(Chris Chong Chan Fui; Malaysia; 2009)
Newcomer Chris Chong Chan Fui drafts a noble entry into the pantheon of sedate meditative film-making. Balmy slow arcs through a forest, both microcosmic (insects, moss, forest-floor flora) and macrocosmic (high shots of the entire forest), are reminders of the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. A simple story of a young man returning home after studying in the big city, this film circulates itself around his mother's karaoke bar, a place where characters can escape into the world of the pop-song they are singing. In attempting to impress and woo a local girl with his grand plans, we quickly see that his bragadoccio is simple bluster to cover the fact that is he is lost. By allowing for long passages where the protagonist wanders through his home territory, the film nicely evokes the sense that he is finding his home unfamiliar and that he is lost within himself. Even the camera abandons him at one point, leaving him behind and letting him catch up a minute later, as he stumbles his way semi-disoriented through the forest. A very good first film, and I'm interested to see what the director will produce next.