Tuesday, July 27, 2004

the great singapore trip

Been a while since my last post. Work has been quite hellish. It kinda sucks being the most junior lawyer in your firm as you just get the most 'rotten' and 'hopeless' of files dumped on you for you to deal with. And that does suck, big time!

Went to Singapore about 2 weeks ago to play the Baybeats Festival at the Esplanade with my band. Still get 'visions' of that wonderful trip from time to time. It was just so lovely, going to play in a different country, with your good friends. Our first trip together, and it was dreamy.

Our show was more than we could've asked for. We played on Sunday, 18/7/2004 at 8.00pm. I heard complaints from other bands about how the monitors suck, or could be better. As for me, the whole band in fact, we just LOVED the fact that we can now, for the first time ever in our quite long career as performers, totally hear ourselves on the monitors clearly. I could clearly hear my voice AND my guitar! Usually it's either one or the other, most often it would be the latter leaving me just gambling and hoping that I'd sing in tune. But not during Baybeats!! So from our point of view it was already excellent.

Then came the crowd reception during our performance, which surprised the hell out of me, and is most definitely a delight to everyone in the band. The crowd cheered, clapped, applauded, smiled, laughed, some sang along, there was even a guy right up front who danced all the way through our set. I then spent about an hour plus after the show just talking to people who came up to say hi or congratulate or buy CDs or ask for autographs!! Almost everyone who came up said that they loved the fact that we sounded so different and so fresh from everything else now. Which kinda of baffles me, but also made sense because no one seemed to WANT to play pop songs anymore right now, especially in Malaysia. So it was definitely a night to remember. We got paid $200 Sing. So $50 for each band member, which meant I had more money to buy DVDs & VCDs!! More about that later.

Stayed at a backpacker's hostel. Cheap too. And filled with beautiful, half naked, tourists walking around with not a care in the world!! It's at a great location to boot. Mamak downstairs, shopping mall & MRT station across the street, bus stop right in front, 7-eleven round the corner, in short it was pretty easy to get around. The soundcheck on Sunday practically robbed a whole day's worth of wandering around. But I did find some great DVD, CD & VCD places. Bought 5 DVDs, Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss, Night and Fog in Japan, Giants & Toys, Band of Outsiders. Also bought 2 VCDs, Divine Intervention & The 400 Blows. Blew a big hole in my pocket, but definitely worth it. I only bought Last Days Of April's latest CD during Baybeats, but it's good. And finally got to buy Love's best of compilation at a 50% discount at Borders, which was a sweet deal.

Wish I'm there right now, wandering the streets. Will definitely go there again in the near future. Hope we'll get invited for another show there, which is a possibility, since I made quite a lot of new friends there. Anyway, till my next post, ta!

Monday, July 12, 2004

movies - double reviews

Watched a lot of movies last week and the week before. So to save time & space, I'll do double reviews!! Here we go.

The Terminal was directed by Steven Spielberg. You know who he is. Kitchen Stories was directed by Bent Hamer. When I saw Riddick a couple of weeks back, the trailer for The Terminal showed and needless to say I was very excited to see it. From the looks of the trailer it might just be one of my favourite films this year. Despite it being a nice enough film, I can't say that it will be in my top 10 list come the end of this year. Why? Just see Kitchen Stories, a little film from Sweden (I think, or maybe Norway), and you'll see what Spielberg was trying to do with The Terminal and why I think he didn't get it right. If you've seen the trailer or even read a bit about the film, you'll know that Spielberg was trying to do a 'little film' with a little bit of quirkiness and a large dose of humanity thrown in. The film's sweet, funny, human (yes!), but yet you feel there's something missing. I just think he didn't nail the various tones and moods needed to pull it off exactly right. With these kind of films, I think, you either nail it and make a wonderful small miracle, or you end up halfway there, leaving something missing. As for Kitchen Stories, all I can say is, go see it. It has an ingeniously clever idea as a set up, and it takes its own sweet time to tell its story. Just hang in there and after about 15-20 minutes, you'll be hooked, and you will marvel at the simplicity and economy of its storytelling, and how the director gave you just enough to make your own conclusions and observations (it's a film about 'observation', in the most literal sense of the word), without shoving anything down your throat. It's truly a little wonder of a film. Love it!!
Rating: The Terminal (6 1/2 out of 10); Kitchen Stories (8 out of 10)

The future looks bright for Hong Kong cinema. Wong Ching Po (director of Jiang Hu) and Stephen Fung (director of Enter The Phoenix) are both incredibly young to be film directors of such great confidence. But you've got to hand it to them, they ARE good. Jiang Hu tells a story that's nothing new. It has some sort of a 'twist', but 3/4 into the film, you can kinda see it already. But all that does not matter, because Jiang Hu, first and foremost, is a visually exciting film, where the director is willing to do anything to make the shots and scenes look good. Example? In one scene where 2 people are dining facing each other on a long table, you'll suddenly realise that the background seem to be moving and you'll realise the only way this shot will be possible is for the table to be placed on a wheeled ramp that is moved around. Why go to such trouble, you ask? Isn't it unrealistic? Well, why not? It looks beautiful, so why not? Now that's only one of many fancy camera moves and shots in the film. The massacre at the end of the film is absolutely gorgeous. Shot in the rain and in slo-mo, it rivals some of Wong Kar Wai's most poetic moments. And this guy doesn't even have a Christopher Doyle to help him!! I eagerly await Mr Wong Ching Po's next film, that's for sure. As for Enter The Phoenix, it's also interesting visually, but it's winning point is in the flawless shifts in tone between a normal gangster film, and a spoof of a gangster film. The humor is absolutely hilarious most of the time. My favourite? Karen Mok asks Edison Chen since when did he knew that he was gay. Flashback: We see a doctor holding a thermometer and a young boy's bum in one shot, then pan to the boy's face while the doctor sticks the thermometer up the boy's ass, we see the boy with a satisfied and cheeky smile. Hilarious!! After Tsui Hark and John Woo being gone to Hollywood, it seems like the only hope for Hong Kong cinema would be Johnnie To and the Milkyway Image gang (apart from Wong Kar Wai and Fruit Chan, that is). But here we have now, 2 bright young directors, with a style and personality of their own. Let's hope the money men won't corrupt them.
Rating: Jiang Hu (8 out of 10); Enter The Phoenix (7 out of 10)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

rubbish on the radio

Hey there folks! Haven't updated the blog for more than a week now. Got lots of stuff to tell you guys. But first, I'll be organising a gig called 'rubbish on the radio' this coming Saturday. Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, 10th July 2004
Venue: Paul's Place, Uptown (very near to the Kedai Telekom)
Time: Doors open at 4pm
Cover: RM10
Bands playing:

My own band. Kick ass power pop to rock sama lu punya ass!! Think The Beatles meets The Beach Boys meets The Who, and you'll get there eventually.

Indie rock darlings from Ipoh. Beloved by both the hip crowd and the 'normal' ones.

Geek rock obsessed band from Gopeng. They used to be mad about Weezer and The Rentals. Lately they seem to be mad about Ozma. Plus I hear they're now singing in Bahasa Malaysia!!

If you happen to like Letters To Cleo and the Josie & The Pussycats movie soundtrack, don't miss this band. Indie pop/rock from Bangi with a female singer. Always a plus with anyone!! And, the singer's got a great voice!!

Pop kids from KL & Kajang. Ramzi's brother is the bassist here.

I know, kinda lame name. But don't be shocked if you see them in URTV or Mangga anytime soon, 'cause these guys (with a girl singer) have the potential to be big. Indie pop sung in Malay.

My current favourite local underground Malay language band. Imagine Indo rock tampered a bit with emo stylings. Plus the singer's voice reminds me of Gigi's singer.

A last minute addition from Singapore. Haven't heard their music, but since they'll be in town and asked to play, I thought, why not? I heard the singer's from Denmark, so a Mat Salleh's presence could always help with the hipster crowd. Plus people say that they play dreamy indie pop, so that shouldn't be so bad.

So, my dear flock of sheep. Why don't you get off your usual diet of The Rasmus and give these bands a try. I assure you, this is prime ass I'm talking about here, if these bands were a girl. So come on down and say hi to me later. Ta!!