Was watching Ola Bola with Jac and Mei Chern. I don’t understand the title — is it a play off Hola and Olah?
There was an awkwardly conscious diversity to the film, like a post-Yasmin Ahmad movement with Ali and Muthu and Tauke and Sabah. Still, I would rather have awkward diversity than for example, the comfortable erasure of other races in local Malay films (the Chinese films can be guilty of this too, but I guess I watch less of them and fewer are made thanks to bullshit government tax incentive hang ups about bumiputera and Bahasa).
Food is no longer the great unifying factor of Malaysia — the politics by the halal industry made sure of it. Eating Together explores the topic quite satisfactorily. I guess sports it has to be — but it can’t be the football of today, unless we speak of national disdain. Our grand narratives of self and nationhood minus politics will inevitably have to be around sports now. (Although now I think about it, there is much potential for a throwback fictional film about food, maybe a food contest?).
Maybe the next big Malaysian film will be about the Sidek brothers, but the animation series already exists. And maybe in 50 years, there will be one of Bersih. An epic film with grand narratives about nation building — a rally of millions in the heart of the city. Tear gas canisters flying in slow motion, as younger civilians run in front of A Samad Said “I cover you!” Groups of Anonymous, artists twirling, village people in droves (all romanticised heavily of course). The female leads will be Ambiga and Maria Chin (or worst case scenario — Anwar). Sidekicks like Cynthia Gabriel and Mandeep (and Jac) as well. The lawyers. The reporters from “independent” publications. The sea of old school iPhones taping everything. The narrator who brings us back ala Eric in Ola Bola or Rose in Titanic can be a drunken Kar Fai. Adam Adli will be portrayed by a young, popular and handsome Malay actor. It is still a product of our times, but one that can happen only in the future. God do I really think it will take fifty years to have a local film starring two non-Malay women? Blossom Wong the Malaysian spy film!
Back to Ola Bola: I didn’t find the Maryanne character necessary at all, and that whole “I believe in ABC too” like jebus don’t you have your own mind like a real character? I guess not. Forced sentimentality, but the politically correct kind. Somemore she went on train and brought a flag to wave. To nobody. For herself? Cannot simpan di hati ke?
I would have liked more actual football scene, but the film isn’t about football. The glory and the passion (when men express uncontrollable feelings via macho outlets it gets the privilege of being called “passion” instead of “emotion”, the domain of women) and the continuous surge of feelings — God, I actually thought halfway through the film there were too many sweeping scenes of fefeelings, I was over-capacity for it. Some wonderful nostalgic touches — I loved that they had Dato Rahim Razali in the sports announcer cameo. I also liked the Rahman storyline and thought the dialogue writing, though occasionally pandering and contrived, overall quite inspired and praiseworthy. The propaganda was definitely too heavy handed. Why are artists so concerned with telling me how to feel about Malaysia? Isn’t that the government’s job?
Turns out I can only blab about Ola Bola once per night, not thrice. Once in mamak, once at home, and now here. This whole post should be a mess.
If you haven’t watched Ola Bola, please do. It’s always nice to see a Malaysian populist film on the big screen. And it has many fine moments.