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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
sieteocho
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Sinnerman
Ambient Noise
Drakula
daface
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Liverbird
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Bollywood
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
15
19
2046
Acacia
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Audition
Avalon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blackboards
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Butterfly
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Clean
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Desire
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Dolls
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Face
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Friend
Full Alert
Garuda
Gemini
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Grudge
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Headlines
Hero
Hidden Blade, The
Homerun
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
Hypnotized
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Install
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Khakee
Korban Fitnah
Koroshi
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love/Juice
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Metropolis
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Ong-Bak
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
Quill
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Samsara
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Sepet
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Shower
Shutter
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
TalkingCock
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
3-Iron
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Waterboys
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
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   Toh Hai Leong, Auteur  



 

TOH HAI LEONG, AUTEUR

by Felix Cheong

In another life, Toh Hai Leong, self-professed film critic and director of the mockumentary Zombie Dog, must’ve been a love guru. Because that’s all he ever talks about: sex and lovers, lovingly counted and recounted.

Probe him on his fascination with zombies and his answer, with the inevitability of a river meeting the sea, winds its way to his love affairs.

"Our life is really no different from automatons," declared the 48-year-old former librarian and security guard now "in the early autumn of my life."

"We’re all creatures of habit," he added, his eyes fixed at a point in the distance, in their own world, like the drift of his talk. "We [used to] live and die in small villages but [not anymore] because of globalization. It happens that I’ve been lucky and been able to travel and been hunted by different women."

What was that again? Zombies, urbanization, lovers? Which turning did you miss?

Ask him why he took up a six-month stint as a security guard and – read this slowly, please – he ended up describing a crush he had once.

"There was a daughter of a former deputy police commissioner. She was delicate-looking. At that time, she was crazy about a dog. She ended up leaving me for a dog. So my love for her just went to the dogs."

Which turning did you miss again? You smiled politely at his pun but continued to keep a watchful eye on his hands which, thankfully, were expressive but not destructive throughout the 45-minute interview with Today.

You persevered, testing again the still waters which, in Toh’s case, must run very, very deep. An innocent question about whether his interest in film was really to pick up women did the trick. It finally helped you pick the lock of his mind.

"Girls and film come together because film embodies dreams and a lot of girls love dreams and also men who dream." There was little in his demeanor to indicate if he had realized the poetry in his observation. "I’m like a Truffaut hero: the man who loves women who loves dreams." Truffaut was one of the leading lights of the French new wave cinema in the 1960s.

Perhaps there was method to Toh’s madness after all. Yet in the same breath, this Pre-university dropout, who would have you believe he was so poor at one stage he was eating instant noodles every day, undermined your good opinion by asserting: "I’m a predator. I go for women who really believe in me...I’m like a serial killer. I pick up women with the same traits, the same characteristics."

But of course, he stops short of summarily dispatching women to the next world because "the law is always retributive. You kill, you have to pay for what you do. You have to love them but not kill them. It’s a creative process really."

Toh has certainly been very procreative over the past 10 years. He did not flinch from admitting to fathering two girls and two boys, out of wedlock, from his on-off liaisons with five girlfriends, who include a Taiwanese, Korean, Hong Konger and Malaysian.

None of this is verifiable, of course. In fact, most of what he related to you is best filed away under "tales of the unexplainable." Like his account of a surreal dream both he and his Korean girlfriend had of him swallowing his dentures and choking to death. Or his claim that many young, independent filmmakers here refused to pay him his due after he’s helped them make contact with international festival directors.

"I only [helped] people with talent, like myself. I figure I’m a talent because I took a lot of risk on myself."

Is he deluded? Did man really land on the moon? You tried to make out the man behind the shifty manner, the crew cut and the thick glasses one last time. But all you could discover is that, like trying to cup seawater in your palm, there are things you can grasp and things you are better off not holding onto. Zombie Dog was shown at the Singapore International Film Festival in April 2004.

Also read a review of Zombie Dogs.