The grittier side of life in Jagat

8 Malaysian films and when to watch them

There’s a time and place for every local film. Grab your popcorn, folks!

Films capture moods and feelings probably in a way no other medium could. We watch comedies to cheer ourselves up during sad moments and we watch fantastical blockbusters to get away from the mundanity of life. If you’ve just broken up, it’s probably best to avoid ‘The Notebook’ for awhile. Films can make us feel things we never knew we could. That’s why we love them, because there is always a film for every mood or moment we have. Here’s a list of local films and when we think you should be watching them.

1. BUNOHAN

Watch this after you’ve had a rough day at work.

Sure, we all have days where we feel like work’s got us on the ropes, but rarely are we literally on it. ‘Bunohan’ follows the life of a young kick-boxer who is trying to find meaning back at the town of his birth, only to be dragged into the muddy waters of corporate greed and family travails. Throw in a hired killer who is on his tail and you have yourself the recipe for a challenging life. If you need a reminder that your boss giving you a shelling is not the worst thing in life, this is the film for you.

2. FLOWER IN THE POCKET

Watch this if you want to feel alive again.

This wonderful nugget from indie director Liew Seng Tat, which follows the lives of two brothers who are left to run through life uncouthed by their apathetic father, is a great film to watch if you feel you’re completely bogged down by the pressures of adulthood. It would remind every single one of us about a time when simpler things were important to us. It will make you laugh and cry in equal measures and by the end, hopefully it will help you find just a little more meaning in the pressured lives we sometimes live.

3. JAGAT

Watch this when life is too good and you need to be brought down to earth again

Just got a fat bonus at work, a super deal on the home of your dreams, finding that you can fit into your skinnies again and you’re wondering if life is just too good to be true? Well if you feel the need to be brought back down to earth again, look no further than the brilliant ‘Jagat’. The film’s premise of a schoolboy caught in the muddle of crime and violence will have you aching for the world again in no time. ‘Jagat’ serves reality as it is, without the usual cinematic cushions.

4. LELAKI HARAPAN DUNIA

Watch this if you have a bunch of people over and you don’t know how to entertain them.

Ever find yourself stuck in social obligation hell and you have a ton of people over at your place lounging around your couch looking more bored than a panda who’s been forced to watch an art house movie? This film will have them perked up in no time with its satirical take on Malaysian village life, local superstitions and general colloquial humour. Its beautiful and lush cinematography should be pleasing to most eyes, even people who generally are not tuned into local films.

5. OLA BOLA

Watch this if you want to feel patriotic before Merdeka.

Merdeka not quite having the same zip as before? Nothing brings a nation together better than sports. Chiu Keng Guan’s 2016 film affected common Malaysians in a very deep way, reminding them of a very different time in our nation’s history. If you feel you need to rediscover a reason to fly the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ this Merdeka, turn this one on and start feeling patriotically ooey-gooey again. Guaranteed to give every Malaysian goosebumps.

6. POLIS EVO

Watch this just before you go for a night out with the boys.

Need a reminder that brotherhood is all you need in this world and with it you are practically unstoppable? This film will get your blood pumping and man-tears flowing. It’s a gritty, heart-felt film that’s packed wall-to-wall with action and ‘bros before errr ... toes (?)’ drama. It’s a classic buddy cop movie that checks all the right boxes. Just make sure you don’t attempt to drive like the people do in this movie or you’ll be spending the night with the real ‘polis’.

7. SEPET

Watch this if you’ve given up on love.

Cupid’s been treating you harsh in recent times? Feel like you’re done with it? Watch this lovely film by the late, great Yasmin Ahmad to start believing in in love again. If you feel like that sounds impossible, imagine meeting a dashing VCD seller who is also interested in writing poetry! But that was what happened to the protagonist Orked in the film. It’s a charming film that offers a glimpse of the butterflies and hardships of romance and what it’s like here in Malaysia when two individuals with different backgrounds fall for one another.

8. THE JOURNEY

Watch this when you meet your future in-laws for the first time.

This film came out of nowhere and captured the imagination of people from all walks of life in this country. From the outside it may seem like just another Chinese film, but the film’s themes of maintaining cultural traditions, racial profiling and marital consent cuts across all walks of life in this country. It’s a cute film that most people in Malaysia can probably relate to in one way or another. Plus it provides a blueprint on how to win over a tough in-law - go on a road trip with them.

Written by Adrian Yap CK