Sunday, August 1

Author: Paskalis Damar

A Yogyakarta-born, Bali-based blogger and a cinema-loner who follows straight edge lifestyle (but currently on a hiatus). Drinking tea with no sugar and writing bilingually have helped him sober since 2010 until 2018; since then, some sips of Midori Splice also help.
Review: Tenet (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Tenet (2020)

Christopher Nolan is cinema's own golden son—the prodigy to save the so-called cinematic experience and the giant screens from the impending extinction. His latest spectacle, Tenet, becomes the solid proof of how the cinema's grandiosity must survive amidst atrocities. This is an original action blockbuster at its finest with a clear-cut demand: to be indulged in the best available cinema. From the cutting-edge practical effect showcases; blustering globe-trotting set-pieces; exhaustive narrative that demands re-watches; to Ludwig Göransson's electrifying scoring complemented Jennifer Lame's merciless edit; everything about Tenet is cerebral. (more…)
Review: Bliss (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Bliss (2021)

It's hard to tell whether Mike Cahill's Bliss is a sci-fi drama or simply a wicked rom-com at least until half-way through the film. The film basically gives away the same promise his previous sci-fi dramas, Another Earth and I Origins, tries to deliver rather profoundly and philosophically albeit seeming comical at some intersections. This time, however, the premise ends up being more interesting than the actual film is—even when Salma Hayek's recently rare leading performance sparks some lights. (more…)
Review: Little Big Women (2021)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Little Big Women (2021)

In some other stories, death might be the end; but, not in this one. Death is what set this Taiwanese drama in motion. Grief that follows is the force that stokes up Joseph Hsu Chen-chieh's family melodrama, Little Big Women, as it navigates between the sea of distresses and unspoken longings. Grief is also an unlikely power that reunites an ordinary family with a not-so-ordinary story and unravels secrets from the past that have been swept under the rug. (more…)
A Season with: Romulus – Season 1 (2020)
TV Series

A Season with: Romulus – Season 1 (2020)

What if Game of Thrones is made in Italy to tell the Roman mythology about the founding of Rome? The result is Romulus, a 10-episode epic series centering on the origins of Rome. Instead of taking on a full mythological approach in portraying the renowned tale, showrunner Matteo Rovere and the writing department devised a more subtle and realistic rendition of the tale, making it more political even when the whole narrative leans toward action-adventure genre. (more…)
A Season with: First (2018)
TV Series

A Season with: First (2018)

Extraterrestrial exploration has seen its resurgence on screen again in the recent years. Brad Pitt has gone into space looking for his missing father in Ad Astra; Eva Green has parted with her daughter for an ISS mission in Proxima; Matt Damon was stranded alone on Mars in The Martian. Now, it’s time for two-time Academy Award winner, Sean Penn (Mystic River, Milk) to go ad astra per aspera himself, but on a smaller screen. Starring in FIRST, Penn portrays Tom Hagerty, an astronaut prepared for the first human mission to Mars.  (more…)
Review: Space Sweepers (2021)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Space Sweepers (2021)

South Korea's film industry hits another new height with their first space opera, Space Sweepers, directed by blockbuster specialist, Jo Sung-hee (Phantom Detective). Assembling a band of cheeky space misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy style, this sci-fi bonanza puts together unprecedented ensemble of casts in a dystopian space adventure. The star-studded casts to thrive among the stars ranging from Song Joong-ki (the director's collaborator in A Werewolf Boy and star of popular drama, Descendants of the Sun), Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden), Jin Seon-kyu (Extreme Job), and Yoo Hae-jin (A Taxi Driver) with a special performance from Richard Armitage (The Hobbit Trilogy). (more…)
Review: Malcolm & Marie (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Malcolm & Marie (2021)

Euphoria's creator, Sam Levinson, brazenly brings at least two major elements from his acclaimed HBO series to his new film, Malcolm & Marie. First, he extends the admiration towards his Emmy-winning front woman, Zendaya, for another provocative role in a clash against John David Washington. Additionally, he also brings along the series style-over-substance tendencies and injects it into this exhausting relationship friction. (more…)
Review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Judas and the Black Messiah recounts the real life saga involving young-and-rising Black Panthers leader, Fred Hampton, operating in Illinois, with his eventual betrayer, William "Bill" O'Neal. The story is framed to juxtapose the infamous biblical betrayal as it wears the hint as explicitly in the title as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The story of an eloquent Black revolutionist killed by the establishment after manipulating a fellow Black man inarguably exudes the #BlackLivesMatter message strongly. It's a provocative political biopic radiating that couldn't have been timelier. (more…)
Best of 2020: Films that Help Sinekdoks Getting Through the Strange Year
Featured, Sinek-Talk

Best of 2020: Films that Help Sinekdoks Getting Through the Strange Year

Cinemas were closed for almost a year. Films went digital. Streaming prevails. Festivals went online. Yet, here's the best of 2020. I still went to the nearby cinema until early March 2020. The last film I saw on cinema was Vin Diesel's Bloodshot. Since then, relishing the cinematic experience in 2020 was never the same. By the end of March, most cinemas had already closed their door indefinitely (only a few of them finally has finally opened again with a completely new set of protocols in December 2020). By then, it's been an excruciating time for movie aficionado. With cinemas unavailable, streaming services become the last resort. Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+ and HBO become the primary "cinema." Indonesian-bound streaming services like Mola TV, KlikFilm, and Biosko...
Review: June & Kopi (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: June & Kopi (2021)

From an unlikely place, here comes a classic story of dogs becoming human's best friend in Netflix-bound Indonesian family drama, June & Kopi. Unlike Hollywood with dozens of doggo movies (ranging from Air Buds to Marley & Me) or Japan with Hachiko Monogatari (1987), Indonesian cinema has a little to none in terms of pet stories, let alone dogs, in the repertoire at least in the last three decades. Noviandra Santosa's new film, co-written with Titien Wattimena (Salawaku, Aruna dan Lidahnya), comes like a breath of fresh air with not only one, but two dogs headlining the film. This doggo-drama comes with a saintly message even when the execution isn't always at the top level. Related Post: Review: The Secret Life of Pets (2016) The story revolves around a married couple,...
Review: Saint Maud (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Saint Maud (2021)

Having failed to save the life of a patient under the care, Katie (Morfydd Clark) succumbs into a dreadful stage of depression. She resorts to Roman Catholicism as a means of coping and begins to call herself Maud in the process. As she becomes a pious believer, she starts to find her confidence back and enrolls in a palliative nurse care program where she's tasked to look after a terminally ill patient, Amanda (Jennifer Ehle)—an atheist choreographer from the US. That's where Saint Maud takes a sharp turn from an observation of faith and depression into a hybrid of body horror with psychological thriller answering to some hurtful stigma about depressions. (more…)
Review: The White Tiger (2021)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: The White Tiger (2021)

An honest social commentary doesn’t always have to feel punishing all the time—take Ramin Bahrani's The White Tiger for example. Like his work, 99 Homes, unraveling the harsh reality of the 2008 housing crisis in the US, his Netflix bound film points out everything that is wrong in India—crooked law system, corruption, religious discrimination, misogyny, forced marriage, and, as the center-piece, modern slavery—in a story about a slave cunningly exploits all the flaws to build an empire. However depraved and morally corrupted the system is, under Bahrani, the story is always about the human within the system—hustling and struggling to rebel against the chaotic order. (more…)
Review: Affliction / Pulang (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Affliction / Pulang (2021)

Seasoned Indonesian director, Teddy Soeriaatmadja (helming the Trilogy of Intimacy, consisting Lovely Man, Something in the Way, and About a Woman) returns with something that feels odd and out of place to his repertoire with Netflix bound movie, Affliction (also titled Pulang). Unlike his previous films that emphasize grounded, intimate drama with careful pacing and subtle yet moving performance from the lead, the director, also writing the script, now experiments with a new narrative drive: horror. By casting his own wife, Raihaanun (27 Steps of May) whose on-screen presence always illuminates, in the process, the film might have a shade or two of the director's signature prowess, but the end-result feels nothing like it. (more…)
Review: Yang Tak Tergantikan (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Yang Tak Tergantikan (2021)

Herwin Novianto presents a slice-of-life family drama revolving around the life of a dysfunctional family and their struggle in Yang Tak Tergantikan (trans. the irreplaceable one). Occupying the center stage of the narrative is Lulu Tobing in another subtle performance portraying a divorcee living independently with her three young-adult children. She's the beating heart of the story, co-written Gunawan Raharja (Aisyah: Biarkan Kami Bersaudara), that feels grounded and intimate without having to dip into sheer complications. (more…)
Review: One Night in Miami… (2021)
Movie Review

Review: One Night in Miami… (2021)

On the night of 25 February 1964, the greatest boxer ever walked the earth, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree, Race) won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston. In the aftermath of his career-turning moment, Clay celebrates the victory with three friends—all are prominent Black figures in the 1960s, musician Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton), NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton), and the controversial Black activist as well as Clay's mentor, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir, High Fidelity series). Four legends in One Night in Miami marks the directorial debut of Regina King, adapting a stage-play by Kemp Powers (Pixar's Soul) who also writes the screenplay. The celebration isn't merely a celebratory party or anything resembles it; instead, the four legends emba...

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