Friday, January 22

Focus: Indonesia

All about recent Indonesian movies

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...
Review: Toko Barang Mantan (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Toko Barang Mantan (2020)

There's a store named Toko Barang Mantan which allows people to sell and buy exes' stuff. People will come to the store and dump their exes' stuff in the hope of forgetting the memories; the store, owned and managed by a rebel colleague student named Tristan (Reza Rahadian), will then sell the stuff to the willing buyers looking for gifts or antics. The profit share mechanism is unknown. But, at least, that's the unique premise of this romcom—making memories a commodity. Directed by Viva Westi (Koki-Koki Cilik 2) based on the script by Titien Wattimena (Dilan series), Toko Barang Mantan treats memories of ex-lovers to be some products to sell (capitalism has found a way to people's feeling apparently). Tristan, leaving his study to focus on managing the store, has the history to have ...
Review: Akhir Kisah Cinta Si Doel (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Akhir Kisah Cinta Si Doel (2020)

The third and final movie in Si Doel trilogy obtains the official title, Akhir Kisah Cinta si Doel (trans. The End of Doel's Love Story), for one apparent purpose> It lets the audiences finally learn that this is the endgame. This is the real finale to Si Doel's chronicle that has been going on for 27 years, starting off as a telly phenomenon before spawning television movies and pointing out at this very moment. Taking off where the second movie left out, this final part—like the previous movies—slowly crawls around the protagonist's mundane life in Jakarta suburbs as Doel (Rano Karno) ponders on the bizarre love triangle between him, his wife, Zaenab (Maudy Koesnaedi, ), and the wife who left him, Sarah (Cornelia Agatha). Meanwhile, Little Dul (Rey Bong), Sarah's son, sets out to...
Review: Abracadabra (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Abracadabra (2020)

At least half of Faozan Rizal's Abracadabra is inspired by the works of Wes Anderson (or probably Alejandro Jodorowsky in some elements). The visual elements—including the symmetry, the pastel-colored palette, the static camera, and the theatrical blocking—somehow confirms the hypothesis. The visuals, however, match up to its whimsical storyline about a magician mystery comedy, which becomes the movie's bare-spine. Reza Rahadian takes up the center-stage as a flamboyant magician, Lukman, with a magical wooden box called Yggdrasil. On a big-league magic show, Lukman attempts to make a little boy vanish using the box. And yet, when the boy vanishes, the quirky magician fails to bring him back. This event draws attention to many other pivotal figures in the circle of magicians, including ...
Review: Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (2020)

Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (NKCTHI), Angga Dwimas Sasongko's eleventh movie, is an intimate yet moody slice-of-life family drama. Written by Jenny Jusuf and Melarissa Sjarief, the movie is inspired by a best-selling book of the same title by Marchella FP. Here's the deal: the source material is a non-narrative piece; it, instead, is a visual self-improvement book full of quotes and reflective thoughts. The movie, deconstructing the message of the book, aims to seek some contexts and backstories—which are as meaningful. While mostly filled with quotes and thoughts, Marchella FP's book is not without any narrative elements. It's told from the perspective of Awan, who wrote life-lessons and wise advice to her daughter. The movie went further—to reinvent the book's backstories whic...

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