Monday, May 28, 2007

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone / Hei Yan Quan (Tsai Ming-Liang) Review

Master-Painter and his Societal Art

Last Saturday, I went to Cathay Cineplex in Bandar Utama to watch this particular artistic movie. It is the only cinema showing this movie. Being a Malaysian who loves movies of such genre, I am absolutely glad that "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" passed the censorship board. To top it off, the setting of the movie is in Kuala Lumpur, where I was born, bred and staying. Such a combo is irresistible. This is Mr. Tsai's first movie that made it to a Malaysian cinema.

Biography of Tsai Ming-Liang

A KL-ite who owns no private transport, I commute to KL at least twice a month. I have to pay visits to HSBC to settle my monthly instalments or sometimes for the mere purpose of having cheap local delicacies or CD browsing in record stores. Going to the centre of the town, despite its business, noisy traffic and at times, shoddy surroundings is very much a soul-fulfilling experience. It is hard to explain why but that is how I feel.

It can be said that I know every nook and cranny in KL, its alleys and its well-kept secrets. I have been there during weekends, seen the antics of foreigners. Bangladeshi workers frequent the street near the Mydin departmental store. Indonesians often sit at the stairs of Kotaraya. The stairs leading to this store is particularly tall. These foreigners would be watching Bollywood films broadcasted from stores with its music blaring loudly. Otherwise, they would be standing in front of lottery shops, watching cars and people go by.

Seeing them makes me wonder sometimes, how do they feel and what is their livelihood like? They come from afar, away from family, with no money. Do they feel bored with their lives? Do they have longings, desires and expectations for the future? At times, I do feel bored with my work and reserve some hopes for a better future. As humans, I do not expect any less from them. Reservation of hope and the eventual destiny to be able to fulfil them are two different things... Do they really have any "hope" of getting what they want in their current situation?

I would say "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" is a movie that addresses the emotional aspects of foreigners at its "core" and "soul". Lightly-layered elements of "social awareness" is being slipped into its association with the "core".

A movie with speech almost non-existent, Tsai Ming-Liang, the master painter unleashed a surrealistic art-piece with realistic issues and surroundings.

A painting is without heard speech, but it can definitely say a thousand words.

1) Emotional aspect of the characters
2) Social awareness issues
3) Realist-surrealist artistry, filming style and the use of music

For the time being, please visit Jeremy Heilman's Moviemartyr @ TIFF to see his review

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