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Movie Reviews

Spinning Gasing (2001)  
Country: Malaysia
Directed by Teck Tan

Cast:
Ellie Suriaty Omar - Yati
Craig Fong - Harry
Corinne Adri - Chantal
Hani Mohsin Hanafi - Azri
Edwin R Sumum - Ariff
Sanjeet Jarnail - JJ
Rosyam Nor - Zainal

I guess I will say a few things about "Spinning Gasing". First of all, this
is really the first Malaysian movie that I have seen since - well, I don't
know when. A director friend of mine told me once that every play produced
in Malaysia had to have their script submitted to the Department of
Information or something like that for approval. Their scripts are
restricted to "no sex, no religion, no political
and racial issues" guidelines. So how "Spinning Gasing" got through is
beyond me.

I really must give full credit for the courage of this Malaysian movie,
which attempts to tackle the forbidden issues of sex, sexuality, religion,
politics and race. And it doesn't stop there, going on to tackle the issues
of modern vs. traditional, urban
vs. rural values and the cherry on top is the interracial romance between a
Chinese guy and a Malay girl.

"Spinning Gasing" follows the life of this Fat Boy Slim wannabe band. The
central character is the leader of the group, a Chinese man with lots of
problems. He struggles with family crises, loan shark gangsters are after
him, he struggles to get his band recognised and he is also sleeping with
the bitchy lead singer. His childhood friend plays bass, a Malay girl who
harbours a secret longing for him. A much welcome comic relief is provided
by the ultra-camp keyboard player, and the Indian drummer
who is the baby of the group.

Where this movie falls is its lack of focus, due to the fact that it is
trying to cover too many issues at the same time. I certainly would like to
see more depth in the interracial romance than it has superficially covered
and perhaps fully ground the movie as a road movie, a life changing journey
for all it's characters. I thought we can do without the loan shark subplot.
Then again I guess I am not the director and I acknowledge that it's not an
easy job to put a movie together, especially a movie with humour and drama
while raising so many serious topics. The movie is also nicely
photographed. The scene I loved most when the group encountered this vision
of gold glittering costumed girls rehearsing the traditional folk
dance/ritual at an empty beach to protect the fishermen at sea. Yes it has
been done before in many road movies but it is very refreshing to watch it
especially in a Malaysian context.

Oh I forgot to mentioned this Malaysian movie is also mainly in English
which I guess is quite realistic considering the mixed racial company.

Boon

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