memasuki isi perut richard oh or the one thing more painful than watching koper:

Rating:
Category: Movies
Genre: Drama

im just moving all this stuff from dunia-film@yahoogroups.com because i just found out this:

‘apalagi ini milis eksklusif. tidak semua orang bisa masuk milis ini.
hanya orang2 yang benar2 terlibat secara langsung dengan dunia perfilman.

jadi, milis ini sangat eksklusif, hanya penulis dan pekerja film yang
bisa masuk. dan karenanya, diperbolehkan untuk tukar menukar no hp,
email tokoh2 perfilman.’

– stern warning from the moderator who shall remain nameless unless i get really vindictive one day beware, Mon Dec 3, 2007 10:06 pm

who would wanna be in da club if da club is a bunch of fucks?

*memasuki isi perut richard oh or the one thing more painful than watching koper:*

– i think theres’ some unnecessary comedy in the script. you can
safely cut yahya getting stuck in the fence and yahya naked talking to
noni at the bus stop wihout losing anything. it has to do with the
tone of the movie; whatever comic moments you’re trying to slip in
between the melancholia just don’t fool me: you’re a sombre-romantic,
kinda like p. ramlee. remember how the kafe betawi regulars waltz to
his music? i think that’s the right tone and pace for the movie.

like how yahya would look up and stare at the advertising billboards.
if the pace is too fast, and comedy is fast, like the `adam subandi’
guerilla postering in janji joni, the moment will pass you by without
you feeling or even understanding much of what just happened.

and since these comedic moments are few and far between anyway, they
could derail the flow of the story, i feel this especially during the
naked yahya episode. he almost lost his suitcase to a gang of thugs,
but the relief he must’ve felt when he got it back, which we must feel
too, is diluted by his struggle to cover his dick with his suitcase.
the pissing dog is also a cheap laugh i think.

– the comedy doesn’t suit the yahya character i guess. he’s a serious
man. and he doesn’t have enough mongrel—as the aussies say it—in him
to react well to the misfortunes that give him the chance/space to be
a comic. he’s no woody allen.

– let’s go deeper into yahya’s character. he’s sometimes angry and
loud about it, like in the opening scenes when he walks down the
hallways of the national archive building, and at other times seems
too morose and gentle to be as loud as he sometimes is. he seems at
peace whenever he’s with noni and angsty when with others, his wife. i
guess this is the point, but is it too much so?

and how much does he love yasmin? or how much love does he have left
for her? would he have sold all his p. ramlee records to pay for her
surgery? i believe that you should not give the audience what they
want. at first it looks like this is what you’re doing by getting
yahya to sell all his p. ramlees. wouldn’t we want him to keep all
those shiny black vinyls? you break my heart. but then on closer
inspection, isn’t he just doing what’s expected of him? he’s a bit of
a goody two shoes, so he’ll sell all his records, “the only thing i
own that is worth something”, because he must, because he doesn’t care
anymore. is this the point? or does he still care about yasmin, even
if it’s only that he doesn’t want her to die?

the night before he sells his records he was at the kafe betawi
waltzing away with noni, and the night before that at noni’s flat
looking “awkwardly into each other’s eyes”. so he doesn’t really care
that much about yasmin. why not make him care even less?

get him to open the suitcase instead of selling his records?

– but then i understand that the suitcase is the only thing that
matters to him now. or rather returning it to its owner. i like this;
he doesn’t care about anything else anymore, and single-mindedly
pursues something that he thinks is only right and natural. returning
the suitcase fits into yahya’s idea of what that rightness and
naturalness demand from the world. people should not want, and people
around him want, want, want more and more and more out of life. he
wants nothing, as everyone should. in fact the world has given him
something, a manna of a suicase, and he doesn’t want it. as everyone
shouldn’t.

and so, this becomes what the audience deep in their guts want, for
yahya not to experiment with his strict moral calculus. for him to
return the suitcase to its rightful owner, and for him not to be
tempted even to see what’s inside it, the way we don’t want indy to
look inside the lost ark. of course we want to see what’s inside it
too but we expect indy, yahya, to be stronger than we are and resist
the temptation.

so why not make him give up to temptations? open the suitcase and
don’t sell the records.

it will only strengthen his bleak view of he world. man wants and
easily gives up to temptations. he doesn’t thinks he’s like that. but
what does he know, what do you know, he is.

the audience won’t want that, won’t want yahya to give up, and you’re
left with a better movie.

– there’s too much deus ex machina in the suitcase opening
accidentally when yahya bangs his fist on it. it’s too happy ending-y
really; you get to see yahya see what’s inside it (though we don’t
know what he sees, we’ll share his “amusement and sheer hilarity”) and
we don’t have to blame him (and we escape blame ourselves) for giving
in to the temptation to open it. the hand of god opens it for yahya,
for us. and we don’t have to wash the dirt of temptation off our hands.

what you need is more machina, less deus.

– or do you want yahya to care about nothing? not even the suitcase?
this is possible. he could care less about the reasons why he should
return it and do so only out of a vague obligation to act right. and
the movie will become even more nihilistic. but it does present and
internal problem of motivation for the movie. there will be no pothos,
something that yahya really wants, something that drives him (cf.
achilles’ honour in the iliad, paying back the stolen new beetle in
virgin), and the plot.

you have to choose one or the other of course, because the two yahyas
will lead different lives, at least two different movies.

– if you want yahya to care about the suitcase, which i think you
do—only when he’s with noni does he seem to forget all about it, then
you should get him to try to return it sooner. by my calculation a day
is lost before he attempts to find the owner of the suitcase. he’s at
the office all day, goes to kafe betawi in the evening and then goes
record-hunting with noni. it’s only the next day that he tells the
office boy he wants the phone number for the lost and found. already
around 36 hours after he found the suitcase!

i think you can solve this problem by:

1. getting the suitcase to fall closer to yahya from the harrier. he
sees the suitcase, shouts his “Hey! Hey!” to the car, picks the
suitcase up and maybe runs after the car a few metres, waving his
hands, and then when he realizes the man in the car doesn’t hear him
(or doesn’t want to) he looks at the numberplate and memorizes it.

2. next day at the office he starts to look for the lost and found
number but the cronies are hassling him already, he’s inundated with
work, perhaps thick piles of documents slam on his desks, and suddenly
his little clock rings in 7.30 pm! damn, it’s too late? he goes to
kafe betawi, and when he sees noni, get him to say a few things about
the suitcase, “man i wanted to return this suitcase but today the
office got all weird on me” or something. he doesn’t say anything
about the suitcase to noni in your script! as i said, he seems to
forget all about it when he’s with her and that’s fine but i think
this time he should, and before they go record-hunting!

– some problems of verisimilitude:

1. the jayas seem too rich and the yahyas not poor enough. they live
in an alley don’t they? with wafer-thin plank walls? if the jayas are
novices at corruption, which they must be since they haven’t moved to
pondok indah, then mbak sri won’t i don’t think offer “smoked ham
sandwiches”, maybe some roti bakar with ceres sprinkles, but not cold
cuts. and if the yahyas are poor then they wouldn’t have a washing
machine, yasmin will wash yahya’s clothes on a washboard
half-submerged in soapy water in an oblong baby washtub (this would
look better too wouldn’t it?). and if they did have a washing machine
it would probably be one of those old twin-tub ones (yasmin lifting
dripping clothes from the washer and pushing them into the spinner
would also look good), and certainly not a front-loading ge, even if
it’s old!

– some problems of continuity:

1. when yahya goes to see alatas (this reminds me of when meryl streep
went to see chris cooper in adaptation) he, disappointed, lugs his
suitcase and “threads his way along the rutted path toward the main
road”. but since the place is far out of the way and he got there on
the shop owner’s ford escape, he should surely be getting back into
the car rather than walk off?

2. page 21, after they go record-hunting, after noni’s “that must be
worth a fortune”, i think it needs a little goodbye but i really
really like you and i had so much fun much funner than with my wife scene.

– how much control do you want to have on the director? eg. when p.
ramlee’s wafting “over the balcony. over the parapet, along the alley,
in and out of the neighbors’ houses”, how do you want this to look
like? moving shots of the balcony, parapet etc., everything and
everyone silent but for p. ramlee? or are you going to leave it to the
director’s imagination?

on page 23 you wrote `the camera pans …” (from the no salesman etc.
welcome sign along the queue of hangers-on). you probably need to
decide whether or not to include strict directions like this in the
script. i prefer not. and just say what happens, i.e. a line of
salesman etc. snakes along the wall from in front of the office’s
door. above the door a sign: no salesman etc. welcome!

– i want to say a few things about the dialogue/language but i have to
go to work now. i’ll write them later.

mikael.

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