The Fall: Out of Darkness

No, no, this is not the Gillian Anderson TV series.

This is, by far, the most underrated film I’ve ever seen. And the thought of people underrating this movie makes me a bit upset. I watched this film in the same weekend with Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth. Unbeknownst to me, both of these 2006-released fantasy movies brought me a huge amount of feelings and partly teenage angst. The difference? One of them is Oscar-celebrated. Well, damn, I wished the Oscars had picked the /other/ fantasy movie to be celebrated. (Doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Pan’s Labyrinth, in fact, I praise both movies in a spiritual way, but I thought The Fall was a bit better than Labyrinth.)

The Fall was set in a 1920s hospital just outside Los Angeles. It tells a tale of Roy Walker, a stuntman who got his leg injured and taken care in the hospital. On a random turn of events, he met the cheerful little Alexandria, with a broken arm. In exchange of helping him getting morphine from the hospital pharmacy, the stuntman told the little girl an epic story of five heroes on a mission to defy a big bad.

This film defines what storytelling meant to us in our childhood; well, at least, mine. When people tell me stories, I imagine them vividly as something real and epic. I imagine the characters to be “faceclaimed” by someone I know (Wait, I still do that! But now, with celebrities). In the story Roy told her, Alexandria imagined the characters’ faces as personas she met in the hospital. The movie’s imagery shifts between reality in the hospital and fantasy in Alexandria’s mind. As the film goes on, the line between fantasy and reality started to blur, and /feelings/ started to conquer the story.

Oh, and speaking about the imagery, this film offers you heaps of A+ costume design and cinematography porn. There’s no adjective accurate enough to explain it! The landscapes makes you want to puke rainbows and fly into the sun; it just seems so unreal. The costume design might remind you of Queen Amidala from Star Wars; the difference is that it fuses culture and fantasy into one beautiful melting pot. The interpretation of Alexandria’s imagination is deeper than ever. (Also, this film was shot in 28 countries for 4 years. THAT isn’t CGI, you guys. That is honest, plain, Mother Earth – the creativity and marvel of landscapes that humans can’t even match or compete.)

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The Five Musketeers! Oops, wrong movie…
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Now, /this/ is cinematography.
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If you tell me this isn’t pretty, you are lying.

Oh, and have I mentioned that one of the scenes filmed in this movie was filmed in Bali and featured Tari Kecak?

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You’re welcome.

Aside from the artistic beauty of this wonderful film, there were also beautiful performances by Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug) and newcomer Catinca Untaru in portraying the troubled Roy and the joyous Alexandria. They might’ve gone a little bit melodramatic, but their performances are as realistic as the real world. You never knew Thranduil could act this good. (He also did a GREAT job as Thranduil; if you haven’t seen Lee Pace in The Hobbit, see the film now.)

Tarsem Singh pulled off a beautiful direction and also a beautiful storyline that will make you consume a month’s stock of Kleenex. He puts in little quirks of childhood adorable-ness and adventure-y tropes amidst the getting-darker-storyline. He could sneakily destroy our hearts while keeping us in our seats – he makes us want our hearts to be broken by the story. Why? The morphine gives you a clue – you know where this leads to. One thing is for sure: this movie is about saving someone.

In conclusion: this movie is something out of a dream. Wondrous cinematography, costume design, story, and acting sums it all. EVERYONE should watch it, in fact! (Oops, no kids, though. Brief amounts of graphic gore is visible.) Go watch it, and I’ll be waiting as you rip your wet Kleenex while screaming in vain.

5/5

Frozen : Ironically Melts Your Heart

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DAMN ELSA YOU LOOK GOOD

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Okay, so yeah, I’m gonna review this movie as you may know from the title. Let me start with how I will review this movie. First of all, I’m not gonna be very fair because I have a weird and strong attraction towards young animated Disney princesses. Yes, you heard it; I don’t know whats the cause of this, maybe because they are just too perfect to be real and I am a desperate man. Well onto the *non spoiler* review

OVERALL REVIEW

The whole movie (I think) is derived from the fairy tale created by Hans Christian Anderson, which is entitled Kai and the Snow Queen. Basically in short (in his version), the Snow Queen is evil and was cursed with these trolls and stuff. But in this Disney princess version, they decided to make a bold exciting tweak to this story.

“What if she was just misunderstood?” And yes, that’s what happened. What I like about how she was misunderstood was we really think that she’s not evil, we’re kind of on her side; but we also notice how she herself think she is acting a bit ‘unpleasant’, in a way, and she has this self-aware look on her face that I’ve noticed. That’s one of the best parts of Disney animation, which they show very amazing expressions on the characters and make them feel real and alive. As the story continues, we feel more and more depth on the world and character that this world is in. Meeting new characters in the middle of the journey; either love interest, comic relief, or potential douchebags. As we go in the journey, we don’t forget about the singing. Ah yes, the singing parts. Such a classic tradition on Disney movies. This movie had pretty solid musics throughout, but not as good as the music in tangled (based on personal taste).

The Disney kiss (Tangled).
The Disney kiss (Tangled).

The romance in this movie is pretty simple to guess; it’s not as good as Tangled’s, but I still bought it. It wouldn’t be a Disney movie without a prince and a princess, am I right? The comedy on this movie is pretty funny, and again based on personal taste. We know that this movie takes place in the kingdom-ish era; we know its not modern, but how the characters are portrayed were very up-to-date with us today, and how they speak is a great appeal to me; makes them way more relatable, and comic, at the same time.

“Some people are worth melting for.”

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SPOILER REVIEW

COMING SOON

Upcoming 2014: Edge of Tomorrow

Live. Die. Repeat. Familiar?
Live. Die. Repeat. Familiar?

So I am in the mood of new movies, and I found this. The first look of the poster did not impress me much (probably did not impress me at all) since these days this kind of movie poster is just mainstream (I mean, come on, you’ve got to know movies with sci-fi, war, and Tom Cruise in their posters. Well, maybe one or two. Okay fine, with Tom Cruise omitted, then). So really, at first I was let down by the first look, yet the tagline was too catchy for me to give it up. So I give the trailer a shot, and personally I think you should too.

It was worth my time.

So yes, my mind has changed, and short to say I am all jittery waiting for this movie. It better  be good, because if it ain’t, well, let’s just say that when a disappointing result meets a high expectation, crap happens.

In a glance, this movie reminded me of Source Code, MOHA (Medal of Honor Airborne, because of that first scene where the soldiers dropped from the plane), and something that comes from Halo (even though I did not play Halo, still, the soldiers looked familiar to me). With the existence of Tom Cruise in this movie, it only reminded me of one recent movie: Oblivion. Simply, I gave Oblivion a 3.5/5 for it’s shallow plot, though I gave an extra half credit out of pity and for their good screenplay.

So what do you think? Will it be better than Oblivion or not? Will it be a great movie to watch with your geeky girlfriend (or, if you’re a girl, boyfriend)? Will Emily Blunt give a notable effect on the movie (I am kind of curious about that)? Comments below folks,  tell me what you think. Until then!

A Beautiful Mind: The Courage of The Heart

The only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart.
The only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart.

Truthfully, I really love the poster from the bottom of my heart. There is another version of this movie’s poster, but I think the one that described what the movie is about more accurately is this one. Even more truthful, I just can’t stop loving the movie. One word to describe it all: touching.

Synopsis

This movie actually has the similar conflict with the movie Forrest Gump, where the main character has a mental problem. The difference is Forrest Gump suffers a low IQ, while here the main character suffered from schizophrenia. Who is the main character? It is no other than the celebrated John Nash; the 1994 Nobel Economic Sciences prize, and guess what? He is still alive! Basically, this movie is a biography of John Nash coping with his paranoia, which is caused by his mental illness (schizophrenia). Nash, an exceptional mathematician, is an asocial, paranoid, and an eccentric figure. He is obsessed by finding an original theory during his early times at Princeton, and he finally did (in a bar). For the revolutionary theory he has found, he managed to get a position in a prestigious wing in MIT (Wheeler Lab; but in fact, this is actually fiction. See http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2002/nash-0213.html) since then, he taught classes and utilized the facilities MIT has lent them with his two partners, Sol and Bender. Since he got married with one of his students, his delusions reached a new low; he began to believe that he was a part of some secret service that has the intention to stop a communist party from succeeding in blowing up a ‘portable nuke’ on American soil. Nash was supposed to look for codes that was embedded in magazines (such as LIFE) and deliver them to a drop location where he will collect the ‘confidential documents’ to a postbox. This delusional conspiracy he is involved in made him more and more paranoid by the day, until his wife, Mrs. Alicia Larde reported his paranoid behavior to a psychiatry hospital. The recognition of his mental illness opened up a new chapter, as Nash took medications and therapies and struggled to cope with his dulled mind (side-effect of the medications he took). He finally couldn’t stand it anymore and secretly skipped his medications, which caused his delusions to come back. Nash, believing he is still in the ‘secret conspiracy’, continued his obsession with cracking codes embedded in magazines while neglecting his household duties. His wife finally finds out about this, and at first went mad at him. But soon Nash figured out by himself (intellectually, as he put it) that his delusion IS a delusion that is not real. This, again, opens up a new page for him, where with the enormous dedication from his wife he attempted to cope with his mental disorder without medication. There are several times where he reluctantly willing to go back to his medication, as he couldn’t stand his mental delusions anymore, but with the support of his good wife, he went through. This story about a brilliant man with ‘two helpings of brain but half a helping of heart’ is overall heartbreaking and introduced the world of a schizophrenic to our common eyes. To me, personally, this movie is a close second to Forrest Gump, whereas Forrest Gump has more humor in it. The soundtrack is truly exceptional. It produces the subtlety yet escalated tension in several action-packed scenes very well. It blended very well with all of the scenes in the movie. The song itself also described the whole core of the movie in a delicate and precise way. Top class, and must I say; tres bien! Russell Crowe was very natural in this movie. He speaks in a West Virginian accent so fluently that I am leaded to believe he is originally from West Virginia, which is not true. His act as a schizophrenic person is also a gem of this movie. He used body gestures all the time to appear agitated, and he also arranged his facial expression in what I must say, appeared to be a ‘disturbing person’s’. The four right words to describe Jennifer Connelly in this movie is perhaps  ‘seducing, attractive, patient, and smart’ in this movie. But in my opinion, there is one word to describe it all: ‘aggressive’. Yes folks, her eyes can pierce through yours and her voice, soothing as it seems, have the power to make you submit to her. I might as well imagine Yoda saying, “Strong, the force is inside her. Aggressive, she did not look. Out, watch.” Credits also must be given to Paul Bettany and Ed Harris for being a ‘perfect delusion’ in Nash’s world. Ed’s naturally great act made me believe that at first, Nash is actually involved in a real conspiracy; while Paul’s exceptional act made me believe that he really do exist. Somehow, in a way, both of them made me relate to a schizophrenic’s world.

Introduction

So what is schizophrenia? Let’s beam up our old ‘know-it-all’ pal, Wikipedia.

“Schizophrenia (/ˌskɪtsɵˈfrɛniə/ or /ˌskɪtsɵˈfrniə/) is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by impaired emotional responses. Common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoid beliefshallucinationsdisorganized thinking; and negative symptoms, such as blunted affect and avolition.” Wikipedia

Below is a self-portrait of a schizophrenic.

Courtesy of Wikipedia. Such a helpful pal.
Courtesy of Wikipedia. Such a helpful pal.

I can’t say I understood all of the above before watching the movie. To my former self, hallucinations of a schizophrenic must be something that is temporary, easy to shrug off. But I never thought schizophrenia could drive someone to his/her edge only from their own hallucinations. This movie showed me that to a schizophrenic, the line between reality and its counterpart is a very fine one. I’d like to coin a phrase from Nash’s psychiatrist at this point:

“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be?” Dr. Rosen, Beautiful Mind

That guy certainly knows what he’s talking about.

Main Characters and Their Stories

In total, there are several important characters that arguably earned the dignified position as the main character. But I will crown only two out of the lot, since the story basically spins on this particularly courageous couple; John Nash (Russell Crowe) and his wife, Mrs. Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly).

There has to be a mathematical explanation for how bad that tie is.
There has to be a mathematical explanation for how bad that tie is.
I'm sorry, just give me a moment to redefine my girlish notions of romance.
I’m sorry, just give me a moment to redefine my girlish notions of romance.

As I said before, the movie was touching. But to be more particular, it is actually courageous. The only thing that drives Nash is courage; a courage given by his wife’s dedication, and for the first time Nash cannot rely on logic and reasons alone. It is courage that he held onto, his belief that he can overcome his mental disability without medication; the courage that he acquired from his wondrous wife, Mrs. Larde.

There’s not much of a background to Alicia Larde in the movie, so let’s talk a bit about her.

Her full name is Alicia Esther Lopez-Harrison de Lardé; quite a name, and she was born in San Salvador in El Salvador. She was smart and has an ambition to be ‘the next Marie Curie’. She first met Nash at an Advanced Calculus for Engineers class and, let’s just say the term ‘love at first sight’ is a perfect fit to the situation.

“A pair of odd ducks, then.” John Nash, Beautiful Mind

Highlights

I will discuss about the ability of the disabled first as a tribute to all with the problem. Disability, you might say, literally disabled you effectively to live the life of other normal people’s. But as my old man said, when a door is closed, another will open somewhere; you just need to look for it. Take a look at John Nash. He is paranoid all the time, putting it mildly, as well as his son. Both of them became mathematician of prestige; John Nash earned a Nobel prize, and his son earned the privilege of being a top chess player and an artist. Look at it this way: a disability made you impossible to improve in some skills, which made you focus more on doing what you can; which made you sharpened those skills more frequently than normal people does. Normal people are like jack-of-all-trade-but-master-of-none, but disabled people (I really think I need to switch the term ‘disabled into ‘special’ here) are, you can say, an ‘ace’-of-a-trade.

What is that? You said you’re normal, unfortunately? Well folks, here’s the good news: normal means more options! What I just said earlier above is the TENDENCY of what normal people did, not their ‘fate’. Look at it this way: you can be anything you want, you just need to FOCUS (my old man always said that). Normal people usually didn’t get anywhere because they don’t focus on only one thing, instead they ‘greedily’ try everything they wanted to be. The result? They’re usually halfway this and that, never reaching their final destination. Focus, my folks, is the key; and ‘special’ people are just so good about it (Come to think about it, I think this lesson is best learned from the famed movie Forrest Gump. Recommended at the best).

That’s not it. The main highlight of this movie is actually the power of the heart; the power of love, belief, and courage. In a deleted scene, John Nash has said: “Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.”

“Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.” John Nash, Beautiful Mind

At the beginning of the movie, Nash was supposedly told by his elementary teacher that he has ‘two helpings of brain but half a helping of heart’. Now most of us nowadays usually think that actually it is good to be that way, and that is why most of us are wrong. As John Nash put it delicately when he made a speech directed to his wife, “I’ve made the most important discovery of my life. It’s only in the mysterious equation of love that any logic or reasons can be found. I’m only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am… you are all my reasons.”

“I’ve made the most important discovery of my life. It’s only in the mysterious equation of love that any logic or reasons can be found. I’m only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am… you are all my reasons.” John Nash, Beautiful mind

To put it in an easier term, who will you choose for your lifetime partner in a deserted island; a brilliant and multi-functional robot which did not know any emotions, or a stupid, dumb, and slow human that has ‘twice the helping of heart’? If you pick the first, then I’ll stay away from you. If that makes you happy, then you are most definitely not a person, because a human is always in need of an emotional embrace as part of their social need. Take John Nash for an example. Without his loving, caring, and supporting wife, he’ll be a hobo for sure. According to Sylvia Nasar, Nash’s biography author: “If she hadn’ t taken him in, he would have wound up on the streets.”  Deep down, a person; however asocial he/she is, will always need that emotional embrace. They need someone who loved them from the heart, care for them no matter what, and support them in a time of distress.

John Nash: "And then, on the way home, Charles was there again. Sometimes I miss talking to him. Maybe Rosen is right. Maybe I have to think about going back to the hospital."  Alicia Larde: "Maybe try again tomorrow."
John Nash: “And then, on the way home, Charles was there again. Sometimes I miss talking to him. Maybe Rosen is right. Maybe I have to think about going back to the hospital.”
Alicia Larde: “Maybe try again tomorrow.”

Review: An easy 4/5.

Tanah Surga… Katanya: The Diamond in the Rough

Despite what other people think of, I think sociology is one of the best classes in school. The main reason is that we get to watch a film, like, every month. And, best of all, not just any easy film, but award-winning ones. I watched three films in total so far in sociology class. The first one’s Alangkah Lucunya Negeri Ini, a film about a business graduate teaching pickpockets to sell goods, which represented Indonesia in the 2008 Oscars foreign language film submissions. The next one’s The Pianist, a film about a Jewish pianist surviving the holocaust, which won three Oscars including best director for Roman Polanski and best actor for Adrien Brody. The third one is the one I’m going to write about; the winner of the 2012 Piala Citra for best film, TANAH SURGA… KATANYA.

The film tells about the life of Salman, a child living in a Kalimantan village near the borders between Indonesia and Malaysia. His dad aims to live and work in Malaysia, but his grandfather disagrees. Eventually, his dad and his sister move to Malaysia and Salman and his grandfather stays. He then witnesses life in his village, how his schoolteacher struggles to strenghten her students’ patriotism between the blurred lines of Indonesia and Malaysia’s national conduct in the village, and a new doctor who copes with Salman’s grandfather’s degrading health.

A still from the film
A still from the film

The movie’s show stealer is Osa Aji Santoso, who awed audiences as the fragile yet determined Salman, and he acts the final scene brilliantly, in all honesty. Yet, the movie’s actual charm lies on its cinematography and music. As the opening credits roll, the sights of a Kalimantan lake delights us, the gleaming blue sky roaming across the horizon, with several hills like green carpets at the background. The enigmatic, cultural, and captivating score by Thoersi Agreswara opens the film and hints at the film’s cultural background.

The film’s strengths, apart from the score and the cinematography, also lie on the plotline. The neverending conflict between Malaysia and Indonesia and the longing of Indonesian people to move to better countries (which, in extremities, leads to a loss of nationalism) is the foundation of this story, brilliantly highlighted by the setting of a village by the borders of Indonesia and Malaysia. The visible issues in the village addressed by the new local doctor are issues that aren’t visible in this country as a whole, yet it still exists. The story raises questions of nationalism and decisions.

The witty dialogues of the film revolves around a popular Koes Plus song called “Kolam Susu”, hence the title (“Orang bilang tanah kita tanah surga” – everyone says our land is heaven on earth). The ironical concept of the movie leads us to questions to reflect. Why won’t residents of the border village embrace and love their own country, while foreigners crave our beauty and prestige? Will we fight for our country, even though other countries are way better in our opinions?

I recommend you to watch this movie (especially if you are an Indonesian who is losing faith about this country) and think about it.

4/5

Originally posted in: mendeleevs.blogspot.com