Singapore Standard Time

Published on October 23rd, 2006

Directed by Joycelyn Khoo and Serene Ng
Running time: 27 minutes
Screened at: Cine.SG (October 18, 2006)

In a nutshell
Everything in Singapore happens chop-chop in double-fast time. What impact does that have on the kind of society we’re living in?


Singapore Standard TimeIt’s all in the numbers

Good movie. What can I say? It was funny, it had meaning. It had Ivan Heng and Woffles Wu. It even had our very own world record holder for the fastest SMSer. From the moment the movie went into its old-school animated opening credits, I knew I was in for something completely irreverent. And I wasn’t wrong. It’s hilarious.

Talk about Singaporeans and our need for instant gratification: instant chicken rice, instant face-lifts, instant money — and our love for fads (anyone remember the luohan fish?). Mocking at times, satirical most of the others, the film was well-paced, well-edited and definitely well-told. Each vignette is short, fast-paced and witty — and gets the job done.

Everything was in the manner of When Harry Met Sally (well, sans the story of Harry and Sally): just interviews with various people who’ve made a name for themselves by making our little corner of the world just a little more instant. These were interspersed with an interview with botanist Wee Yeow Chin, talking about how Singapore become a green city and how the practice of planting strong trees in the past has made way for the ‘instant trees’ of today.

The film’s message comes with the brilliantly juxtaposed interviews of Ivan Heng and the botanist, about the arts scene in Singapore. I’m not going to spoiler it for the reader; it’s worth watching the whole movie just to get to this part. Not to say that the rest of the movie wasn’t interesting. It was. Every little vignette (six in all) had some bittersweet truths about Singaporeans and our very strange way of looking at our world. Though I was laughing at what I was seeing, there was also a part of me that was also cringing in the recognition of the ‘us’ in every story told.

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Comments

  1. Posted by terz on December 11th, 2006, 22:09

    Point the First: Having not seen Singapore GaGa, I can’t really say if it’s the same.

    Point the Second: I heartily agree. Though I’m not sure if the ‘standard’ movie-goer would get it. I think it’s good to have some things shoved down our throats from time to time. Especially on matters that TPtB that get.

  2. Posted by strangeknight on December 11th, 2006, 20:57

    The reference to “When Harry Met Sally” is odd. “Singapore Standard Time” is much closer in both content and style to Tan Pin Pin’s “Singapore GaGa”.

    SST is very good, especially when you consider that it was a final-year project by NTU grads (if I recall correctly). I thought the documentary suffered towards the end — the frantic juxtaposition between Ivan Heng (who *is* the consummate showman) and the botanist was too blatant. Yes, we the audience get the point — no need to shove it down our throats.

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