Thursday, September 23

Tag: Rating: 3

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: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)
Movie Review

Review: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)

Here comes another romantic comedy —fluent enough at incorporating time-loop without getting tangled in the familiarity. It's fluent enough not to beat the dead horse and give away any exposition about the temporal anomaly's nature. It's fluent enough to give the time-loop a purpose in the narrative greater than a mere gimmick. It's fluent enough to make the titular Map of Tiny Perfect Thing a worthwhile journey. (more…)
Review: News of the World (2021)
Movie Review

Review: News of the World (2021)

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. (more…)
Review: Tenet (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Tenet (2020)

Christopher Nolan is cinema's own golden son—the prodigy to save the so-called cinematic experience and the giant screens from the impending extinction. His latest spectacle, Tenet, becomes the solid proof of how the cinema's grandiosity must survive amidst atrocities. This is an original action blockbuster at its finest with a clear-cut demand: to be indulged in the best available cinema. From the cutting-edge practical effect showcases; blustering globe-trotting set-pieces; exhaustive narrative that demands re-watches; to Ludwig Göransson's electrifying scoring complemented Jennifer Lame's merciless edit; everything about Tenet is cerebral. (more…)
Review: Little Big Women (2021)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Little Big Women (2021)

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. (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: The White Tiger (2021)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: The White Tiger (2021)

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. (more…)
Review: Babyteeth (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Babyteeth (2020)

There's something unusual in Shannon Murphy's directorial debut, Babyteeth, even when its premise about a terminally ill teenager finds a new breath in love is overly familiar, if not overused. The film, which went on winning 9 awards in Australian Academy Awards (AACTA) including Best Picture, exudes sentimentality in delivering the narrative, but never succumbs into the maudlin side-effects of it. There's little to none overindulging sappy moment even when death always lurks closely behind the protagonist's back. The story, written by Rita Kalnejais adapting her own stageplay, doesn't quite believe in seizing the day before the moment's gone forever, but it rather exuberantly celebrates what makes life worth living. (more…)
Review: Sylvie’s Love (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Sylvie’s Love (2020)

Back to New York of the 1960s era full of groove and the jazzy feelings exuding in the air, Sylvie's Love recreates the bygone era with precision—not only in look, but also in style. Presented like a Technicolor version of a black-and-white Hollywood melodrama with all the flairs and zeitgeist, this romance however takes a completely different route. It's vibrant for a reason: to defy the common portrayal of the era's main theme—a whitewashed pursuit of dream and love—with a story about Black lovers looking out for their own dream and love in a world that hasn't always been simple for them. (more…)
Review: Herself (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Herself (2021)

Director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady, Phyllida Lloyd, returns with a more modest, unpretentious drama about resilience and empowerment titled Herself. Unlike his previous films, nothing is particularly spectacular about the plot or the background of the protagonist, Sandra (portrayed magnificently by Clare Dunne, who also co-write the story with Malcolm Campbell), except for her struggle and determination. The protagonist's self-emancipation is the center-piece and it's the driving force that gives herself a purpose: to provide a house for her children by herself. (more…)
Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Viola Davis leads the band as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020). It's one of the most dogged days in Chicago, 1927. The trailblazing Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (portrayed brilliantly and almost menacingly by Viola Davis), is scheduled for an afternoon recording session of her ultimate hit, "Black Bottom." It's sizzling outside, but the heat on the street is nothing compared to the heat that is promised to be inside the studio. Ma is unsurprisingly and understandably too hot to handle even by his long-time white manager and producer; and, that's a recipe for a heated trouble. To add to the recipe, there's the hot-headed Levee Green (Chadwick Boseman in a posthumous excellence) staging a breakthrough coup d'état to boost up his own musical career. Based on August Wilson's ...
Review: Undine (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Undine (2020)

German director, Christian Petzold, trades the eloquently crafted period drama that has become his trademark in the last few tenures (including Phoenix and Transit) for a present era tragedy with mythical touch in his new film, Undine. While the title—referring to the protagonist's name—sounds obvious, it has never been clearly assuring to whether Petzold's new drama is a story about a mythological water fairy or a heartbreaking love story inspired by the water spirit. Whichever stance it implies, any prerequisite knowledge about undines might lead audiences to different exits as the story goes. One thing for sure, the narrative doesn't operate in the magical, fairy tale ways; but, it rather follows a more haunting path, observing the worst case scenario in the happily-ever-after aftermat...
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: Uncle / Onkel (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Uncle / Onkel (2019)

Set in a rural farmland in a provincial Danish town, Frelle Petersen's Uncle is a placid story revolving around the rhythmic and monotonous lives as farmers in Denmark. Putting forward authenticity and closer look to the society the film attempts to portray, the director casts mostly local non-actor performers and local actors to give a real soul to the story. The pace flows leisurely, almost without any hard push to escalate, and the plot almost always over-indulges in specific moments during the daily routine of the farmers. The agricultural backdrops in the horizon looks wonderful, the sleepy town seems peaceful, but the routine sounds highly tedious; but, Petersen is eager to present the impression of living in rural Danish, his hometown, Jutland, that becomes the epicenter of the sto...
Review: Apples (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Apples (2020)

When Aristotle wrote Poetics, he wouldn't have predicted how dramatic narrative will shift in his homeland of what we now know as Greece. After the umpteenth New Waves that had been on the tide for centuries, the current wave, especially in the film narrative dubbed as Greek Weird Wave, has moved to somewhat blend the mythical trait from the oral narrative era with bizarre drama and black comedy as shown in the work of Yorgos Lanthimos, Panos Koutras, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and recently in Babis Makridis' Pity. The directorial debut of Christos Nikou, frequent collaborator of Lanthimos, titled Apples adds to the very same long list with a peculiar story about a lonely man living in a pandemic world. Only the melancholy that looms can compensate the sheer bizarreness that the story exudes...

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