Review Buffalo Boys (2018)

Buffalo Boys rides a furious, highly-decorated buffalo in an ambitious blockbuster, but the road is too bumpy for even the most furious buffalo.

Movie review Buffalo Boys (2018): Mike Wiluan’s directorial debut, Buffalo Boys, breathes the same air as Kim Jee-won’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird in the sense that both brings out Wild West virtues in Far-East settings. If the latter transposes cowboy bonanza into ol’ time Manchurian landscape, the former introduces Western tropes to fictionalized Dutch-occupied Indonesia setting. It’s a full-fledged, faux-historical Western fantasy where English-speaking Dutch colonialism recreates diabolical Southern-slavery as if it’s American Civil War period.

The plot revolves around a straightforward homecoming-slash-revenge mission carried by the titular boys—Jamar (Ario Bayu) and Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso). When their parent and their homeland perished during Dutch’s assaults, the boys were brought into exile to the real Wild West by their uncle, Arana (Tio Pakusadewo). Once the boys are physically and mentally ready, Arana brings them back to the land of the dead, to settle the score once and for all. At least, that’s the plan.

With stunning production value—including unique mix-and-match of architecture, costumes and comic characters making peculiar blend of Indonesian Western. For what it looks, Buffalo Boys is undoubtedly an ambitious Indonesian blockbuster (among the first in its ranks). The premise, the character designs (that also counts a troupe of over-the-top outlaws) and the local twist of American cowboy—hence the title—suggest that the film is directly translated from video games or comic books. Please note that, while being similarly branded as ‘Western’, Buffalo Boys is in different hemisphere as Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts). When the latter is a more grounded arthouse rendition of Western spirit, the former literally imports the Western blockbuster style and mixes it with local wisdom. As reflected in the protagonists’ background,  it isn’t a simply-inspired-by-Western-movie product, it is the Western product through and through. Continue reading “Review Buffalo Boys (2018)”

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Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts / Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak (2017) – Review

In a cruel world, a widow refuses to surrender & decides to fight back against patriarchal tyranny in a four-act-structure story.

Review: In a cruel world without favor for women, Marlina (Marsha Timothy) refuses to surrender and be a victim; she, instead, embraces her inner strength and decides to fight back against patriarchal tyranny.

Exquisite, powerful and poignant, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak), is a tale of empowerment wrapped as a Far-East ‘Western’ revenge thriller with strong femme fatale to root for. It’s a quintessential work for Indonesian female director, Mouly Surya, whose previous works (fiksi. and What They Don’t Talk about When They Talk about Love) revolves around determined female characters, too. Continue reading “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts / Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak (2017) – Review”

Blindspot: Dances with Wolves (1990)

“My name is Dances with Wolves. I have nothing to say to you. You are not worth talking to,” said John Dunbar.

By today’s standard, Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves would’ve been received differently, possibly with praise over the film’s respect to representation – the use of native people and native language to depict native American, Sioux and Pawnee. At the same time, it might also receive terrible backlash over its ‘white savior’-esque narrative by today’s critical audiences. However, it stormed of Academy Award in 1991 – nominated for 12 and win 7, including Best Picture. Continue reading “Blindspot: Dances with Wolves (1990)”

Blindspot: Unforgiven (1992)

“I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another,” said William Munny explaining who he was.

Clint Eastwood dedicated his final Western film as a director and an actor, Unforgiven,  to the sub-genre that has made great name out of him. More, he specifically dedicated it to people whom he’ll be forever in debt with, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. And, who knows that a devoted tribute would end up being a milestone to the modern-day Western film. And, who knows that this tribute would be Eastwood’s legacy. Continue reading “Blindspot: Unforgiven (1992)”

The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review

Review: This year’s Magnificent Seven, by nature, is an oddball – a remake of John Sturges’ preserved Wild West classic, which was a result of remaking Akira Kurosawa’s essential Seven Samurai. A simple classic story, which Antoine Fuqua remakes with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk, might only differ a little from whichever source materials it follows; but, in an era of forgettable blockbusters, this one might fade in one or two years, contrasted to the everlasting originals.

While it is still the same story where 7 unsung heroes – in this term, gunslingers – assemble; the new Magnificent Seven attempts to Americanize the source of conflicts. Wiping off the classic bandit nature of the villains and substituting it with a greedy, heartless capitalist in face of Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is how. In addition, it makes use of a little more motivation to make it more Western (in favor of Quentin Tarantino): revenge.

There is a prologue where a strong-hearted female protagonist (an effective addition to the storytelling) is introduced. She is Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, Hardcore Henry and the upcoming The Girl on the Train), whose husband, along with some other villagers, is murdered in favor of Bogue’s ambition. Continue reading “The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review”

The Hateful Eight (2015) – Review

Review: Here comes Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film – a quintessence of his spaghetti western tendency and, mostly, a collection of all his cinematic wonders which serves as a kind of ‘greatest hits compilation’ in The Hateful Eight. By far, this second Western to QT’s universe is the most fun, enjoyable and digestible. Also, this one is possibly the film QT enjoyed most during the ‘troublesome’ making.

Entirely shot with 70 MM Ultra Panavision – which I wasn’t fortunate enough to enjoy (lucky those who watched it as it should have been projected; or at least got the correct aspect ratio on cinema), The Hateful Eight is set during a post-Civil War blizzard at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where the titular hateful eight people – plus one least hateful one (who doesn’t get counted) and one surprise hit one (who doesn’t get counted as well) got trapped. Staged like a Broadway play which is divided into 6 chapters, dominated with witty dialogues in a sense like a courtroom drama… without the boredom, it’s a slow-burning fun, which leads to an ultra-violent conclusion. Continue reading “The Hateful Eight (2015) – Review”