Monday, August 28, 2006

Saint Jack

Got my cheap thrill of the day: I actually used a quote from Saint Jack at work. The one where Jack Flowers deadpans: "Some people when they're desperate they think about suicide. Me, I'm different, I think about murder."

The film's full of one-liners like that, and Ben Gazzara throws each one like a tight punch.

For his presentation yesterday, Ben Slater, author of the book on the making of this 1979 (officially, but the film was completed in 1978), spoofed Ho Tzu Nyen's Utama: Every Name in History is I, last seen at the recently concluded Singapore Theatre Festival. Admittedly, Ho's wry Powerpoint "lecture-performance" is ripe for parodies (which reinforces its point, but that's for another post). However, I couldn't help but wonder if there was some synchronicity between Ho's exploration of how people shape the kinds of history they want, and Saint Jack: a movie made by Westerners about a Singapore that they found alluring and exotic in its own way. There's even a scene where Jack is retelling the Sang Nila Utama myth to William in his own rascally way. (And if you'd bought the book, you'd have known that both men were drunk during that scene too.)

(More about the book Kinda Hot:

Well, that's the 1970s for you. Even so, like Ben I'm hoping for a commercial release of this movie sometime soon - the ban was lifted in March after all. Not because the film's very good or particularly illuminating, but because it's a genuinely interesting character-driven drama shot in Singapore. Besides, if you were born after the 1970s, aren't you curious to see what Bugis Street and Boat Quay and Chinatown looked like then?

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