STOP10: A monthly guide to 10 Singapore films you can catch!
Film still from Saint Jack
Person A: Have you watched the recent local film Apprentice?
Person B: No. What is it about?
Person A: Its about the hangman in Singapore. It was really really good.
Person B: Oh, I see. Did Jack Neo direct it?
Person A: ............
Person B: Where to watch ah?
Person A: I think it's over already. It was last screened at this place called the Projector.
Person B: Where is that?
2017 is here and we are going to change all that. We are going to give you a million reasons to watch local, know where and when to watch them, and never be at a loss of what to do during your weekends, especially when it comes to nourishing the heart, mind and soul!
Here’s the deal. We are giving you STOP10, kind-of like a ‘SINdie + Top 10’. It is a list of 10 Singapore films, includes feature and short films, that you could watch every month. And we will tell you where you can watch it. Bookmark this right now next to that Top 50 Buffet List from that famous blogger LadyBoy Platinum Chef. Your weekend and some weekday nights will depend on it. With STOP10, you can keep up with the latest Singapore film screenings and happenings every month in just one list. Never miss out on a new film and be the first to discover new talents.
For those who have been following SINdie, 10 is a special number also because we are entering our 10th year in existence. Over the past years, we have interviewed countless filmmakers, met some truly amazing personalities and waxed lyrical about several gems that have emerged from the local filmmaking scene. So with the new year, we are back with a brand new look and new meat. STOP10 aside, we also launch our inaugural quarterly magazine today, put together by Alfonse Chiu, which offers some comprehensive reads and deep insights into the filmmaking scene here. This is a main course by itself, DO NOT consume it with other things like The Stray Times.
You ready for January 2017’s STOP10? Here we go! (in chronological order)
Ways of Seeing
Viddsee, a quintessential platform for watching streamed Asian short films, just launched the SG Film Channel in December 2016. You can look forward to more local films on this channel which is updated regularly. Ways of Seeing is a stop-motion animation (or clay-mation to be more exact) short film by Jerrold Chong, which explores the beauty of sound and the simple joys that our sense of hearing can bring to us. A blind man meets a blind violinist at a train station and they start an earnest conversation about their lives and the how they dealt with the ‘darkness' in their lives. Be mesmerised by its graceful marriage of thoughtful visuals and atmospheric sounds. This film was screened at the 27th Singapore International Film Festival and Jerrold himself has also interned in Charlie Kaufman’s well-acclaimed stop-motion film ‘Anomalisa’.
Move Out Notice
A snappy, humorous family drama about the relationship between mother and daughter sets a new bar in terms of using post-it pads! A property sales agent single-mother and her daughter have resorted to using cheery post-its as a way of communicating with each other to maintain a harmonious relationship. Correction: the only way of communicating with each other. But this system is tested when the daughter wants to move out to live with her friend and the silence in broken. We love how the film lends a different mood and tempo to the genre of family drama.
DVD, available at Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, Books Actually, Books Kinokuniya, Takashimaya
With its DVD recently launched in December 2016 at Objectifs, Unlucky Plaza must be watched for the reason that it is quite unlike most other Singapore films. It imagines the unimaginable, a hostage crisis involving a group of hostages and the aggressor armed with only a meat cleaver (so so so different from robbing a bank of $30,000 with no weapon) The hostage situation finds its way into YouTube and suddenly the world learns that Singapore no longer that safe unicorn of a nation it wanted to be. Clearly an ambitious film with a nod to Quentin Tarantino, and its unabashed ambition makes for great entertainment. It also stars some of the best acting talents in Singapore including Dim Sum Dolly Pamela Oei, Judee Tan, Adrian Pang, Shane Mardjuki and Filipino actor Epy Quizon in the lead role. Unlucky Plaza was the opening film of the 25th Singapore International Film Festival and had 2 sold-out screenings.
7 Jan, Sat, 5pm, The Plaza, National Library Building
This was the first Hollywood movie shot entirely on-location in Singapore. The authorities banned it in Singapore when it was first released in 1979 as it featured an unsavoury side of Singapore - the sex trade. In fact, the production team had to shoot this film under a different name at that time. The film is about a savvy American pimp, Jack Flowers, and his oscillations between the Chinese triads and his Western customers. The movie title comes from the fact that he is really quite an honourable man who sticks by his principles in a rather dishonourable trade.
The film’s screening is part of the Asian Film Archive’s State of Motion exhibition pre-tour screening series of 5 old feature films which showcase Singapore in a different guise. The film screening series runs from 6 to 8 Jan. Details on where to watch and how to get tickets are available in this link. We also interviewed writer Ben Slater, who wrote about the film and its production in his book ‘Kinda Hot’.
We are giving away an autographed (by Ben Slater) copy of ‘Saint Jack’ and a free pair of tickets to the State of Motion Bus tour (worth $36). Contest details will be posted on our Facebook page. Look out for the contest post.
Ring of Fury
7 Jan, Sat, 9pm, The Plaza, National Library Building
If the government had not banned this film in the 70s, it might have sparked a little industry of martial arts films in Singapore, with enough critical mass to rival those out of Hong Kong. Ring of Fury, directed by Tony Yeow and James Sebastian, can claim the title of being the only martial arts films ever to be made in Singapore. According to people who have watched it, the film has a strong edgy, outrageous style, has a couple of funny moments and also a compelling storyline. The tagline says it all - a humble noodle-seller turned pugilist who battles against gangsters led by a boss who wears an iron mask! Peter Chong, the lead carries off the role with much charisma and boy, those fight scenes look so raw and genuine!
This film is also screened as part of the Asian Film Archive’s State of Motion exhibition pre-tour screening series, which runs from 6 to 8 Jan. Details on where to watch and how to get tickets are available in this link. In it, Ben Slater, who also got very close to the late Tony Yeow, shares some insights into the film and the making of it.
A pair of State of Motion Bus tour (worth $36) tickets will be given away. Contest details will be posted on our Facebook page. Look out for the contest post.
The Glare (part of K Rajagopal’s retrospective)
14 Jan, Sat, 2-6pm, SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)
Filmmaker K Rajagopal is twice the age of many of the currently active filmmakers in Singapore but makes some of the most exciting works seen in the circuit. Following the critical acclaim to his debut feature film A Yellow Bird, the Singapore Film Society has put together a one-day only retrospective of his films this month, showcasing all of his works between 1995 and now (including some new films commissioned by the Indian Heritage Centre).
The Glare is one his early short films about a housewife who escapes into the world of the television programmes she is obsessed with as a respite from her abusive husband. The film marries both realism and fantasy and makes you laugh one second while feeling angsty the next. This film which, won Rajagopal his second Special Jury Prize at the Singapore International Film Festival in 1996, like Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote for the awards in that year and was even mentioned on television in national news then!
Timeless (part of K Rajagopal’s retrospective)
14 Jan, Sat, 2-6pm, SCAPE Gallery (Level 5)
Also part of the K Rajagopal retrospective on 14 Jan is Timeless, a piece commissioned for an earlier retrospective of his works in 2010 by the National Museum of Singapore. Timeless won Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the 2011 Singapore Short Film Awards. It is a highly conceptual film about art and history in which a man appears in four different time periods, in different states of existence but somewhat in the same frame of mind, repeating his own mistakes made in his earlier incarnations. Kind of like Tilda Swinton in Orlando minus the sex change.
Tony's Long March
14 Jan, Sat , National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre
Tony Yeow made what could be considered Singapore’s first martial arts film, Ring of Fury, in the 70s, during a time when Singapore cinema was in decline. A man with a resonant, deep newscaster voice, he was not your run-off-the-mill filmmaker. He had crazy ideas and even made a film like Tiger’s Whip in 1998, about a Hollywood actor who had a disease which reduced his manhood to a stump and came to Singapore to look for a cure! His never-say-die attitude was legendary, having faced the worst box-office flops anyone could stomach. The Long March is a documentary made about Tony and sad to say, Tony passed away in 2015, before the completion of this documentary.
This screening is part of a pairing under the National Museum Cinematheque Selects Showcase. It will be screened with Lost in La Mancha. Directors Ben Slater and Sherman Ong of The Long March will be present for a discussion on the film and Tony’s life.
26 Jan, Thu, cinemas islandwide
Take 2 will prove to you that a prison film can bring festive CNY cheer too. Produced by Jack Neo, the film is about 4 ex-prisoners who start life afresh after finishing their sentences. For people who enjoyed his earlier prison film One More Chance (2005), this comes from the same cloth but brighter, funnier, with more surprises and has some amazing action sequences! This film’s cast includes familiar faces like getai veteran Wang Lei, Ah Boys to Men's Maxi Lim and Garrick Chin and Long Long Time Ago’s Ryan Lian. The film is Ivan Ho’s directing debut, having been a screenwriter who co-wrote Ah Boys to Men Three: Frogmen and Long Long Time Ago.
The Fortune Handbook
26 Jan, Thu, cinemas islandwide
Here is your chance to see three of the biggest ‘Lees’, Christopher Lee, Mark Lee and Li Nanxing, in local Chinese TV entertainment, hamming it up in a CNY comedy. The Fortune Handbook is about a Fortune God intern (yes, apparently they have a training school in heaven) who is sent to earth to do good in order to be promoted to a full-blown Fortune God. Unfortunately, he messes up the internship by indiscriminately giving normal beings special powers and all hell breaks loose on earth. What a delicious mess!