But you probably did not hear it.
Because why? Because I am one person. And there are 27 million people in Malaysia ... roughly. Out of which, only a matter of 300,000 or so are regular movie-goers .... which is still too many for one person to connect to. And no, one person cannot do enough Facebooking, blogging, pay-it-forward schemes, etc to reach all of those people.
But tried I did.
What was the message?
That Sell Out! is the best damn Malaysian film I have ever seen without having to tack on the clause "for a Malaysian film". Sell Out! is the first film that I'm proud of to see come out from our film industry. Yes, the first.
That Malaysians MUST watch it, because this is the direction I hope to see our films move towards. What direction is that? Better quality. Better acting. Better ideas. Better scripts. Better dialogue. More sophistication. More maturity. More honesty. Less naïvete. Less stupidity. And I don't care if the film doesn't yield to considerations of the conservative Malay crowd or the government about what is a worthy Malaysian film (i.e. a Malay film or a film that makes its Malaysian-ness obvious). All I care about is a good story, done well by us.
Guys, I'm tired of seeing yet another Malaysian movie which settles for 'just okay' - which, when compared to many other regions of world cinema is downgraded to 'crap' or 'sleep-inducing'. No, I'm not saying making good movies is an easy job - because I'm in the film industry, I know better than most of you reading this that it's bloodsuckingly hard. But what we have before is paltry and pathetic. When it comes to Malaysian films, things are slowly changing for the better over the past decade. But EVERY SINGLE TIME I am disappointed, one way or another. I am tired of being disappointed.
And then this film came along.
Let's get this straight - this isn't the best film ever made. And not everyone who sees the film will think it's the best Malaysian film ever. People will say, how about Yasmin Ahmad? Or P. Ramlee? How about Saiful Apek? How about Geng? Didn't you know Jangan Pandang Belakang made such and such amount of money? How can you make such a blanket statement? How come this film isn't completely in Malay? Don't everyone have different tastes and --
Just ... stop. Listen.
Let’s get this straight. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a reaction to a Malaysian film like the reaction of the [Singapore International Film Festival] audience to Sell Out!. “Riotous” is a huge understatement. They didn’t just laugh. They literally stomped their feet and screamed. I’m not making this up. You know what’s the sign of a good comedy that works a crowd really well? When, during the quieter, not-so-funny moments, there are coughs all around, people clearing their throats for the next round of gags. And that happened a lot with the crowd at the sold-out SIFF screening.
1. Sell Out! is quirky, weird, rather strange. For the first 15 minutes, you’d be forgiven for wondering what is really going on, even though you find yourself laughing uncontrollably at the jokes. The film seems to take its own sweet time to find comfortable footing, but it really does let loose from the get-go.
8. Even though the film is largely in English with a small percentage of Cantonese, it’s a very Malaysian film which smartly addresses a lot of what Malaysians experience on a day-to-day basis:
a. silly phone calls from people who just don’t get it when you say “Wrong number” or “This person isn’t here”
b. unscrupulous doctors out to make a quick buck and will diagnose you with anything even when you’re not ill
c. the mentality that if she or he is Eurasian, she or he must be good at ... something
d. fights over taxis which can go to really ridiculous lengths
e. department store staff who are everywhere but don’t seem to be around the moment you need one
9. Even though it’s partly a musical where characters suddenly break into song, that aspect of the film is really self-aware of a musical’s potential of becoming unbearably silly or maudlin, and so it even pokes fun at musicals. And the songs are incredibly catchy. You really wonder how director Yeo Joon Han did it, writing, directing and producing the film, while also composing the songs.
12. Sell Out! is the anthem for the underappreciated, and the creative soul that is increasingly losing its way in our modern world.
The above excerpts are taken from Machine Girl's review of Sell Out! in Twitch.com. But I urge you not to read the full review until after you see the film.
Sell Out! will be on general release in both Malaysia and Singapore on May 7th.
I say it again. Watch the film.