Tuesday, April 25, 2006

(R) GUBRA's Duet

A dance for two, GUBRA’s choreography pairs two parallel worlds as they waltz to interracial, religious, and (extra) marital tunes.

GUBRA is Yasmin Ahmad’s 3rd feature film after RABUN and (the more successful) SEPET.

In GURBA, one story continues from SEPET. Now, Orked (Sharifah Amani Yahya) is a young, upper middle-class working woman married to Arif (Adlin Aman Ramlie), a successful advertising executive who is considerably older than her. Here, Orked who looks way below the legal age gets away with doing things married people do, and exudes unrealistic maturity in emotionally manipulating ‘the other woman’ in her husband’s life.

She meets Alan (Alan), her ex’s brother. In a Veet endorsed scene, currents flow between the two as she plucks hair off his chest while making conversation. But this is less pretentious than the nauseating ‘I support bangsa Malaysia’ conversation in Alan’s cute yellow truck.

The gem in GUBRA lies on the other side of town where a young Muslim cleric and his wife live next door to prostitutes. Yasmin liberally stabs at Muslims in Malaysia in a several scenes. The cleric pets a crippled dog (his hands didn’t get wet, no?), the cleric’s wife does not angry at Temah the prostitute for not wearing tudung, and the couple, in accepting the prostitutes’ company does not practice ‘I’m-holier-than-thou’ hypocrisy.

The story also reveals how economically and spiritually destitute the prostitutes are and that, at the end of the day, they are only human. This perhaps is the sincerest effort on Yasmin’s part.

However, during the press conference to launch GUBRA, Yasmin did not thank her main sponsor, DiGi. Has this restraint got to do with LB winning Maxis?

Whatever the reason, at the end of a duet, it is impolite not to thank the partner.

As for DiGi, maybe it’s Time to Change…

… partner

Saturday, April 15, 2006

(R) Happy New Year Cambodia!

This year, the new year falls on 14th of April (a 3-day festival). Read more about the Khmer New Year.

Just back from a trip to Cambodia, I've managed to snap some of the pre-festival cheer. You will see this decorative item hung in homes and business venues. And look, it's also the year of the dog! :)

Pix by Choy Su-Ling

Saturday, April 08, 2006

(R) Rise - Even with One Leg

"Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune;
but great minds rise above them"
- Washington Irving

Saturday, April 01, 2006

(R) 9MP

While the nation rolls out their Ninth Malaysia Plan, Break-a-Leg rolls out her Ninth Mental Plan for 2006 - 2010. She looks at 5 issues:

Reducing Income Equalities
As part of the poverty eradication programme to resolve the low-income blogger plight, break-a-leg finds herself a proper job

Rethinking Malaysian Education
Mother was right - I should have aimed for MRS before PHD

Making Speed a Competitive Advantage
With the increase in petrol price, drive faster to enhance fuel efficiency

Comprehensive Strategy to Engage China and India
Outsource the strategy development to India and manufacture the plan in China

Strengthening National Unity
Go watch GUBRA, sponsored by DiGi

(M) March 18, 2006 - Dialogue in Skin (by Hands Percussion)

Centre of Gravity
Pix Source: Hands Percussion

EARTH, water, metal and fire – these are the “elements” the Hands Percussion Team sought to portray through Dialogue in Skin, held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) last week.

Dialogue was first staged in May 2004 in Penang during the opening of the YTL Arts Festival. The group, formed in 1997 by Bernard Goh, creates unique performances using gu or traditional Chinese drums. It is easy to create fanfare with gu – the sounds that reverberate from them are loud, arresting and vibrant. What’s tough is “taming” these drums to express what the performer wants.

The KLPac show pulled the audience in with Centre of Gravity, the first item. Everything has a centre of balance, and the drummers got theirs from positioning their feet and knees in two of the major kungfu stances – “horse” (feet apart with both knees bended) and “bow and arrow” (one leg extended to the back and the other forward with knee bent). The earth-brown costumes of the performers complemented the primitive and tribal feel of the piece. They deployed techniques like beating the surface of the drum (at the centre and edges) and running their drumsticks along the sides of the gu (where there is a ridge of tacks holding down the skin).

The second piece, Fluency, was supposed to depict the qualities of water; it failed in its choreography and composition. The flow was choppy especially when the performers had to carry and move their drums around. The clearest musical reference to the fluidity of water came from the guitarist (Aluba) and flautist (Yii Kah Hoe).

Viewers who expected to see the taiko (Japanese drum) were disappointed. Goh explained that the team did not want to risk using their taiko, which were not in very good condition. However, they employed the taiko drumming methods (seven beats and off beats) on the gu. This piece, with its theme of a wedding celebration, did not bring out the union of the two great cultures, especially with the performers all clad in black. It merely looked like a piece intended to engage audience interaction.

Armour and Skin stood out simply by injecting melody into the otherwise rhythm-centric performance. This point, which seemed like an unfair advantage at first, was quickly dispelled when a delightful “conversation” ensued between “armour” (gamelan and various Chinese cymbals) and “skin” (ju gu or military drum).

Worthy of mention are the four drummers (Jimmy Ch’ng, Chang Yih Feng, Lee Chun Keat and Chew Soon Hing), who humoured the audience by giving the surface of their drums a good massage, and experimented playfully with Chinese cymbals of varied sizes. Guest performers from Rhythm and Bronze were Jillian Ooi, Susan Sarah John, Sharmini Ratnasingam and Wong Yee Ting.

Armour and Skin. Pix Source: The Star

Drumbeat Inferno was a fiery and energetic piece in which the performers were positioned such that man and drum intertwined. The myriad of techniques and man-to-drum combinations brought out the best in contemporary Chinese drumming. The hands of the drummers moved with incredible speed, akin to mo ying sau (shadow hands kungfu).

Despite the many drums and performers on stage, the movements were seamless. The centrepiece of this item was the Shime Taiko (Japanese drum), which has a lighter, more crispy tone than the bass gu. During the piece, Ch’ng rendered an impressive drum solo on the taiko with a tau gu (small Chinese drum) attached to its side.

While Dialogue was enjoyable overall, there were some parts that threatened to bore due to repetition in style and tone. But given the Hands Percussion Team’s enthusiasm, I have no doubt they will drum up something even more creative soon.