Amy Poehler's directorial effort, Moxie, brings back teenagers to the breakthrough movement of the bygone era fused with current issues. It's suddenly a DIY fanzine era again, with teen angst and niche poured all over, to send a sharp message. With themes revolving around bullying along with patriarchal and rape culture in US schools, you can almost observe the director's footprints here and there — without more aggressive whimpers than barks.
In 2001, a Mauritanian man was arrested by the US government in aftermath of the September 11 attacks. The govt accused him of recruiting members for al Qaeda. He was then detained at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 until 2016 without any official charge or trial. The man, Mohamedou Ould Salahi, wrote his misfortune in a 2015 memoir 'Guantanamo Diary' which becomes the inspiration for Kevin Macdonald's The Mauritanian.
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Tahar Rahim sympathetically portrays Salahi with panache and extra sensitivity. However, The Mauritanian is ironically a more collective, multi-faceted story, rather than a focused story about Salahi's ordeal. The plot adds extra perspectives to the 14-year story with the inclusions of an Americ...
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...
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?
Anthony and Joe Russo pick up where they left in the aftermath of blockbuster classic (in the making), Avengers: Endgame with a provoking adaptation of Nico Walker's semi-autobiographical novel, Cherry. Written in a US prison, the 2018 novel follows a 'cherry' (slang for a fresh soldier in the battle) with his frail love story, his visceral tour in Iraq Wars along with the PTSD, his descend into illegal drugs, and his eventual notoriety as a bank robber. The cherry is Tom Holland in another attempt to shed the school-boy style out of his repertoire.
Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky's high school romance has eventually come into the closing stage with To All the Boys: Always and Forever. Michael Fimognari, helmer of the second installment, returns in the directorial duty with Katie Lovejoy taking over the writing department. The power couple, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo return with the whole ensemble for a final stroke in this saccharine-heavy teen romance that starts exhilaratingly with To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018) and immediately shows sign of fatigue by the release of To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020).
Paul Greengrass's News of the World might observe the director's venturing in an area he barely touched in his repertoire. Coming from the filmmaker whose works are associated with fast cuts, energetic camera movements, and dazzling thrillers (as shown in the Bourne series or United 93), this Western drama starring Tom Hanks (reunited with the director after Captain Phillips) seems a little too patient and placid—but not less Greengrass-y. Narrating the story of Civil War-torn America through a newscaster of yore, this couldn't be less political, journalistic, and timely than his other films.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The story revolves around a married couple,...
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.
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.
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.
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