive weekend takings of US$123 million (RM515.3 million).
Stephen King’s much beloved novel finally gets a proper big screen adaptation (don’t forget that the “original” It was actually a two-part TV mini-series, with all the budgetary constraints that come with the territory), and even if I found the scare tactics employed here not so scary (because a lot of them are in fact a lovely homage to classic horror movies), the movie has an irresistible, Stranger Things-esque beating heart that will appeal to the kid in all of us.
By making us love every single one of the film’s foul-mouthed young characters, Muschietti ensures our full emotional investment in the film, making it more than just a scare machine but also a wholly satisfying cinematic meal.
It’s nice to see art and commerce collide as beautifully as this, even if the “art” part comes in the form of highly skilled craftsmanship instead of original exploration.
A bona fide Malaysian film, even if it stars Hong Kong legends like Kara Wai and Simon Yam and legendary Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai, Ho Yuhang’s latest film proves once and for all that out of all the directors from the early 2000’s Malaysian New Wave of digital film-makers, he might just be the best and most naturally talented one in the bunch.
Mrs K is his first attempt at a genre movie, and his love for both the high brow of the arthouse and the low brow of genre films results in a wonderful synthesis of the two.
On paper a simple revenge movie in which an old crime comes back to haunt a seemingly normal-looking suburban housewife, in between the film’s many bursts of action and suspense set-pieces are beautiful passages of poetic yet economical dialogue and rightfully earned wells of honest emotion.
If there’s one thing I can complain (but only slightly) about the movie, it’s that the fight scenes, while undeniably brutal with a lot of cleverly conceived off-screen violence, could use some more eye-catching choreography (of both the action and camera movement/editing kind).
But that’s just me nitpicking, for this is still one of the year’s best genre films and hands down the best Malaysian film of the year so far, with not even a plausible challenger in sight yet.
How lucky are we this year that we get to savour both Baby Driver and now Logan Lucky all in the same calendar year? Flying quietly under the radar here since it is a privately-funded independent film and distributed here in Malaysia by one of the smaller distribution outfits, Steven Soderbergh’s latest film is all sorts of enjoyable and sexy, bringing to mind the pleasures of his second breakthrough hit ― Out Of Sight ― and his first major mainstream hit ― Ocean’s Eleven.
Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig are all clearly having a ball immersing themselves in their characters and especially enjoying their thick accents, but Soderbergh clearly loves and respects his characters here, even if superficially it might look like he’s making fun of rednecks and hillbillies.
Telling the story of the unlucky Logan family trying to break out of their bad luck by planning an elaborate heist, the film is full of all sorts of impressive twists, turns and reversals, but the main pleasure here is by far the chemistry that each and every one of the actors share with each other.
They clearly look like they’re having a good time and as a result the audience feels the exact same way too.
Sometimes a minor song sung in a minor key can still be a major one just by virtue of it being a good song sung well. This one’s exactly that.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.