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Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts / Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak (2017) – Review

In a cruel world, a widow refuses to surrender & decides to fight back against patriarchal tyranny in a four-act-structure story.

Review: In a cruel world without favor for women, Marlina (Marsha Timothy) refuses to surrender and be a victim; she, instead, embraces her inner strength and decides to fight back against patriarchal tyranny.

Exquisite, powerful and poignant, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak), is a tale of empowerment wrapped as a Far-East ‘Western’ revenge thriller with strong femme fatale to root for. It’s a quintessential work for Indonesian female director, Mouly Surya, whose previous works (fiksi. and What They Don’t Talk about When They Talk about Love) revolves around determined female characters, too. Continue reading “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts / Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak (2017) – Review”

Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review

The ABCD of Love is muddled with convoluted plot and loose threads.

Review: Salman Aristo’s directorial effort, Satu Hari Nanti, is a complicated story about four Indonesian folks tangled in a love rectangle on a foreign land. Dubbed on-screen as “the ABCD of Love” (a coined term which somehow foreshadows the whole conflict) with wide references ranging from Hamlet to Woody Allen, and from Anthony Bourdain to Franz Kafka, the film is well-intentioned; but, when it comes to presentation, only one thing comes up to mind: muddled.

Set under the elegant sky of Switzerland, Satu Hari Nanti is like a box of interaction between the film’s four main characters only. Alya (Adinia Wirasti), a chocolatier student, is in the midst of desperate romance with Bima (Deva Mahenra), a musician bumping from one café to another. While Chorina (Ayushita), a hotelier, is trying to survive in a bumpy relationship with a tour guide, Din (Ringgo Agus Rahman). Four friends, two couples in a foreign land; two broken relationships try to make amend; there’s where each of them begins to cross the line between friendship and romance. Alya begins to find solace in Din; and Bima begins to find one in Chorina; hence, the fore-mentioned “ABCD of Love.” Notice that each character’s name starts with letters that make the reference to understandable, plot-wise. Continue reading “Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review”

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review

Kenneth Branagh crafts a Poirot-laden blockbuster for Orient Express redux to secure his future gigs.

Review: Kenneth Branagh knows that modern viewers don’t fancy over-exposition in crime-mystery story as in Agatha Christie’s original whodunit classic, Murder on the Orient Express. Therefore, the actor/director adjusts the premise and crafts a more energetic, carefree version of the story which focuses more on the main protagonist, Hercule Poirot, more than anything else in the story.

Details are altered; but, the basic things are intact. The titular Orient Express still leaves from Istanbul to London during a cold winter; and, Poirot boards in the train along with dozen strangers. As the title might suggest, there’s a murder on board. The detective must solve the case by interrogating other passengers of the train before the train stops on the nearby station. Staged within limited area with limited access, Branagh presents a non-stop series of investigation that goes back and forth at full-speed. At that speed, we might get the illusion that the train (and the case) is going somewhere enticing; while it hasn’t actually moved a bit. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review”

Coco (2017) – Review

‘Til death do us part’ is not a thing in Pixar’s Mexican odyssey about life, death and family that bounds them altogether.

Review: Seven years in making with thorough research in Mexico along with solid team led by Lee Unkrich to celebrate appropriate representation (including writer, Adrian Molina, who got eventually promoted into co-director), Pixar’s nineteenth feature, Coco, results in a highly respectful tribute to Mexican culture and tradition, specifically, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ a.k.a. The Day of the Dead.

In preparation of the carnivalesque, marigold-laden Mexican festivity of the dead, 12-year-old Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzales) is entangled in a fateful adventure between life, death and family that bounds them altogether. The boy only wants to follow his passion—to simply play guitar and sing like his hero, a famous Mexican singer and actor, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt)—much to his shoemaker family’s dismay due to a past predicament. When a talent show is held at the town’s plaza, Miguel ignores his family’s cries of refusal and joins up anyway. For that, he steals the monumental guitar from de la Cruz chapel, which makes him cursed and strands up in the Land of the Dead. Continue reading “Coco (2017) – Review”

Breathe (2017) – Review

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is a flawed but breathtaking love story saved by its powerful leads.

Review: Breathe, directorial debut from Andy Serkis—the man who should’ve gotten lifetime achievement for dedication to performance capture, is surprisingly a grounded, imperfect but breathtaking love story inspired by  Robin Cavendish, a responaut who survived from paralyzing polio, and his loving wife, Diana.

Andrew Garfield, as per his recent standard, is astonishing as Robin, an energetic British tea-broker who ventures in Africa. His social fluidness helps him winning over Diana Blacker’s (Claire Foy, The Crown) heart, despite her reputation as a professional heartbreaker. Love blooms quickly and, before long, Robin marries Diana before his tenure in Kenya began. Yet, life gives as quickly as it takes. During Diana’s pregnancy with Jonathan Cavendish (who apparently becomes the film’s executive producer), Robin falls sick as he inhales polio virus and was paralyzed from the neck down. With three months to live—according to doctor’s initial diagnosis—and weak will to live, only Diana’s love nurtures him back to life Continue reading “Breathe (2017) – Review”

Marrowbone (2017) – Review

The story of four Marrowbone siblings conceals a sentimental twist under piles of familiarity.

Review: Writer of The Orphanage and The Impossible, Sergio G. Sánchez crafts an overly solid yet convoluted story—about four Marrowbone siblings—which conceals deeply sentimental twist under piles of familiar elements.

In his directorial debut, Marrowbone, Sánchez again utilizes supernatural elements within emotional family drama frame as in his previous works. Set in seaside America of the 1960s, this period drama revolves around the lives of four siblings who recently move to the States from England, to the childhood house of their mother, Rose Fairbairn—nee Marrowbone (Nicola Harrison). Starting over their lives in a foreign land, the siblings—Jack (Captain Fantastic’s George Mackay), Billy (Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton), Jane (Mia Goth), and Sam (Matthew Stagg)—bear their mother’s maiden name to disguise from something that has been haunting them all along. Continue reading “Marrowbone (2017) – Review”

Paddington 2 (2017) – Review

Paddington’s fully-integrated story to human family is a bear-y merry sequel.

Review: Paddington—the marmalade-loving Peruvian bear who has now become a permanent resident in Windsor Gardens, London along with The Browns—returns for another adventure in this bear-y merry sequel.

While having been entirely integrated into human’s life and become a local hero, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is still the bear he used to be—the little bear saved and adopted by the late Uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). For Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington is keen to give her a unique pop-up book about London, the city of her dream. The lil’ bear will do anything to finally buy the book from Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique shop; even when what he’s done gets him entangled into a malicious conspiracy orchestrated by a villainous former actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Continue reading “Paddington 2 (2017) – Review”