Review Brightburn (2019)

While overstaying the welcome a bit too long, Brightburn still delivers its visionary premise of a superhero origin story turning into a visceral horror.

A visionary horror director turned into one of the most sought after superhero director, James Gunn (with gigs ranging from self-defining Slither and Super to Marvel’s space-misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy and further forward to DC’s second attempt to prolong the live of Suicide Squad), produced a visionary genre-bending superhero origin movie deep rooted into horror core in Brightburn. Directed by a little known horror director, David Yarovesky based on the screenplay written by James’ brother and cousin, Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, this horror superhero story throws a very enticing premise: what if some kind of Superman figure was actually sent to Earth as an evil offspring as in The Omen?

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Review 27 Steps of May (2019)

Raihaanun delivers a stark and raw yet sterling performance to become the soul of this powerful story about sexual trauma.

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.

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

Also titled as Memories of My Body, Garin’s Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku presents a melancholy tale of mysticism, philosophy and sensualism about human body through a gender variant dancer.

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 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.

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Review Ave Maryam (2019)

Beyond the beautifully staged and shot pictures, Ave Maryam is a black comedy with Catholic guilt as the punchline.‬ Rich with subtexts; but modest, if not poor, with narrative impact.

Underneath the beautiful cinematography and poetic, rare dialogues, Ertanto Robby Soediskam’s Ave Maryam (a more clinical title compared to its metaphorical working title, ‘Salt is Leaving the Sea’) is a black comedy with Catholic guilt as the punch-line. The guilt is the love manifested in four unique forms of love found in the Bible to contradict each other. All the burden of love is the cross that Sister Maryam (Maudy Koesnaedi, profoundly) has to bear in her via dolorosa of life.

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Review Greta (2019)

Huppert and Moretz deliver unnerving performance even when Greta ends up being a pulpy thriller with a bizarre third act.

It’s an utter pleasure to see Isabelle Huppert playing a role of a dangerous, demanding and dominant woman. The last time we’ve seen it, we see transformed into the elusive Michele in Elle,Paul Verhoeven’s haunting thriller. In Greta, she transforms into the titular character—the seemingly vulnerable, lonesome woman who conceals her clingy, controlling nature. The character is as haunting and as disturbing as in Elle; only this time, she is the feline in the cat-and-mouse game.

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Review Hotel Mumbai (2019)

Intense and unnerving for the whole duration, this based-on-true-event survival thriller is an anti-terrorism message that often becomes too over-sensationalist.

On 26 November 2008, Mumbai were under siege by foreign terrorists. Brutally coordinated terrorist strikes targeted several key locations in India’s financial capital, including the magnificent Taj Mahal Hotel Palace, in which most portions of the movie take places. In portraying the horror, Hotel Mumbai, Anthony Maras’ directorial debut, presents an anti-terrorism docu-drama which often goes too far in its stance.

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Review Mantan Manten (2019)

It’s flawed, but Mantan Manten manages to deliver an emotionally gripping look on letting go of love lost from an unusual take on Javanese matrimony tradition.‬

Farishad Latjuba’s Mantan Manten could easily slip into a maudlin melodrama or simply a mess given its convoluted, ambitious yet heartbreaking premise. The title (literally meaning: former bride) does not suggest otherwise and we know pretty well how romance movies easily sugar-coats tragedy to push an overemotional haul. And yet, Mantan Manten caught me off guard when it acknowledges the flaws and manages to deliver an emotionally gripping look on letting go of love lost from an unusual view of Javanese matrimony tradition.‬

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