Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mukhsin teaser trailer / mini review

Update : 'Scoop' Mukhsin Press Preview (27 Feb 2007)

Scheduled for national release in March (08/03/2007), Yasmin Ahmad's latest film, Mukhsin, has been selected by the 57th Berlin International Film Festival as well as nominated for Best Asian Film at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival.

Not bad for a movie about two young kids befriending each other during a school holiday. Not bad at all, ma'am.

Having had the opportunity to watch the movie sometime ago courtesy of the director, for me Mukhsin feels a bit like a mix of the feelings that Yasmin's earlier works - Rabun and Sepet - a match of the lighter comedic notes and nostalgics of Rabun (although actually there's dark unpleasantness in it) peppered within the very much Malaysian-ness (for some quarters like though others beg to differ - it's a FREE country after all) feel of Sepet, compared to the darker Gubra with its more blatant and louder dish of ideologies (sufism, HIV-positive awareness and girl power feminism).

(very mild spoilers ahead)

Mukhsin revolves around the idea of a first love - bringing various firsts in a young person's life - first boyfriend / girlfriend, first moment of an adult voice, talks about first period and first bra, experiencing first death of the immediate family and first heartbreak. It's an interesting note that the actor who played Mukhsin's character, Syafie Naswip actually 'broke' his voice during the filming, and in one of the scenes you can detect it quite clearly ("You look ve-ry nice today!).

Sharifah Aryana is Orked this time (her big sister, Sharifah Amani played the teenager & adult Orked characters in Yasmin's earlier films Sepet and Gubra), and she totally rocked as the tomboy-ish gutsy girl who's being brought up differently from her counterparts and knows the fact very well. Adibah Noor reprises her role as Yam the orang-gaji-yang-tak-macam-orang-gaji while Sharifah Aleya (bigger sister of both S.Amani and S.Aryana) is Mak Inom. For those who have seen her previous movies, Yasmin Ahmad challenges the audience to recast the face-name relation of Pak Atan : in Rabun it was M. Rajoli; in Sepet and Gubra it was Harith Iskander; and this time around it's more 'unsettling' as the younger Pak Atan is Irwan Iskandar - the perasan and backdealing Yem character in Rabun. Other notable role-shuffles in Yasmin's films would involve Noorkhiriah (Orked in Rabun, Mas in Gubra, extra in Mukhsin) and Rozie Rashid (Cik Nor in Rabun, Temah in Gubra, Orked's neighbor in Mukhsin).

But fret not, Mukhsin is far from mind-boggles of any kind. The only time one might go 'HUhhh??' would probably be at a weird scene which is actually a dream, so it's okay since everyone is very much allowed to have weird dreams from time to time (or even all the time, come to think of it). As usual Yasmin Ahmad-style, Mukhsin may not answer all the questions that you'd have at the end and again it'll be up to the audience to lay down their interpretation or two themselves.

With Mukhsin's simple and ordinary subject matters of growing up, friendships and family ties, the general feeling throughout the movie is one of melancholy and nostalgia - 'ahem, we'll go inside ourselves, been there, done that'. The beautiful shots taken at a serene and idyllic rural location (Kuala Selangor) evokes a wistful yearning to be there. Mozart strains adorns a kite-flying scene, and Nina Simone's rendition of the French song Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don't Leave Me) is just so heart-wrenching that I dare say there's nobody who won't be touched by its respective scenes. I also loved the bonus footage after the end credits where Yasmin and the crew got together with the theme keroncong song, Hujan being sang by Yasmin's mother - it'll put a smile on your face.

And seeing the young stars - makes me want to be kids like them again. To have that innocence, that ignorance, to own a fresh canvas of perceptions that's still being painted and added on with new colors and patterns everyday. Sigh.

And to experience something like this again.

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