Tuesday, October 19

Focus: Indonesia

All about recent Indonesian movies

Review: Persahabatan Bagai Kepompong (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Persahabatan Bagai Kepompong (2021)

Inarguably, Kepompong might be one of the most memorable Indonesian pop-culture paraphernalia from 2008. The daytime teen series went on releasing 290-ish episodes between 2008 and 2009 while resurging former child actor Derby Romero's career. At the same time, the series saw the rise of newcomer Mikha Tambayong and the gush of the one-hit cult-classic song by Sind3ntosca. More than a decade later, a feature film reworks elements from the original series into a timeless high-school drama called Persahabatan Bagai Kepompong. One of the original writers, Alim Sudio, returns on the writing desk; meanwhile, Sentot Sahid (usually known as a film editor) sits on the director's chair. However, it's not a mere adaptation; it's more of a spiritua...
Review: Geez & Ann (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Geez & Ann (2021)

Netflix-bound young adult romance, Geez & Ann, adds to the ever-expanding hit-or-miss Wattpad waves in Indonesian blockbuster scenes. Based on a story by Rintik Sedu, Rizki Balki (with another Wattpad adaptation, A: Aku, Benci & Cinta, in his repertoire) takes the directorial duty working on the script adapted by Adi Nugroho and Cassandra Massardi along with Muthia Khairunissa, Amit Jethani, and Bonky. Junior Roberts stars as Gazza Cahyadi a.k.a. Geez; meanwhile, Hanggini portrays Keana Amanda a.k.a. Ann. Now, where's its place among other Wattpad adaptations? (more…)
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: 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: Sobat Ambyar / The Heartbreak Club (2021)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Sobat Ambyar / The Heartbreak Club (2021)

Heartbreak is arguably the second most universal thing after love. To say that everyone who knows how to love knows how broken heart feels like might be an innocent understatement; but, after all, it's universally a feeling that people try to avoid. For the late Didi Kempot (1966 - 2020), however, heartbreak is a source of inspiration in writing his folk songs. Dubbed as 'The Godfather of Broken Heart', the Indonesian singer had written hundreds of sentimental songs to ironically dance to. The singer was a folk sensation back in the 90s who found the career resurged in the recent years. Sobat Ambyar (a.k.a. The Heartbreak Club), directed by Charles Gozali (Finding Srimulat) and Bagus Bramanti (writer of sleeper-hit, Yowis Ben), is a light rom-com inspired by the finest and the bluest ...
Review: Quarantine Tales (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Quarantine Tales (2020)

Amidst the frustrating COVID-19 pandemic, BASE Entertainment (Indonesian-Singaporean production company behind Joko Anwar's Impetigore and Riri Riza's Bebas) produced a multi-genre omnibus called Quarantine Tales. By putting together 5 short films under one umbrella theme—quarantine, the omnibus showcases works from a mix-and-match combo of seasoned and rising Indonesian directors. The omnibus also marks the directorial debut of prominent Indonesian actress, Dian Sastrowardoyo (Ada Apa dengan Cinta and Kartini), alongside other works from acclaimed director, Ifa Isfansyah (Sang Penari, Pendekar Tongkat Emas), as well as promising names, such as Jason Iskandar (whose full-feature debut, Akhirat: A Love Story) is coming soon, Sidharta Tata (Tunnel), and Aco Tenriyagelli. (more…)...
Review: Story of Kale: When Someone’s in Love (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Story of Kale: When Someone’s in Love (2020)

"Happiness is a personal responsibility," Kale (Ardhito Pramono) shares his life advice to Awan (Rachel Amanda) at the edge of their relationship that never happened in Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (NKCTHI). His one-sided withdrawal from commitment is mainly responsible to catalyst the melodramatic third act of the story. However, Kale's reluctance, as implied, is not without a root; and, thanks to director Angga Dwimas Sasongko and writer, M. Irfan Ramly (Love for Sale duology), he isn't going to just get away with it. Therefore, Story of Kale: When Someone's in Love, a spin-off and a prequel, seeks to walk down a memory lane and find the sought-after redemption. (more…)
Review: Pelukis Hantu (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Pelukis Hantu (2020)

Back in the mid 2000s, supernatural TV shows suddenly ruptured and became nationwide phenomena, with almost every national channel having one of it. Now that the trend dwindles, there's one gimmick that apparently survives —the ghost painter, a psychic who possesses the ability to paint metaphysical beings behind closed eyes, albeit generic, to visualize the ghosts to audiences. That profession, for whatever it is, is the epicenter of Arie Kriting's directorial debut, Pelukis Hantu (Ghost Painter). (more…)
Review: Mudik (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Mudik (2020)

Once in a year, at the end of Ramadan month, most urban settlers in Indonesia will embark on a traditional (sometimes deemed religious) homecoming a.k.a. mudik to their hometown in order to spend the Eid with their big family. Oftentimes, people travel overland—creating an endless traffic that makes an 8-hour drive a day and sometimes doubles down a day trip. Fatigue and frustration follow them along the way, but most people will ignore; for the long of home—as in home is where the heart is—overpowers the challenge. It's no different for Firman (Ibnu Jamil) and Aida (Putri Ayudya), a young married couple that becomes the center of Adriyanto Dewo's Mudik. However, this year's mudik is the one that will change their lives forever. (more…)
Review: Sabar Ini Ujian (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Sabar Ini Ujian (2020)

Dubbed as the first time-loop blockbuster in Indonesia, Sabar Ini Ujian arrives as the first original Indonesian feature in Disney+ Hotstar. Helmed by Anggy Umbara (Warkop DKI Reborn, Suzzana: Bernapas dalam Kubur) based on a screenplay co-written by Erwin Arnada, Gianluigi Ch, and himself, the movie marries off the playful time-loop trope with a sweet rom-com. The protagonist—ironically named—Sabar (Vino G. Bastian, Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 ) wakes up on the wedding day of her former fiance he barely moves on from, only to find himself reliving the same day over and over again. As the premise and the title suggest ('Sabar Ini Ujian' in Indonesian means more or less like 'please be patient, this is only a test'), the temporal plot device works like a self-test and s...
Review: Kado / A Gift (2018)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Kado / A Gift (2018)

With only 15 minutes, Aditya Ahmad's Kado delivers a poignant study of gender fluidity through the story of an androgynous girl. Observed through the lens of society with conservative views about gender and sexuality, this irony is keen to challenge the very same society about "how it really feels" to counter the traditional "how it seems." It's heartfelt without having to relegate its beautiful story to melodrama; but, most importantly, it's thought-provoking, probing a continuous discourse. The idea (as mentioned by Ahmad in an interview with SINdie) roots to the native Buginese views of gender. Traditionally, there are five genders: male, female, calabai (physically male but is identified as female), calacai (the opposite of calabai), and bissu (gender-ambiguous). The question is wh...
Review: Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini / No One is Crazy in This Town (2019)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini / No One is Crazy in This Town (2019)

Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini flows like a realist narrative in Eka Kurniawan's short story. While, in fact, the story is a series of oddities and elusive dark humor that happen normally in the author's universe. Built upon implicit social commentaries and symbolism-by-symbolism, the story is knitted only by the surreal events that resemble "narrative." When young director, Wregas Bhanuteja (Lemantun, Prenjak), adapts it into a short film of the same title, he opts to stick in with his interpretation and, truth be told, he's adept at it. (more…)
Review: Mekah I’m Coming (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Mekah I’m Coming (2020)

Jeihan Angga's full-feature directorial debut, Mekah I'm Coming, is a deadpan rom-com rooted from several social commentaries about the obsession towards Hajj, Muslim's sacred pilgrimage to Mecca. Rizky Nazar and Michelle Ziudith portray the rom-com couple whose love is tested in the midst of the shenanigans. Through their love ordeals, the narrative brings honest, straightforward, and, sometimes, harsh commentaries about the rural Muslim community and the flaws in the travel industry capitalizing the pilgrimage. To put a context to the whole write-up, here's a little summary of the movie's socio-cultural subtexts. As a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia—located further away from the epicenter of the Muslim world—has quite a distinct socio-cultural pract...
Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput: Ayat 2 (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput: Ayat 2 (2020)

Evil Dead's distant prodigal cousin, Sebelum Iblis Menjemput (May the Devil Take You), has finally gotten a tougher, grittier, and more fucked-up sequel dubbed as Sebelum Iblis Menjemput: Ayat 2 as if it's a chapter in a demonic bible. In the follow-up story, writer-director Timo Tjahjanto does not really bother with narrative merits as he's busy sacrificing souls to the cinematic god of death (as in The Night Comes for Us). Compared to the predecessor, the second chapter is way nastier, campier, and more frivolous with the "nightmares exist out of logic" credo held dear. The myth still follows the protagonist of the first movie, Alfie (Chelsea Islan), who has succumbed to sedative drugs in the aftermath of the first taking. The news of her survival from the cataclysmic nightmare has s...

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