So far, horror has never been my favorite genre! Currently working at PuPrum, I’ve made it a habit to explore more about Cambodian movies, although inclined to scary elements. The last two I watched were: Girl is Like That (សំខាន់អូនស្អាត) and Dead Vacations (វិស្សមកាលមរណៈ). I personally found them just above average. You may wonder why? Let’s find out below…
Girl is Like That – When you got on the first part of this horror-comedy, you’d feel like you follow a series of funny scenes of a group of students. So I had a hard time digesting the core story till I got to the big picture. Its ending turned out interesting with two unexpected twists. The first one is on who really died in the final murder. The second one is on the intention of the lead actress on the lead actor. The production seemed to also launch a great attempt to cast few celebrities in it. Guess what, they perform somehow better than their Cambodian colleagues I’ve ever seen! This proves Cambodia still counts lots of talents out there who need tapping into.
Dead Vacations – I’m not sure if the actors performed poorly or the director didn’t spend enough time polishing their acting. The production purposely cast leading big movie stars like Tep Rindaro and Chan Daraty. Yet, their parts didn’t go well with those of their juniors! Some dialogs sounded redundant with the obvious images or unnecessary repetition from previous actors. This seemed to go hand in hand with limited editing and sound effects. Would you need to hear Pin Peat music while showing an actress already seated in a praying room? I guess you would, if it was outdoors! This horror-adventure implies, though, meaningful morales about antique preservation and adventurous friendship.
How the funny mood went on after Jazz 4G! The other day was marked with this new American blockbuster: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of the Shadows. Wait, it is not really American as this ninja turtles sequel was produced in association with Alibaba Pictures, China Film Group and HuaXia Film. The storyline has brought a whole new game about the team spirit. Below are three lessons you can learn from this action comedy.
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Personal Identities – Although team work proves to make the most out of every member, it is the differences of each ninja turtle that make their strengths. Of course, Leonardo is elected the leader for his great discipline and spirituality. Raphael is found rebellious, aggressive and sensitive to external experiences. Michelangelo adds the comic spice to the team. Donatello is known to be the master brain of the four mutants.
Leadership by Instinct – At one point of the plot, Leo decides not to turn into humans even if this is made possible by the mutagen. He may sound harsh and uncaring to his brothers. Yet, deep down, he does not want to become something else than his own kind. It almost takes a lethal battle with Raphael and Michelangelo until these latter accept who they have been. So no matter what you can become, your roots will remain unchanged.
Guiding Coach – You may have heard of this African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. I suppose you can go far and fast, with a wise coach, like Splinter. Across the movie and series, he provides wisdom and spiritual guidance, with as little involvement as possible. Needless to say, he knows how to protect himself with his oriental martial arts, whenever needed!
In my last post of Angry Birds movie, you may learn how useful anger sometimes turns! This review about Joking Jazz 4G may contradict this concept. Anyway, I was not the one to propose this comedy to my family. Yet, my big sister felt like watching it even before its premiere. Maybe the local distributor’s Facebook campaigns turned effective! So off, we went to enjoy it as a family. I found it mostly funny, yet educational, and will tell you three reasons why you should watch this movie, too!
Monkhood Redefined – Rarely have we seen a monk playing a major role in a movie. This subject itself appears quite controversial as monks are seen as noble human beings. So every description about their activities are subject to rigorous censorship. When most Thai movies only integrate monks as extra characters, Joking Jazz 4G embodies the main character himself. At modern times like now, most lay people may find it boring to listen to Buddhist teachings. Thus, the best way to redefine these is to make it as fun as possible and you’ve got the first reason to enjoy it! As you know, people learn something best when having fun with it.
Edutainment Piece – The second reason is, not only does it make you laugh out loud, but you can also get educated about religion and beliefs. Most of the time, when you get entertained by a certain scene, you’d be reminded of a certain teaching, as a result. I personally admire the screen writer for not making it sound plain from the scripture! The duality of fun and morale can be seen in virtually every scene. The best part for me is for lay people to distinguish between original precepts and casual superstition. These two sides of a coin has always misled believers unless they are quite informed of the real Dharma and humanism.
Accepted Profanity – Realism is another major reason I quite support this comedy. If you expect those monks to chant their prayers to you during the show, you may be leave the hall half-way! So profanity stems rather from lay people, who play around the religious principles. How would you twist the five Buddhist precept with sense of humor? How would you stop lay people from dressing improper before monks? What would you say when monks fight? All in all, I salute the distributor for bypassing the censorship about religious topics. I remember “Where Elephants Weep”, a contemporary Cambodian-American tragic opera, didn’t stand such luck when broadcast on TV several year ago! It was about a monk who sings for his lover, inspired by Khmer tragic legend “Tum Teav”. The show was immediately interrupted when our then-Cambodian patriarch caught that actor singing as a monk. As a rule, monks are not supposed to entertain others, nor take part in entertainment.