My thoughts and ramblings on ‘Yasmine’…and other stuff

Just saw the movie ‘YASMINE’. In short, I enjoyed it. For a first feature length movie from a Bruneian director, I thought it was generally good and it kept me engaged throughout.

Now for some random thoughts:

SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET

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So how’s the Plot

It’s a typical story of the hero wanting to do something that her father disapproves but all is well in the end as she learns about true friendships and reconcile with her father. And there is a love triangle subplot too. Is it groundbreaking? No. Is it bad? No. It’s like any other story. It is what it is. So I’m not complaining about the plot.

What about the Language? They sound weird in the trailer

This one took a bit while to get used to. It sounds like a patchwork of Bruneian, Malaysian and Indonesian accent. It is not that surprising considering the inter-regional cast and crew of the film. It bothered me in the beginning but you quickly forget about it because you get engrossed in the story.

Heck, there are scenes where the indonesian actors just couldn’t be bothered trying to sound Bruneian but I just rolled with it….it’s better than butchering a Bruneian accent right? One of my favourite scene in the movie was when the dad meets the master in the wheelchair. At that point, I thought “Screw the accent and dialects! These guys acted out a good scene. Doesn’t matter”

But the movie is still recognizably set in Brunei, right?

What I really really love about this movie was seeing the local landmarks on a big screen. Yes, Masjid SOAS looks cool on the big screen and so does Kampung Ayer.

Best of all, seeing a typical Kadai Runcit on the big screen (with a strategically placed shot of Indomie Mee Goreng packs as well!!) Kadai Runcit should be seen more on the big screen….heck, you know what?! they should make a whole movie set in a Kadai Runcit. Good guys trapped in a Kadai Runcit fending off bad guys Assault on Precinct 13 style! Someone make that happen!

Then there are those little Brunei stuff that they try to shoehorn into the script like Nasi Katok and Ambuyat. No comment.

And there are the ‘less realistic’ part of Brunei showing up in the movie but hey, who cares….It’s a movie. It’s a form of escapism. What you see is a Brunei that exists in a movie world…

…a Brunei where Shahbandar College exists (those Origins Films people or whoever else involved in the production better start selling Shahbandar College t-shirts)

…a Brunei where RTB actually mob someone at the airport for an interview (RTB don’t do that kind of thing hahaha)

…a Brunei where there are 10 Silat Masters scattered throughout the country. Well, 11 if count the wheelchair master….ok 12 if you count the dad….no wait, 13 if you add M. Nasir.

M. Nasir?!!

At one point in the movie, M. Nasir briefly showed up as a Sith Lord luring Yasmine to the Dark Side (I like to believe he was a Sith Lord).

There were also other cameos as well (HEY! It’s Uco from RAID 2!) but the best one was the familiar local RTB actor playing a teacher scolding Yasmine for not wearing tudong in school. So happy that he’s involved in this somehow.

Yasmine still-thumb-630xauto-48439

I don’t care about the story. Was there a lot of ass kicking?!

The fight scenes were definitely well done and exciting. For those of you who may have found the dramatic scenes boring or cringe-worthy for your taste then I’m sure the fight scenes made up for it. Kudos to the director, choreographer and the editor.

And Yasmine did beat up a bunch of douchebags at Kampong Ayer. Disappointingly, she didn’t kick any of them onto a pile of durians.

(Note: If you have someone kick another person onto a pile of durians in the sequel then you will definitely have my money!)

So What’s Next?!

The film has been generally well-received in Brunei and Indonesia and there have been talks about a sequel. The director even mentioned about having ideas for a 2nd AND 3rd movie.

I don’t know what she has in mind but as long as it’s not something stupid like Yasmine getting recruited into a special force team fighting terrorists or her dad gets killed and she seeks vengeance.

Just imagine the trailer for that *Trailer voice* They Killed Her Father. They killed her best friend. This Summer. Yasmine is back. This time, it’s personal! Yasmine 2!

But on a serious note, I could see Yasmine joining a regional Martial Arts competition for the sequel facing different opponents with different styles of fighting. She could be part of a larger contingent and has to work together with that rival of hers from the international school. Enemies turned friends. Throw in other actors from the region and there ya go!

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So What’s Next?!

I already told you, they could do a sequel…

No. I mean, what’s next for Brunei?! There is a lot of hype, not just about the movie itself, but this whole idea that it could jumpstart an actual local film industry

It would be damn great, wouldn’t it?! But it is definitely easier said than done. Here’s a quote from Brunei Times: “Indeed, there is a lot of room for this industry to grow. It needs more producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, artistes, technicians, animators and musicians.” Do we have those people? Oh we have plenty of them. A locally produced feature length film could be done. Actually, it has been done!

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Before Yasmine came out, there was a local movie that was released in cinemas called ‘Apa Ada Dengan Rina‘. Unlike Yasmine, it was made up of mostly local cast and crew. It did get favourable reviews from the locals and in the regional film festivals.

I remember how one person wrote to Brunei Times last year in April complaining about how ‘un-Bruneian’ Yasmine was due to the cast and crew. I couldn’t find the link to the article because somehow Brunei Times lost all the ‘Letters to Editorials’ between September 2013 and 2012 BUT thanks to web archive, you can read here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130409032913/http://www.bt.com.bn/letters-editor/2013/04/05/need-recognise-local-talent

Or you can read it below

Need to recognise local talent

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dear Editor,

IT UPSETS me to see how a Bruneian movie is about to feature only one or two Bruneian casts. I understand that it is going to be shot entirely in Brunei, but what is so Bruneian about a movie full of casts from Malaysia and Indonesia?

The funny thing is, there are a whole lot of talented Bruneians and they will not event try to audition anyone. What is the production company saying? Are we not good enough? Are these foreigners better than us?

I respect the fact that they want to make a movie in Brunei but what is Bruneian about this movie? I support all locally-made products be it food, drinks, dramas, songs, whatever. As long as it is Bruneian, I have to vouch for it. But in this case, it is a shame.

One production company had released a full-length movie and the cast and crew members were all Bruneians and it was well received, with rave reviews and comments.

This other movie that is about to be filmed needs to feature more Bruneian actors and actresses because this could be their chance to make it big in this industry.

Until the day the locals have faith in the locals, that is the day when Brunei will have successful individuals.

But until that day comes, Bruneian artistes will have to shadow these foreign celebrities to get a small piece of the cake.

Lo-Cal

I remember this article because I actually left a comment on it:

As much as I ideally want a good pure 100% Bruneian film production, I’m not too offended that ‘Yasmine’ (I assume that this is what the writer is referring to) has a sizable foreign cast and crew especially since our local film industry is still in its infancy. I personally look at it this way – if this project can help us get exposed and recognition in an international stage then a having a largely foreign cast/crew is a price worth paying. It will make film industries in neighbouring countries take notice and see Brunei’s potential as a place to do film business. Then hopefully, we will have more local film productions once we gain that confidence and experience from working with foreign productions.

It is also interesting to see the different ways these ‘Brunei films’ are made: Apa Ada Dengan Rina is mostly local based while Yasmine takes a more international approach. I believe there is one more local film in production that is based on a web series. I’m not aware if there are others but it would be cool if there are. To me, they’re all for the common goal of jump starting our film industry and we should support them all.

If the writer is still upset by the foreign cast in the movie, at least think about it this way: The foreign cast will be directed by a local woman director. That counts for something 🙂

Note: The local webseries I was referring to was ‘Break’ by Adam Grove.

I still stand by what I wrote. They’re all for the common goal of jump starting our film industry and we should support them all. You know what I hope? I hope that guy who wrote that back in April (who went by the name ‘Lo-Cal’) I hope he’s an aspiring local director that sees Yasmine and goes ‘That was good but I can do it better…with local cast and better script’ If that’s the case, then more power to him.

That was exactly how James Cameron got motivated to make movies. He saw Star Wars and said ‘That was cool but I can do better’ and he went on to push (and continue to push till now) technological boundaries to bring awesome cinematic experiences for the audience.

I’ve also been hearing rumblings about local animators

Yes and I’ve written about this early last year when I was talking about local Bruneian legend.

“..I hope one day we can produce ‘Perang Kastila’ or ‘Kastila War’ (war between Brunei and Spain in the Philippines) for television viewers and animation will make such an epic production possible,” said someone from RTB

And like I’ve mentioned in my post last year, there were many more local legends that we can make a movie or an animation on. And others feel the same way as well.  A University professor have said that we should use our culture as an ‘asset’Our Minister have said that our unique culture can be seen as niche in the creative industry; A visiting former BBC executive have put forward the idea of our culture and history as a selling point.

Yeah but….I don’t like period piece. I want modern stuff.

True, it doesn’t have to be restricted to local legends. As long as it feels ‘Bruneian’.

My feature film is a movie about Bruneians. It will show the interactions and communication among Bruneians. The reality of Bruneian society,” said local filmmaker Adam Grove few years ago.

That’s what I hope to see someday. Something similar to that.

Let me rewind the clock a bit. I dug up this one right after watching Yasmine and was thinking about this whole local film industry thing

Three Years ago. 2011.

I was the wide eyed recent graduate optimist who had more free time posting stuff on the internet (some say I still do)

I wrote in this blog about how THE Brunei Film – the ONE that would jumpstart a local film industry – should be an anthology of three short interconnecting stories each based on the theme of Melayu, Islam and Beraja. You can read my ramblings about it here if you want:

https://trylobyte.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/creating-the-brunei-film-a-trilogy-based-on-melayu-islam-beraja/

But there was a point I made in the end that I still believe in:

But the main point that I want to put across is that the story(ies) that we should make must touch on a topic that is both contemporary and relevant to Bruneians. If we want to start some sort of Brunei film industry then we must simply start with a bang:

  • It may not have to be high standard but definitely don’t aim for a low one
  • Must appeal to Bruneians from various age groups
  • Most importantly, a movie that actually MATTERS. We can’t make a mark with our film industry by producing superficial films. It must at least have some depth/thought to it.
  • It must be Bruneian. So that means it’s about Bruneians, deals with Brunei and is intended for Bruneians. And other people that would watch this movie would know it as a ‘Bruneian movie’.

A scene from Yasmine, about a girl who wants to be a silat champion

BUT personally, I think the beauty of this movie was that it was the story/characters first, a showcase of Brunei second. That’s the key to its crossover appeal. It wasn’t trying to be THE ‘Bruneian’ movie but just a movie that tries to tell an engaging story. That’s it.

I’m not saying Yasmine should be a 100% ‘Bruneian’ movie. I’m saying that Yasmine could be a springboard towards an eventual production of a high standard pure ‘Bruneian’ movie. See the film as if it’s a test reel for Brunei…a movie with enough Bruneian elements that acts as a proof of concept to show that a quality and well-produced movie could be set in Brunei and be about Brunei and Bruneians.

And that is a hope that Yasmine (and Apa Ada dengan Rina) is helping to realize.

Related:

YASMINE – BRUNEI DIALOGUE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYYJkqkDwmQ

Brunei shoots for the stars with trailblazing first commercial film

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/18/brunei-trailblazing-first-commercial-film-yasmine-silat

Sutradara Ingin Film `Yasmine` Berlanjut Jadi Sekuel

http://showbiz.liputan6.com/read/2094806/sutradara-ingin-film-yasmine-berlanjut-jadi-sekuel

Brunei’s film industry has just begun

www.bt.com.bn/breaking/2014/08/22/brunei’s-film-industry-has-just-begun

What’s so special about Brunei films?

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/life/Whats-so-special-about-Brunei-films-30222522.html

Need to recognise local talent

https://web.archive.org/web/20130409032913/http://www.bt.com.bn/letters-editor/2013/04/05/need-recognise-local-talent

Make way for Brunei’s independent film director

bt.com.bn/art-culture/2012/04/25/make-way-bruneis-independent-film-director

Thoughts on Local Brunei Legends

https://trylobyte.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/thoughts-on-local-brunei-legends/

Bruneians called on to explore 3-D animation

http://bruneiembassy.be/bruneians-called-on-to-explore-3-d-animation/

Identify cultural assets to develop creative industries

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2012/05/29/identify-cultural-assets-develop-creative-industries

MIB a catalyst for creative industries

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2012/05/31/mib-catalyst-creative-industries

Brunei can carve own creative niche

http://www.bt.com.bn/2013/01/15/brunei-can-carve-own-creative-niche

Creating The ‘Brunei’ Film – A Trilogy Based on ‘Melayu Islam Beraja’

https://trylobyte.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/creating-the-brunei-film-a-trilogy-based-on-melayu-islam-beraja/

YASMINE, CINTA REMAJA YANG TAK MENYE-MENYE

http://fanabis.org/2014/08/yasmine-cinta-remaja-yang-tak-menye-menye/

Melihat Brunei Lewat `Yasmine`

http://showbiz.liputan6.com/read/2097274/melihat-brunei-lewat-yasmine

YASMINE : BRUNEI’S FIRST PUNCH FROM THE HEART

http://danieldokter.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/yasmine-review-2014/

 

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