First Takes - ' Uncleboy' by Jannah Monjiat

The one thing that distinguishes this documentary from other documentaries about underdogs is the subject seems almost all the time drunk. And there were a few other touches that made me straighten my back when watching 'Uncleboy'. According to Jannah, Uncleboy was made out of a chance encounter with this alcohol guzzling middle-aged man who loitered in the HDB void deck. And it was appareantly made overnight, which I find quite a feat because it went so deep into the not just his life, but also the lives of people around him.

'Uncleboy' does not appear to have an agenda or a clear thread of plot development. It seems like a leisurely stroll through his life and the things he loves to talk about - music, dogs and er.... alcohol. he has a a few dogs in his house and the way he interacts and calls them is rather endearing. It is also evident that he's got a music talent from the way he croons a few lines of the same song throughout the interview with him...almost of a rock-band quality. Then there were the awkwardly-comical moments with his mother when he introduced her while she was still sloggin away at the kitchen sink. She looked years below what her age would be if Uncleboy is in his 40s (my guess). Then as an off-shoot, the camera turns to the neighbours who also play a part in Uncleboy's life.
The biggest surprise of the film was a trip to the courts to await his sentence. He's apparently landed on the wrong side of the law (under the influence of alcohol) and it seems like a familiar journey for him. The taxi trip and how close we got to the moment made his problems very real to the audience. So in fact, his life or the filmmaker's right tming of covering his life at this moment gave the film a latent and natural narrative structure. Never mind the rather 'superficial' chapter titling. It did little for me since the film itself already had this underlying narrative muscle in it.

Jannan is graduate from Republic Polytechnic with a love for music films and arts.

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