Thursday, July 19, 2012

About Jalan Pintas, Hassan Mutalib and existentialism

So a couple of weeks ago I went to The Actors Studio at Lot 10 to see Jalan Pintas, a film by Nam Ron. It was the opening night so we had the chance to have Hassan Mutalib, a renowned Malaysian film critic, in the audience.

The film was... okay. It's a very Aronofsky-esque film with some Memento feeling to it, and visibly low budgeted. The leitmotiv of the film is choice and the ever-popular quandary of "what if?", only with a slight twist: sometimes no matter which path you choose to take, life decides to be funny and fucks you up anyway.

Like every indie Malay film these days, it's ridden with other subplots such as the unemployment of fresh graduates in Malaysia, nepotism, xenophobia and of course, gangsterism. And since it's an indie movie without a FINAS license, expletives are in order, so much so that sometimes the actors just yell out a big fat 'babi!' for absolutely nothing which makes it seem forced and out of place. I know that Scarface is a thousand times more ribald, but Al Pacino expresses vulgarity in a way that is believable and even necessary while in Jalan Pintas, sometimes it just seems like the raison d'être of some of the swear words is merely to give a big 'fuck you' to the Malaysian censorship board.

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