Review Five Feet Apart (2019)

Five Feet Apart is like a deliberately sappy fanfiction of The Fault in Our Stars saved by Haley Lu Richardson’s star-making performance and Cole Sprouse’s ethereal charm.

We have seen this kind of terminal romance over and over again. From the lots of award-darling, Love Story (1970), to the surprisingly good John Green’s adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars; or from the lots of sappy Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember to the melodramatic Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, Hollywood seems to always find more disease to jerk audiences’ tears with the glorified disease porn movies. Five Feet Apart adds up to that latter list of tearjerker—well-intended and well-acted; but too fixated to the young-adult tropes that it washes down the fore-mentioned two qualities.

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Review Triple Threat (2019)

Instead of ending up being a crowd-pleaser, Triple Threat only comes as a crowd-teaser.

Triple Threat deliberately engineers a fictional Southeast Asian country called Maha Jaya—which basically is Thailand but with extremely large China influence comprising of tycoons and cartels, backed by Indonesian mercenaries—only to allow the three leads: Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Chen speaking roles in their native language. Strange as it may sound, but at some points, the made-up setting becomes a reasonable venue to showcase a showdown between glorified Muay Thai, Pencak Silat and Kung Fu against current B-movie actioner stars consisting of Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping.

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Review Friend Zone (2019)

Friend Zone, while building the narrative on an overly familiar material plus some jetset life clichés, can still deliver its hook right at the gut.

Friend Zone adopts an idea that has been too familiar that we almost take it for granted. A story of a guy who falls hard to a girl (vice versa) but ends up as friends, instead of lovers, is a tragedy since forever. Before the term was popularized by Joey Tribbiani in sitcom Friends, Edgar Linton has been friend-zoned by Catherine Earnshaw in Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and, since then, we’ve heard a lot of similar stories or even get ourselves tangled in such stories. That does not refrain this new GDH romance from reminding us on how beautiful and sentimental this state can be.

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Review Us (2019)

Us is a proof that Jordan Peele’s such a storyteller. It’s like what Winston Duke’s character said: “a fucked-up performance art.”

After the highly inventive Get Out won Jordan Peele an Oscar in screenplay, the comedian-turned-director presents another high-concept horror, which once again brings out a truly cinematic experience, called Us. The new horror shares similar DNA as Get Out; but it’s not a follow-up, nor an expansion; it’s more like a soul sister lurking mysteriously from the dark to take audiences by surprise at a completely different manner as in Peele’s directorial debut.

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Review Triple Frontier (2019)

Chandor pulls some grim, emotional twist in what looked a gonzo celebration of machismo the size of Expendables but not.

In paper, Triple Frontier feels like a deviation from the director, J.C. Chandor’s filmography so far. Often presenting gritty, thought-provoking thrillers about the descend of men without hand-on action sequences, Chandor takes a radical premise when he collaborates with writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal. There are stand-offs here, but Chandor’s gripping signature lies around in this star-studded machismo celebration.

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Review Yowis Ben 2 (2019)

Following up the sleeper hit with an exhilarating sociolinguistic discourse, Yowis Ben 2 can still be funny even when the acting department’s a bit lousy and the narrative messy.

In 2018, Yowis Ben prevailed against the odd condemning its segmented nature—using regional language (Javanese) with a more obscure dialect (Malangnese) and came in as a profitable sleeper-hit (almost hitting a million viewers during its theatrical run). While the use of particular dialects is not a new thing in Indonesian cinema, especially in arthouse community; the fact that it was a mogul-produced blockbuster creates a new powerful surge in the industry (note that a year earlier, the very industry was caught unprepared by another sleeper-hit, Uang Panai, a Makassar-bound production). Given the financial success and warm response from general viewers, it is not surprising that an immediate sequel is produced in no time, hence Yowis Ben 2, an unnecessary yet still tremendously hilarious sequel.

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