SIFF Encore - Wet Season by Michael Tay

If one can turn a green screen into a canvas of emotional expression, it was no surprise that Wet Seasons could turn a simple memory into a Pandora's box of clever visuals and witty words. Michael opens the film by stepping into position in front of a green screen and pretending to hug someone. A short moment of silence follows, picked up by a thoughtful monologue of his memory of hugging someone dear... someone who has a moustache! Not that I am homoerotically biased, but the mystery behind the man is intriguing. If it was a woman, the story would have been more straightforward. This figure we were made to imagine stood for more than one emotion (assumed to be love) as the story reveals.

Life without the figure (represented by a skeleton) is tough, the house is empty and he needs to find a job to feed himself. As the going gets tougher, his memory of this figure becomes more vivid. The anecdotes are punchy and funny, with my favourite being his (not Michael) culinary creations. These included burnt toast, a charred chicken wing and half-boiled egg with the eggshell still on the same plate. There were also painful moments of physical punishments delivered by the man. And there were the more imagined moments like masturbating side-by-side while sharing porn and also simple moments of embracing on the same bed.
For its free-spirited musings and the montage structure, stop-motion photography was rather appropriately and cleverly used. It was appropriate because he had too much to say and much of it needed visual manipulation. It was clever simply because it was funny yet sad. And the stop-motion quality of the visuals reinforced the comic points even more. On a closer look even the shots were nicely composed, being dramatic (exaggerated angles) at some points and non-chalant at other points.
At the end, it was a 50/50 guess that this man is Michael's fondly remembered late dad (without reading the synopsis). 50/50 because Michael presented a relationship that was more like a mix of buddy-hood and homoeroticism. Which raises a rather personal point of curiousity - how much of the presentation was subject and how much was craft? Behind a shield of visual hyperbole, it was hard to tell.

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