Two overlooked films now playing in Malaysian cinemas
SEPT 10 — If Mat Kilau ruled local cinemas before this, now it’s time for Air Force The Movie: Selagi Bernyawa to do so as it's already banking in RM23 million after two weeks of release.
Having been a bit too occupied with work and my band for the past few weeks, I had to make some hard choices when it came to watching movies in cinemas, and since Air Force has been doing really well, I thought I'd watch it later as a box-office hit is guaranteed to be given an extended run in the cinemas and plenty of showtimes per day when compared to smaller, and much less publicised films.
I had to prioritise the two films I’m writing about here as there doesn’t seem to be much hype around them, especially for Three Thousand Years of Longing, which even during its first week of release was given very few showtimes per day (sometimes only two!), and are only available in certain cinemas.
So, if you’re looking for something a bit more low-key and underrated/overlooked to watch in cinemas this week, you might want to check out these two gems.
Three Thousand Years of Longing
Hands down one of the most romantic and beautiful films you’ll have the pleasure to see in the cinema this year, Three Thousand Years of Longing is the work of one of the world’s greatest living directors, George Miller; he of the Mad Max films fame, but also of such imaginative family films like Babe: Pig In The City and the Happy Feet films.
Reportedly a passion project that he’s been wanting to make for quite a while now, it’s a film that’s much smaller in scale, practically almost a two-hander in a hotel for most of its running time, but since it’s about storytelling (and more or less revolves around two people telling stories to each other), there are parts within the film that expand into grand imaginations once the stories are told.
(From left) Brisith actor Idris Elba, British actress Tilda Swinton and Australian director and screenwriter George Miller pose during a photocall for the film ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 21, 2022. ― AFP pic
Adapted very freely from AS Byatt’s 1994 novella The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, the story revolves around Alithea Binnie (a heartbreaking Tilda Swinton), a world famous narratologist who, during a conference in Istanbul, purchases an old bottle as a memento and unleashes a Djinn (Idris Elba, in great captivating form) inside her hotel room, who of course promises to grant her three wishes.
Being a narratologist and hugely conversant in fairytales and the rules of storytelling, Alithea of course knows the kind of cautionary tales that come out of every Djinn and three wishes story out there, and so begins a verbal and intellectual duel between the two of them, as Alithea tries to avoid making any wish and the Djinn tries to convince her otherwise, so that he can be free and return to his realm.
Clearly inspired by the Thousand and One Nights as well, Miller revels in the magic of storytelling, presenting to us the Djinn’s tales about his love for the Queen of Sheba all the way to the Ottoman court and a tragic story involving a frustrated young Turkish wife whose brilliant mind might even rival that of Leonardo da Vinci's.
But it’s the film’s quieter and more down to earth final passage, when Alithea and Djinn fall in love and decide to explore a life together that will stay with you long after the lights go up, leaving you with a sense of melancholy and longing that might just bring a tear or two to your eyes.
From the guy who gave us Final Score (a pretty lame Sudden Death retread starring Dave Bautista) and The Tournament (a pretty enjoyable and gory "assassin tournament" movie) comes another buzz-free genre movie that probably passed most people by as well.
Yes, the movie’s setup might a bit ridiculous — two best friends, Hunter and Becky, decide to ascend a disused, 2,000-feet-high TV tower, as a way for Hunter to get more views for her YouTube channel, and for Becky to finally get over the death of her husband Dan, who fell to his death during a rock-climbing expedition involving all three of them.
'Fall' follows two young women who decide to scale an impossibly tall metal tower in the remote California desert. — Picture via Facebook
A true-blue B movie aimed squarely to give the audience a consistent dose of adrenaline jolts, director Scott Mann has achieved something of a one-location wonder here, as he and co-writer Jonathan Frank have created their own version of The Shallows, Crawl or Frozen (the 2010 film, not the Disney hit) here, as the two best friends find themselves trapped on top of the tower, 2,000 feet above ground, after the stairs they climbed on collapses at the end of the film’s first act.
And even though Mann’s previous films have been of the more male and macho variety, there are no scared damsels-in-distress stuff here, only a very determined focus on the girls’ fearlessness and ingenuity, as they try to find a way out of their predicament.
It's no masterpiece, but as a sturdy B-movie designed solely to thrill you (and give you vertigo), you will find yourself falling for Fall quite easily.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.