Review Triple Frontier (2019)

Chandor pulls some grim, emotional twist in what looked a gonzo celebration of machismo the size of Expendables but not.

In paper, Triple Frontier feels like a deviation from the director, J.C. Chandor’s filmography so far. Often presenting gritty, thought-provoking thrillers about the descend of men without hand-on action sequences, Chandor takes a radical premise when he collaborates with writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal. There are stand-offs here, but Chandor’s gripping signature lies around in this star-studded machismo celebration.

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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 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 Dilan 1991 (2019)

Bypassing all the character introductory phases, the romance rift in Dilan 1991 is sadly underwhelming even when the chemistry between Iqbaal and Vanesha starts to make sense.

In a decade or two, Dilan, as a character, might still be remembered as an illustrious Indonesian teenage boy icon—rising into some cult status along with Lupus and Si Boy. By that time, it might not be surprising if new incarnations of Dilan will rise into prominence; while, Iqbaal Ramadhan’s exhilarating performance (which beats all the odds) will become a solid benchmark. In like manner, Dilan-Milea romance might also transcend the time, like Galih & Ratna or others (I was about to write: Rangga & Cinta from Ada Apa dengan Cinta?, but then I imagined the backlash). However, that’s not the case for the movies—both Dilan 1990 and Dilan 1991.

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Review Dear Ex (2019)

Dear Ex tangles up troubled, dysfunctional characters into a nuanced joint of secrets and emotions, adorned with sympathy and sensitivity; even when the story often nearly plunges into full-fledged melodrama.

Mag Hsu & Chih-yen Hsu’s Dear Ex tangles up three troubled, dysfunctional characters into a nuanced joint centering on secrets, love and burst of emotions. Everything begins when a man died leaving his widow, Sanlian (Hsieh Ying-hsuan) and his teenage boy, Chengxi (Joseph Huang) with nothing but grief, confusion and, at certain level, grudge. In an elusive twist, the dying man writes his son out of the insurance policy in favor of Jay (Roy Chiu), another man for whom he’s leaving the family. All the inherited money can only go straight to the man’s secret lover if Sanlian signs off. Yet, it was always more than just money.

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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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