Instead of condemning premarital sex and/or the lack of sex education among teenagers, Gina S. Noer's directorial debut, Dua Garis Biru (trans. two blue stripes, referring to the positive mark in home pregnancy test pack) is keen to make the audiences aware of the lack of inter-generational discourses about sex education, that leads to teenage pregnancy and, later, marriage, and the consequence that follows. The movie never judges, manipulates and scolds anybody to convey the message. Even when the drama might be a little overwhelming at times, it ends up being a reflective case study that matters.
After some non-radical genre exploration, including Hang Out (2016) and Target (2018), writer/director/actor/stand-up comedian, Raditya Dika surprisingly takes a more conventional route, following up his 2015 hit, Single with a sequel titled Single Part 2. The move really is beyond expectation given Dika's recent penchant to experiment and, especially, given his new real-life status as a husband and a father. However, Single Part 2, albeit irrelevant, is basically a better work than the predecessor.
First and most importantly, Ghost Writer saves up an enticing what-if premise: what if there's an actual ghost writing as a ghost writer for famous writer? Bene Dion Rajagukguk holds the premise dear in his directorial debut and blends the idea with exhilarating comedy sketches he's known for (as in the script of Warkop DKI Reborn series and Suzzanna: Breathing in the Grave). The result is a fresh, uplifting ghost story whose heart and laugh shoo away the scares.
When Si Doel the Movie arrived in 2018, it hit the nostalgia button hard—knitting all the characters left (and the cast members who survive the 14-year gap) and revisiting the classic romance conflict to craft a new story, promised to be a closure to the legendary saga. Rano Karno knows exactly how to use the lingering power and present it as a fatal blow; but, turns out, Falcon Pictures knows better how the business goes. Si Doel the Movie 2 picks up where the first movie left out, hitting the nostalgia button even harder; but, we know pretty well, it's purely business.
Observing from Ody C. Harahap's recent directorial gigs, it seems apparent that he keeps expanding his directorial portfolio with wider genre exploration. After the remaking South Korean fantasy dramedy, Miss Granny, into Sweet 20 and working with Joko Anwar for another fantasy dramedy, Orang Kaya Baru. Harahap even furthers his effort with an unusual comedy cop movie, Hit & Run—starring The Raid and The Night Comes for Us star, Joe Taslim, for a rematch against his Raid nemesis, Yayan Ruhian the Mad Dog.
Jung Da-won's Miss & Mrs. Cops boldly points out the recent drug rape cartel scandal in South Korea. If you're following recent news about the country's entertainment industry, you might learn that there's been a dire, organized sex scandal involving the industry moguls and even fan-darlings abusing women for sexual services, with drug-rape and non-consented sex video distribution. A series of investigation is currently ongoing since March 2019; but, most of the results show how male power operates and how easily women’s calls for justice are silenced, said the coalition of women’s rights groups. In bringing awareness about this issue, Da-won writes and directs an exhilarating buddy-cop comedy about two policewomen attempting to bust down the crooked industry even when all odds are a...
South Korean crime thriller once again blurs the line between good and evil in a hardcore manner. The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil goes style over substances in this unorthodox cat-and-mouse game involving a band of typically merciless Korean gangsters, a regimen of typically offensive Korean cops and a single, typically sinister serial killer dubbed as the devil. Lee Won-tae blends South Korean most celebrated cliches of the recent years and crafts this purely enjoyable joyride.
A couple is foolishly trapped in an abandoned 6-meter-deep pool... without water, without ladder, without any visible way out. From the premise, Ping Lumpraploeng's The Pool seems to offer a frustrating, claustrophobic thriller assembling the force of bad luck and the consequence of ignorance. It immediately reminds me to Open Water series (especially the second installment) where sheer stupidity and malaise jeopardize people's life. While it sounds nonsensical and exaggerating, some of its suspense might work even better if the movie does not give away most of the thrills so easily.
Dubbed as the first ever 'proper' Chinese interstellar blockbuster, Frant Gwo's The Wandering Earth flaunts more than just an ambitious spectacle; but, the entire industry's pride in orchestrating a cinematic milestone. Adapted from Cixin Liu's award-winning novella, this kind of "cancelling the apocalypse" (borrowing the term from Idris Elba's character in Pacific Rim) can only be a massive production or nothing at all. And, this adaptation opted to go the former way and, since then, it becomes a mega-hit. Before long, Netflix picked it up and The Wandering Earth really wanders to flaunt its extravagant ambitions.
Director Ravi Bharwani and writer, Rayya Makarim, bring about the face of sexual trauma in the stark yet riveting 27 Steps of May. Released on the same day as Indonesia's Women's March, the story trots out an unapologetic study of a tragedy against humanity, especially women, and its aftermath. The message it carries is as timely and timeless as the issue itself; it's powerful, important and urgent.
Tetsuya Nakashima (Confession, The World of Kanako) has always been known as a visual extravagant with a flair for narrative overdrive. With a portfolio of bleak murder mysteries that always haunt long after the end of the movies, Mr. Nakashima now steps further into horror territory with It Comes (also known as Kuru), an adaptation of Ichi Sawamura novel, Bogiwan ga Kuru. Similar to his most notable works, even in his horror debut, his movie is outright dark, mysterious, visceral and demanding. At one point, this horror reminds me of the cult-making Korean horror, The Wailing; what makes it different is: it's campier and bigger in scale.
Putting It Comes into a short, comprehensive synopsis is difficult because this horror is an extensive, long-winded opera comprising of many characte...
Review Wiro Sableng 212 Warrior: Wiro Sableng (trans. Crazy Wiro), a character created by Bastian Tito, is one of the most renowned & legendary martial art warriors in Indonesian comic scene—along with Panji Tengkorak (Skull Panji) and Si Buta dari Goa Hantu (Blind Warrior from Ghost Cave). From comic book, Wiro Sableng had been adapted into a several movies and, most notably, long-running television series that had gained cult-following and launched a one-hit wonder status to the star, Ken Ken. In 2018, a latest incarnation of the famous character is brought into existence by Angga D. Sasongko (Filosofi Kopi series, Bukaan 8), backed by Lifelike Pictures and Hollywood mogul, Twentieth Century Fox.
Timo Tjahjanto's (half of The Mo Brothers) May the Devil Take You (originally titled 'Sebelum Iblis Menjemput') is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead who lives too far abroad that it gets tangled deeper in the hardcore nastiness of occultism. The nightmare it introduces might feel close and yet so far; but then, this bone-chilling and blood-gushing diabolical phantasmagoria is a guaranteed tough watch. It's definitely not for the fainted heart; but, most definitely, it's not for the pious heart.
Pedantic resemblances to its influence are inevitable, however, May the Devil Take You is bold enough to differ in all its nightmarish way. While it's a cabin-in-the-wood story—only the cabin is changed into an abandoned resting villa (well, it's a holiday cabin for Indonesians after all) with a ...
Review Kafir (2018): After the gruesome death of the father, a family is plagued by mysterious atrocities in amidst of overwhelming grieves and senses of isolation. Simple as it may sound, Kafir (subtitled ‘Bersekutu dengan Setan’, trans. ‘selling one’s soul to the devil’) is surprisingly delivering an above-average performance among Indonesian new-wave horrors.
In Kafir, the terror comes when the recently widowed Sri (Putri Ayudya, delivering one of the best horror performances in the recent years) begins to believe that an insidious force is preying on her family. Starting off with her husband (Teddy Syah), the malicious energy she allegedly guesses as a result of ‘santet’—a form of evil spell in local occultism—gets enraged in endangering her and her two children (Rangga Azof and Na...
Review Brother of the Year: In Vitthaya Thongyuyong’s GDH-produced blockbuster, what started out as a family dramedy about sibling rivalry quickly escalates into a full-fledged sentimental drama in an unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.
GDH darling, Sunny Suwanmethanont, stars as Chut—a less-motivated slacker, whose perfectly filthy bachelorhood life breaks after his multitalented sister, Jane (Urassaya Sperbund) returns home from her university time in Japan. As a blockbuster filled with sharp comedy materials upfront, it’s surprising that Brother of the Year takes a bold (but not strange) move to bit-by-bit leave its non-serious material (which powered most of its first half) and focus on a serious material, which might, at least, get lumps in your throat.
Similar to othe...