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The Tragedy Of The Heartlands In The Films Of Eric Khoo

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Chapter Summary

The DVD release of Eric Khoo?s feature film Be with Me (2005) comes in packaging that features a quote from Time Magazine critic Bryan Walsh, who describes the film?s director as ?Singapore?s most talented filmmaker.? Several of Khoo?s films portray a dark, dirty, desperate, and deviant side of Singapore, a side that the authorities, anxious to protect their political legitimacy and to attract foreign tourists, capital, and talent, would much prefer to hide. In Mee Pok Man, the protagonist is a slow-witted man who sells noodle-soup at a coffee shop frequented in the late hours of the night by prostitutes, their pimps, and the thugs who work for the pimps. The more commercially oriented One Leg Kicking, which Khoo co-directed with Wei Koh, not only do the heartlanders triumph in the end, but their antagonists?the cosmopolitans?are consistently depicted as manipulative, exploitative, and depraved.

Keywords: Eric Khoo; films; heartlanders; political legitimacy; Singapore

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