Blindspot: Chariots of Fire (1981)

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure,” said Eric Liddell to his pious sister.

Of God and men, of faith and patriotism, for serving God and breaking stereotypes, Hugh Hudson’s Chariots of Fire wraps them all in a biopic about British athletic team’s triumphant victory in the 1924 Olympics. It’s a rare picture which concatenates the urgency of nationalism, ambition, and the evangelism on running tracks, making it one of the strongest Best Picture winners. Continue reading “Blindspot: Chariots of Fire (1981)”

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Kartini (2017): A timely, exquisite story about women

Review: While Raden Ajeng Kartini, hailed as the symbol of women emancipation and empowerment in Indonesia, has always been a timeless subject; Hanung Bramantyo’s Kartini surprisingly comes at the most relevant moment – when feminism movement is on the wild run; when rift between the conservative and the progressive is on the edge; when discrimination and patriarchal superiority suddenly awaken from their dormant state – clinching its factual relevance to modern day audiences as more than just a ‘glorified depiction’ of a real-life figure.

Kartini revolves around specific period of the titular character’s life: during her ‘pingitan’ or glorified seclusion. Kartini (Dian Sastrowardoyo), an aristocrat by birth, is bound to be a ‘raden ayu’ – glorified wife/concubine of aristocrats – when she has grown enough. To become one, she must enter ‘pingitan’ ever since her coming of age; she must get secluded from outside world to prepare her to be a perfect woman.  Continue reading “Kartini (2017): A timely, exquisite story about women”

Blindspot: Schindler’s List (1993)

“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t,” said Oskar Schindler.

Based on a real story about Oskar Schindler – a German businessman who saved thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied German during the World War II, Schindler’s List stormed the Oscars in 1994 with 12 nominations and won 7 of it, incl. Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg and Best Adapted Screenplay for Steven Zaillian. A story as epic as it is, narrated in 3-hour long black and white motion, is definitely a story of a lifetime; and I am pleased to finally watch it after nearly 24 years after it first screened.  Continue reading “Blindspot: Schindler’s List (1993)”

Hidden Figures (2017) – Review

Review: There were three African-American women working at NASA in circa 1960s and helping the institution sending man into space, winning the space competitions against the Soviets. Not everyone knows about that fact (me neither, in fact), until Hidden Figures comes and opens people’s eyes in the era where this substantial revelation is relevant. However, it’s never been a preachy, egghead’s story; instead, Theodore Melfi’s adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s non-fiction is a high-energized feel-good film about equality and empowerment.

Those three titular figures are Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). Those women are all brilliant in their own field even beyond; but their only problem is more complex than their minds; because they are women and people of colors. Continue reading “Hidden Figures (2017) – Review”

Bleed for This (2017) – Review

Review: You might not be familiar with Vinny Pazienza’s miraculous story dubbed as the ‘greatest comeback in sports history,’ but, after 5 minutes, Bleed for This will give you clear head-ups. The story comfortably fashions itself as a cliché-ridden based-on-true-events boxer’s story, which feels as text-bookish as it could be. However, clichés are no match for the true sportsmanship spirit it carries on and the hard punches it launches.

Miles Teller portrays Vinny Paz – a loudmouth Rhode Island native, who is eager to take all punch; but, really, he is a no-contender. In a title shot against Roger Mayweather, he suffered an embarrassing defeat, which triggers his managers, The Duvas Brothers, to urge him to give up boxing. Yet, Vinny, a tenacious macho man, refuses to surrender; instead, he teams up with Mike Tyson’s former alcoholic coach, Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart). The feat instantly becomes an unlikely union – the band of losers aiming for the most plausible shot for future. Continue reading “Bleed for This (2017) – Review”

Istirahatlah Kata-kata / Solo, Solitude (2017): A poetry of growing seeds

It’s a poetry of a growing seed – Wiji Thukul (from Javanese words, ‘wiji’=seed, and ‘thukul’=grow). Give yourself up and let Solo, Solitude rest your words. Let them buried with the seeds of resistance. Let them bloom with poems of soul.

Review: In 1996, political situation in Indonesia heated up. A turmoil involving Partai Rakyat Demokratik (PRD) – Democratic People Party – opposed authoritarian Soeharto’s regime. In aftermath of it, activists and supporters of the movement were hunted down to be silenced and wiped off from the history (possibly be killed in the process).

Wiji Thukul, a vocal anti-govt poet and an activist, was accused as the responsible one for mobilizing the masses prior to the turmoil. As a fugitive (of a war between people and govt), Wiji fled to Pontianak, Borneo – almost a thousand kilometers away from his family and hometown in Solo, Java – by himself. A weary poet is on the run by himself; in exile, he coalesces with solitude in Yosep Anggi Noen’s Solo, Solitude (a.k.a. Istirahatlah Kata-Kata). Continue reading “Istirahatlah Kata-kata / Solo, Solitude (2017): A poetry of growing seeds”