8th Short Cuts Review

The last instalment of Singapore’s 8th short cuts ended with The Wedding Avenger, The Hole, Rumah Sendiri and Sayang at the National Museum this year. What stood out for me was definitely Michelle Cheong’s The Wedding Avenger and the bringing a hint of emotional pain, Tan Shijie’s The Hole. Here’s a brief review of the short films.

1. The Wedding Avenger
Michelle Cheong | English and Mandarin with English Subtitles | 11mins
Jade, a bride-to-be having her pre wedding jitters, locks herself up in the toilet and goes through an array of 8-bit arcade game levels on the insecurities she has deep inside her heart.
The film, with the interesting touch of an arcade worldly feel to it, is portraying Jade’s insecurities about leaving behind her freedom and stepping into a world of commitment and unknown. She’s afraid of turning into something she doesn’t want to –a housewife- is thinking if she going through the wedding because her family wants her to. Going through the series of levels like how one would play an arcade game with all the right sound effects to go with it as well, she meets a shark-like character who companies her for the most parts and then dies to save her from her family’s expectations. The only thing is with the level change, are the words that comes out and stays for like a second and goes off. It might be good to have it stay for a tad longer for the slower reader to finish the sentence.
A personal favourite is definitely where she gets tied up with the shark and faces the family. A framed family portrait appears on the screen revealing bits and pieces of frame puzzles that forms the picture frame when it’s seen face front. A thought bubble from a relative about her fatigue, when mommy is giving her speech was also a slight amusement and that makes it an interesting scene. Quite a good 11 minutes of tickling entertainment.

2. The Hole
Tan Shi Jie | Japanese with English Subtitles | 18mins
Ever since Dad passed away, Ka-san –mother- and Kenji –son- has been living together. When Kenji grows up, his mother tries to match-make him to his refusal. After a visit to his father’s grave, and after a series of events, he soon realizes his mother’s concerns about him having a family on his own.
The film opens with Ka-san and young Kenji sitting on a bench in the hospital awaiting news from the doctor. They receive news that the father did not pull through and the scene closes. What struck me was the kind of heavy attachment Kenji has with his mother i.e: sharing the bed as a grown man with his elderly mother and passing her his button that fell off his shirt.  And I could feel Ka-san’s fears of her only son being alone if she should leave him as well one day and Kenji’s anger from the match-making photos given to him for finding a wife, still in denial that his mom might somehow maybe be with him forever.
The trip to Dad’s grave where Ka-san finds a lady who fell down a flight of stairs and is laying unconscious on the floor.  She screams for Kenji and they rush her to the hospital. The scene goes back to the elderly Ka-san and grown up Kenji sitting on a bench in the hospital again awaiting news from the doctor, this time, about the lady they saved. Somehow during this event, Kenji goes back and starts thinking on what if one day his mother leaves him. He goes to the kitchen and opens the envelope bearing pictures of ladies from the match-making agency and sees the button that fell off his shirt on the dining table.
I understand the how The Hole is portraying a strong bond that evolved from daily everyday rituals in a small family or single family depending on each other very much and think it’s has a simple and beautifully done cinematography. Rather professionally done for a student film. It’s speaks out to me on a personal level as well. A good film that speaks to you on family values simply. 
3. Rumah Sendiri
Daniel Hui | Bahasa Indonesia with English Subtitles | 21mins
A film about the chores of a Balinese housemaid, from the break of dawn till evening.  From drying and keeping the laundry to washing the dog to trimming the grass and it ends of folding laundry and her singing a little tune from her childhood.
It basically shows how the day goes for a domestic helper in Singapore and how she goes about it. It starts off with her opening up the living room and letting the morning light in, then switches to her keeping laundry and switching over the other ones that might be still damp. Sometimes there are news of maids being treated harshly but this has me confused about the concept of it. Then it goes into her other daily chores like ironing and giving the dog a bath. It shows that it’s a very personal work close to his heart and unfortunately, I am unable to relate to it emotionally. It doesn’t speak to me on how domestic help in Singapore might or might not have been mistreated and are maybe, suffering in silence.  I do, on the other hand, get the idea of how it lets people speak for themselves and that the camera is looking at the person from the filmmaker’s point of view. 

 Article by Yvette Ng

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