Royston Tan Shorts Programme
In a highlight of the festival so far, Royston Tan entered the theatre in the monkey suit from Monkeylove with the star of that film Ming. You can't say he is not a good sport at least as it was very different to how I have seen any other director introduce their film at the festival.
DIY (2006)Tagline: The rhythm of every day life exposed
Starting out as a group of people looking out into the distance, this short quickly takes on a musical tone as their various actions start to interact in rhythm and then create a cacophony, before finally climaxing and going back to normal.
This short was very well shot and the locations were great. The characters were very different in each scene, but they all looked excellent in their environments (my favourite was the woman with the rubber band.)
In the credits I noticed that DJ KoFlow was in the film so the Mixmaster dishwasher was particularly apt.
I know this movie was a commissioned piece, but it was also funny to hear how the director came up with the idea after getting drunk and falling off the toilet, then tapping his finger on the side of the toilet bowl later.
CUT (2005)Tagline: The funniest cut of alld
A censorship groupie harasses a woman from the censorship board of Singapore in the supermarket, following her out to the car park where he begins a song and dance routine about censorship with a cast of hundreds.
This short was made to protest the cuts made to the director's first film and ironically this movie was itself banned on release.
I had some idea of the political climate of Singapore and restrictions on personal rights as I once was asked if it was "a crime to be openly gay" in Australia by a student studying here, but I didn't know there were still people trying to make films there.
What I liked most about the short that it managed to fit so much information into a short amount of time and still made it fun.
The two main characters are very funny as the woman censor being stuck up and the censorship groupie with a curly wig being very excitable and hyperactive.
I have not heard a censorship medley of songs before, but I thought it was excellent and had over 2000 people singing on it. Out of curiosity I would like to see the re-cut songs from Chicago (with the references to prostitution cut out.)
I highly recommend this short to anyone interested in the issue of censorship - Australia's OFLC should see it in particular as they need to get rod out of their arse.
Monkeylove (2005)Tagline: The nature of monkey was irrepressible!
In this funny and weird short a man in a monkey suit runs around in the snow while pining over his lost love via serious narration.
We also see him eating out of garbage and asking for a light from a caged rabbit-man who has to tumble his cage across the floor to reach him.
I enjoyed this short even thought there was not much of a story as it was funny to watch. Even when it tries to be arty by including shots of the film crew, it is done in an interesting way.
There is also a very sweet moment when the monkey man cries after becoming fed up with running around in the snow and is comforted by the director. They probably didn't need to include this, but it does make the film more endearing.
Even though I am a big fan of Asian cinema, I haven't seen much work from Singapore and I am looking forward to seeing more work from that country. I know there are some very creative people living there and government is trying to encourage more artists to live there so we will have to see.
Mother (2001)Tagline: If you whinged this much your mother would hate you too
OK, I get it! Royston didn't have a very good relationship with his mother and is trying to make up for it.
The home movie footage was nice, but it was basically the same thing repeated over and over saying that the mother always forgave him no matter what he was doing and that he didn't like her. The moral of the story about finally wanting to go see his mother, only to find out she has died was very heavy handed and you could see it coming a mile off.
Sons (1999)Tagline: Like father, like son
A father reminisces about growing up as single parent raising his son and how they were never that close. He managed to feed and clothe them, but there was no real bond between them so they never really new each other despite living together all their lives.
I thought this short matched up well with one of Royston's Mother short, but I liked this one more as you had someone to connect to in the story. It was still depressing though as the cycle related in the story looks like repeating itself.
New York Girl (2005)Starring: Karen Khoo
Tagline: Go Wonder Woman!
In this funny short we meet Karen Khoo who is meant to be having a casting interview, but it turns into a ride and a half as she won't stop talking.
She had just come back from New York and relates various stories about Singapore where having an accent will get you a job and people not thinking she is Chinese. Also she makes fun of rampant consumerism and the fake ness of some Singaporeans and says she has learnt a lot from the TV.
There was an important comment about only stereotypical roles being available for actors with an Asian background in Hollywood and even Jacky Chan is made to look stupid in American movies.
I also liked the part where she sang the Aerosmith song from Armageddon and she can sing seriously as the song over the closing credits proved. It was great to meet Karen via this short and hopefully she turns up in lots of roles in the future.
Hock Hiap Long (2001)Tagline: I am hungry after watching this short!
One of the main reasons I would like to go to Singapore is the food. Also, I would like to see what they call Singapore noodles in that country. This short tells the story of one particular cafe that no longer exists and how many more like it have been demolished in the name of urban renewal.
There is a great song and dance number with umbrellas and retro costumes and even the colour has been tweaked so it looks like an old clip.
As the narrator explained, you can't really get a feel for the place by just looking at the pictures, but it does help some people remember after they have been there.
Careless Whisper (2005)Tagline: I wish I could get Singapore Idol on TV...
This short starts out with a strange laboratory experiment about the Singaporean Government trying to crack down on Singlish and the narrator speaks in slang requiring the use of subtitles.
The main characters as Patrick, the wimpy security guard and Pinky who he is trying to woo. After being told to 'sing to her' by both his male & female friends, Patrick starts practising, very poorly to strangers, his barber and people on the street.
It doesn't go very well as Pinky's thought bubble says she can't even hear him singing. Patrick is not discouraged and keeps singing.
I thought this short was great as Patrick is a very funny character. Also my favourite part of this short was in the credits when Patrick auditions for Singapore Idol and they have the message 'please do not adjust your TV, this is the actual volume' when he is singing.
24 Hours (2002)Tagline: Lost love in Korea
Set to random Korean TV, we hear a man preparing to leave his friend in Seoul. They can't really understand each other and the TV doesn't really ad much to the film either.
I thought this short was neither here nor there, but it did raise quite a few questions from the audience which Royston dismissed as he doesn't want to give everything away. He would rather leave the ending open to your own interpretation.
Royston appeared again in the monkey suit, but not for long as he had neglected to put in a front zipper so he can't go to the toilet in it.
He talked about several of his films including CUT which managed to get his name mentioned in parliament (his mum was proud) after he was blacklisted for two years. I can't really see a short film in Australia drawing that reaction.
Other things that he talked about were that he likes having 'pockets of memories' in his films and that shorts are a very good medium on their own and don't have to be a stepping stone to features.
When asked about why he has a lot of song and dance routines he replied that song & dance routines make it easier to easier to criticise government, they won't get it.
Answering another question he said that he is using films to immortalise parts of Singapore before they are lost.
He also Likes challenging people, the censorship board is paid lots to censor films and they should work for it and there are lots of repressed issues in Singapore that need expressing.
What's with all the queer references in his films?
Was New York Girl scripted?
Why stay in Singapore?
Are you housebroken?
Why a monkey?
In Sapporo, monkeys will join you at the hot spring. Showing his feeling of loneliness.
This site is definitely not affilated with the Melbourne International Film Festival (DUH!) or the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.