Thursday, December 30, 2004

Pseudo-Review : Tokyo Magic Hour (working version)

tokyo magic hour


Experimental Romance
Language: Malay
Subtitles: English
written & directed by: Amir Muhammad
Duration: 60 mins

Producer: James Lee
Associate Producer: Koji Imaizumi
Camera: Nao Saito, Toshi Fujiwara
Additional Camera: Hiromi Fuji, Jin Otagiri, Mao
Mikami, Yutaka Oyama.
Music & Sound Design: Hardesh Singh
Narrator: Eijat, Namron, Saifullizan Tahir, Fahmi Fadzil

TOKYO MAGIC HOUR is an experimental romance between two men, narrated against digitally manipulated imagery of that city.

The narration consists of passionate verses that form a heightened, chronological record of a love affair, arranged in distinct sections, which can be termed
Meeting, Loving, Lusting, Parting and Remembering.

One section, Magic, breaks away from the poetry-as-narration to present instead poison charms,exorcism chants and dream interpretations. This section serves as an eruption of the uncanny and comes between the happy poems and the darker ones.

The edgy music/soundscape throughout, comprising original compositions and samplings. is an essential ingredient of this strange brew, this unusual movie exists at the intersection of video art, torch song, and atavistic exploration.

Made with the assistance of The Nippon Foundation's Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowship.

from Tokyo Magic Hour's official page

Ted, at the screening :
"Whoa. Wha-?. Oh....okay.. Hmmm... Tak habis lagi ke? Zzz.. Eh!! Hehehhe.. Hmmm... Whew!"


Make sure you know at least roughly what Magic Tokyo Hour is (keywords: experimental, two men -When did you decide on this, Amir?-, digitally manipulated imagery, verses, strange brew) before you step in for that viewing. This is not for the weak-hearted, or for those with really short attention span.

No actors. Just narration of pantun (a form of Malay prose) verses.
Images, colors, not necessarily something lucid.
And a haunting soundscape.

You can go as deeply as you want (preferable), or just skim gingerly on the surface (and in which case you're better off watching something else).

I have to admit, I fell asleep for maybe 5 minutes during the screening of the hot-off-the-stove, working version of Tokyo Magic Hour last October. Classic pantuns and some slow-moving images aside, I blame it on the medication I took before the show. Anyway those who are expecting something along the lines of Amir's previous works such as Lips to Lips (which I've seen) and Big Durian (which I only heard of from other people, wish I'd seen it) may only find it in the originality of the idea and his edgy wit (one shocking bit woke me up from the short slumber).

Going for this one? Pay attention, open your mind. Sink in the images and the narrative. Imagine. Those who learnt Bahasa Melayu in school, those who read Malay pantuns before, remember those lines again. Feel it. Feeellllll it.

And don't go inside expecting to see two men going on dates or whatnots. Or take any sleep-inducing medication ten minutes before the show.

Amir was kind enough to answer the barrage of questions that the audience had that evening, and there were many. We got some pretty bluntly honest answers - No, he didn't really know how it's going to be while making it, yes it's also sort of based on a personal episode in his life, no he wasn't entirely sure yet of the actual meaning of some parts of the movie.

I really think now that the best way to watch movies would be together with the moviemaker him- or her-self, where you get to ask questions later. After all, it's their stories that we're watching, which makes them our storytellers in the greatest sense, and isn't it always more interesting if you get to ask your questions to the source rather than just discussing it with your movie companion (or worse, only with yourself if you went alone!) and concluding the unresolved issues with "Who knows? I didn't make that movie". Maybe now that we have a representative from the film industry in the Dewan Negara, no less, I'll ask him to propose for a ruling where moviemakers must be present at their own works' screenings. Ha. Imagine the questions you'd have for the likes of a certain professor.

Verdict : Surreal. Definitely not for those with zero interest in experimental films. Beautiful, but only if you look deep. Without any imagination this will be largely boring.

You've been warned.

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