April’s been a fun ride although I didn’t get to see lots of films in cinemas, although there were giant blockbusters coming in. TV series got pretty interesting here as HBO finally wrapped Big Little Lies and Netflix released controversial 13 Reasons Why. I almost wrapped my Alien saga marathon and I’m ready to post it by May.
In the meantime, I present you a recap to help readers digest what have been going on Sinekdoks along April 2017!
Here’s list of new releases I watched on Indonesian theaters along April 2017 (listed from the highest score to the lowest):
Get Out (Jordan Peele): It is a true cinematic experience and Jordan Peele’s surely a filmmaker to watch.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn): Still as groovy, kitsch and awesome as ever although it can’t get us hooked on the same feeling twice.
Stip & Pensil (Ardy Octaviand): Its attempt to tackle serious suburban issues with tickles is a delightful treat.
Kartini (Hanung Bramantyo): It’s an exquisite blockbuster biopic which is weighed down by lack of visual language and over-dramatization.
The Fate of the Furious (F. Gary Gray): This 8th installment isn’t as dramatic as the 7th, but it definitely has lots of fun ride.
Danur (Awi Suryadi): As a horror flick, it is a lame one; as a non-horror ghost story, it doesn’t grasp that essence.
In the April’s edition of Blindspot Series 2017 (by Ryan McNeill of The Matinee), I decided to watch Clint Eastwood’s final Western, Unforgiven (1992), which immediately reminds me to James Mangold’s Logan. Read out my thoughts about the film, which won Best Picture in Oscars 1993!
Presented by The World of Ghibli Jakarta, I finally got a chance to watch Ghibli’s films at the cinema. And, for March, I’ve watched Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki).
Review: Under Mr. Miyazaki’s magical touch, a tale about greediness and the dark side of modernization might become the most beautiful, enchanting fairy tale – with all the vibrant creatures, imaginative world-building, and idyllic water paint-colored vistas – despite leaving fatigue in the end. Score: 3.5 out of 4
Bokeh (2017, Geoffrey Orthwein, Andrew Sullivan)
Tackling apocalypse-themed drama as a reversal of Adam and Eve’s romantic story, it’s pretty hard to describe this beautiful indie drama without giving out the whole story. The reason is: there’s barely anything in the film, despite its genuine premise, which actually reflects people’s fear of being alone with no one to trust. Score: 2.5 out of 4
XX (2017, various directors)
Four female directors are teaming up in making this double X-chromosome horror anthology. It’s true that female director’s approach to terror is slightly different from male; and this might be a proof to it. Unfortunately, only Karyn Kusama’s entry convincingly offers a fresh terror, while others’ could not venture ‘that convincingly.’ Score: 2 out of 4
I don’t feel at home in this world anymore (2017, Macon Blair)
Macon Blair seems to have learned a lot from his tenure with Jeremy Saulnier; he even adopts Saulnier’s penchant to craft an intense thriller out of black comedy, specifically, with inept protagonists and series of comic, bad decision in his directorial debut. Imagine this premise: a desperate woman finally found a sense of purpose after being burglarized. Melanie Lynskey excels as a wrong woman at the wrong time, who only seeks for explanation before things went south, culminated in the dead, manic third act. Score: 3 out of 4
Filosofi Kopi (2015, Angga Dwimas Sasongko)
The darling in this startup buddy-coffee drama is Jenny Jusuf’s playful script – exposing a delightful bromance, coffee talk, and idealism in dialogues and subtext. Mr. Dwimas Sasongko’s direction is neat and slick, crafting a dialogue-driven drama, which benefits from spiritual connection between Chicco Jerikho and Rio Dewanto at the center. You can even smell the aroma of the coffee when they’re buzzing over it. Score: 3 out of 4
A United Kingdom (2016, Amma Asante)
Amma Asante’s third feature and spiritual sequel to her mixed-race drama Belle is a real story of political adversary beyond African’s most controversial royal wedding. David Oyelowo, once again, shows his might in portraying Africa’s biggest figures, while Rosamund Pike is more subtle as the British bride. Same as Belle, A United Kingdom plays political more fluent than it is playing drama; but Asante’s fluid directing makes it digestible and easy to follow from beginning to end. Although not as compelling as Belle (especially for its comparison to Jeff Nichols’ more grounded Loving), this biopic is still a sweet one. Score: 3 out of 4
Seoul Station (2016, Yeon Sang-ho)
As an animated companion piece to Train to Busan (although it is said to be a prequel), Seoul Station narrates the story of the same zombie outbreak set in Seoul. While the drama slipping in the zombie apocalypse story is gripping, this cannot reach its live-action counterpart’s emotional and tension height, mainly, because the animation feels emotion-less. Score: 2 out of 4
Don’t Think Twice (2016, Mike Birbiglia)
This ‘perks of being improv comedian group’ is definitely the best gem in 2016. Revolving around the lives of improv troupe in New York, The Commune, in the edge of their togetherness, this drama feels genuinely funny, hilarious and bitter at the same time. It’s hard to give it up from the original feeling it emanates. Score: 4 out of 4
Spectral (2016, Nic Mathieu)
A special-ops team is dispatched in a conflicted area, in which they’re combating spectral apparitions which hunt them one by one. Nic Mathieu’s sci-fi-thriller is at core a military horror set in a grim dystopian world. While we might have seen some of the elements are inspired from here and there, the sci-fi heavy plot and suspenseful action scenes keep boggling our mind. It’s a necessary Netflix production after all.
The Beguiled (1971, Don Siegel)
Despite the penchant to over-emasculate Clint Eastwood’s character, The Beguiled is simply a provocative Southern tale of rejection and jealousy that rapidly grows into a dangerous battle of sexes. It’s dark, grim, and sensual; and it feels so mistakenly right ever since the beginning. Score: 3.5 out of 4
Pengabdi Setan a.k.a. Satan’s Slave (1982, Sisworo Gautama Putra)
Hailed as Indonesian cult film, this straight B-movie horror is a phenomenon. Substituting Western’s Christian-induced horror, with Muslim elements straight from Indonesia, then throwing the horror formula to a local myth, Satan’s Slave is terrifying through and through. Score: 3 out of 4
Athirah (2016, Riri Riza)
Neo-realism aficionado, Riri Riza, crafts a beautiful biopic of a woman behind Indonesian important figure – two time vice president, Jusuf Kalla, subtly. Mr Riza carefully builds the world and fills them with stories, instead of awe. It doesn’t offer big stories, yet, it tackles a sweet, subtle maternal-filial connection to keep the story progresses. Score: 3 out of 4
Personal Shopper (2016, Olivier Assayas)
Kristen Stewart is the personal shopper for a celeb. Haunted by the grief after her twin brother died, she begins to feel otherworldly power transcends around her. Not necessarily a psycho-horror, Personal Shopper unravels grief, psycho-sex, and ghost story at the middle ground, while nudging the unseen side of buzzfeed industry. Stewart once again manifests anxiety fluently as an assistant figure as in her previous collaboration with Assayas. Score: 3 out of 4
In April, I’ve seen four 2017 TV series that wrapped their seasons and written my thoughts about them. Below are the links with descriptions.
Legion (Season 1): It’s a psychedelic superhero series like you’ve never seen before. Score: 3.5 out of 4
Big Little Lies (Mini-series): Wrapped with cool soundtracks, ambient cinematography and effective editing, this slow-burn Desperate Housewives with murder bursts out in the beginning, goes bitterly calm in the middle, and ends with a spectacular salvo. Score: 4 out of 4
13 Reasons Why (Mini-series): It is a taut, though-provoking coming-of-age suicide story. Score: 3 out of 4
FEUD: Bette and Joan (Mini-series): Despite being harsh and ‘difficult to watch’, Feud spreads awe and sympathetic performances in every episode to get audiences glued to the titular till-death-do-us-apart feud. Score: 3 out of 4
Here’s the recap of Thursday Movie Picks along April in which I pick three films each week in accordance with the theme:
Week 14: Cars/Racing | Week 15: Rivalry | Week 16: Disappearance | Week 17: Non-participating
Here I present you a quote of the month to end this recap: