Review Yowis Ben 2 (2019)

Following up the sleeper hit with an exhilarating sociolinguistic discourse, Yowis Ben 2 can still be funny even when the acting department’s a bit lousy and the narrative messy.

In 2018, Yowis Ben prevailed against the odd condemning its segmented nature—using regional language (Javanese) with a more obscure dialect (Malangnese) and came in as a profitable sleeper-hit (almost hitting a million viewers during its theatrical run). While the use of particular dialects is not a new thing in Indonesian cinema, especially in arthouse community; the fact that it was a mogul-produced blockbuster creates a new powerful surge in the industry (note that a year earlier, the very industry was caught unprepared by another sleeper-hit, Uang Panai, a Makassar-bound production). Given the financial success and warm response from general viewers, it is not surprising that an immediate sequel is produced in no time, hence Yowis Ben 2, an unnecessary yet still tremendously hilarious sequel.

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Review Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

Even when Isn’t It Romantic? fell into the subject it tries to criticize, it’s still uplifting. Thanks to Rebel Wilson.

At the beginning of Isn’t It Romantic, young Natalie was smitten into Pretty Woman when her mother scolded her and indoctrinated her to despise romcoms of any kind. To her, life isn’t like romcom; to her, all the happy endings in romcoms are merely a start of an unhappy life. She grows up being a love cynic (portrayed by Rebel Wilson, all-in with the Australian accent) making a living in New York as an architect who constantly bashes romcom premises until some sh*t happens. She hit her head during a confrontation with a mugger and she wakes up in a romcom… a PG-13 romcom.

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Review Fall in Love at First Kiss (2019)

Fall in Love at First Kiss could’ve delivered a more heartwarming romance which pays beautiful tribute to the source material, whichever it refers to.

Frankie Chen’s Fall in Love at First Kiss (一吻定情) adds another entry to the list of Kaoru Tada’s manga, Itazura Na Kiss screen adaptations (which has spawned various television series in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan). Chen’s version takes a closer approach to the first Taiwanese incarnation, It Started with a Kiss (惡作劇之吻), especially by using the established character names and settings. While the plot might sound eerie and unhealthy in deeper observation, the movie’s sugarcoating—with bubble-gum visuals and comical characters—can, at times, divert the attention to a distant lesson.

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Review Extreme Job (2019)

Crawling slowly when finding the focus in the beginning, Extreme Job cooks up exhilarating Korean buddy-cop tropes with an absurd plot of fried chicken detective.

Upon the return of a Korean drug kingpin, a team of narcs led by Captain Ko (Ryu Seung-ryong) needs to devise a new M.O. in order to catch the big fish. After a series of failed, silly attempts, the team finally finds their secret plan—a full stakeout mission by going undercover in an obsolete fried chicken joint. In an unexpected twist of fate, the revamped fried chicken joint ends up being a national phenomenon. With a risk of compromising the whole mission, Ko and his happy-go-lucky team goes into a comedic adventure full of deadpan moments.

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Review Cold Pursuit (2019)

With surprisingly bleak comedy of errors and revenge-is-a-dish-better-served-cold tropes, Cold Pursuit (2019) paints the blizzard red in what could’ve been an episode of Fargo’s latest season.

Set in the cold, white ski city of Kehoe (fictionally located in Colorado), Cold Pursuit sees an angry, old Liam Neeson in another quest for revenge. It’s barely surprising if skeptical viewers might mistake it for another cousin of Taken (along with Non-Stop, Run All Night, and The Commuter) given the premise. Yet, give it a go and you’ll find out that Hans Petter Moland’s remake of his own Norwegian thriller is more like Fargo (Noah Hawley’s rendition over Coen Brothers’): stark, slick and ambiguous.

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Review Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Christopher Landon’s teen-slasher Groundhog Day a.k.a. Happy Death Day exploits the familiar time-loop trope into an inspiring comedy with Jessica Rothe delivering a literally wide-ranging performance. Some people found it cleverly revamping the trope; while, some others hated it for even trying. When the loop is closed by the end of the first movie, the biggest question has always been: what can make a working follow-up to it?

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