Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"Garin Nugroho: Oleh-Oleh Menyedihkan" - Kompas Cyber Media, Jakarta

48th sfiff
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Sutradara kenamaan Tanah Air Garin Nugroho membawa oleh-oleh dari ajang San Fransisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) ke-48, awal Mei lalu. Tapi, tunggu, oleh-oleh yang dimaksud bukanlah dalam arti sesungguhnya.

Kali ini oleh-oleh yang dibawa Garin berupa sesuatu yang menyedihkan bagi kita--soal nasib perfilman Tanah Air, yang belakangan memerlihatkan geliatnya. Hadirnya film-film garapan anak negeri bolehlah membahagiakan, namun tak ditunjang dengan ide-ide baru yang memuaskan.

Jika boleh jujur, kata Garin, ia melihat film-film karya sutradara Malaysia yang diputar di SFIFF sangatlah menonjol. "Film-film karya sutradara Malaysia tidak berkompromi dengan penonton. Mereka lebih berani dalam menyajikan tema-tema baru yang lebih beragam," tutur Garin, saat dijumpai di acara pemutaran perdana film Lovely Luna, di Planet Hollwood 21, Jakarta, Selasa lalu (24/5).

Kondisi tersebut sangat berbeda dengan yang di Indonesia belakangan ini. Banyak cerita yang mirip kisah dalam film-film 1980-an, namun dengan kemasan masa kini. Itulah yang membedakan film-film Indonesia sekarang dengan lima film Malaysia yang diputar di SFIFF, yaitu The Gravel Road, Monday Morning Glory, Sepet, Tokyo Magic Hour, dan Putri Gunung Ledang. Film terakhir ini dibintangi oleh sejumlah aktor dan aktris kenamaan Tanah Air, yaitu Christine Hakim, Slamet Rahardjo, Alex Komang, dan Dian Sastro

"Sebenarnya dari segi kemasan dan keterampilan, film-film Indonesia bolehlah unggul. Tapi, dari segi keseniannya kita tertinggal," komentarnya.

Rindu Kami PadaMu (Of Love and Egg) garapannya menjadi satu-satunya film Indonesia yang dipertontonkan di SFIFF, meski tidak turut dalam kompetisi.

Sepet, arahan sutradara Malayasia Yasmin Ahmad, rupanya cukup menarik hati sutradara Daun di Atas Bantal ini. "Film ini mengangkat kisah asmara antara pemuda Cina dengan pemudi Malaysia atau ada juga film yang mengangkat isu terorisme," ujarnya.

Garin sendiri sepertinya kian terpacu untuk kembali mengarap film. Saat ini, ia bersama tiga sutradara lainnya, yakni Toni Trimarsanto, Lianto Luseno, dan Vivawesti tengah membidani sebuah film tentang Aceh berjudul Serambi. "Sekarang masuk proses editing. Rencananya tanggal 19 Agustus akan dirilis," terangnya.

Setelah itu, ia akan berkonsentrasi menggarap film lainnya yang diberi judul Opera Jawa. Syutingnya akan dimulai November nanti. "Film ini dibuat dalam rangka peringatan 250 tahun (komponis) Mozart," katanya seperti dikutip oleh Antara, Rabu (25/5).

Monday, May 30, 2005

I was a mere barnacle on a wall in Four Seasons Langkawi.

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
My husband, being the penny-pinching Cheena that he is, picked on the slightest blemish on the paintwork of every wall.

I, on the other hand, being the jakun Muar girl that I am, was just glad to have been invited to this plush resort.

We're Yin and Yang, you might say, and that's why I love him so.My husband took many pictures, of course, but truth be told, I don't know how to put up more than one photo per thread. (As you can see, this declaration no longer applies!)

I chose these two because... I don't know... because I think the size and beauty of that wall and that cauldron speak volumes about the place.

That said, if your curiosity is piqued a tad more than can be contained, I suggest you click on the photo above to see the other three pictures I've stored in flickr.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I liked it. So sue me.

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Azam, Il Presidente, Amir Muhamad and I saw 'Senario XX' last night.

I really enjoyed it.

Expect silly, over-the-top slapstick moments, of course, but on many occasions, they hit the note and had me giggling, chuckling, and even neighing.

And Rosyam Nor gave what I felt was the absolute best performance of his lifetime towards the end of the film.

Unfortunately, there will probably be many poor reviews for it, and mainly from the usual tongue-clicking, if-it-ain't-American-it-ain't-funny amateur movie reviewers posing as serious film critics.

(Some folks on Cinema Online were picking on Senario XX's special effects - now how silly is that!)

To me, this is Python territory, admittedly nowhere near as literate. And slapstick has a genius for following its own rules. I mean, who can explain why we laughed the first time we saw a pie hit someone's face?

While watching Senario XX I laughed. Out loud. As did Il Presidente and Azam, who, at one point, nearly choked on his own guffaw.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, this was enough. I mean, for crying out loud, this is not Ibsen, it's Senario XX. It knows who it is, there is nothing Hegelian or Kantian about it, and it made a half-full cinema roar on occasion.

As Il Presidente himself declared at the end of the film, "I enjoyed it more than that Sith Shit."

And now, for something completely serious...

"Immanual Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table

David Hume could out consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill

Plato they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram

And Rene' Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am"

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker
But a bugger when he's pissed!"

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Sweetness, always" by Pablo Neruda

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
"Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff and people of everyday,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
or in old and fearful stone?

I want verses of felt or feather which scarcely weigh,
mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.

Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.

Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
tunnels underground.
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.

In Madras a long time since,
I saw a sugary pyramid,
a tower of confectionery -
one level after another,
and in the construction, rubies,
and other blushing delights,
medieval and yellow.

Someone dirtied his hands
to cook up so much sweetness.

Brother poets from here
and there, from earth and sky,
from Medellin, from Veracruz,
Abyssinia, Antofagasta,
do you know the recipe for honeycombs?

Let's forget about all that stone.

Let your poetry fill up
the equinoctial pastry shop
our mouths long to devour -
all the children's mouths
and the poor adults' also.
Don't go on without seeing,
relishing, understanding
all these hearts of sugar.

Don't be afraid of sweetness.

With or without us,
sweetness will go on living
and is infinitely alive,
forever being revived,
for it's in a man's mouth,
whether he's eating or singing,
that sweetness has its place."

This simple poem pretty much sums up how I feel about the creation of that much misunderstood thing called "art". I keep going back to this poem to remind myself of what needs to be done, and what needs to be avoided.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Pick of Art Quotes.

the pick of art
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
I believe that God speaks to us constantly. And He speaks, not just with the Words of the holy books, but also through the things that surround us; things which we see, smell, hear and touch.

So why don't we hear Him most of the time?

The problem is... I don't know... perhaps the problem is we often pay attention to the wrong things. Perhaps our hearts are too clouded with greed, fear, hatred and anger to see anything beyond the thick walls of our small minds.

I also believe that God speaks to our hearts. And I believe that the great artists in the history of mankind were able to produce such inspired works of art because they saw the Words, heard the Sounds and felt the Love. And that unlike most of us, they looked and listened with clear, sincere hearts.

Then again, maybe all this is just me and my stupid, shallow daydreams again.

And yet... sometimes... like how it was on the set of 'Sepet', when I looked closely at the small playback tv monitor and watched Jason place his head on his mother's lap and cry, there was a strong feeling that something much bigger than us had taken over the whole process. And if Hitchcock was right in saying that "art is emotion", then I would like to believe that in that rare and special moment, we stumbled upon something artistic, in spite of our lack of artistic talent.

Okay, enough about me. Here then are some quotes from several all-time great artists, concerning art itself. I chose them, not only because of who said them, but also because they sound so perilously close to Truth to me. See what you think.

Or should I say, pay close, quiet attention to how you FEEL.

"Art for art's sake is a philosophy of the well-fed." - Yu Cao

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs." - Ansel Adams

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better." - Andre Gide

"Art is God's work." - P.Ramlee

"It's only words... unless they're true." - David Mamet

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." - Frank Zappa

"All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography." - Federico Fellini

"To be an artist is to believe in life." - Henry Moore

"Precision is not reality." - Henri Matisse

"In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature." - Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

"Every good painter paints what he is." - Jackson Pollock

"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." - Paul Cezanne

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso

"I do not seek. I find." - Pablo Picasso

"Great art can communicate before it is understood." - T. S. Eliot

"When I was a kid, a book I read advised young artists to be themselves. That decided it for me. I was a corny kind of guy, so I went in for corn." - Walt Disney

"Art is emotion." - Alfred Hitchcock

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo

"To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good, but that most people can't eat it." - Leo Tolstoy

"Art is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feeling." - Leo Tolstoy

"The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel." - Piet Mondrian

"I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, he feels deeply, he feels tenderly." - Vincent van Gogh

"Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art." - Rémy de Gourmont

And finally, here's something about an ancient Japanese philosophy which means a lot to me, because it changed the way I look at beauty and art:

"Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional... It is also two separate words, with related but different meanings. 'Wabi' is the kind of perfect beauty that is seemingly-paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection, such as an asymmetry in a ceramic bowl which reflects the handmade craftsmanship, as opposed to another bowl which is perfect, but soul-less and machine-made. 'Sabi' is the kind of beauty that can come only with age, such as the patina on a very old bronze statue. Wabi and Sabi are independent word stems in normal speech. They are brought together only to make a point about aesthetics. Sabi is most often applied to physical artistic objects, not writing. A well-known examplar of what one would call a 'wabishii' object: black spit polish boots with dust on them from the parade ground. Many Japanese pots, the expensive ones, are dark and mottled -- wabi. 'Sabishii' is the normal word for 'sad', as in, that was a sad movie. A related term in literature and the arts is 'clinamen', the act of deliberately breaking a stylistic rule to enhance the beauty of an otherwise perfect whole." - excerpt from Leonard Koren's book on the subject.

There. I hope now we can conduct our regular discourses on film and the art of film-making with a new common understanding. And may our future films be even more beautiful than the ones we made before.

Ameen, ameen, ya rabbal aalameen.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The club's 5th screening, Love Letter.

Picture courtesy of the very sweet Miss Jasemaine. Taken by the very kind Mr Nazrul. Isn't Mr Habri just so the very handsome?

Me, da boss, flying to Miri this afternoon. Will be in and out of Sarawak these next couple of weeks. Please pray for my safe journey, my friends.