For the last month or so, I have had this insane desire to eat a green tea J. Co doughnut. Insane because I don't really like glazed doughnuts and even more insane because it was reading Amir Muhamad's Yasmin Ahmad's Films
that made me crave those doughnuts in the first place. It's an absolutely amazing book; while it is about Yasmin s films, it is also about Malaysia. Very much like her films, in that respect. The green tea J. Co doughnut -- with a bite taken out of it -- features prominently on the cover of the slim volume (after all, Yasmin only made six movies before she died in July this year). But why the doughnut? I'll let Amir explain. He wrote: 'When I considered what to put on the cover of this book, the green tea J. Co doughnut Yasmin loved came to mind. (Since I am writing this in the fasting month, it s safe to say that various types of food are never far from my mind, anyway.)' That sentence is representative of the tone of the book. While it takes a serious look at the films from a filmmaker's point of view (Amir is a filmmaker as well as writer/publisher), it is not dry or academic. You don't feel like you have been talked down to even as Amir examines the symbolism of certain scenes or structure of the narrative. Instead, the critiques of the six films teach you something valuable: how to see. Amir was a friend and as he said, 'A hazard of writing about a recently deceased friend is that everything might end up gushy.' But there is no danger of that here. While you can tell he did indeed love Yasmin, he does look at the work with a critical eye. But what makes this book remarkable is the parallel text about Malaysia that Amir incorporates into each movie chapter. They are not footnotes even though the layout of the book puts them near each other -- very cleverly done, I thought. This adds context to the movies discussed and like Amir wrote in the introduction: '... her work says a lot about what it means to be alive in Malaysia today.' Reading the parallel text is like getting a cultural history lesson of the country; you learn about telemovies, tudungs, maids, TV series, etc. And it is all written with the accuracy and sharp eye of a good journalist but mixed in is the trademark Amir sense of humour. --Joan Lau, The Malaysian Insider
Fresh, personal, informative ... Kudos to Amir for such a delightfully insightful and critically acute reading of Yasmin's immense legacy. --Benjamin McKay, Off The Edge
About the Author
Amir Muhammad is a Malaysian writer, publisher and movie-maker. His films include the banned-in-Malaysia documentaries THE LAST COMMUNIST and VILLAGE PEOPLE RADIO SHOW. He set up Matahari Books in 2007 to publish non-fiction and film-related books.