In moments of doubts, hopelessness, and unprecedented challenges: movies inspire.
At this point of writing, us Malaysians are gripped under the Movement Restriction Order (MRO) in what are attempts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. The pandemic has struck the world so hard, and so swift, that it’s easy to feel disoriented. Amidst this eerie stillness, news of plummeting global economics has flung us into a period of uncertainty, stranded in depths we have never been before. The only thing, perhaps, that can lift our spirits is knowing that our frontliners are giving their all at the fore, braving through the shrouds of an invisible enemy and ultimately, keeping us safe.
Still, it is our duty as responsible citizens to abide by the necessary measures imposed by the government. In other words, to ‘duduk diam diam di rumah.’ What’s most important is that you keep yourself, and your loved ones healthy. Troubled time and opportunities are constants in life, but there’s only one of each person on Earth and none can be replaced.
As you read this, we hope you’re doing so safe and snug in your homes. We understand. The innate human nature to roam is itching. But till then, get comfy on the sofa, grab a Mamee cup noodle, and put on a movie.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a story about breaking through the barriers of your own comfort zone. Walter Mitty is an introverted middle-aged man who works as a negative assets manager for LIFE Magazine. Upon learning that he has lost the negative (photo) of the magazine’s final front cover, Walter Mitty embarks on a bold adventure to locate Sean O’Connell, the legendary photojournalist who himself, took the photo. In his journey, Walter Mitty endures unfamiliarity, finding himself in beautiful places such as the scenic landscapes of Iceland and Greenland, and the arduous weather-beaten ridges of the Himalayas.
*PG, family-friendly. No foul language or nudity
Midnight in Paris (2011)
A midnight stroll through the streets of Paris mysteriously transports struggling writer Gil Penders to the era of Paris’ ‘golden age.’ Initially perplexed, Gil soon grows fond of the 1920’s culture that grants him the opportunity to meet notable authors of the past, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Filmed under the charming streetlights of the city of Love, Midnight in Paris will have you swooning for a romantic date in the cobblestone streets of France. Notable filming locations include the Palace of Versailles, John XXIII Square, and the Pont Alexandre III Bridge.
*12A. Suitable for children ages 12 and above
Eat Pray Love (2010)
After falling out of love, independent and self-made woman Liz Gilbert goes on a personal retreat to find herself. She indulges in her new-found freedom as she begins to take life by the reins and seek new experiences. Her journey leads her to Italy, where she discovers real pasta and friendship; to India, where she practices meditation and healing; and Indonesia, where she finds inner peace and simplicity.
Eat, Pray, Love successfully inspires wanderlust by rolling three culturally distinct countries into a single film, capturing the essence of each location perfectly and awakening the traveller’s heart.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Cinephiles would be familiar with the work of Wes Anderson. Heralded as a visionary rightly merited through his ground-breaking visuals and distinct storytelling techniques, Wes Anderson pioneers the revolutionary wave of film aesthetics.
Of his many notable works (The Grand Budapest Holiday, Fantastic Mr. Fox), The Darjeeling Limited may be one that inspires travel the most. The comedy-drama follows the travels of three brothers – Francis, Peter, and Jack Whitman – as they reconcile and bond after their father’s death. Set centrally on a dingy railway train in India, the brothers alight at different locations and discover not only their unspoken sibling affection for each other, but of the cultural ethos of the country.
*R (18+). Contains sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
In her attempts to cope with the death of her mother, and despite her inexperience in hiking, Cheryl Strayed makes a life-changing decision to trek 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Burdened by flashbacks of a reckless and troubled past, Cheryl contends between her emotional baggage and learning to forgive herself. Her journey of self-discovery leads her to a form of personal healing that can only be found under the guise of nature’s demanding path.
*R (18+). Contains sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
The Journey (2014)
The Journey explores the notions of love and the complexities behind intercultural marriage. When Bee returns from England and introduces her British fiancé, Benji, to her conservative and traditional father, she is opposed by her father who refuses to give his blessing to the marriage. Benji, on the other hand, struggles to assimilate himself into the ‘kampung’ lifestyle and awkwardly attempts to navigate the language barriers. As the two men slowly learn to accept their differences, tensions that had once weighed on their relationship loosens, and they soon develop an amusing but harmonious bond.
The Journey will tug at the heartstrings of Malaysian pride as scenes of the green hills of Cameron Highlands, rustic wooden docks of Chew Jetty and pristine Sabahan beaches finally make their long overdue recognition across the cinematic screen.
Ola Bola (2016)
When a young journalist is tasked to do a story about the Malaysian National Football Team, she sought to interview Eric, a former national player during the glory days of Malaysian football. Ola Bola depicts the perseverance of the 1980’s national team in overcoming personal challenges and beating all odds to qualify for the Olympics. The movie takes you through the period of economic hardships faced by the team, their efforts in reversing an unimpressive losing streak, and the rallying cry which eventually spurs them to victory.
Ola Bola is set in the vintage eras of Malaysia, where it was fashionable back then to throw on a pair of bell-bottom jeans and spot an untidy shoulder-length helmet hair. But old-fashioned aside, Ola Bola’s core message of unity speaks across all generations, and across all races.
The household name of Yasmin Ahmad garners no negative reviews. Her reputation as one of Malaysia’s most influential creative directors is forged in this romantic masterpiece of two young lovers battling the stigma of interracial relationships. As Ah Loong and Orked hold strong to each other, they find that they have to brave not just the disapproving opinions of mixed-race dating, but also the disparities of their socio-economic backgrounds.
Yasmin Ahmad has been known to be very fond of Ipoh, and she storytells this comedy-drama aptly in the quaintness of Perak’s capital. In addition to winning the hearts of Malaysians, Sepet also bagged awards in the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival.
Two years after Sepet, Yasmin Ahmad released its light-hearted prequel, Mukhsin. The story revolves around the puppy love between 10-year-old Orked with Mukhsin, a 12-year-old boy who has come to spend the school holidays in her village. From strangers to playmates, childish romance soon blossoms and they discover what it’s like to be infatuated for the first time.
Mukhsin explores love in the charming surroundings of kampung life, where the sprawling green paddy fields of Kuala Selangor provides a gentle tone to the film’s theme of young, childish love.
You Mean the World to Me (2017)
This is a movie about an almost-broke filmmaker, Sunny, who returns to Penang in order to film his dysfunctional family. Still burdened by past traumatic events, Sunny seeks to make peace with his inner demons but struggles with acceptance and forgiveness.
Filmed entirely in the distinguishable Penang Hokkien dialect, You Mean the World to Me successfully pictures 1970’s Penang in its intimate and most authentic way.
Guang tells the story of unconditional love and relationship between two brothers, one of which – Wen Guang – is autistic. As both brothers cope with the harsh realities of life, they uncover Wen Guang’s secret talent. The movie touches on the heartbreaking and painstaking reality of those with autism, and the challenges they face from being classified as ‘disabled’ by society.
The film’s personal and thought-provoking storyline won big at the Malaysian Film Festival, bagging many awards including Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Feature Film.
Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)
One of Malaysia’s finest and famous folktales is brought to life in this 2004 epic fantasy. The tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang takes place in the 15th century, during the thriving years of the Melaka Sultanate. It chronicles the romance between Gusti Putri, a Javanese Hindu Princes from the Majapahit Kingdom, and Hang Tuah, a formidable Melakan warrior. On a turbulent timeline of war and mythicism, Hang Tuah and Gusti Putri must overcome the tides that prevent their love from prevailing.
Gorgeous scenic view of beaches, islands, and turquoise water are staple to the film, and it’s projection of Melaka in its ancient eras serves as a history lesson brought to life through motion picture.