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SINdie: Old School Feelings at Sinema Showoff!

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I remember when back in school when an important rugby match final was about to be played against our arch rivals, our headmaster would come forth to the pulpit where the microphone was placed to make a personal appeal to everyone to go support that match.

bb.jpgIt was such a warm, personal and passionate gesture that I sometimes reminisce about when I think about my schooling days in Bishan.

Last night Nicholas Chee, on of the men (Randy Ang being the other) behind Sinema Old School performed a similar deed. On his crutches, he pushed his volleyball-injured body up the flight of stairs that led to the cinema to share why there was a weird system of having membership cards and tickets even though the ‘Sinema Showoff!’ was free of charge. In short: it all contributes towards the filmmakers’ efforts of making more films and to generate more interest among Singaporeans about local shorts. But I paid attention to nothing but his ‘Old School’ touch (undeniably with the crutches completing the `look’). It was a winning impression.

The screening of Sinema Showoff! was a collection of short films that have been screened before. The names are only familiar to those in the circle, except for Jacen Tan. They were Craig Rosenthal, Chew Tee Pao and myself. Jacen Tan aside, I thought it was brave to choose a set of lesser known names for the first Showoff!, but maybe that’s the point. And the surprise was, the line up was very zesty, spirited and entertaining, so actually, you could justifiably charge $5 for watching the films. Ironically, I have very different words for the $5 which I paid for the Objectifs Films which followed.

A normal review on these relatively old films would seem like your mother finally discovering how to use MSN Messenger (which my mom did last night). So instead, I share with you what I thought were some unforgettable moments that tickled my consciousness in each short film (except my own – but if you watched it, please comment or write me, would love to hear comments!).

Blackboard White Shoes by Green Zeng

Some notable moments:
– The brillant beginning of the shoe shots and the tapping taht kind of captures your imagination
– The Set decoration, really has that `Old School’ look
– Vincent Tee (again), but we are spared his singlet shots this time.
– The sheer simplicity of the film

clouds.jpgOverhead Clouds by Yeo Lee Nah

I can’t write a lot simply because it was a very short video. But doesn’t this freeze-frame remind you of the sore throat commercial? Maybe Lee Nah was the person behind it! But I could tell that the video reflected a lot of thinking on her feet because she probably only had a few days to complete it given that it was part of the Canon Digital Fest.

But there is one thing I want to say – and hopefully this does not offend Lee Nah – the cloud is as adorable as Lee Nah herself!

Birthday by Bertrand Lee

This is the 2nd time I was watching Birthday. I guess most of us in Singapore know Bertrand for 1 reason: his incident. But this film was a testament to how much you don’t want to be his Art Director. But don’t be mistaken, I did feel it was a good film.

Some notable moments:
– The adolescent of a male lead who sounds nothing like how he looks
– His `Kang Tang’ (potato in Malay) Mandarin
– The explosive outburst in the office scene in which the employee `f***ed’ the boss upside down
– Mindy’s remarkable acting (actually he was good too la)
– Mindy’s remarkable cyan blue ready to swim-or-f*** underwear (see picture below)
– Husband’s striped boxers, I like! Very cool.
– The retro-chic interiors, even down to the corners
– The lovely title graphics that caught my attention the first time I watched this
– The price of the cake – $70
– The ominous vibe of the cake seller acted by TCS (oops sorry, Mediacorp) veteran…. or maybe it was just a TCS vibe
– The moment when the husband insisted he could pay for the $70 cake (very poignant)
– The Hollywood touch of the carousel
– Finally (this is just me)… the beaded curtain… (no more beaded curtains for me please!!!!), ok la, it was shot eons ago

12:17 by Kenny Tan

Some notable moments:

The behind the scenes shots which revealed the secret behind the `high-budget’-looking track shots that tracked endlessly – a wheelchair.

Actually just that. Though it was not really my cup of tea, I thought maybe the video was made in a way (stylistics and content) that was faithful to the song, which I guessed it must have been.

Old Times by Chew Tee Pao

Some notable moments:
– A dedicated Wardrobe Supervisor (Female lead had nice clothes that upped the ante on the production aspect of things)
– Fish Chaar’s gaarish yellow shirt with check-box pants (It should belong to `Beauty World’, the stage musical)
– Boy with interesting features – his `adult’-like face on his frail body caught my attention
– Tracy Soon’s lip-synching of the song in which her lips rarely moved (like in the picture)
– The girl’s too-close-for-comfort distance from Fish’s tits (in the bedroom scene)
– The very colour-corrected turqoise gleam of the Mahjong tiles that reminded me of an old HK movie about Mahjong
– The raining scenelet, love the colours! and the bittersweetness of their tiff in the rain.

Zo Gang by Jacen Tan

An after thought… Zo Gang has the soul of `15′ in it, and the voice of an army cadet who likes to `Chao Keng’ (malinger). I like that voice actually, it is very close to my experience. I used to talk like that with my colleagues when I was a temp staff for Singtel years ago.

Some notable moments (too many):
– Clever use of HDB flat storey signs (as if he really did walk)
– Boy walks across basketball court to place something that looks like a jacket on the ground, all that while Merlion Tan was talking to the camera
– Cool professionals – banker, doctor, MP (funniest is the MP part, well imitated and not so far from real life incidents)
– Hokkien Speaking Ang Moh (in spoof)
– Be With Me moment – Jacen surprises us with a guy who sports bad hair (upon revelation later – in bloopers, he looks like Royston Tan’s Careless Whisperer)
– MRT train shot (nice one Jacen, gives us the last laugh on SMRT whose rates are $2-3k per hour for shooting in a carriage)
– Wesley Wong (aka Merlion Tan) in the audience with a different hair cut at the screening (looking studious and decent)

The Trainee by Craig Rosenthal

Notable moments:
– Hokkien Song playing in 7-11 store (Hello, since when?)
– Cashier girl repeats whats’ on the packaging to embarrass male customer`Sheer Satin Feel’ (referring to pantyhose)
– Name Tag shot : The name of the store : Hello!; Cashier’s Name : Kitty (geddit?)
– Overhead motif shots of cashier sliding open (Swee! (Hokkien for nice!))
– CCTV shots (how approporate can it get; a much better one than ‘My Blueberry Nights’)
– Receipt motif roller credits (vs Red Sarong’s yellow pages roller credits)

Also check out : http://www.thetrainee.blogspot.com/

Jeremy Sing is the director of the film The Girl in the Red Sarong, one of the films screening in this month’s Sinema Showoff!

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