NOOB MOVIE RETROSPECTIVE / REVIEW - THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE (2004) by James Lee

in #teammalaysia5 years ago (edited)

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Synopsis

An interesting and twisted story of Teoh who bought this used washing machine from the electrical store which has changed his life, and the life of the people related to him, forever.

Review (with spoilers)

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Teoh (Loh Bok Lai) is a single guy who lives alone in a small flat. One day he was shopping for a washing machine and end up taking home a used one instead of a new one. At first it was working well until one night it stopped mid washing. He called a repairman but during the test, the washing machine worked fine. He then brought the washing machine to his bedside and slept with it. (wut?)
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While watching TV about a Toh Toh Tomato Ketchup, the next day he decides to look for it in the supermarket. He bought the Ketchup and a whole bird of chicken. While choosing the chicken, he bump into Mr. Wong (Patrick Teoh) who is also choosing chicken. Mr. Wong looked at Teoh lifting a the chicken and smelling it. As Teoh picked his whole bird of chicken and walked away, Mr. Wong did the same thing.

Back home, Teoh then started to try the Toh Toh Tomato Ketchup recipe on the chicken he bought but he failed. He then fed the chicken into the washing machine! (Wuutt?)

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Back at Mr. Wong place, he too was preparing the chicken for dinner but he managed to get it done and serve it to his daughter Yuen (Chin Lee Ling) and son-in-law, who is also Teoh's officemate, Mr. Yap (Zun Yap)

Mindfuck 1

This is when the movie starting to take futher mindfuck turn. One night when Teoh placed his washing machine back in his kitchen, a woman (Amy Len) appeared from nowhere, sitting next to it while eating a bowl of noodles. He then takes her as his maid, doing all the chores at home while checking her out, taking photos of her while thinking of a plan.

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He then asks her to sit on the washing machine while he stands in front of her and tries to make out but he got a better plan.

He then bought her a new dress and takes her out and ask her to be a sex worker so he can get some extra income. But something happened to the first client and Teoh got the blame. He got stabbed to death by the gang and the woman flee and ran into Mr. Wong. (Coincidence??)

Mindfuck 2

Which leads to another mindfuck turn. Mr. Wong bought her home and tadaaa....he also owns the same washing machine that Teoh had. (Coincidence??) Mr. Wong is also living alone after his wife is no longer around and always got visited by his other son, Ah Dee (Berg Lee). Here, the woman also repeated doing the same house chores when he was with Teoh.

Mr. Wong wanted to take the woman as his own but she also caught the attention of Ah Dee and Mr. Yap. Each tries their luck on her but since the beginning of her appearance, she hasn't uttered a single word. Ah Dee got to touch her hands while sharing tips on how to do house chores better, which seems to get the attention of the woman.

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It has added to the disappointment of Mr. Wong and Mr. Yap who also competing on claiming the woman for themselves. Mr. Yap is caught peeping at the woman by his wife, Yuen, at one point. Yuen has been suspicious of his husband all this while working late almost every day with no clear answer as in why, although she is suspecting of him having an affair with other women at work.

Yuen is also curious about who the woman really is and questioned her, but to her disappointment, no answers.

Mr. Yap got really desperate and raped the woman in his father in-law's house, not knowing he is being watched by him through out the act.

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Mr. Wong tries his luck too, but got rejected and end up in the hospital with a heart attack.

The woman chooses

Ah Dee is the one she likes. He is sitting on the washing machine while the woman standing in front of him kissing him. Similar to what happened earlier when she was with Teoh.

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A strange scene follows after with the woman washing clothes besides the washing machine and there's a thumping sound coming from the inside. (someone 'inside' trying to escape? wuuttt?)

Yuen is not happy with her father health issues and blames it on the woman. Mr. Wong gave the woman his ex-wife's shirt when she was young made Yuen more unhappy. The woman then got accidentally stabbed with a kitchen knife held by Yuen after a quarrel. Yuen ran out of the kitchen but the blood on her hand is gone and when she got back to the kitchen, the woman is gone too.

On the next scene, while consoling her father, Mr. Wong, on the woman disappearance, Yuen is wearing the shirt of her mother , the same shirt the woman was wearing when she got stabbed. (wutttt?)

Disappointed with the lost, Mr. Wong goes booze shopping at the supermarket and trollied in few crates and bottles of them. At the counter, he met with a cashier that looks exactly like the woman. This time she talks and tell him the total of the purchase. Mr. Wong appeared shocked of this finding and asks 'what is your name' and the woman answers 'what's my name got to do with you?'

The End.

The meaning of the movie

I won't pretend to understand what the movie is saying, coz I don't (hence the NOOB FILM REVIEW tag). But it is full of interesting takes which I think is related to one another.

  • The price of the used washing machine Teoh bought is 300. The price of the beer crates Mr. Wong got to pay in the end is 600. The price of 2 washing machines? Maybe because the woman, which is also the washing machine's human parallel (thus why she is unable to utter a single word?) does the job for Teoh and Mr. Wong?
  • At the beginning of the movie, there's a shot of Teoh's face on the spinning washing machine. Maybe it is him inside the washing machine doing thumping sound? Is it foreshadowing of his own fate?
  • Mr. Wong also has the same washing machine as Teoh, but only mentioned when the woman first got to Mr. Wong's house. There's a hint that the washing machine has been broken and to be repaired by his son, Ah Dee for some time now. Meaning it has been there and cannot be the same one that Teoh has. Or is it?
  • Interesting interaction on the dining table when the woman is eating with them and Mr. Yap talked about his colleague (Teoh) who got murdered on the streets, which the woman has no reaction to the news. But this confirms the linearity of the timeline.

Those are just my mind-babbling but I think on the surface, to me, it's quite clear that it is showing all the bitter truth about men and how women have been perceived by them. Treated like a machine with no feeling, to clean and cook and also to fulfill them lust....and not to say a word about anything. Only at the end when Mr. Wong needs the woman back so much, she was able to talk and answer back, because the woman got the upper hand.

Mr. Wong was shocked to see 'the woman' at the cashier and being told: "Pay up......uncle". A perfect comeback. A reality check and a smack on the face for all the men in the movie. Even for Ah Dee, whom the woman likes. She thinks she can use him to reduce her chores since Ah Dee is better at it than the rest. There are many scenes showing them washing clothes, which draws jealously from Mr. Wong and Mr. Yap.

Another thing that captures me about the movie is the depiction of commercialism through TV ads, and how gullible viewers are, buying almost anything the TV is showing. Also consumerism. People will buy what other people buy. Loath and Greed.

Also applies for cases on relationships. One is never enough and you always want what others have. Lust and Envy.

Cinematic time

I found about this movie from the article by 'thoughtsonfilms' talking about how cinema distorts the notion of time. There are "notions of ‘cinematic time,’ further challenging cinema’s ‘spatialised time'" shown in films and 'The Beautiful Washing Machine' in 2004 is being used as an example of it. Another recent example in the mainstream Malaysian cinema is 'Bunohan' in 2012.

I watched Bunohan in the cinema back then and planning to watch it again soon to understand how these two local films fit into the idea of 'cinematic time'

The pacing of the film is slow and almost anime-like but I was not bored watching because each scene is leading me to anticipate what is coming next.

Until then, esprit de corps!


Cinematic Time, Mahathir and Bunohan - https://thoughtsonfilms.com/2012/04/29/cinematic-time-mahathir-and-bunohan/amp/?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR22RrWqXp8vEsVf3lD-6wDTMzMM_9qO7Msg55LLURjQnlK3MZaPVHuUDrE

p/s : A golden opportunity to get it straight from Dain Said next weekend in Wayang Di-Atas

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