Clear Vision - Keluar Baris Preview (Late Preview)

I met Jun Feng for lunch today. I eagerly awaited this opporutnity to meet up because I missed the Keluar Baris Preview at High Street. The first thing he told me was he was going to Clemont Ferand for the film festival. And Katong Fugue was in competition. Suddenly, I recalled the excitement of going to a film festival again. If you ever lost steam in making films, going to a film fest restarts your engine again. But this is flawed perspective because it should really be your love for films that keeps you working at it even if there were no signs of reward at bay.

We had lunch at this Nasi Padang place in air-conditioned comfort (after last year's experience, I am making a point to keep my clothes sweat-free). I shared about my trip, he shared about his future plans in NY. Without a doubt, it is good to be abroad periodically. I felt lost and like I could start all over again in Vietnam. Of course to any layman, this is like a dream. And refreshingly, JF acknowledged his privileged circumstances. I remember in school after the exams, a certain class of behaviour would always annoy me. There were sometimes these people who would hair-splittingly share with you the silly stand-alone vocab, grammar mistakes they made in their essay and expect dedicated audience when in comparison, there were speaking to someone whose essay skidded off-tangent from the question. Well, speaking to JF in person is as amazing as seeing his works.

Which was what i going to uncover just after I scrapped off the last spoonful of rice from my plate. The image of the control tower at Changi T1 flashed on the screened, off-centre, but still distinct from everything else. A familar exchange across an obvious generation and cultural gap is heard. This is where directorial work makes the difference. When I first read the script, it was a 2-party exchange that demonstrated some kind of communication breakdown. Watching the film, I saw the impatience of Darryl when dealing with his granny and skeptical eyes of his father seen on the back-view mirror. Reminding me what Shu Ming once mentioned of the character palette, the characters demonstrated a hues of emotions and amidst their primary disposition and reactions.

There are some filmmakers who are agenda/theme/story driven and they usually have a a great grasp of driving the narrative and making a strong point in the film. There are also some who have strong visual sense and can deliver a good film out of a simple and sometimes, navel-gazing topic. It's pure `film-eye' I guess. What's good about JF is he is a very balanced and sensible person. He can marry both. the Stadium shots were of course haunting and affecting. The wides, the 1-shot close ups of the cauldron, clock, light tower etc. And the tracking in. (I hate it when tracking is used like a convenient dramatic tool) And besides being beautiful, of course, the agenda was clear.

I read somewhere in a magazine (or was it a website) while in Vietnam about how a singular clear vision is so important for a film to be good. When a director can achieve, the audience simply sits back and allow themselves to be `taken away'. the surprise with seeing Keluar Baris on screen as opposed to script is narrative build up. The need to develop photos fast, the urgency of seeing the National Stadium before it gets teared down, the nagging of his father. Here is a story that is simple and natural, yet still able to deliver its point and undertones.

While I was watching the movie from his slim and sleek ibook, I lost track of what he was doing in the meantime. Only to notice him again when he returned with a drink for me. I cant remember the last time I did that for somebody but that gesture was a wake up call to me. If you want people to sit up and watch, you have to serve them up at their doors and someday, you will convince people to take you seriously.

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