February was not as prolific as imagined. Only plenty of films were released (especially in accordance to the Oscar); fortunately, most of them were great. The highlight of this month is The Academy Awards in the end of the month, which could’ve been the best of the decade, but apparently wasn’t. I’ve been crossing off some films from my Biggest Misses list, whose title is apparently correct; and put all of those films in short reviews in this recap. Surprisingly enough, none of those films really feel ‘romantic’ like how February should’ve been.
Here’s a recap to help readers catch up with what went in Sinekdoks along February 2017!
Here’s list of new releases I watched on Indonesian theaters along February 2017 (listed from the higher score to the lower):
Click the titles above for the review!
Jackie (2016) | Pablo Larrain
Chilean political-thriller auteur, Pablo Larrain, peels off Jackie Kennedy’s character into majestic, digestible pieces. In an autobiographical approach, the life of JFK’s widow – whose personal life could make into a whole 8-episode miniseries – is crafted into a sympathetic non-linear contemplation of the grieving First Lady. Each moment in her life – from the restoration of the White House, her love to public appearance, to the death of her husband – is portrayed elegantly in accordance to her persona. Natalie Portman resurrects the persona of Jackie eloquently. Score: 3.5 out of 4
The Edge of Seventeen (2016) | Kelly Fremon Craig
Seventeen has always been most intriguing age in the life of a person. It’s a crossroad between being adolescent and being a complete adult. Everything’s not right, ambiguous, and difficult to understand at the edge of this age. Those notions are captured perfectly in Kelly Fremon Craig’s relevant-yet-perplexed teen angst drama fueled by Hailee Steinfeld’s sympathetic performance. Score: 3 out of 4
Paterson (2016) | Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is a poem dedicated to all poets – the big, the famous, the infamous, the small, and the unknown – of world’s capital of poetry, New York City. The poem is in form of a local bus driver’s life, Paterson (Adam Driver) living and named after the city Paterson. As a poet himself, Paterson’s banal life is the static poem, but, it’s his thought and appreciation to everything that matters around him is what makes that poem beautiful. Score: 3.5 out of 4
The Eyes of My Mother (2016) | Nicolas Pesce
A pyscho-murder salesman stops by the house of a trained surgeon who has taught her daughter, Fransisca (Kika Magalhães) to perform surgery; and the family’s life has never been the same again. Shot in monochromatic color, The Eyes of My Mother delightfully creates disturbing and haunting imagery for its whole 80-min duration. Magalhães – a former dancer – sends you the message from her sharp eyes that it is your nightmare in a slow-paced arthouse version. Score: 3 out of 4
The Love Witch (2016) | Anna Biller
Written, directed, and edited by Anna Biller, this tribute to campy reenactment of 60s sexploitative cinema is organic. With visual that pays homage to Technicolor and (honestly) cringe-worthy music scoring of the fading era, Biller’s deranged feminist message against patriarchal society is as fabulous as Samantha Robinson, the lead, whose on-screen presence reflects the era’s seductive Barbie. Score: 3 out of 4
American Honey (2016) | Andrea Arnold
A troubled young girl, Star (Sasha Lane), leaves her house and follows a traveling magazine sales crew in a road trip around Midwestern towns. Clocking in at 162 mins, American Honey is a prolonged road trip with no map, no destination, overseeing the lesser-known face of American teenagers from a British director’s vision. Trust me, even with EDM music in occasional carpool scenes, as well as Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf’s fascinating performance, this is a still a suffering film to watch. Score: 3 out of 4
Operation Avalanche (2016) | Matthew Johnson
The idea and premise of Operation Avalanche is a serious one – a conspiracy theory behind American biggest achievement: the Moon landing. The film itself follows 2 CIA agents who find out about NASA’s inability to reach the deadline of Apollo 11 landing and seeks out a solution to overcome it: by faking it. It takes a lot of time to make a faux-doc of the biggest hoax in history feels larky and playfully, instead of scandalous. Score: 2.5 out of 4
Unbreakable (2000) | M. Night Shyamalan
This might not be Shyamalan’s best work; but, it sets high bar of his directorial performance in his early years. Shyamalan brings audiences into a jungle of revelation and psycho-thriller which almost tips supernatural barrier only to be amazed by the unpredictable ending, which leads to his recent film. Score: 3 out of 4
20th Century Women (2016) | Mike Mills
I keep wondering why a film this beautiful and important was snubbed from The 89th Academy Award. Mike Mills’ gender-gap study is a powerful tribute to those women who raised children in the brink of ‘modern leap’ of the 20th century, fueled with stellar performance from the casts (from Annette Bening to indie-darling Greta Gerwig; from Billy Crudup to Elle Fanning and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann) and unique presentation. Score: 4 out of 4
Tallulah (2016) | Sian Heder
Call it a spiritual sequel to Jason Reitman’s Juno, that’s alright. Ellen Page is the titular character – who, after some misunderstanding, is forced to look after a baby girl. On the run, she becomes a mother again – not a biological one this time – in a much more growing-up, complex, and inclined melodrama about mother – those who are unwilling and those who are eager at whatever cost. The narrative might be unnatural, but it’s well-written and the over-dramatizing tendency is neutralized by the grounded performance of the compelling cast. Score: 3 out of 4
Queen of Katwe (2016) | Mira Nair
Disney’s take on this biography leads to a colorful depiction of African slums. While the underdog storyline is cliche-laden, the story of Ugandan chess queen (depicted by Madina Nalwanga) is an uplifting story lifted by top-notch performance from Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo as well as visual spectacles that went vibrant all the time. The end-credit scene gives a real goosebumps (where the real-life figures are revealed); it goes without saying that there’s a real power of dreams and compassion in this mundane life. Score: 3 out of 4
Frank & Lola (2016) | Matthew Ross
This relationship drama is an intoxicating story of love, sex, betrayal, jealousy and compulsive manner of man. The narrative concerts less sympathy than the character, but, it’s Michael Shannon’s sharp performance that keeps us going back rooting on Frank anytime the relationship goes awry. They should have put a strike-through for Lola’s name in the title. Score: 2 out of 4
Swiss Army Man (2016) | Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
In The Daniels’ absurd buddy drama about a desperate, stranded man (Paul Dano) who befriends a farting Swiss Army corpse (Daniel Radcliffe), life is interpreted differently. It is absurd and bizarre at best; but it’s hard to keep sticking with the story if not for Paul Dano’s sympathetic performance. Score: 2.5 out of 4
Krisha (2016) | Trey Edward Shults
Krisha Fairchild portrays the titular character, a middle-aged woman who reunites with her estranged family in a Thanksgiving celebration. Krisha is a bitter black comedy about an alcoholic woman, who becomes family reject; from head to toe, it might remind you of a reunion-gone -south tropes, like August: Osage County. It should’ve been inclined to melodrama; however, Trey Edward Shults’ direction makes it feels harrowing. The atmospheric horror is in the air; and Krisha’s images will haunt you with guilt. Score: 3 out of 4
Young Adult (2011) | Jason Reitman
A ghost writer of successful young adult novel (Charlize Theron) returns to his hometown with a hope to reclaim her good ol’ day and reconcile with her former high school boyfriend. The idea of adults revisiting their coming-of-age world is already an intriguing one; furthermore, Reitman has crafted it as a sour young-adult adult drama fueled up with captivating performance by Theron and electric screenplay presence by Cody Diablo. Score: 3.5 out of 4
The 89th Academy Awards a.k.a. Oscar 2017 was one of the greatest in this decade, with one of the best host, Jimmy Kimmel, until they screwed it up with their own blunder. Despite the bully and backlash, La La Land won big with 6 Oscars out of 14 noms (incl. Best Actress, Best Score, Best OST, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Director); and as expected, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight brought home the Best Picture.
Here’s my reviews of the 2017 Best Picture nominations ranked from highest to lowest:
In my February entry of Blindspot Series 2017 by Ryan McNeill of The Matinee, CA, I watched Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient (1996), which isn’t only ambitious but also grand in production value. Best achievement is: I survived its 162-min duration.
Here’s the recap of Thursday Movie Picks along February in which I pick three films each week in accordance with the theme:
Here I present you a quote of the month to end this recap:
“Tell them whoever comes. I’ll kill them all.” – John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2