Monday, March 8

Tag: Rating: 3.5

Review: His House (2020)
Movie Review

Review: His House (2020)

In His House, Sudanese refugee couple flee their war-torn home country and, against all odds, manage to cross the sea—leaving the past nightmare behind. Upon reaching the UK as asylum seekers, they are granted a house as a means of a fresh start, a new beginning. However, when a malicious force lurking inside the house tells them otherwise, they are torn between clinging to the past or moving on to the new life. (more…)
Review: The Half of It (2020)
Movie Review

Review: The Half of It (2020)

Alice Wu's directorial effort is an astonishing coming-of-age drama about self-acceptance and, unsurprisingly, teenagers' view of platonic love. At its very core, The Half of It might immediately remind us of Cyrano de Bergerac's story or its multi-generational iterations. There's an otherworldly beautiful lady; there's a charming halfwit; there's an eloquent middle-person known for the panache and is insecure of own physical appearance. It's easy to label it a modern-day iteration for worse or, maybe, good if "modern" also means more "woke." (more…)
Review The Invisible Man (2020)
Movie Review

Review The Invisible Man (2020)

When it comes to high-concept modern horror, Leigh Whannell is one of the frontrunners. Together with James Wan, Australian writer-director conceived Saw and engineered several sequels before crafting the sci-fi-tingly horror franchise which "reinvents" long-corridor-and-dark-corner terror in Insidious (with the third chapter marking his directorial debut). When Blumhouse is set to small-sized reboot Universal's now-scrapped Dark Universe, they begin with The Invisible Man; and, when they give him creative credentials, it's a game on. Whannell's Invisible Man remodels the concept in almost its entirety—leaving only the terror not visible to bare eyes. While based on the character by H.G. Wells, the monster movie elements, which might sound campy, are held minimum. There's no bandage-ma...
Review: Marriage Story (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Marriage Story (2019)

Noah Baumbach's second Netflix endeavor—a divorce drama titled Marriage Story—is a solid picture. It immediately makes a solid place in the ranks of classic dysfunctional marriage films—joining the lots of Kramer vs. Kramer, Blue Valentine, Revolutionary Road, and others, including Baumbach's The Squid and The Whale. It offers a witty yet dramatic look at a deteriorating marriage and the complicated process of divorce, which only gets more hurtful as time goes by. The story revolves around the marriage of Charlie (Adam Driver collaborating with the director for the third time) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson bringing back the charm she emanated in her Woody Allen period). The opening voice-over is a masterstroke—introducing us to the world of Charlie and Nicole from the perspective of e...
Review: Dark Waters (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Dark Waters (2019)

It's surprising that the New Queer Cinema pioneer, Todd Haynes' (Velvet Goldmine, Carol) new movie, Dark Waters, is a clinical legal thriller—a frigid whistleblowing drama in the fashion of Oscar-winner, Spotlight. Starring in it is Mark Ruffalo, portraying a real-life lawyer, Robert Billot, who became the nightmare for DuPont de Nemours, Inc., a chemical company mogul. Based on Nathaniel Rich's article published for The New York Times Magazine, the drama might remind us a bit of Erin Brokovich; but, there's something more about this movie that makes it more important and, most importantly, relevant. It's a 126-minute docudrama compressing a long and winding legal process, which has been going on for almost two decades. It all started with Billot's favor to return the call from Wilbur ...
Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
Movie Review

Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

Inspired by classic Southern Twainesque folk tales, the writer-director duo—Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson craft an unorthodox buddy comedy, The Peanut Butter Falcon, amalgamating the leading actor's aspiration and Huckleberry Finn's narrative. The breakout star of this SXSW darling is Zak Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome, who encountered Schwarts and Nilson back in a camp for disabled actors around 2011. Gottsagen makes an unlikely pair with Shia LaBeouf, who continues his staggering performance streak. It's a story of two 'fugitives' embarking on an uplifting road trip that resonates all the adventure mood of American classic stories to the modern world Gottsagen is Zak, a young man with Down syndrome, who lives in a retirement house since his family left him. Young Zak is o...
Review: Joker (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Joker (2019)

It's difficult not to notice that, oftentimes, Hildur Guðnadóttir's sad, dismal cello-led composition sets the mood for Todd Phillips' Joker. The mournful scoring accompanies us as Lawrence Sher's camera sweeps the fictional Gotham city (that somehow resembles the 1970s New York from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver) that has gone decayed with moral degradations and severe social gaps. Against the beautiful melancholy, we've witnessed the poetic descent of a social pariah named Arthur Fleck into a character infamously known as Joker, Batman's archnemesis in any incarnations. Phillips (Hangover trilogies) models Joker after Scorsese's nuanced New York movies, specifically Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. It's a story of a sad man who aspires to make living by trying to be funny. Joaquin...
Review: It Chapter Two (2019)
Movie Review

Review: It Chapter Two (2019)

Some might argue that the second half of Stephen King's 1986 novel, It, is less intriguing than the other half. Such an argument becomes more concerning especially when director Andy Muschietti has overcome the unfilmability of the source material and crafted a sympathetic and, most importantly, a scary adaptation of It back in 2017. Yet, rest assured Muschietti, working with Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) on the writing department, has delivered an adept It Chapter Two, coalescing some elements of the first film into creating a beautiful Stephen King-adapted drama, even when it sacrifices the scare. Clocking in at 169 minutes, It Chapter Two presents a solid narrative that relies on over-exposition and spectacles. For some, the duration might seem intimidating, and yet, for tho...
Review: Ready or Not (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Ready or Not (2019)

Samara Weaving stars in a wedding night thriller, Ready or Not, which jokingly plays out an anti-marriage message. Helmed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (major parts of Radio Silence, the trio responsible for underrated high-concept horrors like V/H/S, Devil's Due and Southbound) working on a dogged script by Guy Busick and Ryan Christopher Murphy, the movie blends diabolical horror-thriller with some awkward laugh. It's a delightful treat for those looking for hide-and-seek suspense and blood-gushing slasher delights. At the center of Ready or Not, Weaving (The Babysitter) is the bride, Grace, marrying an estranged son of wealthy La Domas family, Alex (Mark O'Brien). Unbeknownst to her, the family she marries to, which makes their money from board games, is having a strang...
Review 27 Steps of May (2019)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review 27 Steps of May (2019)

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. (more…)
Review Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Movie Review

Review Avengers: Endgame (2019)

After 11 years, 21 movies (3 of them are the official Avengers movies) and 1 sharing universe, Marvel Cinematic Universe eventually heads to the endgame of its thoroughly built infinity stone arc with Avengers: Endgame. The road has never been easy, although it is indeed glimmering with box office receipts. And yet, what Kevin Feige has been doing with Marvel properties for the last decade (including the fighting to acquire back some characters co-owned with other studios) is, possibly, the eighth wonder—a cinematic breakthrough that nobody had never dared to imagine before. Endgame is set to be 22nd movie and, especially, a grand 3-hour event of closure to this over-than-a-decade long journey. (more…)
Review Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku / Memories of My Body (2019)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku / Memories of My Body (2019)

Long-time, eclectic Indonesian director, Garin Nugroho, returns with a meditative picture, Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku (also known as Memories of My Body), about gender and the mysticism of the human body. His new film, inspired by the harsh life of Japan-based Indonesian dancer, Rianto, and many other traditional dancers living in the rural area of Java, is not only visually, contextually, subtextually and substantially rich, but it's also thought-provoking. The director divides the story into some fragments of memories, signifying specific steps in the life journey of Wahyu Juno as a child (portrayed by Raditya Evandra) and a teenager (portrayed by Muhammad Khan). Juno is a composite character, an amalgamation of the memory that Rianto and other dancers stored in their bodies. In unravelin...
Review It Comes / 来る (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review It Comes / 来る (2019)

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...
Posesif (2017) – Review: A juggernaut of teenage romance
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Posesif (2017) – Review: A juggernaut of teenage romance

Review: This is Lala’s first love; yet, Yudhis wants it to be their forever. That’s how Posesif abridges its powerful content. It’s a high-school meet-cute that blossoms, escalates, grows as quickly as it spirals out of control. It’s a portrayal of how love is addressed as a tool to possess and how immaturity is outdoing the typical puppy love tropes and ending up in a chain of abusive relationship. (more…)
Wind River (2017) – Review
Movie Review, Review Bahasa Indonesia

Wind River (2017) – Review

Review: In Wind River, Taylor Sheridan again demonstrates a prowess he once showcased on writing tenure for Sicario and Hell or High Water. His painstaking flair for slick and immaculate script—with penchant to coherence and symmetrical storyline—is utterly exquisite. With Sheridan running for both writing and directing gigs, we finally get to see his full-creative-control mode; and, lucky you, it’s taut and clever as you might imagine. The title refers to a snow-covered Native American reservation in Wyoming, which becomes the setting of this film. It’s the place where a hunter, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), resides. As he tracks a wild mountain lion who preys on local cattles, the all-white-camouflaged hunter accidentally finds a local girl’s body… dead and stark. For the case, FBI sends...

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