The Spirit Compendium - It's sooo tantric!


I ‘ve had enough! Not another movie that starts with a lecture on what happens every seventh month. The Maid has done it. 881 has done it. And now The Spirit Compendium (wow what a title!). And the shots are the same – montage of joss-sticks, garish-faced deities, heaps of hell notes and the signature chanting that conveniently solves the requirement of sound design.
But like what is being narrated, this seventh month, something different happened. Indeed, instead of the usual monsters we get on screen, this time we get ghosts who actually went through a bit of modeling experience. Tom is the protagonist who loses his girlfriend to some mishap and his super chio girlfriend appears around him in a fashionable looking black dress and freshly-curled tresses. Makes you want a hungry ghost anytime! And she even comes with a permanent smile (enhanced with `flexed’ eyes – recall how some girls adopt this expression of awe to make their eyes look bigger) beating all Channel 8 artistes at their game.

Tom’s father who has disappeared (under the command of this force called the screenplay) left him with a book and a Tibetian Bead. He shares the flat with May, who miraculously can `see’ things during this seventh month. And everytime she sees, she will freeze giving a perfect Channel 8 moment, ooops did I say Channel 8 again? (Upon checking the credits later, realized it was Chen Hui Hui). It was truly spooky throughout these scenes that marked the beginning…… I mean, the uncanny resemblance to Channel 8 dramas.

Then came the brilliant transcendental moment of the film – the masseuse. I thought they should really show this part to Apitchapong Weerasakul of Tropical Malady. It was a deeply profound concoction of the idea of misguided intentions in Eternal Summer (starring Bryant & Josef Chang), the unique world of Channel 8 drama (Jeremy, stop the Channel 8!) and the homoeroticism of an underwear advertisement. Basically Tom called for a massage service and Sam turns up. Sam’s family is apparently in shambles, so he is fending for himself through offering massage services. And Sam was so professional you almost wanted his number as well as an audience. With utmost, dignified professionalism, he asked Tom to strip while he himself stripped as well. And The camera work at this point was truly commendable, basically holding on to a good stationary 5 min shot of the process of Sam stripping. Making it the first time I really sat up to analyse the movie properly. Then, the details of the massage are shared. Heavens, the tantricity was just killing me!
The unique theme of massage has rarely been used in local films. This film dedicated a good 10 mins to show Sam executing a professional massage on Tom, at the same time paying tribute to NewUrbanMale, the quintessential men's label, manisfested in the form of underwears in that scene. I thought that was the end. No, the masseuse wanted to move in to stay with Tom. I heard giggles from behind me at this point. My heart was saying YES! Please do. Even after moving in, Sam upholds his professionalism all the time. If you recall May, Tom's roommate can `see' things that Tom cant. So once day, on her way back, she saw `something' and got very stressed. After 5 minutes of drama, the solution at the of the scene was, for Sam to give her a massage! That is not all, When May finally agreed to have the massage, Sam planted a camera in front of her and asked if he could film the process for future reference purposes. Well of course, future `reference', not sure to what. (the above section has been coloured in black so as not to spoil the film, it is still showing at Sinema Old School)
Well, you see, these are just some of the reasons why this film needs to be watched. I don't remember having been surprised like this. And you think I have said it all, no, there were more to come! More eye-candy hungry ghosts, New Urban Male apparel, massage techniques and massage selling techniques, healthy drink recipes like orange juice with honey and of course the nibblets of wisdom from the I-Ching book that helped Tom deal with his loss (girlfriend). That's why I have decided to stop here so that everyone can go support this local film and have a really gooooood time.
Meanwhile, you can catch trailers on a blog here.

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