on saturday, we walked along pall mall, drenched. the ICA was actually on the mall. see the difference? this better be worth it, i said to myself.

my friends and i were gonna watch amir muhammad’s lelaki komunis terakhir (as one of the films in the BFI‘s 50th london film festival) without being influenced by the criticisms thrown at it by so-called self-proclaimed film ‘experts’. surely those people didn’t get it. probably need to look up words like satire and irony in their little oxford dictionaries, i guess.

the interviews were a hotchpotch of chin peng’s life narrative of sorts, local town history, personal experiences during the emergency and stories from the horses’ mouths themselves. some of the interviews were my personal favourites – the taiping malay chap who spoke fluent hakka being one of them. interviews going off-tangent like the pomelo ah moi (seeing them standing by their stalls as if posing in a beauty pageant to attract customers was amusing) and the eloquent “big fire, small fire” charcoal factory owner added to the trickle of information vis-a-vis chin peng made me wonder where are we going with this at times. it would’ve been great if chin peng was in it although i have read that it wasn’t the director’s intention to have the subject matter in the documentary at all.

the tagline says that it’s a (semi-)musical documentary. a musical documentary it is. peppered in between the interviews are jabs at the patriotic tunes you get fed ad infinitum on malaysia’s premier television channel. the songs got a little tiresome towards the end, i have to admit. then again, whether that was the intentional effect for the punters, i wasn’t too sure. we did hum the malaria in malaya tune on the way home, though.

the film wasn’t a conventional one. i have never seen any of amir muhammad’s other work, so i can only comment based on my own personal feelings after spending 90 minutes in the ICA theatre. i tried to expand my intelligence quotient so as to be able to go “ah! that’s clever!” – but i couldn’t. i think i got the piss-takes and i enjoyed the candour of the ex-communists, but the more i think of lelaki komunis terahir as the day went on, post-viewing, my reaction to the film was going into a more neanderthal-esque “huh?”.

i do hope its sequel apa khabar orang kampung will be way better. different strokes/streaks for different folks/freaks, i guess.