All posts by patriciaksmngtys

Patricia K. is an Indonesian computer science and theatre student based in Seattle, Washington. When she's not busy coding in Python or understanding Edward Albee's plays, you can find her watching movies or talking about them.

Calvary: Wrath, Doubt, and the Loss of Innocence

Hi! It’s been a long while since we last wrote here, and I’m gonna go and review a film [internal yelling] EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH!

Calvary is a not-well-known Irish film released this year that features some well known actors. Some of them are Brendan Gleeson (who plays the main role) who played Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody in the Harry Potter films, Aidan Gillen who’s Petyr Baelish off Game of Thrones, the bitter stand-up comic Dylan Moran of Black Books/Shaun of the Dead fame, Kelly Reilly who played Mary Morstan in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films, and Domnhall Gleeson, who’s set to star in Star Wars Episode VII. Well, I hope that’ll get you interested in watching this. Because, the prospect of having Dylan Moran, Aidan Gillen, and Domhnall Gleeson in one film is what interested me in this film.

This film tells us about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) who was threatened by someone during a confession. The person threatened to kill him in seven days. The film covers the seven days from the threat until the death. The grand design is as simple as that, actually. But the story is not as simple as that – the seven days highlighted the priest’s “midlife crisis” (or more accurately described as a near-death crisis) as he struggles to keep his life in order, make himself safe, and connect with his community. Yet the priest’s worry about the threat, the truth that it could be anyone in his small community, and the weight of letting go is burdening himself – and we can see the true nature of the priest himself.

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“There’s no point in killing a bad priest. Killing a good one? That would be a shock.”

This film is set in a small Irish community, so don’t be surprised if the characters speak in a near-British accent while paying in Euros. Besides of the priest, the community features a smorgasbord of characters with different personalities. Kelly Reilly plays the priest’s daughter who wanted to connect with him. Chris O’Dowd plays a meat seller with a dry wit. Aidan Gillen plays a (sort of creepy) nurse with tendencies of the hedonistic. Domhnall Gleeson plays a psychopath in his tenure in prison. Marie-Josee Croze plays a grieving wife whose husband died in an accident. Killian Scott plays a young man who wanted to join the army. And, my favorite character of all, Dylan Moran as a jaded rich man who goes through some serious character development in the movie.

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“Everything has to mean something. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

There are TONS of reasons why you have to watch this movie. This movie is often labeled as a comedy, but don’t be tricked; the kind of comedy John Michael McDonagh (the director and the writer) is aiming for is not your ordinary, slapstick American comedy. It’s all black comedy. For people who are not familiar with black comedy, they might just refer to this as a plain drama. But the clashing personalities of the characters and the war inside the community is what makes it a comedy.

An obvious reason to watch this film is its beauty. The cinematography brilliantly portrays the beauty of the Irish coastlines and conveys a sense of contemplation. Another reason to love this film is that this film is not just an ordinary whodunnit written with a Broadchurch-like small town approach, but this film also explores what the victim feels. This film features the war of innocence and wrath inside the priest, and even leaves a room of doubt for the (supposed) holiest man in the community. As this war tears the priest apart, we can see who the priest truly is, and time won’t wait as his seven days goes by.

The third reason why this movie is really good is that there’s no “bad” or “good” people in this movie. Yes, we can obviously spot antiheroes and antivillains, but there is no real boundary between the good and the evil in the people’s personalities. Yet, we can see the war of good and evil enraging between the characters. The priest with his near-death crisis. The rich man with his hedonistic addictions. The wife with her faith. This creates a deep exploration of the characters, and it makes every character, even the asshole-est one, likeable.

The only problem about this movie is that the writing is not cleverly delivered by most of the actors. The standout performances of this film are Brendan Gleeson’s, Dylan Moran’s, and Domhnall Gleeson’s. The person who eventually is going to murder the priest does not deliver the feelings I expected him to deliver. BUT YOU STILL SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE. I watched this movie about a month ago and it has not left my mind since then.

Overall? YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE. 4.5/5

2014 Blockbusters: April + May

Hello! After a long hiatus, we’re back on track. You may have found yourself watching tonnes of blockbuster movies this month, as they tear your soul (and your wallets) scene by scene, movie by movie. April/May is the official start of the blockbuster season this year, and it sure starts with a bang. With this post, I will be reviewing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Transcendence, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Edge of Tomorrow.

(Also, please be noted that the months of the blockbusters we will be reviewing will be based on Indonesian release dates.)

APRIL

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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The nationalistic, gifted-with-huge-abs superhero is back in action. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is now in the present day, learning how to deal with modern life, as he unravel the conspiracy in S.H.I.E.L.D. and defeating the new, mysterious villain, that is the Winter Soldier. With a little help from his new friends, of course: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). The film catches our eyes through its action sequences and plot twists, which makes it really unpredictable, for a start. Another thing that makes this a good film is that it’s not just an action-y Marvel film, it also builds up a good political thriller plot and also a wonderful answer to all the “what happens if” questions addressed in the movie. However, not a lot of comedy is used in this Marvel film, but, nevertheless, the movie remains one of the most exciting and intelligent movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rating: 4.5/5

2. Transcendence

transcendence-2This is the film debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. It stars Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Caster, a dying scientist who had his consciousness uploaded to the Internet, with his wife (Rebecca Hall) always by his side, and started questioning him when things got into a darker turn. I expected this to be a mind-boggling piece, something like Nolan’s, but it’s not. It lacks scientific basis and it has a quite boring plot. Yet it has an interesting concept and some hella rad effects to make up for it, and also the interesting performance of Rebecca Hall. Rating: 3.5/5

MAY

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Spidey is back! Our favorite web-weaving superhero (Andrew Garfield) must face a new enemy, Electro (Jamie Foxx), and has to confront a rich Osborn kid (Dane Dehaan) who wants to live longer, and also has to keep up with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). This star-laden sequel of the first movie has an exciting plot build-up and lots of humor. The creation of the villains were made from a good set-up, but sadly, aren’t explored more, giving time to explore Peter and Gwen’s relationship, which makes it really cheesy and reminds us to the target audience of this movie (teenagers!). Nevertheless it has damn good effects and it’s suitable for teens. But not for me. Rating: 4/5

2. Godzilla

GODZILLAThis is the first time we can get to watch Toho’s super huge monster on IMAX screens. Godzilla is faced with two new enemies and is going to restore balanced to the world, all seen through the eyes of the Brody family (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen). Guaranteed: you’ll be crying nerdy, manly tears watching this. The effects will make you cry manly tears; seeing Godzilla walking through the streets, restoring peace will make you cry. The effects were spectacular, the sound design’s magnificent, but sadly, the 3D isn’t worth it. Also, it lacks depth of emotion – some of the scenes from this movie could’ve been like the opening scene of 2009 Star Trek if it tried harder to engage its audience emotions. And the Gyorgy Ligeti-scored scene you saw right here in the trailer might be beautiful, but rather unfitting to the overall tone of the movie. But we have Alexandre Desplat’s music to fix it all up. Rating: 4/5

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past

quicksilver-days-of-future-pastOkay, so in a world where mutants are being hunted down, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) sent Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the past using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers to confront younger Professor X (James McAvoy) to confront Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) to make peace with the humans and not cause havoc while younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is still making trouble. Confused? I am, too, for a while. But this film charms us in every second with its social-political concepts, ideas of time travel and parallel plotlines (which makes it the most, if not, one of the most complex storylines in the X-Men movie universe), the enigmatic performances of the actors, the vague-ness of good and bad, and QUICKSILVER (Evan Peters). Yes, yes, he’s the mutant who stole the whole show. Rating: 4.5/5

4. Edge of Tomorrow

_1373935068It’s Groundhog Day meets aliens and 113 minutes of Tom Cruise being absolutely clueless to Tom Cruise being absolutely badass. In this film, Tom Cruise is a war major stripped down to a soldier preparing to combat a race of advanced aliens, when some substance from the alien makes him repeat that certain day, on and on, until he can stop the alien race. Only Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a Special Forces soldier, knows what he’s going through. This film is intelligent for a summer blockbuster, and it has wonderful humor and they succeeded to not make the time loop concept boring. The effects were cool, the sound design was hella rad. The only thing that disappointed me was the very gritty and rough camera work. Bravo. Rating: 4.5/5

So, that’s it for the April + May blockbusters. See you in June!

 

 

 

 

 

12 Years a Slave: When Cinema Embodies Truth

Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second. –Jean-Luc Godard

There’s gonna be a reason why I used that quote as a heading. Wait and see.

This film was first drawn to my attention as it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, literally. I am following multiple Benedict Cumberbatch news accounts on Twitter and regarding to his casting announcement in the film, I became more and more intrigued with this film, and my curiosity came bigger as this film won numerous awards and also, being a considerable, potential winner to this year’s Best Picture Oscar.

And so, I watched it after months of waiting. Today, in a local theatre. I almost teared up.

This film tells us the true story about a free African-American in the American slavery era, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Through a series of events, he was abducted and sold into slavery to the South. He went through a series of slave owners; the kind Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), the discriminative Tibeats (Paul Dano), and the maniacal Epps (Michael Fassbender).

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The film features the emotions of Solomon Northup; how he refused to be a slave, and finally, had no other way than to accept it. As he worked in the perilous sunlight-laden cotton fields, or cutting wood for a new building, he faced the pain and the fear of doing something slightly wrong – and the fear of facing hundreds of lashes from his masters’ whips.

Slavery is cruel, yet most members of the public haven’t known how cruel it really is. When this film was first announced, people would compare it to a Tarantino work about slavery released last year – Django Unchained. The freed slave Django proceeds to rescue his wife and kill all the evil slave owners. Well, well, it doesn’t work that way; in real life, there was no badass slave that has the power to kill all the slave owners. 12 Years a Slave portrays the truth about slavery, even going through the grotesque methods the slave owners used to torture their slaves. Graphically. This movie is indeed not for everyone’s guts, because the truth about slavery is way scarier than it seems to be. Also, this movie might not fit the dramatic structure of a story, because it’s based from a book. Real, plain, truth, served the way it is. No dramatization, or anything. (Hence the quote above). Even, the white slave owners are all portrayed as cruel. Ford was a bit better than the others, but he’s also cruel. In the movie, there’s no exaggerated “white slave owner saviour character” or anything. It’s Solomon Northup saving himself.

If you watch this movie, there might be something about this film’s looks that differentiates it from common Hollywood movies. Steve McQueen puts the artistic side forwards in the movie. When Solomon Northup was first chained as a slave, the only thing we see is Solomon himself struggling for help inside a very, very dark room. The contrast is prominent, and it intensifies his feelings in the chamber. Also, there are several nature shots, and 30 second shots of Solomon, looking into the void, bottling up his emotions. Very artsy.

And, of course, there are some compelling performances by the actors and actresses. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup was indeed brilliant; he embodies his character really well, especially in the several 30 second shots. Michael Fassbender as a slave-obsessed “maniac” Epps was really believable and deep. And Lupita Nyong’o as Patsy, Epps’ “favorite” slave, did a really deep and sincere performance, really believable, and she made Patsy truly dig the sympathy of the audience.

Verdict? Perfect in every way – although, not for everyone.

I don’t want to survive, I want to live. — Solomon Northup, 12 Years a Slave

twelve-years-a-slave08✮✮✮✮✮/5

Upcoming 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy

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The Guardians of the Galaxy trailer is here. And it’s 80’stastic.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a highly anticipated Marvel movie, adapted from a cult comic of their own. This adaptation is directed by James Gunn (Super, Slither) and starring various actors from TV shows and well known actors from major blockbuster movies as well. It tells the story about Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord (Chris Pratt, Parks and Rec) and four other individuals, known as the Guardians of the Galaxy: Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Avatar), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper, The Hangover), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, Fast and Furious), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista, WWE champion). As Peter Quill finds an orb, the quintet found themselves hunted down by villains Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies) and Nebula (Karen Gillan, Doctor Who).

The trailer itself was debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Before the trailer’s released, Marvel released an exciting 15-second teaser, to ‘ease the waiting pain’. Well, that IS truly needed for people like me. Anyway, here it is:

The trailer itself is a joyride of cinematic proportions. It opens with an epic scenario of our hero entering the orb’s den. It leads to a rather comical background of the film; also a montage of events in the film. The music itself is a remix of Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, an 80s song (also, keep in mind that Peter Quill is an 80s kid). I’ve known this song since I watched Reservoir Dogs and it is a great blend to this trailer; quirky and unconventional.

Curious? Watch for yourself.

How’s that? So, clap your hands if you can’t wait 6 months for this movie to come out. Because, I can’t.

ALSO: When you think that this movie’s couldn’t get any better, that over there as Nova Corps Officers are John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph, Step Brothers) and Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace). Makes you want to make a huge time machine, and transport yourself to August 2014 to a cinema near you.

Rainy Day Movies

It’s raining? Wanna watch something? I’ll offer you six movies from six genres to choose from.

1. Drama: Blue Jasmine (2013)

She's not Galadriel.

Cate Blanchett is striking the big screens once more, and she’s not Galadriel. Directed by drama director Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine is a tale that tells about a broken New York socialite with her life messed up moving to her sister’s apartment in San Francisco, coping with her new life, far from all the glam and glitz of the Big Apple. The film raises themes of social classes, lies, and corruption. This film might not do well on the script, but it highlights on Blanchett’s powerful performance. The entirely gloomy tone of the film with the subtle flow of the dialogue makes this film perfect for rainy day viewing.

2. Crime: Taxi Driver (1976)

taxidriver2I don’t really fit with Scorsese’s works but I found this movie really interesting. It’s about a Vietnam War veteran working as a night-shift taxi driver, observing all the  “scum off the streets” and looking forward to do something about it, as his mental state regresses. The movie’s packed with gloomy, mysterious tones, surrounding the storyline of someone’s own bubble’s being bursted; little by little. The jazzy, fit-for-rainy-days, yet very haunting score by Bernard Hermann might make this film one of your handy, chilly rainy day companions. (Also, 14-year-old Jodie Foster’s here – and she’s Oscar nominated for her performance).

3. Horror: The Shining (1980)

the-shiningAh, here it is – the famed head of Jack Nicholson! Surely everyone will probably agree if I were to say that this film is the second scariest film of all time (the first’s absolutely The Exorcist). It tells about a family who were asked to be caretakers of a mountain-y Colorado hotel for 6 months, and they discovered about the supernatural presence in that hotel as the father’s mind spirals into insanity. This is one of the rare horror films that focuses on the whole atmosphere of the film rather than worthless jump scares. If you’re living in somewhere snowy, I’d recommend you to watch this when it snows, as it can intensify the chills of the film. Well, if it’s raining, it can double the scares as well.

4. Romance: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

15Okay, I might’ve implied this: Jennifer. Lawrence. Nevertheless, her performance was undoubtedly marvelous in this movie. The film tells us about a mentally unstable divorcee out of a mental hospital who is struggling to get his life back on track and win his wife back; but as another mentally unstable widow came into his life, his plans got changed. All the performances in this movie are ACE; so’s David O Russell’s script, unless you’ve read the book, which makes the movie’s storyline a stormtrooper compared to the book’s storyline’s Palpatine. Anyways, this film’s good for rainy day screening because of all the light-yet-quirky atmosphere of the movie.

5. Comedy: Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

good-bye-lenin-good-bye-lenin-10-09-2003-110-gWell, this German flick is the one that lifts Daniel Bruhl’s name to the public, way before Inglourious Basterds did. This film tells about a young man who lived in East Germany with a super nationalist mother. His mother went into a coma, and as she rests, the Berlin Wall goes down. To prevent her from fatal shock, the young man must hide out that fact to his awoken mother by any means. The film’s script is gold – I really want to meet the writers of this movie and say “How do you do ideas??” But, really though, this comedy (that lifts up issues such as political ideologies and globalization) shifts into something more of a tragedy as the running time goes on, and that’s the reason why it’s perfect for a rainy day.

6. Mindbender: Memento (2000)

polaroidYou’ll never get the hang of this movie. It tells about a man who suffers short term memory loss and started it after his wife’s got killed. Now, he’s searching for the person who killed his wife, and he realized that it’s not easy as it seems. See, this is a Christopher Nolan work and every Nolan work will leave you scratching your heads. Now, this film is, by far, in my opinion, the most mindbending Nolan work I’ve ever encountered, and the thrill and gloomy tone of this movie fits the rainy day screening setting. And, the rain will be there when you’re done watching this and spending your time contemplating about this movie. Also, talking about contemplation…

7. Science fiction: Moon (2009)

225.x600.film.moon.revIt’s very lonely up there. Very, very lonely. In this film, an astronaut who’s only accompanied by a robot in the moon feels the same; until, near the end of his stint, he discovered something strange. This is a truly underrated film, in my opinion. Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey’s voice are the only actors in the movie – resulting with a brilliant performance from both of them. This intelligent sci-fi will leave you with an existential crisis and a long time of contemplation. The mysterious, gloomy tone makes it perfect for rainy day viewing.

So, what’s your pick?

Rest in Peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman

The world has lost another amazing actor. Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment. Police reports said he apparently died of a drug overdose. He was 46.

Hoffman was known from his movie Capote, in which he acted as Truman Capote, an American author. He won an Oscar for his magnificent portrayal in the movie, and was nominated for 4 others. He was also known for his works with director Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the most respected directors of modern cinema. Through movies such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia (one of my top favorite movies), Punch Drunk Love, and The Master, he conveyed a masterful grasp of the knowledge of acting and roleplaying. And probably, he was most known by the new generation as Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

As Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
As Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This is a tragic and a sudden death, that will leave us mourning. Hoffman is a truly amazing actor who has made a mark in the world of cinema. Also, a great, wonderful, and awesome man. Farewell, good sir, the world will always remember you.

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