Baby Driver (2017) – Review

Review: Ever since the delightfully staged getaway scene in the opening, when Baby (tall, pale Ansel Elgort) hit the gas and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Bellbottoms burst in stereo, Baby Driver has given the impression that it isn’t an ordinary ‘action film with some cool soundtracks.’ The scene that follows further evidences the same notion as Baby, in a slick tracking shot with Harlem Shuffle played, walks around the blocks buying coffees for his passengers.

Both scenes shows off that highly curated music tracks and stylish action bravura can go hand in hand. Even further, the music dissolves into the core—the cinematography, the choreography, the staging and the editing—unexceptionally. And, only in Edgar Wright’s over-stylized writing-directing feature, his nifty film-making class and exquisite music repertoire find a way to breakthrough.

baby-driver-04 Continue reading “Baby Driver (2017) – Review”

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Sing (2016) – Review

Review: Second animated feature from Illumination Entertainment (the studio who brought you Minions and, recently, The Secret Life of Pets) in 2016 brings tons of happiness and a whole playlist ranging from the 80s to recent hits in SING, an absurd blend of X-Factor and lots like Zootopia. While the plot is muddled and the comedy is outdated, most elements in SING really works. Just work.

The plot is pretty basic, juxtaposing a generic restoring the good ol’ day quest and formulaic zero-to-hero storyline. There’s an enterpreneur, a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) with minimum koala-fication to actually run a theater. His business collapses and he’s tangled in debt; to save his business (and his theater), he proposes an X-Factor-esque singing competition with total $1000 prize… initially. Continue reading “Sing (2016) – Review”

Moana (2016) – Review

Review: Sailing over idyllic seas with tropical islands as background, our self-proclaimed non-princess Disney Princess is going out of her comfort zone fulfilling her lifetime obsession and, most importantly, saving her world from famine. She is Moana—daughter of a Polynesian chieftain—who voyages to the wilderness to find a demigod Maui and restore what-so-called diamond of Te Fiti back for a quest of a lifetime.

In short, Moana manifests Disney’s commitment into stripping off their Disney princesses’ stereotype. The ‘princess’ character is versatile; she even embodies the ‘sense of empowerment’, shooing away the sexism commentary about prince-charming-centered characters from the golden era. Moana is not an interpersonal love story; it’s more than that; and it’s what makes it unravel a completely new era for Disney. Continue reading “Moana (2016) – Review”

Sing Street (2016): Antara Dublin, ballad 80-an, cinta pertama dan John Carney

Review Sing Street: Tak berlebihan jika menyebut John Carney sebagai sutradara musikal paling prominent saat ini. Ia telah meresap ke dalam musik pop dan memaknainya dengan motion picture, seperti terbukti lewat banjir pujian pada Once (2006)—yang membawa pulang Oscar lewat single-nya ‘Falling Slowly’—serta Begin Again (2013)—yang meraih nominasi Oscar untuk ‘Lost Star.’

Karya terbarunya, Sing Street sendiri terasa seperti karya Carney paling personal—sebuah surat cintanya pada Dublin circa 80an, yang menderita ekonominya namun menggelora semangatnya. Ballad 80-an dan kisah cinta pertama bertautan dalam kisah yang nampak sederhana, tapi kaya akan subtext dan referensi. Continue reading “Sing Street (2016): Antara Dublin, ballad 80-an, cinta pertama dan John Carney”

Green Room (2016): Arti Punk’s not Dead yang harafiah

Lewat film thriller low-budgetnya yang ultra-violent, Blue Ruin (2014), penulis sekaligus sutradara Jeremy Saulnier sukses memproyeksikan diri sebagai bapaknya thriller dengan protagonis yang payah. Kalau Blue Ruin adalah kisah balas dendam dengan balutan black comedy yang sangat kental; Green Room adalah definisi a la Saulnier untuk slogan ‘Punk’s not Dead’ secara literal.

Green Room berepisentrum pada Ain’t Right, band punk hardcore yang dimotori Pat (almarhum Anton Yelchin). Band kecil benyali besar ini tampil di sebuah klub terpencil, pusat skena neo nazi skinhead. Nyalinya cukup besar untuk mengcover “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”-nya Dead Kennedy sebelum mengajak penonton ber-moshing; namun, tak cukup besar untuk menghadapi insiden yang mengancam nyawa mereka—hanya karena mereka melihat hal yang tak seharusnya dilihat. Continue reading “Green Room (2016): Arti Punk’s not Dead yang harafiah”

Straight Outta Compton (2015) – Short Review

Review: Exactly mirroring violent, candid, and depressing lyrics of gangsta rap behemoth, N.W.A a.k.a Niggaz Wit Attitudes, Straight Outta Compton is an unapologetic biopic of 5 Compton buddies rising from crime-laden suburb into million-dollar worth popularity.

F. Gary Gray’s directorial attempt is explicitly brutal and confident. However, the script seems loose in containing ‘what it meant to deliver’ in one vault—resulting in unequal storytelling. The first half is the most upbeat and power-house journey to controversial stardom with pumped-up energy—where the violent and straightforward lays. Meanwhile, the second half is a little letdown with unbalance portion of narrating the group’s downfall for several factors—Ice Cube’s departure, Jerry Heller’s fraud, and Eazy-E’s tragic death.  Continue reading “Straight Outta Compton (2015) – Short Review”