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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Is this why we can't do film noirs in Malaysia?

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, a classic film noir
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, a classic film noir

This is something I heard from an industry insider few days ago:

Ever wonder why we haven't seen that many (or any?) Malaysian films featuring private detectives, femme fatales, or anything that's like a film noir*?

(* to the uninitiated: film noir = a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime drama, particularly those that emphasize moral ambiguity and sexual motivation)

Reason is simple, such works tend to depict the police as corrupted and incompetent, incapable of doing any crime-solving of their own, hence such a negative portrayal of our local police force is definitely prohibited.

In addition to that, film noirs tend to show the ugly and shady side of a city: dirty alleys, prostitutes, drug addicts, murderers on the loose and all that jazz. Film noirs usually embrace a variety of genres, from the gangster film to the police procedural to the so-called social problem picture... those are evil.

Malaysia has no ugly side, our police force are far from incompetent and corrupted, the cities are just as clean as beautiful as depicted in tourist ads, private detectives exist only to investigate extramarital affairs. Thus film noir-like crime dramas are NOT allowed in Malaysia. Too politically incorrect.

Anyway, for some examples of film noir, check out the following clips:

NO BOOKINGS = A video from my editing project early last year. We were given this video footage with elements of film noir, and try to piece it together. I did something really interesting...


Trailer of BRICK, a 2006 film noir that takes place in suburbia where all characters are high school students