A Season with: GLOW (2017) – Season 1

Review: Netflix’ GLOW is a splendid blend of many things—from campy female wrestling, satire to telly industry, feminism spirit and rage against racial stereotypes—that work fascinatingly. Presented as a period piece which sees L.A. circa 1985, the show radicalizes the era’s fascination towards glazing neon and devotion to day-time soap opera, then mixes them together in an exhilarating, vibrant ‘fake-sport’ drama.

In GLOW, a struggling actress, Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) is disheartened upon finding out that the industry has suppressed female roles to the brink of marginalization. When she encounters a desperate B-movie director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron)—who develops ‘The Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling’ a.k.a. GLOW for a TV channel, she surprisingly finds an absurdly empowering opportunity. From there, the line between pro-wrestling and soap opera begins to blur; and a road to stardom emerges. Continue reading A Season with: GLOW (2017) – Season 1

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Sweet 20 (2017): Ode to the youth not wasted on the young

Review: In the toughest time of her life, a fussy 70-year-old hag gets a second chance to compensate her lost youth and cheat aging when she is mysteriously transformed into her 20-year-old self. That’s the premise of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s mega-hit Miss Granny (2014), which has inspired series of overseas remakes, including the Indonesian version, Sweet 20, helmed by Ody C. Harahap (Me vs. Mami, Kapan Kawin?).

Transliterated from its South Korean roots by Upi (My Stupid Boss, Belenggu), Sweet 20 adeptly administers a profound adaptation into Indonesian culture and social value. Upi’s adapted script isn’t only changing the film’s geographical setting; it instead induces local view of family in Indonesia’s urban society. Even, the film’s Eid al-Fitr release adds up to the foundation of the story—underlying its ode to the motherhood, lost dream, and family’s worth. Continue reading Sweet 20 (2017): Ode to the youth not wasted on the young

Insya Allah Sah! (2017): Insha Allah preachy

Review: Adapted from Achi MT’s novel of the same title, Benni Setiawan’s Insya Allah Sah! materializes as a religious rom-com, which almost immediately reminds me to Deddy Mizwar’s Kiamat Sudah Dekat (2003).  Blending chaotic marriage preparation drama with some religious niches (too difficult to be taken seriously), the final picture comes like hit-and-miss at worst and preachy at best.

In Insya Allah Sah!, a woman named Silvi (Titi Kamal) was trapped in an elevator with a whimsical, hideous-yet-pious band manager, Raka (Pandji Pragiwaksono) on the day she’s supposed to be proposed by her longtime boyfriend, Dion (Richard Kyle). Under the fear of dying of suffocation, both make a pledge to God for their lives. Silvi swears to be more religious and act more compassionate deeds; while Raka to assist people around him. Continue reading Insya Allah Sah! (2017): Insha Allah preachy

Jailangkung (2017): Embodiment of style-over-substance horror

Review: Rizal Mantovani & Jose Purnomo’s sleeper hit Jelangkung (2001) was an integral part of Indonesian film resurrection. This harrowing story—about ancient ritual of summoning spirit using wooden avatar called ‘jelangkung’—was highly phenomenal that it spawned two sequels and cleared the path for other Indonesian ghouls to silver screen.

Sixteen years later, the winning team, Mantovani & Purnomo, is reunited with their winning formula into making a reboot titled Jailangkung. While their 2001 hit is a lo-fi production, this one is completely the opposite. With new target audiences, Jailangkung repackages itself with younger and fresher look; but, was it worth the scare? Continue reading Jailangkung (2017): Embodiment of style-over-substance horror

Blindspot: Rain Man (1988)

“Charlie Babbitt made a joke,” said Raymond, without expression, to Charlie Babbitt.

Back to the days when Tom Cruise hasn’t been that top-billed “film star”, he was once an actor when portraying Charlie Babbitt, a selfish chap who, upon learning about his estranged father’s death, finds out that he has a long-lost brother. Thing is, his way older brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) is an autistic savant, who inherits most of their father’s wealth. There’s pure quality in young Cruise to encounter Hoffman, the powerhouse who went and brought home Best Actor prize in Oscars completing the film’s triumph (with Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture victory). Continue reading Blindspot: Rain Man (1988)

A Season with: Fargo (2017) – Season 3

Review: In first two seasons of Fargo­—a powerhouse of anthology based on The Coen Brothers’ 1996 film of the same title, Noah Hawley has proven his worth as a hell of most consistently stylist showrunner. Extracting the comedy-of-errors formula from the film and creating hollow modern folklore set in the film’s universe, Hawley also crafts unsympathetically likable characters and throwing them into an awkwardly cunning situation. The result: a pitch black comedy and mayhem at the same time.

As for the third season, Fargo returns with an unpretentious rhythm—smaller in scale, calmer in sense, lesser havoc compared to the first two seasons (the first renders the film quite closely, while the second feels more heavy-metal)—which ends up in a more traumatic result. It’s no longer a rough mix of petty-crime-gone-wrong and wrong-people-in-wrong-place situation, although the shades of it still become this season’s foundation. A stroke of enigmatic evil also presents, this time, in a more contagious fashion. Continue reading A Season with: Fargo (2017) – Season 3