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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

AmazingSpiderMan2

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.

The Lone Survivor: Outnumbered in The Front Line

Live to tell the story.
Live to tell the story.

To tell you the truth I thought this movie will contain less gore and more drama, at least that’s what I’m expecting when I watched the trailer. Turns out the screenplay shoved plenty of gory scenes, which was made complete by the excellent acting from Wahlberg and Co.

Synopsis

The entire story was based on Operation Red Wings. Now I don’t know about you but this name is completely unfamiliar to my ears before I watched the movie.

If I’m the military commander-in-charge I would consider this particular waste of lives a failure. To be exact, too much casualties is just the tip of the iceberg. You get to endanger nearby villages, waste one good Chinook, top-notch officers, and you’ll never know if your enemy turns out to be smart enough to make copies of looted M4s. Believe me, M4 terrorists are just too much to take on.

The operation, like other standard military operation, started with a recon mission which involved four personnels.

(From left to right) Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Danny Dietz
(From left to right) Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Danny Dietz.

In short, three of them died. Their cover was blown by shepherds from the nearest village and you can guess the next part.

There is some falling-from-the-cliff parts that I really need to give credit. Whoever did the sound effects is genius. The ‘CRACK’s made my uncle (who was also watching beside me at that time) go “ooh, that’s gotta hurt” and “aah, ouch, euh!” Frankly, I feel no better.

After being hunted down by the Talibans for an hour or so, the captain of the unfortunate team, Lieutenant Murphy, decided to make a call for help in open space since the signal reception was very bad. He died from several shots aimed at his back, but his try was worth it.

Backup showed up several minutes later, and Luttrell (The ‘Lone Survivor’) and his other teammate Axe cheered as they heard the familiar ‘chop-chop-chop’ sound of a helicopter’s rotor. But a single rocket from the Taliban’s RPG took care of that and as well the misson’s commander-in-charge (played by Eric Bana, I’ll always remember him as Hector from Troy. He’s cool).

Axe died after being shot to death precisely at his head, but Luttrell survived after concealing himself in an opening of a hill. He was bruised, battered, and severely injured at that moment.

The next day Luttrell was found by some friendly members of the village in a water source, practically dying. Luttrell was then carried to their house and had his wounds taken care of. He was also given food and water, something he missed for possibly two days. Meanwhile, Luttrell’s host sent a handwritten note from Luttrell to the nearest U.S. military base through a messenger.

Why are you doing this to me?
Why are you doing this to me?

Not long after that, the suspicious Talibans checked the houses of the villagers, finding Luttrell at last. They were about to execute him when the man who rescued Luttrell took an AK-47, muttered some words at the Taliban, and cocked the gun in front of their face as he aimed it towards them. The other villagers did the same.

Luttrell, for the second time, had his sorry ass saved by the locals.

The Talibans swore revenge against the villagers while reluctantly leaving, putting on some frowns on the villagers’ faces. They are now officially in war with that particular brutal Taliban gang.

Meanwhile Lutrell has not fully recovered. He can’t do anything but rest and moan. Poor guy.

The next day the Talis (call-name for Talibans) came as promised, bringing full armaments with them; RPGs, LMGs, AK-47s, grenades, you name it. The villagers valiantly stood up with only several looted AK-47s.

When it seemed like the village is going to be destroyed utterly by the Talis, U.S. Black Hawks comes out of nowhere, practically annihilating the Talis deservedly. The gunship you get to control at Modern Warfare also put on quite a show with that sort of heavy bombardment, scattering the Talis with no sweat.

In a dramatic end, the military doctors brought back Luttrell from his certain death. Happy ending sometimes felt good, and this movie showed that.

Main Characters and Their Stories

Marcus Lutrell
If I don't go home, you don't go home.
If I don’t go home, you don’t go home.

Marcus Luttrell is a former U.S. Navy Seal and also the only survivor of Operation Red Wings. He was born in Houston, Texas, in November 7 1975. After being sent back home, Luttrell founded the Lone Survivor foundation that helped soldiers like him to get back on their feet and continue living their life by moving on.

Truthfully I can’t say if Wahlberg’s involvement in being Luttrell is exceptional or super-awesome or anything. If I’m to judge his act in this movie fairly, well, he’s just a bit more than what I call the ‘standard professional acting’. Nothing much, actually.

The real-life Marcus Luttrell had a son named after his last-second teammate, Axe. He now lives in Texas, possibly his hometown.

Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson

[while sighting in a Taliban fighter] You can die for your country, I'm gonna live for mine.
[while sighting in a Taliban fighter] You can die for your country, I’m gonna live for mine.
Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson died fighting in Operation Red Wings after having his head shot. Well, not right away, but I assume he died of blood loss before he got shot at the head by the Talibans. Axe was born on June 25 1976 in Cupertino, California. He was married to a girl named Cindy in December 2003, and thus one of his last words are:

Axe: If I die I need you to make sure that Cindy knows how much I love her.
Luttrell: She knows.
Axe: And that I died with my brothers – with a full fucking heart.

For his gallant service in the operation, Axe was awarded Navy Cross, Purple Heart, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy Good Conduct Medal.

Lt. Michael Murphy

(Talking to Luttrell) Marcus. Never out of the fight.
Marcus Luttrell: [after finding his lost gun in the middle of the fight] See? God’s looking out for us. Michael Murphy: If this is what happens when God is looking out for us, I’d hate to see Him pissed.
For his remarkably great reputation, somebody actually made a movie about him. It’s called Murphy. Go on, check it out.

Michael Murphy had a great neighborhood reputation, earning the title ‘The Protector’. According to several sources, Murph (his nickname) saved a homeless man from being bullied, saved a disabled girl in his school from being bullied, and also had experience at being a pool lifeguard in summers. Murph was apparently a pretty smart dude too before he got involved in military. He graduated from Penn State university with honors and dual degrees in both political science and psychology. Talk about a perfect guy. Oh right, I forgot to tell you his birthplace and stuff. He was a native New Yorker, born May 7, 1976.

For his outstanding service this dauntless Lieutenant received lots of military awards, such as the Medal of Honor (not the game), Silver Star, Purple Heart, Commendation Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon. It was also necessary to mention that a park, a destroyer, and a missile are named after him (USS Michael Murphy, ha ha ha).

Danny Dietz
Fuckin' look at them, man. They fuckin' hate us.
Fuckin’ look at them, man. They fuckin’ hate us.

Oh, we don’t get to talk about him much now do we? In fact I think I haven’t mentioned him before this. Some of the most ‘exciting’ and good scenes were made of him, technically. Dietz was married to Maria Dietz, which was shown communicating with Dietz through an email (spoiler: asking for an Arabian Horse for her wedding present). Dietz was also seen dying grasping to a paint brochure in which he was in the process of deciding his house’s wall paint color. He loves drawing, which made him really upset when one of the Talibans shot his drawing hand, and…hmm…oh yeah, he was born on January 26, 1980 in Aurora, Colorado.

This particular war martyr earned a black belt in Taekwondo from the Korean Academy of Taekwondo (wonder why he doesn’t whup some Taliban ass with the Karate Kid kick, you know, the one with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, anyway,) so don’t mess around.

Receiving no less military rewards than his teammates, Dietz also get to be remembered through a larger-than-life bronze statue erected at his hometown.

Highlight

So I’m gonna keep this one short.

Again and again I must say, war brings nothing but death. Sure, the winning side might get spoils of war and stuff, but that was nothing compared to the value of a life.

Besides that, I must say the sound effect on the scene where the four brave men jumped off a cliff is just cracking! I can’t imagine what will the movie be like without them. It was wicked. You know what? You must feel that one yourself. The video-shoot was also inch-perfect on every angle. The director must’ve been a crazy genius, you see, combining such close shooting angle and that awesome, awesome sound effect.

Overall? 4.5/5. Extra half for the appreciation of the gallant efforts of the team. Superb show!

Soekarno: The Dilemma of ‘The Greater Good’

Another self-explanatory movie poster
Another self-explanatory movie poster

I was actually planning to release this review last week, but instead I took a break for an angpao-collecting spree. You can say it went perfectly well. Yes…

Anyway, I put a lot of hope on this review because I’m not fooling around when it comes to talk about my country. So I was expecting you guys to correct me.

Synopsis

As a young man, Soekarno was studied and well associated with both his native homeland (Java and the culture and his fellow Javanese) and the occupying Dutch government (Soekarno can speak fluent Dutch and was well aware of their ‘classy’ traditions). Other than that, in his young age Soekarno lived in a time when Indonesian political figures started to rise; and Soekarno was very lucky to have one of them as his mentor: H.O.S. Cokroaminoto. Inspired by his mentor, Soekarno decided to learn public oratory. Years later, Soekarno became a local political figure and hero towards the people of Indonesia (still in Dutch government occupation), as he is a person with a high skill of public oratory and therefore was capable of igniting the public will of gaining Indonesian independence. The Dutch officials was well aware of that, and in the Dutch occupation period he was put into exile or jails for countless times. But he did not give up. He wrote speeches and letters secretly from his exile or jail in order to get the public’s sympathy. Soekarno, in a nutshell, has an ultimate weapon that the Dutch occupants di not have at that place and time: he had the people. He captured the hearts of the people in a mesmerizing way that the local people, once fearing the Dutch from head to toe, began to doubt their power. The Dutch government was well aware of this, and they hopelessly fight through media propaganda and exiles.

The people's man.
The people’s man.

But the Dutch did not see the Japanese force coming in. The Dutch were not taking the Japanese force very seriously (in my opinion) until it’s too late. The Japanese came, overthrew the Dutch government and military force, and became the new occupant in the Nusantara (Indonesia’s former name before her independence). The Dutch, now aware of what they’re dealing with, tried to smuggle Soekarno and his family out; because they realized what a great asset is Soekarno towards the Japanese, and they feared what was to become if Soekarno joined the Japanese. You just think about it: Soekarno is indirectly the ruler of the Indonesians. He is able to raise up their spirits in a, well, spirited way, and he can frankly make them do anything he wanted them to do. He is the people’s man. He is Soekarno (Bam Bam BAAAAMMMM). Back to the smuggling part (ehm, sorry, got carried away). Soekarno did not want to leave, even though he knows he’s dealing with a force that is totally different than the Dutch government. During Dutch occupation, Soekarno is still partially untouchable due to the existing Dutch law. It was a shield to him to freely express his opinions, as the Dutch were more to democracy rather than fascism or communism (monarchy, actually, but still, the queen of Netherlands must not act so rashly towards Soekarno, because her people may disagree); and Soekarno, as you know, was a truly exceptional public orator. Soekarno is capable of capturing several Dutch’s heart in the Dutch mainland.  The best part is: however mad is the local Dutch government towards Soekarno in Indonesia, they still have to follow orders from the Netherlands capital, Den Haag. In short, the Dutch occupants cannot treat Soekarno anyhow as they want. They have to comply with rules. On the other hand, Japanese were far more brutal. As Soekarno said, the Japanese force will not hesitate in ending a man’s life, not like the Dutch, where the man would be probably judged in a court first. Since in that time Japan was an empire with some sort of a caste, ordinary people have no power at all. Of course, they have rules and laws, but to the Japanese they can do anything they want in an occupied country as long as their superior officers allowed them (maybe like the Generals, Captains, etc.)They are also known for their brutality in dominating another country (like the infamous war event Nanjing Massacre). In short, Soekarno had just lost his best pal the law. Say goodbye to the age of laws, make way for a new era of brutal occupation. Just when the dream for national independence seemed to fade away with the absence of ‘fair’ laws, the Japanese called their trump card: an irresistable devil’s deal with Soekarno and company (Moh. Hatta, the future first vice president of Indonesia, and Sutan Sjahrir, an independence collaborator, too): the Japanese offered independence in exchange for helping them in the ongoing Pacific War. Many Indonesians always thought that our independence was gained through blood and glory; through death of heroes, and through heroic struggles. So this scene delivered one hell of a blow towards the pride of the nation, as you might say. Up to this point, there were two important figures that we must remember: Soekarno and Sutan Sjahrir, because both of them are like magnetic poles. Soekarno believed that by cooperating with the Japanese, there will be less casualties; while on the contrary, Sjahrir was disgusted by the idea of cooperating with their occupants. They are the two extremes, yet with the same core belief: that Indonesia will be independent sooner or later. Later on, Soekarno must also face a personal conflict. His love towards other woman made him left his second wife, Inggit, for Fatmawati.

Inggit, Soekarno's second wife (out of seven, if you're curious).
Inggit, Soekarno’s second wife (out of seven, if you’re curious).
Fatmawati, the weaver of the first indonesian national flag (and Soekarno's third wife).
Fatmawati, the weaver of the first Indonesian national flag (and Soekarno’s third wife).

After several household fights, Inggit decided to leave Soekarno. Sad to say (I am an Indonesian, and I’m a bit embarrased to say that my national hero is also a women chaser), Soekarno married Fatmawati as his third wife. But his problems did not end there. The Japanese asked for preposterous requests such as women (that scene is truly heart-breaking), resources, and Soekarno’s help on their propaganda. Ario Bayu as Soekarno played his role very well to depict Soekarno on those scene, that actually Soekarno did not want those to happen; but for the sake of independence, he did those (half-heartedly). On the other side, Sjahrir continued his undercover independence effort on gathering the nationalist youths to prepare them for their independence. Other than that, Sjahrir also continued his illegal activity of listening to the international radio to check on how the Japanese were doing. To his joy, the Japanese were losing. At the same time, the Japanese force fulfilled their promise towards Soekarno and gave him Indonesia’s independence at Vietnam. But just when Soekarno was about to celebrate this hard-earned achievement when he was kidnapped not long after he got back to Indonesia again. The kidnappers were the ambitious nationalist youths that forced Soekarno and Hatta to proclaim Indonesia’s independence immidiately because Japan had lost the war and therefore Indonesia is without any occupants, for the first time in three centuries. The youths saw this as a golden chance to proclaim Indonesia’s independence. Soekarno and Hatta were not amused being tricked by the Japanese. You see, if Soekarno saw this coming, the downfall of the Japanese force, then Soekarno wouldn’t have to cooperate with the Japanese; letting his people suffer at the hands of them, or worse, killed. The Japanese, true to their words, offered help in the process of proclaiming Indonesia’s independence. Finally, Indonesia was free and independent on the historical 17th of August, 1945.

The original Soekarno reading the proclamation text.
The original Soekarno reading the proclamation text.

Main Characters and Their Stories

Soekarno
Soekarno.
Soekarno.

His original name was actually Kusno, but the name was changed by his father because he was frequently sick (some native Indonesian still believed in the mystic tradition). Soekarno can speak Dutch, Japanese, Javanese, English, and Bahasa Indonesia (as far as I know), so he is a learned man. In the early scenes, Soekarno was seen flirting with a Dutch girl (when he was young). We can conclude that Soekarno was well associated with several upper-class Dutch in his life. Other than that, he is also well-associated with middle-lower class of the local people. So we know that Soekarno is well-associated with two different worlds; the upper and the lower, the occupant and the occupied. It was thanks to his inspiring mentor H.O.S. Cokroaminoto that he became an excellent public orator. Many said his mastery at public oratory in Indonesia is second to none.

Soekarno had many wives. Well, not all at once, but still it’s a bit shocking isn’t it? So don’t be surprised when you meet one of Soekarno’s son or daughter. Perfectly normal.

What else to say about him? Many, actually; but my mind just can’t stop reeling too fast at this point, thus leaving me speechless. But if it helps, I wanted to say that he is no doubt a huge contributor to Indonesia’s independence, and against all other opinion I wanted to say that the image of him valuing lives above everything else is something I truly uphold.

As Terry Pratchett (is his name spelled right? I guess) said it in a fine way (in his book ‘Nation’), “When much is taken, something is returned”. Soekarno had just the faith  to get through all of his people’s suffering to watch the glorious moment of his country’s independence.

Fatmawati
Fatmawati, Soekarno's third wife.
Fatmawati, Soekarno’s third wife.

Sorry to say, my first opinion on this photo was, “yeuch”, and most probably you’re in the same boat as I am. Anyway, onwards to Fatmawati.

The famous wife was played by Tika Bravani, a talented young actress from Indonesia. Historically, Fatmawati is widely-known as the woman who sewed the first Indonesian national flag. Dramatic.

Soekarno married Fatmawati when she was 15 (sounds like Hugh Hefner all over again). Fatma (her shortname) was Soekarno’s student at a school in Bengkulu, taught by Soekarno during his exile. It was her which made Inggit (Soekarno’s second wife) and Soekarno divorce, which gave me a thought about Bob Marley. No woman no cry, right?

Fatma gave birth to to three daughters and two sons; grand total of five, in which four of them, Megawati Soekarnoputri , Sukmawati Soekarnoputri , Rachmawati Soekarnoputri and Guruh Soekarnoputra, is still politically active. Beat that.

Mohammad Hatta
Central figure, up top.
Central figure, up top.

A gorgeous acting was delivered by Lukman Sardi as Mohammad Hatta. I just felt it, you know, the classic hunches you usually get? The actor and the supposed character blended in better than Coffee Beans’ Original Ice Blended, which is saying something (sometimes I prefer Coffee Beans rather than Starbucks).

The calm upbringing he frequently put on is the highlight, because I always thought Mohammad Hatta as the backstage guy, never a spotlight guy. He is a key figure to me because I think he is the middle point between Soekarno and Sjahrir, in which Soekarno prefered submitting to their occupants as a step towards their independence and Sjahrir (a hot-tempered little guy) wanted a rebellion. So yeah, you can say his existence at that situation a ‘divine intervention’.

He is well-known as the first Vice-President of Indonesia and also a friend to Soekarno. There’s probably still much about him but I guess the essence of it is that as the second wheel, you will play a role no less crucial than the big boss. That’s what happened to Hatta anyway; and Nehru, and probably you.

Highlight

At last, highlights. Word count: 1772 (personal record).

I’d like to start with my personal favorite, the one I’ve mentioned in the Letters to Iwo Jima review. It’s about lives, human lives.

Many people were disappointed after watching this movie, (mostly Indonesians) and they have the right to. Who on this particular planet laughed at his/her country’s humiliation? Probably separatists, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about us (unless you’re a separatist). Us, as in, people that are proud of their motherland. But after several scenes of Soekarno letting his people suffer at the hands of their occupants, personally the bastards that produced this movie took down several notches on my nationalistic spirit.

Not fun. At all. I am totally not amused.

But after several days, I realized that Soekarno did it out of a belief that he had, and I think that is truly remarkable. To let people harshly treat us in order to give a chance to live for the others is quite a gem.

In my eyes, Soekarno let his people suffer for the greater good. He let them suffer rather than to die in a useless open rebellion (useless, because the Japanese’s military force is superior in almost every aspects) to let them have a taste of independence. Of course you can die when you suffer, but that’s a risk Soekarno is willing to take for the greater good of Indonesia.

See it like this: your parents pushed you to study hard so you can get a good score. Your parents know you might be very unhappy towards them and treat them harshly, but for their son (or daughter, I’m not being sexist), they are willing to take a blow.

Soekarno is, in my eyes, a national ‘father’.

Thank you for reading this. I’m looking forward for comments and corrections. Sampai nanti! (Until then!)

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.)

Film-The-Fallbig
The Five Musketeers! Oops, wrong movie…
The-Fall-1
Now, /this/ is cinematography.
tarsem-the-fall-stills-07
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?

21_alt_bali
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