Tick, Tick… Boom! – Review
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Tick, Tick… Boom! – Review

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Like the protagonist Tick, Tick… Boom!, I am currently 29 years old. There are only a few months left to step on the “three heads”, which is often called “the end of youth”. Not yet married, not feeling settled, also still vacillating between continuing to follow the path as desired, or having to give up on the system.

Adapting Jonathan Larson’s musical of the same name, Tick, Tick… Boom! also marked Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut. It’s hard to believe. It seems that some people will think Hamilton and In the Heights are his works, seeing how the Miranda name is a major selling point. Also related to the results, Tick, Tick… Boom! not like a debutant’s claim. Very ripe. Top Movie Site

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The story acts as a biography of Larson (Andrew Garfield), although the film itself states that there are some fictional parts to Larson’s imagination (Tick, Tick… Boom! the stage musical version is semi-autobiographical).

There are two timelines. The first was 1992, when Larson performed Tick, Tick… Boom! along with his two colleagues, Roger (Joshua Henry) and Karessa (Vanessa Hudgens so stole the show on stage). The show is in the form of a monologue, which is often like a stand-up comedy, because Larson actually invites the audience to laugh at the series of misfortunes he has suffered. Instead of lamenting, the artist chose to celebrate irony.

Best Movie The misfortune in question is set in the time of his second film, 1990, when Larson is preparing a workshop for his first musical, Superbia. His pitching had been turned down countless times, and now Larson felt he was running out of time. His 30th birthday is approaching, but he has yet to achieve success. Still living in a dilapidated apartment, working at a diner, while his girlfriend, Susan (Alexandra Shipp) is considering accepting a job offer in another city. Jobs that do not match dreams, but guarantee economic stability.

That’s where the dilemma culminates. Is giving up an option? His best friend, Michael (Robin de Jesús), who once dreamed of becoming a broadway actor has now turned his back on advertising and recently moved into a luxury apartment. Or should Larson keep fighting, even if there is a risk of failure? What if failure comes after making so many sacrifices?

Steven Levenson’s script is able to represent the anxiety of the quarter-life crisis phase. Larson (and other dreamers out there) are adamant, but not naive. Terrible images of failure must always cross. It’s terrible, because if that happens, it’s likely that not only dreams die, but also principles, values, and self-identity.

Make no mistake, Tick, Tick… Boom! not blaming people like Michael for switching lanes. It’s perfectly legal. Surrendering to reality is not an act of a loser, but an attempt to pursue happiness in a different form. The text does not “encourage” us to continue pursuing our dreams, but rather “embrace” it while stating that insistence is not a mistake. That it doesn’t matter if we keep trying to achieve success after turning 30.

The plot goes fast, also moves quite wildly. In just a few seconds, a series of sequences can consist of so many shots, so many scenes, from different time settings or situations, still connected by the same common thread, to represent an idea. The directing and editing departments work very well, so that the lines of chaos that represent the wildness of the character’s head (a good biopic not only tells a person’s life, but also represents his soul) are neatly intertwined.

Musicals are highly expressive works. Logic is set aside to make room for the expression of feelings. I say Miranda doesn’t look like a debutant, because it’s amazing how she pours her taste in a packaging full of images. Some rough CGI does dampen the emotional impact at some point, but the shortfall is made up for by other moments, including the powerful conclusion, when a song we all know unexpectedly ends beautifully.

I’m sure Andrew Garfield will get his second Oscar nomination next year (possibly against Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and Benedict Cumberbatch). This is the actor’s most complete performance. All kinds of gestures and expressions, whether large or those that tend to be subtle, are exhibited. Sometimes he falls, then gets up. Sometimes he messed up, before he was able to organize himself. Such is the dynamics of the dreamer’s life. Here’s to the ones who dream. Movie Review

Red Notic – Review
Movie Review

Red Notic – Review

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Films like Red Notice require no review. The 39% score (to date) on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t matter. Likewise this article, which I wrote just to say, “Just watch it, enjoy a global-scale adventure with his three megastars, forget all the fuss about story quality and such”.

The film industry, especially those labeled “experts”, has recently become increasingly distant from the public. Critics tend to look down on light spectacles, while award shows award wins to (very) limited new titles in order to meet nomination requirements. Films are increasingly difficult to celebrate widely. Top Movie Site

Red Notice was certainly criticized for the script made by the director, Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Central Intelligence, Skyscraper), failed to deliver a good storytelling. But does the word “fail” deserve to be pinned, if that’s not the goal? Exciting action wrapped in comedy set in various countries, the toughness of Dwayne Johnson, the antics of Ryan Reynolds, and the charm of Gal Gadot. That’s the main goal.

Johnson stars as John Hartley, an FBI agent who is forced to team up with his bounty, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), the art thief, after he is framed by another thief, Sarah Black (Gal Gadot), otherwise known as “The Bishop”. The trio visited Italy, Indonesia, Spain, Argentina, to Egypt, in search of Cleopatra’s jeweled egg, which is said to have been missing for two thousand years.

It’s a shame that Red Notice isn’t showing in theaters. The action show will be more exciting on the big screen. Watching it on a television screen or laptop is enough to reduce the preoccupation, thus making the mind more focused on the story, which was never intended to appear optimally. Best Movie

What is maximized? The advantages of the three main characters, of course. Johnson can still be relied on as an action hero, even when Hartley is more “human” than the actor’s usual characters. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, so her toughness in action is not surprising. But this is her most playful role, even though the mysterious femme fatale still has a strong impression.

Reynolds? Watching his three films closely, made me even more convinced that he was a comic genius. The way he handles humor through sarcasm and deadpan, including his timing accuracy, is truly extraordinary.

There was a twist in the final round. Not a clever twist, but in harmony with the overall “color” of the film, as an adventure around the world in search of artifacts, which is reluctant to pay attention to seriousness, like Indiana Jones (the theme song can be heard briefly here) a much lighter version. Movie Review

Titane – Review
Movie Review

Titane – Review

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I believe that nowadays it is almost impossible to find original story ideas in films. If you come across a piece that looks original, there are two possibilities. First, it is what it is. Second, you haven’t watched the reference source. Originality is no longer a question of “purely new”, but how the creator of the work is able to process various inspirations to produce a fresh spectacle that is (as if) new.

So did the Titane. Inspired by her own dream, Julia Ducournau (Raw) combines elements of body horror from the films of David Cronenberg and Shinya Tsukamoto, with fetishism drama, especially Crash (1996) which also happens to be made by Cronenberg. The result? The film will be France’s entry at next year’s Academy Awards, as well as winning the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, making Ducournau the second female director after Jane Campion (1993 with The Piano) to win it. Top Movie Site

Writing his own script, Ducournau creates a wild story, not only because of the extreme moments in it, but also because of the plot that continues to develop in unexpected directions. Agatha Rousselle plays Alexia, a woman with a titanium plate on her head, whom she gets after a car accident with her father. Strangely, since then there has been intimacy between Alexia and the car. Even now he works as a dancer for car shows.

I can only name three things: 1) Alexia has a dark secret, 2) Alexia is pregnant after having sex with a car, 3) Alexia meets Vincent (Vincent Lindon), a firefighter who has lost his son for 10 years. The rest, please watch for yourself. Enjoy the wildness that Ducournau serves up without further ado.

If you are willing to be dizzy to see the ambiguity full of metaphors, then Titane has an addictive absurdity. It’s not about being able to solve it or not, but more about enjoying, giving up when being carried away by the puzzle.

Of course Titane is not strange origin. The strangeness has a meaning, where Ducournau touches on dysfunctional family issues, especially the rejection of the father figure for children, trauma, as well as gender identity. Choosing Rousselle was the right decision, because her character supports the director’s vision, in order to give the film a sense of gender fluidity. Movie Review

Both as a director and a scriptwriter, Ducournau cleverly cultivates elements of body horror. This one subgenre is synonymous with physical transformation, which is the main source of horror. The sequence in the station toilet is a place for Ducournau to show off the painful scenes typical of his subgenre. The sequence is quite unique, because compared to the majority of body horrors, the protagonist’s transformation is more raw. I call it “manual body horror”.

Later, Alexia’s transformation will develop further, not only in the physical realm, but also psychologically. From there, Ducournau talks about trauma, which drives individuals to be destructive, to lose their identity, before finally getting over it. Meeting with Vincent (who also went through a process of transformation of body and soul) became the turning point of Alexia’s journey. Slowly, from someone who “grabs” a lot, he learns how to save.

Titane unites two opposites, namely “dead” and “alive”. Humans (alive) having sex with cars (dead). Even throughout the story, the protagonist often intersects with death in his journey to make sense of life. The climax lies in the conclusion, when death is not described as the end, but the beginning of a new life. All thanks to love. Not always a wild spectacle full of violence, sexuality, and transgressive impressions, must eliminate hope. Best Movie

Eternals – Review
Movie Review

Eternals – Review

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Eternals is opened by a mythological text, about the sending of 10 Eternals by a Celestial (in the comics is one of the first races in the universe) named Arishem, around 5000 years BC, to destroy monsters called Deviants. There is an impression that has never existed in another MCU film. Like an epic, rather than a contemporary superhero story.

It’s not just the opening, the entire presentation of the film by Chloé Zhao, right down to the closing moment, is different from the previous Marvel Studios titles. Even our ten heroes, rather than superheroes, feel more suitable to be called “messengers of God”, in a spiritually nuanced story about the process of questioning faith.

Let’s get acquainted with the Eternals first. Take (Salma Hayek) as the leader with healing powers, Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) can shoot cosmic rays from his hands, Sprites (Lia McHugh) can create illusions, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) the inventor, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) the owner of super speed , Druig (Barry Keoghan) can manipulate thoughts, Gilgamesh (Don Lee) the strongest Eternal in terms of physical abilities, Thena (Angelina Jolie) the legendary warrior, Sersi (Gemma Chan) with the ability to manipulate matter through touch, and finally, Ikaris ( the mighty Richard Madden. Top Movie Site

Can that many characters be introduced, and then appear attractive in just one film? In fact it can. At least, each has a characteristic that is easy to remember, either thanks to the characterizations in the script or the appearance of the players. Chan is an ethereal figure, Jolie is like a tough goddess with high self-esteem, while Hayek’s acting, as a “mother figure”, makes for interesting comparisons with her role in Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, proof that she is a versatile actress.

For thousands of years, apart from destroying the Deviants, the Eternals have also helped the development of mankind, especially with regard to science. Of course history records their existence, and here the audience will know the origins of the MCU version of the story of Ikaros and Athena. They too can live like humans. For example, like Kingo who is famous as a Bollywood star, or Sersi who has a romance with an ordinary human named Dane (Kit Harington). But there is one rule: Eternals do not interfere in human conflicts.

That’s where the dilemma comes from. So far, the Eternals have been loyal to Arishem, obeying his orders without even questioning them, similar to human loyalty to the Creator. When a fact is revealed, a crisis of faith arises.

The script by Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo, sharply tells the story of how creatures (including humans) have the right to prioritize their lives above the “destiny” that has been outlined by their creator, even though it is contrary to the beliefs held so far. There is no “sacrifice in the name of the greater good”. Zhao stands with humanity.

This humanistic impression is also evident in his diversified impression regarding the characterizations. Phastos became the first gay superhero in the MCU, while Makkari communicated using sign language (also the first time there was a deaf superhero in the MCU). Movie Review

But Zhao is not denying spirituality. Moreover, the Eternals themselves are described as messiahs with all the miracles they use to guide mankind. Zhao is not against “higher power”, but says that spirituality can be touched without dwarfing humanity, even though in terms of size, humans are nothing compared to the universe. That’s where the fusion of narrative and visual occurs. If the narrative of Eternals (soul) “grows up” humanity, its visuals (body), in line with Terrence Malick’s work (and leaving an impression similar to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune), illustrates the massiveness of the universe. Beautiful, majestic, magical.

There are a lot of stories that Eternals wants to tell, especially about mythology. Even though the time setting is a bit sloppy at times, and the script is a bit too reliant on exposition, this exposure to mythology, apart from expanding the MCU’s scope to a complex cosmic realm, is also incredibly interesting. Tie. The duration of 157 minutes seemed to pass by.

The above elements are important, given that Eternals doesn’t contain as much spectacle as the usual MCU films. Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is always serious. Comedy continues, which sets the stage for Brian Tyree Henry’s deadpan style, as well as Harish Patel as Karun the servant Kingo, who, surprisingly, steals the show as an ordinary human in the midst of the gods.

Execution of the action is quite solid. Zhao clearly took some inspiration from Zack Snyder (minus the slow motion), both in the Superman characterization of Ikaris (Richard Madden’s physical strength and gestures reinforce this impression), to the scuffles that explode like cannons. Moreover, Eternals has Don Lee aka Ma Dong-seok aka “Korean One Punch Man”, who can knock down Deviants in one hit.

The climax of the fight may be a bit anticlimactic, because a film with this wide story scope deserves to be given a larger scale climax, but on the other hand, it’s understandable, considering that the final act is really about “stopping” instead of “destroying”. Don’t forget the mid-credits scene and post-credits scene, which features some of the most important figures for the future of the MCU (including a voice cameo that may be overlooked). Best Movie

Enemies of The State – Review
Movie Review

Enemies of The State – Review

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“The truth is rarely pure and never simple”. The sentence opens Enemies of the State. A suitable sentence underlies the documentary, as a medium that aims to describe reality (although subjectivity and bias are impossible to eliminate). Truth has many faces, and through this film, director Sonia Kennebeck tries to explore the truth, while giving meaning to the definition of truth itself.

His story is reminiscent of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014), another documentary on a similar theme. The central figure is named Matt DeHart, which the public may often juxtapose with Aaron Swartz to Edward Snowden. He is a former intelligence analyst at the ANG (Air National Guard), who claims to be persecuted by the FBI, slandered on false charges of child pornography. Best Movie Site

DeHart, along with his parents, Paul and Leann who both had served in the military, sought asylum in Canada as a result of the case. They believe the false accusations were made by the United States government, in order to target the secret documents that leaked into DeHart’s hands. That said, the document was uploaded to a server owned by DeHart, who is also a member of the hacking group Anonymous, and is suspected of having involvement with WikiLeaks.

The case is complex, but at first glance, the truth sounds simple. Matt DeHart is another activist that the government is trying to eradicate due to its struggle to uncover the facts. We hear the stories of Paul and Leann, as well as the neutral opinions of experts and journalists. It all led to one conclusion: Matt DeHart was slandered.

Then parties such as prosecutors and investigators began to raise their voices, revealing points about allegations of child pornography, which made Enemies of the State appear not as simple as it seems. Because again, the truth is never simple. The further the story goes, Matt’s appropriateness to hold the status of “truth defender whistleblower” is also questioned, because he has never revealed anything. Moreover, there were rumors that Matt actually intended to sell the document to other countries, instead of making it public.

The film manages to offer complexity, in that there are three possible scenarios: 1) Matt is a whistleblower; 2) Matt is a child abuser; 3) All correct. Complexity is expressed, about the absence of a truly clean human being. A person can be a hero in one issue, as well as a patient in another. Movie Review

Technically, Enemies of the State is also solid, where Kennebeck composes several forms of re-enactment, both using the original sound recording, and based on official trial transcripts. This re-enactment is certainly nothing new in documentaries. It seems obligatory, but its existence is useful in keeping the story from being monotonous.

Speaking of storytelling, unfortunately the way Kennebeck composes the narrative is the biggest problem for this film. The structure is messy. Trying to digest the timeline is a very confusing process, as the film repeatedly jumps back and forth at will. The audience’s perception of the case has the potential to be chaotic.

Not to mention that there is an ambition from the filmmaker to say, “Look, this case is astounding and full of surprises!”. From the beginning, what was used as a weapon were statements from sources who said, “This case is very strange!”, “This case takes conspiracy theories to a higher level!”, “This case is full of surprises!”, and the like. The audience’s curiosity about how surprising the facts really are continues to be provoked.

The problem is, that approach contradicts the substance of his story about the “complexity of truth” which was well-constructed at the beginning. When answer after answer is revealed, the shock is not much, because the audience has been used to doubt everything.

Enemies of the State closed with a statement, which essentially reads, “If we want to live in a world that contains the truth, there must be an evaluation as new facts emerge, we must also be willing to change our point of view if the facts prove to be correct”. A message that is very relevant in this era of cancel culture. The point is not a recommendation to remain silent or to be passive in the name of “waiting for clarification on both sides”, but to be open-minded, willing to correct perspectives if we are wrong. If only the film focused on the meaning of it instead of selling twists. Top Movie

Last Night in Soho – Review
Movie Review

Last Night in Soho – Review

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Outside of The Sparks Brothers which is a documentary, Last Night in Soho is Edgar Wright’s “at least Edgar Wright” film. Humor is removed, kinetic direction including quick cuts (which are often used to strengthen comedy) is replaced with color and atmosphere. Cornetto’s trilogy, most notably Shaun of the Dead (2004) saw Wright fiddle with the horror formula, but this is the first time he’s fully immersed in the genre.

The biggest inspiration, whether in terms of storytelling or directing, came from the titles of the 60s era, such as Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), Alfred Hitchcock’s works, to the giallo subgenre which is synonymous with murder and flashy color plays. Top Movie Site

The manuscript by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917) used two time settings, namely modern and 60s. The modern era tells the story of Ellie’s (Thomasin McKenzie) struggle to achieve her dream as a fashion designer. She was awarded a scholarship at the London College of Fashion. Her talent, coupled with the inspiration that comes from her love of music and 60s fashion, makes Ellie both potential and unique.

Meanwhile, the 60s is centered on the glittering nightlife of London, where a girl named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) is also chasing dreams. Not as a fashion designer, but a singer. The door of opportunity opens after her introduction to Jack (Matt Smith), who eventually becomes Sandie’s manager, after promising to make that dream come true.

The two timelines will be connected in a way that I’d rather not describe. A way that doesn’t pay attention to logic or rules around structure. There is a dreamy feel like the works of David Lynch. No problem, if indeed surrealism is the intended form. But even surrealism needs consistency, and the inconsistency is quite pronounced here. Especially as a result of “hickeys”. You will know what it is, and why it causes inconsistencies after watching the film. Wright obviously hopes the audience doesn’t ask, “what’s really going on?”, but the one inconsistency above will only strengthen the question.

Best Movie Compared to the quality of the structure, the narrative is stronger in its message. The main theme is about “the process of becoming”. Ellie wants to be a designer, while Sandie wants to be a singer. But behind that, there is a deeper dynamic that touches the psychic and social realms.

Ellie is hooked on 60s London. The music, the clothes, the culture. Once captivated, he slowly begins to lose his identity, then becomes someone he is not. Sandie is the same, regarding her ambition to become a stage star. Both, consciously or not, are caught up in the activity of pretending. Who is Ellie? Who is Sandy? The longer it takes, the more blurry the answer will be.

In the social order, Ellie and Sandie’s connections also touch the issue of sexism. The bond between the two is a manifestation of how sexism does not only affect one person at a time (right here right now), it also leads to generational trauma. His narration is sharp (not to mention the script criticizing the police officers’ inaccuracy), including his unapologetic conclusions.

Towards the end, Ellie engages in interactions with Ms Collins, the owner of the house where she rents the room (Diana Rigg in her last role before passing away on September 10, 2020). “They deserve this”, said Ms Collins, to which Ellie replied “I know”. This interaction confirms that Last Night in Soho is not half-hearted in voicing its resistance.

The title Last Night in Soho is taken from the song of the same name by Dave Dee, Dozy, Breaky, Mick & Tich, which Quentin Tarantino played to Edgar Wright. Music does play an important role in building the mood as well as underlies Wright’s directing, including the tempo game that follows the rhythm of the song, although it is not as detailed as Baby Driver (2017).

As already mentioned, Wright abandoned his visual idiosyncrasies to switch to using bold colors as mood builders. There is a feeling of “terror”, which apart from the color, is also present in a shot that highlights Ellie’s expression of extreme fear. All of that Wright “taken” from the 60s (and some 70s) horror titles/types I wrote above. Interesting, though sadly, the tricks that Wright uses to scare more explicitly (appearances, a little jump scare), are too repetitive, making it quite tiring for a film that runs almost two hours.

What’s not repetitive and yet very attractive? Of course Anya Taylor-Joy with her screen presence. Seeing her dressed like a 60s woman, the occasional image of a Nancy Sinatra performing These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) fills my head. It could be because of the hairdo, or Sandie’s pink dress which is somewhat reminiscent of the singer’s outfit in the Bang Bang video clip, or the combination of sensuality and deadly aura that they both have. If Thomasin McKenzie is able to bridge the audience with a fantasy world that is as absurd as a dream, then Anya Taylor-Joy is a dream in itself. Captivating, also mysterious. Movie Review

Army of Thieves – Review
Movie Review

Army of Thieves – Review

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Leaving aside the end result for a moment, but the world of Army of the Dead has an interesting development idea. The shift in genres, sequels, prequels, or spin-offs, is actually nothing new. The atmospheric horror of Alien (1979) became bombastic in Aliens (1986), Pitch Black (2000) shifted to space opera in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), as we all know how Fast Five (2011) changed the face of the series.

But the Army of Thieves was different. You could say it’s more extreme, it also opens up opportunities to expand the universe into various forms, without the limitations of genre, color, and style. Top Movie Site

Set in Germany when a zombie apocalypse is just beginning to plague America, this film does not feature zombie attacks at all (except on television), nor does it leave the horror feel of the previous films. Purely the story of the beginning of Ludwig Dieter’s “career”, who here still uses the name Sebastian (played by Matthias Schweighöfer who also acts as director).

In between his time as a bank employee with boring routines, Sebastian makes YouTube videos about safecracking which is his obsession. His idol is Hans Wagner, the legendary figure who made four safes that are said to be impossible to break (one of the safes is missing, and we only met him in Army of the Dead). His talent is smelled by Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel), who recruits Sebastian into his team, in order to break into three safes made by Wagner. Besides Sebastian and Gwendoline, there are Korina (Ruby O. Fee) the hacker, Brad Cage (Stuart Martin) the muscle owner, and Rolph (Guz Khan) the reliable driver.

The first hour of Army of Thieves is a heist cliché spectacle, which makes fun of its clichés so the audience doesn’t think they are clichés. Formulas such as the formation of a team of thieves with different abilities, are used as meta humor material by the script by Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Army of the Dead). However, apart from this technique which has now become a cliché in itself, the outline of the plot in the first half still follows the old patterns of heist films. Just like people who say, “I know this is a stupid act”, while doing that stupid act.

Best Movie His comedy also often misses the mark, although like in the first film, Schweighöfer appears convincing as a genius vault breaker, who because of his clumsiness, often creates ridiculous situations. Then is the theft interesting? Related to that, the main weakness of Army of Thieves is the failure to involve the audience in the process.

What makes Sebastian special? Does he have any special techniques? Or above average ear sensitivity? Why was he superior, even though his competitors were using similar techniques? What was the cause when he had failed in one of the safes? Practically only the second safe is interesting, as it involves the implementation of the legend as Wagner’s source of inspiration, in the process Sebastian cracks the key to the safe. The rest is minimal intensity. The film seems to be engrossed in its own tinkering with puzzles, while the audience is only left to watch from afar.

At least another line of action was able to appear entertaining, thanks to Schweighöfer’s kinetic direction. The fights are dynamic, while the chase involving cars against bicycles in the middle of the city, is much more exciting than the speeding in many generic action films.

It was only after an hour, after a turning point, that the Army of Thieves went up to class, completely breaking away from the formula that he had wanted to avoid from the start but couldn’t. The turning point which also strengthened his underdog story, made the audience sympathize with the protagonist.

Since then, (although the action of breaking into the vault has remained stagnant), Army of Thieves has evolved towards a story about resistance against the possessor of power. There is a rivalry between Sebastian and Brad, who also likes Gwendoline. Brad is the “muscle” on the team. His real name is Alexis, but he changed it to Brad Cage (Brad Pitt + Nicolas Cage), because he thought the name sounded manly.

Sebastian with mediocre physical strength (if you don’t want to be called below average) and an awkward personality, is like the antithesis of the machismo revered by American popular culture, which puts physical, stature, and muscles above brain. We humans, of course, can associate ourselves with Sebastian better, so it’s easier to support him. Interestingly, muscular alpha male figures are a favorite of Zack Snyder as the creator of the universe, making Army of Thieves even more unique as a prequel/spin-off.

Interpol led by Delacroix (Jonathan Cohen) is an opponent, but he is not an intimidating apparatus. It even tends to be ridiculous. Delacroix holds a grudge against Brad for being shot in the ass, and he has been fooled many times. Is this depiction a form of satire for the “silliness” of the apparatus, such as when François Truffaut made the mafia appear comical in Shoot the Piano Player (1960) because of his dislike of them (not that I equate these two very different films).

Maybe I’m thinking too far. But the point is relevance. If the relevant (impression) above makes me (or other viewers, whoever it is) more able to appreciate the film, why not? Isn’t watching movies a spiritual and personal journey for each individual? Movie Review

Free Guy – Review
Movie Review

Free Guy – Review

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Set in the world of video games, Free Guy could just end up as an easter eggs parade or an IP selling event. But apparently Shawn Levy’s latest work (Night at the Museum, Real Steel, Date Night) is actually the most fun, most creative, and most touching film of the year. Behind the trinkets of the game, there is a story full of meaning. The story of individual independence. About love, both to others and to yourself.

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank employee with a monotonous routine, in a city called Free City,. Always wear the same blue shirt, buy the same coffee, say the same words (Don’t have a good day. Have a great day!). Not the usual repetition, because there is an oddity. All the citizens of Free City, including Guy, were not bothered by the chaos that broke out every day. Gunfights, explosions, battles, and so on, as if a common sight. In fact, even though in a day the bank where Guy works can be robbed many times, he and Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), his best friend who fills the security post, are relaxed. Top Movie Site

The anomaly occurs because Free City is a city in a video game called Free City, which is produced by a company owned by Antwan (Taika Waititi). Guy and other residents are NPCs (Non-Player Characters), so they don’t have free will. They live according to their respective roles and patterns. Until finally Guy falls in love with Molotovgirl, Millie’s character (Jodie Comer). Millie herself plays Free City to find the source code she and Keys (Joe Keery) stole, which Antwan stole.

Guy doesn’t immediately realize his identity, but through Millie’s direction, he slowly learns to “go up grades, become actively involved in the game, instead of sitting around like a normal NPC. This phase is used by the script by Matt Lieberman (The Addams Family, Scoob! ) and Zak Penn (who co-wrote Ready Player One, which carries the concept of the same type), in order to realize the dream of many gamers, namely to live in a game (especially Grand Theft Auto). Free to do as they please, cannot die, have a myriad of items, even if needed. money, we just have to do missions or beat up pedestrians. Best Movie

The ideas above give birth to creative and intriguing actions. Some meta humor is inserted, including a brilliant idea at the climax (you’ll know when you see it). Levy’s direction further matures the concept, because he understands very well what the main attraction of the premise is: energetic action full of colorful, varied visuals.

Free Guy is very entertaining, but its main strength lies in the heart. Despite its fantastic elements, the story of this film is very down to earth. Many of us have felt empty when we realized the world doesn’t just revolve around us. Let alone the main character, not even the supporters. Limited to extras in the vast universe whose existence is insignificant.

Therefore, it was easy to support Guy. Free Guy stirs emotions through the protagonist’s process of overcoming an existential crisis, after realizing that he has the right to make his own decisions. There aren’t many A-class Hollywood stars like Reynolds, who are charismatic, but also exude an “everyday man” aura.

In this era of super hero domination, Guy, the guy who usually wears blue clothes, has become my favorite hero. In addition to the characterizations and acting that make him relatable, his struggle motivation is also pure. Especially if it’s not love. But it’s not love that blinds us, but love that opens our eyes, making us aware of our worth. A love that instead of curbing, it liberates.

The climax is incredibly touching, although the depiction of the entire human race in the world watching Guy’s fight is a bit exaggerated (the reason I didn’t intend to give it a perfect score). If you can only choose one of the films showing in theaters this week, make sure that choice falls on Free Guy. It’s time for us to remember how to have fun again, while learning to respect ourselves again, and also to love. Movie Review

Halloween Kills – Review
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Halloween Kills – Review

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Halloween Kills for Halloween (2018), just like Halloween II (1981) for Halloween (1978) by John Carpenter. A unique slasher sequel, as it takes place right after the events of the previous film. At least, that’s the hope of David Gordon Green, who is back in the director’s chair, also writing the script with Danny McBride and Scott Teems. Whether or not this hope is realized is another story. Top Movie Site

After defeating Michael Myers, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is taken to the hospital with her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Of course Michael wasn’t dead. Thanks to the “help” of the firefighters he later slaughters, Michael continues the terror in the corners of Haddonfield.

Similar to Halloween II, the story revolves around mass hysteria, when local residents decide to hunt down Michael. Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), a boy who was guarded by Laurie in the events of 1978, becomes the leader of the hunt.

Fun fact: In the first year of his big screen career, Paul Rudd played Tommy Doyle in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), the sixth film (and the worst before Halloween: Resurrection and two of Rob Zombie’s misguided products brought the franchise to a close. nadir) whose existence is no longer considered.

In addition to Tommy, four other characters from the 1978 film, Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), and Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens also appeared on Halloween H20: 20 Years Later), also appeared in Halloween. return. Plus a Tom Jones, Jr. cameo. the art director who brought Dr. Samuel Loomis through convincing makeup that is very similar to the late Donald Pleasence, also the use of Halloween II footage, this film is full of nostalgia for fans. Best Movie

Unfortunately, the goal of “replicating” Halloween II did not go smoothly. The problem is not in the messy writing that jumps around without a solid plot structure, bad acting, or cheesy line of sentences that only Jamie Lee Curtis can handle (while the actress herself is not involved in the battle, being “saved” for the final at Halloween Ends last year). front). Keep in mind, this is a slasher, where the above is secondary.

The problem lies in the differences in the way Green-McBride-Teems handles mass hysteria, with the Halloween II script approach. John Carpenter and Debra Hill were so effective in portraying the panic of the residents, who scattered all over Haddonfield in search of the whereabouts of the killer, while Michael himself was wandering around the hospital where Laurie was being treated. As a result, the audience can feel the tension of the entire city, when responding to the massacre that has just occurred.

Here it is the other way around. Panic centered on the hospital, while Michael hunted freely outside, and only a handful of figures patrolled. The tension is gone. Halloween Kills is too eager to innovate, taking a different step to convey how Michael’s terror turns people into demons too. It seems inconsistent, because as I wrote before, this film also tries to bring nostalgia.

But when it comes to killing-killing, Halloween Kills is still satisfying. Even though he often struggles to adjust the tone (humor that appears at the wrong time, it’s unclear whether a scene is meant to be funny or pure stupidity that is unintentional), Green has succeeded in presenting a brutal massacre parade that shows Michael’s “creativity”, which is not just stabbed. Quite over-the-top, and reminiscent of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). Accompanied by the iconic theme music by John Carpenter, even though it saves many holes, it only acts as a bridge before the final round, Halloween Kills is still a slasher that goes according to its essence. Movie Review

The Medium – Review
Movie Review

The Medium – Review

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The Medium is terrible not because of jump scares, trance scenes, apparitions, or other things that can be seen by the eye. The Medium is terrible because of the sense of helplessness it creates. That we humans are so weak and fragile. Especially when faith begins to crumble. Top Movie Site

Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun, and scripted by Na Hong-jin (director of The Chaser, The Yellow Sea, The Wailing, as well as producer) and Chantavit Dhanasevi (screenwriter of Banjong’s films since Phobia), The Medium takes a mockumentary format, at where a group of documentaries are compiling a story about shamanic practices in Thailand.

They record the daily life of Nim (Sawanee Utoomma), a shaman from Isan, whose body is possessed by a spirit named Bayan, giving him various abilities, including medicine. Nim is an interesting figure. He is not as eccentric as caricatures of shamans in fictional media, his demeanor is relaxed, but looks solid. Plus the natural acting of the actress, her figure is believable. “If a cancer patient comes to me…he will surely die”, he joked while suggesting that he should go to the doctor if he suffers from a “normal disease”.

The team also follows Nim as he attends the funeral of his older sister’s husband, Noi (Sirani Yankittikan), and that’s when things start to get weird on camera. The oddity concerns Ming (Narilya Gulmongkolpech), Noi’s daughter, who lately has often been emotionally explosive, talks to herself, and acts like a child. Following next is Nim’s investigation which I will not reveal in detail.

The Medium moves quite slowly. Don’t expect to be immediately treated to gripping terror, because until the middle of the duration, the story is closer to a supernatural drama than pure horror. At first glance, it sounds like a typical mockumentary approach, which is minimalistic at the start before throwing everything away at the end. But The Medium does it not to save money, but as a way of explaining the process. Best Movie

What process? Lots. Whether it’s Ming’s “trance stage”, as well as the inner turmoil of the character, who is experiencing a crisis of faith. Does God or God really exist? If so, will praying to Him definitely help us? If not, who should we ask for help? The character is haunted by a mysterious entity (evil spirit), while relying on an entity whose existence is no less gray (God). That uncertainty is scary.

The Medium provides itself with strong stories and interesting mysteries. Rather than being afraid, I’d rather be made to “know”. Plus, the script is good at composing dynamics. It’s no exaggeration to call it one of the best mockumentaries in terms of intensity building. This film is like a ladder that takes the audience step by step and continues to climb to the top. Again, process.

Slowly but surely, the quantity of terror is increasing. From Ming’s strange condition, then began to involve disturbing scenes such as animal abuse, child abuse, then finally all-out at the climax. Towards the final round, The Medium had time to use the Paranormal Activity-style format, where Banjong proved his capacity to compose tense situations. Even more gripping than the third act, which in addition to scrolling a bit too long so as to reduce the shock effect, also tends to be generic compared to other parts (although Narilya’s totality deserves praise).

Let’s go back to the process. It’s true that The Medium still has moments of conventional horror, but the greatest horror comes from the comparisons that emerge between the beginning and the end. Regarding the destruction of something that previously seemed solid due to being controlled by uncertainty, which then gave birth to helplessness. Movie Review

Don’t Breathe 2 – Review
Movie Review

Don’t Breathe 2 – Review

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Don’t Breathe 2 provides an example of what not to do to rehabilitate a character. Not through penance, but comparison. Creating another character, designed as badly as possible, so that the audience would say, “Ah, he is better.” It’s like denying guilt using the “Many people are worse than me” argument.

Making a sequel after the success of the first film earned a dozen times the production cost, is a reasonable decision. Even the intention of Fede lvarez and Rodo Sayagues as writers to take a different path than most horror sequels, should be appreciated. But making Norman Nordstrom aka The Blind Man (Stephen Lang) a complete hero, is clearly problematic. Top Movie Site

Previously, Hannibal (2001) and Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) had taken similar steps. The difference is, the two titles above do not try to make the audience sympathize with the monster. While Don’t Breathe 2, makes Norman, as a kidnapper, murderer, and rapist, an old man with a heart. problematic. If likened to a football team, this film starts the season with quite a lot of point deductions. No matter how good the performance, the title will not be obtained.

Eight years after Don’t Breathe, Norman lives with Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), an 11-year-old girl he finds lying on the street. Norman takes care of Phoenix, giving him survival training, while hiding the truth from the boy. Isn’t this closer to the act of kidnapping than the noble act of caring for an abandoned child?

Then the events of the first film repeat themselves. Norman’s house is raided by a group of people. They are not curious teenagers like before, but an army of armed mercenaries, led by Raylan (Brendan Sexton III). Yes, this is no longer a home invasion about the encounter of an ordinary human with a monster. Don’t Breathe 2 is an action-breathing home invasion, about two-sided combat, both of which can be called “monsters”. Best Movie

The script prevents the film from succeeding in its entirety as a sequel, but when viewed as a standalone work, Don’t Breathe 2 isn’t bad at all. Making his directorial debut in place of Fede lvarez, Rodo Sayagues was able to build on the intensity based on chase and hide-and-seek in the dark. In addition to the brutality that is still maintained, a brilliant long take in the early half of the duration (which helped solidify Phoenix’s characterization as a clever and well-trained little girl) is also an example of how Sayagues is reluctant to rely on cheap tricks. It should be remembered that producing a spectacle that is “clearly visible” even though it has a dim (even pitch black) setting is not an easy matter.

Norman remains the problematic protagonist. Describing him as if he was better than Raylan doesn’t necessarily justify his actions. But that doesn’t mean that the appreciation can’t be given to Stephen Lang, who is able to maintain the brutal side of his character, while tucking the fragility of a blind man who (perhaps) hopes to erase all mistakes in the past. Movie Review

Dune – Review
Movie Review

Dune – Review

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Hollywood sci-fi treats are divided into two, namely blockbusters with giant budgets and minimalist indie/arthouse projects. Occasionally other variants appear, but the numbers are not large enough to produce a third camp. Monotone. Then came the second big screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune novel.

This version of Denis Villeneuve is completely different from that of David Lynch (1984), who is better known for his behind-the-scenes conflict. Supported by sufficient funds to produce an MCU film (165 million dollars), Dune has a blockbuster body, but has an arthouse spirit. Maybe only 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) comes close to Dune’s form, as a high-budget sci-fi artsy (92 million dollars when converted to present value). Top Movie Site

But this is not pretension. Writing the script with Eric Roth (A Star Is Born, Mank) and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange), Denis Villeneuve puts the spiritual element in his story. Like the best arthouse filmmakers, he has a sharp sense of taste, to link the human inner process with the universe. That the two, though of vastly different sizes, are connected. Therefore, various shots containing vast landscapes, as well as giant spaceships that make humans look dwarfed, are not just an exhibition of beauty. The visual effects are amazing. Magnificent at the same time looks real, but it would be useless without a vision, which is owned by the director.

The greatest connection between nature and humans comes through a spice called melange. Located on the arid planet called Arrakis, melange has various functions, ranging from extending life, maximizing the power of the mind, to allowing travel at the speed of light. Mastering the melange is the same as controlling the universe.

It’s too long and complicated to explain the details of Dune’s mythology, but the point is, by order of the ruler of the universe called “Emperor”, the Atreides under the leadership of Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), were given the task of managing the melange in place of Harkonnen led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). ). If Harkonnen acts arbitrarily on the Fremen (original tribe of Arrakis) Leto wants to cooperate peacefully. Of course it didn’t go smoothly, because without him knowing, there was a conspiracy behind the appointment of Atreides to take care of the melange.

Timothée Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, the son of Leto’s relationship with his concubine, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Recently, Paul’s mind is being disturbed by a dream about Arrakis and the mysterious Fremen girl (Zendaya). A dream that feels more like a picture of the future than ordinary sleeping flowers. Best Movie

In addition to the sad aura that exactly represents the film’s atmosphere, it seems Chalamet’s stature is also the reason he was chosen. Small body. Thin. Not a person who will be seen as a champion by people. Seeing him standing among the massive expanse of nature, illustrates how helpless humans are in front of the universe.

Paul himself was helpless. At least in the beginning, before he was able to maximize his potential. It’s not just the physical potential that results from training with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), because her mother, as a member of Bene Gesserit (a women’s association who trains body and mind to break human boundaries), also teaches how to use “voice”. A power controls one’s subconscious through the color of the voice.

When we first see Paul using his powers, Villenueve slips a few shots that feature things close to Paul. Although that power did not affect the surrounding conditions, the shots were not without function. As if Villeneuve confirmed that nature plays a role in these super abilities.

The further the groove moves, the more we find the impact of exploitation on nature. Instead of seeking harmony, the greed of the rulers who desire to monopolize the melange brings destruction and bloodshed. Both nature and humans were destroyed.

Therein comes the story of the savior. A messiah/mahdi. The Fremens called it “Lisan al Gaib”. Predictably, there is a religious element here (many Islamic undertones), outside of politics, tyranny, and the environment. The mythology is indeed very complex, so the 155 minute duration and split into two films can be justified. It may seem complicated at first, but thanks to a neat storytelling that knows when to start supplying new information, over time, the mythological maze will be easy to navigate.

Villeneuve’s weakness is only a matter of directing melee fights. Despite having names like Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho the swordsman from Atreides and Dave Bautista as Giossu Rabban who is Baron Harkonnen’s nephew, Dune’s row of swordfighting and bare-handed actions appear powerless. Villeneuve’s choice of angle also tends to be awkward, and also often makes it difficult for us to digest what is going on.

Luckily Dune isn’t action-packed sci-fi, so the weaknesses above aren’t that annoying. For some viewers, maybe the lack of action (even dividing the story into two parts makes Dune end before it reaches the climax), the long duration, as well as the slow tempo, make this film less friendly. But if you can accept that, along with the visual beauty and atmospheric musical accompaniment by Hans Zimmer (the composer’s best work in recent years), you will find a sci-fi treat, which defines “epic” not only through the scale of the story that is visible, but also in the realm of spiritual contemplation and feeling. Movie Review

V/H/S/94 – Review
Movie Review

V/H/S/94 – Review

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An anthology horror, where Timo Tjahjanto appears with the best segment, which exemplifies how to break the boundaries of madness in a short duration. Not the first time, because in The ABCs of Death (2012) he has done it, even in V/H/S/2 (2013) when collaborating with Gareth Evans (I haven’t watched Portals).

Fortunately, this is not Timo’s stage alone. Seven years after the disappointing third film (V/H/S: Viral), V/H/S/94, it still uses the found footage technique, becoming the most average-quality installment of all its segments, while bringing the franchise back to its core. Top Movie Site

Jennifer Reeder’s Holly Hell acts as a narrative frame that bridges each story. It is said, the S.W.A.T. raided the warehouse that became the hideout of a cult. There they find the damned VHS tapes, containing the four segments we’re about to watch.

Chloe Okuno’s Storm Drain features Holly Marciano’s (Anna Hopkins) coverage of the sighting of a mysterious creature named “Ratman”, which emerges from the sewers. Solid opener. Creature feature meets occult horror, which is made to show off the quality of qualified practical effects, and has the potential to be brought into the feature-length film to criticize America’s social inequality. The conclusion, which is reminiscent of the iconic moment from Scanners (1981), offers gore peppered with tickling black comedy.

Simon Barrett is also one of the returning V/H/S/2 filmmakers. Through The Empty Wake, Barrett presents a campfire story, about a girl named Hayley (Kyal Legend), who is in charge of guarding the wake (the ceremony before the funeral). None of the guests were present, but throughout the night, Hayley heard voices coming from the coffin.

Beginning with the development of tension slowly, before throwing a climax armed with well-packaged effects, The Empty Wake uses a narrative pattern similar to the first segment. Even the big theme is not much different. So, even though it is presented solidly, the impression of repetition is difficult to avoid. Best Movie

Following next was The Subject, a segment directed by Timo Tjahjanto, which immediately sparked interest from the first minute. The audience is taken to visit a secret laboratory, where a mad professor (Budi Ross) conducts experiments on the human body.

What a crazy segment. Timo knows how to keep the intensity up, even keep increasing it to the last point. The point of view is constantly changing, from torture porn through the perspective of the professor, to a first-person shooter like a horror game when the S.W.A.T team. led by Captain Hassan (Donny Alamsyah) invaded, then turned to brutal action, when one of the experimental subjects (Shania Sree Maharani) took the center of the story. Of course, when it comes to gore, Timo doesn’t hold back.

Like the previous two segments, The Subject also uses a lot of practical effects to bring its characters to life. But this is the best. The most total, the most imaginative. Timo had fun, combining the cyberpunk body horror film Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) with video games like Observer (2017), while presenting some of the best horror creatures Indonesian filmmakers have ever made.

Maybe it’s a good idea to put The Subject at the very end. Terror by Ryan Prows, actually not bad. With militiamen preparing for their mission (involving shooting a man’s head repeatedly), despite its supernatural elements, Terror is a true horror portrait of the United States, with all the hegemony of white supremacy. Contains high relevance, but judging by what was previously present, this segment is too “tame” as a cover.

One of the problems of horror anthologies is related to the ups and downs of pacing. After the climax of a segment, the intensity automatically decreases when the next segment begins. The V/H/S/94 is not yet free from that deficiency. However, the quality of each title tends to be evenly distributed. Movie Review

Stillwater – Review
Movie Review

Stillwater – Review

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Wearing a hat, a bushy beard, driving an old truck, less sensitive to foreign cultures, calling american football “the real football”, having an eagle tattoo on his arm, Bill Baker (Matt Damon) is arguably the image of a conservative United States man. He didn’t vote during the election because he has a criminal record, but if given the chance, we know who he will vote for.

Stillwater is a story about a “very American” protagonist, but with Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, Spotlight) as director and screenwriter (alongside Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain, and Noé Debré), the film is presented in a “not-so-American” way. through a slow plot, and a long duration, as well as a dark conclusion that does not give a definite answer. Because there is no certainty of relief for the problems of the characters. Top Movie Site

Bill was a roughneck in an oil mine. He lived alone, going about the standard routine of working-class Americans. Until one by one the facts about his life are revealed, when Bill flies to Marseille, France. His wife died by suicide, while his only daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), is entering the fifth year of a total nine-year prison sentence, as a defendant in the murder of Lina, a girl of Arab descent who is also his lover.

Allison insisted that the culprit was someone else. Of course Bill believed it. When the lawyer refuses to continue the case due to lack of evidence, Bill is determined to take care of everything himself, even though he is in a foreign country where he doesn’t understand the language at all.

Bill, with all his typical American arrogance and ignorancy, is not a likeable figure. He doesn’t care if the investigation is deemed to be an invasion of privacy or is seen as not in accordance with local customs. When he met an eyewitness whose statements were full of hate speech against people of Arab descent, Bill was not bothered, arguing that he “had often encountered similar things at work”.

Thanks to the two points, we can sympathize with him. First, about motivation. Bill’s love for Allison was a certainty, but more than that, he was driven to prove his worth. “He’s a fuck up”, Allison said of the father, who to her was useless and repeatedly ruined her life. Bill is not trying to be a hero to steal the princess’s heart, but is reluctant to be a loser who is (back) powerless to save his loved ones.

Second, what if it wasn’t for Matt Damon’s acting, which humanized Bill, giving him a fragility that contradicts the machismo image of conservative American men. Damon is charming, because he looks casual, aka there is no need to explode in expressing frustration. Best Movie

Although it is quite unfortunate when some of the subtexts surrounding the issue of racism and homophobicism are limited to being a setting without meaningful exploration and impact, Stillwater has other strengths related to its storytelling. The plot is rich. At almost every point there is material to observe and/or reveal new facts. Even Stillwater often takes unexpected paths, without having to position it as a bombastic twist. For McCarthy, the surprise here is not a twist, but a part of the winding journey of life.

For example, when the timeskip appears for four months, the existence of which is quite against the standard. Most similar films will finish the story in a short period of time in order to maintain the intensity. Stillwater, in tune with his slow tempo, chose to take his time. Because, scrolling time is essential for the character process.

Time provides an opportunity for the relationship between Bill and Virginie (Camille Cottin) and their daughter, Maya (played wonderfully by the talented child actress, Lilou Siauvaud), to develop. Virginie is a theater actress whom Bill meets at the hotel, then helps her as a translator, before they end up living together. Over time, Bill finds a new family, new happiness, but is he ready to start a new life?

McCarthy’s directing tends to dampen emotional outbursts, even though the slow tempo can be draggy at some points, but overall, the pacing game is solid. Move steadily, even if slowly. It feels long, but once it’s over, I didn’t expect the film to run for 140 minutes. Stillwater is a typical film where the audience simply sits, observes, accepts, and then lets the character’s journey, which is full of dilemmas and moral ambiguity, sink in by itself. Movie Review

The Guilty – Review
Movie Review

The Guilty – Review

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About two years ago there was news of a female victim of domestic violence calling 911 under the guise of ordering pizza. The officer responded quickly, then followed the “acting” of the reporter, who was finally rescued. This means that the recipient of an emergency call is required to be able to think fast, be tactical, and be mentally stable. Imagine if in that situation, he suddenly became confused and anxious.

The Guilty, as a remake of the Danish film of the same title released in 2018, has such a scenario. The protagonist, Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a member of the LAPD who is on a night shift at an emergency call center. He seemed calm, tended to care less about incoming reports. Through several calls he has received, including from Sergeant Bill Miller (voiced by Ethan Hawke), we learn that Joe is involved in a case (details will only be revealed in the final round), for which the trial will take place tomorrow. Top Movie Site

The wait makes Joe haunted by anxiety. The inhaler never leaves his hand, and he has difficulty controlling his emotions, especially when a call comes from Emily (Riley Keough), who claims to be kidnapped by her ex-husband. Joe struggles to find Emily’s whereabouts, but the process is not easy. In addition to technical problems, psychological instability also affects.

The Guilty has the potential to explore issues regarding the performance of irresponsible officers while on duty. Not only related to the summons, also the case that Joe awaits trial. We see Joe make a number of decisions that have negative consequences, and there are incredibly dark and shocking situations in the plot (which we can only hear on the phone). Best Movie

But, in a “very Hollywood” way, Nic Pizzolatto’s script disarms the above darkness (ironically, because it was made by the author of True Detective who highlights the darkest side of humans), to turn it into a “meaningful” story with a hopeful conclusion, about a “broken people helping broken people” and penance. I don’t hate happy endings. Even more like it than the stifling ending. But in this case, the choice actually removes the weight of the narrative.

As a thriller, the existence of Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer) is a guarantee. Although the majority is set behind a chair, where the audience only hears descriptions of events rather than seeing them directly, Fuqua is still able to deliver an explosive thriller without an explosion, thanks to its fast tempo, screams, and satisfying twists. It’s not (just) surprising, but the twist also explains some of the details that have emerged. There are “breadcrumbs” scattered throughout the duration.

When I write “shouts”, of course I’m referring to the acting of Jake Gyllenhaal, who unleashes his energy at every turn. Not wrong. After all, like the rest of the film, the method aligns with the film’s goal, which is to turn European psychological thrillers into Hollywood-style spectacles that are more welcoming to a wider audience. There is one scene, when Joe asks Emily to calm down while taking a deep breath. Simultaneously, Joe caught his breath. Whether consciously or not, Joe is also helping himself. Gyllenhaal’s acting is more subtle in that part, and for me, that’s the best moment.

The Guilty is indeed solid, both in the directing and acting departments, regarding its contribution to building intensity. But looking at the original film, as well as the storytelling potential that can be achieved, this film is like a student who can get an A if he studies hard, but chooses an easier path, relaxes, and finally gets a B. It’s sufficient, but could be much better. Movie Review

Riders of Justice – Review
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Riders of Justice – Review

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Reflecting on the title and premise, Riders of Justice looks like another revenge movie with a member/ex-military/secret agent character, who hunts down a criminal organization, to avenge the death of his family members. But in the hands of Anders Thomas Jensen as the director and scriptwriter, apart from appearing fresh through dark humor, the film also handles the theme of “facing grief” more meaningfully than the majority of titles with a similar concept.

This grief is experienced by Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), a soldier serving in Afghanistan, when he hears the news that his wife, Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind), has died in a train accident. His daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), survived, but was devastated, so she tried to find the reason and meaning behind the disaster. Because he rarely comes home, Markus has difficulty dealing with Mathilde’s grief, when he himself doesn’t know how to heal his grief. Best Movie

Until Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), an expert in algorithms, arrives, who is also a victim of a train accident. Through his calculations, Otto was sure that the incident was not an accident as the police believed, but the work of the Riders of Justice gang who intended to kill their opponent. Together with his two friends, Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), Otto helps Markus investigate the mastermind behind his wife’s death.

It’s true that there is revenge here, but Riders of Justice is closer to the realm of black comedy than action (there are only two action scenes in total). More reminiscent of Coen Brothers work than Liam Neeson’s starring titles. Bringing a tough soldier who never smiles, to work with three socially awkward nerds, of course often creates interesting situations.

Through his dark humor, which is funny thanks to the often unpredictable timings plus the perfect delivery of the actors, Jensen brings Riders of Justice several times almost over the line, when making things like harassment to disability as material. But it never felt offensive, because Jensen wasn’t making fun of it, but bitterly laughing at the trauma, while adding sympathy which resulted in a warm conclusion about the “beautiful togetherness” after the exclamation of the gunfight in the climax. Top Movie Site

When Markus sees revenge as a “rope” that keeps him alive, as a rail that gives him direction to keep going, Mathilde tries to make sense of his loss. He traced all the events that occurred before the accident, looking for cause-and-effect relationships in each case, hoping to find deeper reasons for his mother’s death.

However, even though there are times when things like crime can be patterned, then traced using statistical data as Otto did, life is still not an exact science that can be calculated. Answering the mysteries of life is different from answering exam questions that require a reason.

Riders of Justice is opened by a boy’s request to buy a blue bicycle. This simple incident created a domino effect that led to Emma’s death. Was the boy’s request a cause? Or does it need to be traced back, to the beginning of Mark and Emma’s relationship, when they decided to have children? Because if you refer to the science of causation, doesn’t it mean that if Mathilde hadn’t been born, the accident wouldn’t have happened either?

According to Riders of Justice, the questions above are not important. We don’t need to assume, “if only things were different”. We don’t need to (always) seek deeper meaning for events that are too painful to accept. We just have to learn to make peace, then accept it.

As usual, Mads Mikkelsen can be relied on in playing a character with a chaotic mental condition, which is controlled by anger, sadness, so that he tends to be destructive, including himself. Markus is a formidable warrior, but what this film emphasizes is not how great the hero is to dare to defy death for revenge, but how the machismo collapses, overcome by the fragility of grief. Movie Review

Midnight – Review
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Midnight – Review

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“Change your clothes if you don’t want to die,” said Jong-tak (Park Hoon) to his younger brother, Jung-eun (Kim Hye-yoon), who was going on a blind date. Of course, the threat was just a joke, as a form of concern for Jong-tak, who was worried that if Jung-eun went out at night wearing a miniskirt (or other revealing clothes), it would endanger her.

But in fact, on the way home, Jung-eun remains a victim of Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon), a serial killer who hunts every midnight from inside his van. Midnight shows that the rampant violence against women has nothing to do with the way they dress, but purely because of the cruelty of the perpetrators…..and perhaps the incompetence of the authorities in investigating the case. Top Movie Site

On the same night that Jung-eun went missing, Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo) was on her way home with her mother (Gil Hae-yeon). Both are dumb and deaf. Unfortunately for Kyung-mi, after finding Jung-eun covered in blood, it’s her and her mother’s turn to be Do-sik’s prey.

Written by the director, Kwon Oh-seung, Midnight will remind Hush (2016) by Mike Flanagan which carries a similar concept. The difference is, this film has a wider scale, action-oriented approach than atmospheric thrillers, and does not place the killer in the shadow of a mystery. From the very beginning we’ve seen Do-sik’s face, and spent quite a bit of time with him.

Bringing the audience to recognize the killer, gives “a sense of security” which actually reduces the horror. Terror by an unknown figure is indeed more gripping, and Kyung-mi’s use of voice detectors, which act as a signal several times for Do-sik’s presence, would be more effective in stoking tension if her figure was left mysterious. Best Movie

But on the other hand, that choice also allows the film to explore the character of Do-sik, portraying him as a manipulative killer, armed with not only muscles, but also brains and psychological tricks. Wi Ha-joon, who recently stole the show when playing a policeman in Squid Game, handled his role well, making it easy for the audience to hate him.

The creativity of the script holds the key, thanks to the success of coming up with interesting ideas so that the conflict continues to develop, not stagnate, even though the last 10 minutes are a bit forced (how could Jong-tak the tough ex-marine lose track of Do-sik in an instant?), and quite a lot the portion is still spent by chase scenes in narrow alleys that we have (too) often encountered in South Korean films and dramas.

The fact that there are two characters who are mute and deaf, also adds to the dynamics. Kyung-mi and the mother can communicate without Do-sik understand the details. Ki-joo appears solid as a woman who refuses to fly the white flag, while at the same time reluctant to make her physical condition a weakness. Likewise Hae-yeon, who throughout 2021 showcased a wide range of acting through different characters, including in Law School and Beyond Evil.

Midnight’s conclusion swayed the public’s tendency to distrust victims, especially if they had difficulty understanding due to their physical limitations. As a result, the victim must risk his life to be trusted. Throughout the film, several times we also witnessed, the perpetrators managed to escape precisely because of the incompetence of the authorities. Again, it’s not all about the way you dress. Movie Review

Prisoners Of The Ghostland
Movie Review

Prisoners Of The Ghostland

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The collaboration between Sion Sono, dubbed “the most subversive Japanese filmmaker” with Nicolas Cage the master of Nouveau Shamanic, in a film titled as cool as Prisoners of the Ghostland. Sounds perfect and promises an impossible madness that ends in failure.

His first act seems to have succeeded in fulfilling that promise. Even from the early minutes, when Cage, the nameless hero who would later be called “Hero”, robbed the bank with Psycho (Nick Cassavetes). All sides of the bank are white, while the employees wear uniforms of different colors. Cage entered, brandished a gun, then shouted, “Banzai!”.Top Movie Site

Don’t ask why. Prisoners of the Ghostland is the kind of film where the audience will find it difficult to enjoy, if they ask, “Why is person A acting like that? Why is person B talking like that? Why does person C look weird?”, and so on. We can quite accept that after the tragedy in the robbery, Hero was arrested by The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose arrival was accompanied by a line of women in kimonos, who clapped while singing his name.

The Governor leads his area of ​​​​rule arbitrarily, also mixing Japanese culture and the wild west, which of course was chosen for aesthetic reasons, and not a form of criticism about westernization, colonialism, and the like. Again, it doesn’t really matter. No need to worry. We just need to know that The Governor asked Hero to find his granddaughter, Bernice (Sofia Boutella), who is suspected to be missing in Ghostland, a barren place full of mystery. That said, vile ghosts terrorized there.

If successful, then the Hero will be given freedom. As a guarantee, he must wear a special costume that has explosives in three areas: neck, hands, and testicles. When the impulse to hurt a woman arises, one of the bombs explodes immediately. Can you imagine what kind of spectacle this film is? Best Movie

The first act is very entertaining. The director’s trademark, supported by a script by Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai, brings out absurdity and curiosity. Hardly any shots are wasted. Sono made sure that whenever our eyes were fixed on the screen, we were always shaken by its strangeness. Whether it comes from eye-catching properties, unique costumes, or the behavior of the characters.

Of course Cage is the leading figure, as a hero who is so badass, preferring to ride a bicycle basket rather than a luxury car when carrying out missions. At this point I realized, if Cage performs badly, it’s not his fault, but rather that the filmmaker didn’t know how to take advantage of the actor’s talent. When let loose, Cage, here vehemently shouting “TESTICLES!”, always quenches the thirst for entertainment seekers.

Unfortunately, as the duration goes on, it is Sono who seems to be holding back in his English film debut. As usual, Sono’s directing pays no attention to the whims of pacing or intensity building, and is completely focused on throwing whatever he can at the screen. Even though he can turn a boring moment on paper into a unique presentation (an exposition of the history of Ghostland’s creation is packaged like a performance art), Sono seems to run out of ammunition when confronted with a scene that should be interesting.

The action is mediocre, despite having samurai, cowboys, an army of “ghosts”, and of course Nicolas Cage. The execution is too serious and tame for a film that promises b-movie-style madness. The script is also responsible. Disorganized utterances without direction can (even should) be tolerated in a treat like this, but not with a braked wildness. Prisoners of the Ghostland is still unique, especially in the visual realm, but the collaboration of Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage shouldn’t be this harmonious. His first act seems to have succeeded in fulfilling that promise. Even from the early minutes, when Cage, the nameless hero who would later be called “Hero”, robbed the bank with Psycho (Nick Cassavetes). All sides of the bank are white, while the employees wear uniforms of different colors. Cage entered, brandished a gun, then shouted, “Banzai!”. Movie Review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Review
Movie Review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Review

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings won’t have as significant a cultural impact as Black Panther, because its representation of Asia is still very limited. Even if you are familiar with wuxia films, especially those starring Jackie Chan, directed by Zhang Yimou, or produced by Shaw Brothers, what director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Just Mercy) has to offer is not new at all. But are they all mandatory?

The things above do hinder the achievement of potential, but looking at the climate of superhero films that are still too Western-centric, what Shang-Chi has to offer is still a breath of fresh air. Top Movie Site

Shang-Chi, who now goes by the name Shaun (Simu Liu), hides his identity as a kung-fu master, living a simple life as a valet with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Until a reunion occurs between Shang-Chi and his younger brother, Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), who now runs an underground fight club in Macau, as well as their father, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings, an organization named after ten magic ring, which grants him superpowers as well as immortality.

Created by Cretton with Andrew Lanham (The Glass Castle, Just Mercy) and Dave Callaham (The Expendables, Wonder Woman 1984), the script still offers a familiar formula around a dysfunctional family, which then leads the process of finding the protagonist’s identity. Since he was trained as an assassin since childhood, does that mean it’s a destiny he can’t let go? We already know the answer to that question.

The script does not move from a formulaic narrative, nor does it explore the theme more deeply, but the portion of the drama, especially regarding family relationships, is able to appear solid thanks to Tony Leung. In the hands of the legendary actor, Wenwu is not a villain we will hate, but understand. Leung not only gives the charisma of a murderer who has lived for thousands of years, but also the fragility of an ordinary man who loses his love, loses his greatest reason for having a conscience. He’s not a world destroyer. But in order to restore his destroyed “world”, Wenwu was willing to destroy the world. Watching Leung made me think, “If I were put in his situation, would I do the same thing?”. Best Movie

In the realm of action, Cretton combines three elements, namely massive CGI-laden battles typical of the MCU, Jackie Chan’s chaotic fighting, and martial arts as an expression of taste and philosophy as often used by Zhang Yimou. The last two types appear most impressive. Simu Liu and Meng’er Zhang (such badass) help Cretton maximize the creative setting of the action (buses, skyscraper construction), which also emphasizes choreography, while reducing the amount of manipulation through editing.

The influence of Zhang Yimou’s works is felt right at Wenwu’s first meeting with his wife, Ying Li (Fala Chen), and when Shang-Chi is trained by his aunt, Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh). Rather than fighting, those moments are more like an exchange of feelings. Yeoh, armed with the experience of starring in martial arts titles for nearly four decades, moves beautifully, but is not weak, like an entity that has rid itself of the worldly phase.

But Shang-Chi is of course still an MCU installment with all its signature ingredients (for better or worse). Humor that even though tends to be hit-and-miss still provokes some laughs, expansion of the universe through a series of cameos and hints that the protagonist will play a big role in the future, as well as massive action set-pieces that still have a place, although in the latter half, the film is closer immerse yourself in a fairytale feel, as the setting moves into a fantasy world full of mythological animals.

The CGI at the climax is a bit inconsistent, which may be due to the budget allocated to wrap up the final fight, when Shang-Chi switched to the kaiju genre. On the one hand, this choice strips away the emotional intimacy that wuxia elements bring, but on the other hand, it also emphasizes that the face of Asian films is not just martial arts, as is the stigma that is often attached to it. The things above do hinder the achievement of potential, but looking at the climate of superhero films that are still too Western-centric, what Shang-Chi has to offer is still a breath of fresh air. Movie Review

No Man Of God – Review
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No Man Of God – Review

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What is the main problem with films based on real-life killers? For various reasons, many storytelling under the guise of “psychic exploration” actually fall into the realm of glorification. As one of the most popular names, it is clear that the glorification of Ted Bundy’s actions is often brought up, and does not escape similar problems. He is a monster with cruelty that is seen as attractive, cool, “sexy”.

We need a different “voice,” and through No Man of God, director Amber Sealey has that voice. The voice of a female filmmaker, who saw Bundy’s brutality in raping and killing 30 women (a number he admits, though the exact figure may be more), is pure disgust that shouldn’t be celebrated. Top Movie Site

The script by Kit Lesser (pen name C. Robert Cargill, author of Sinister and Doctor Strange), is based on transcripts of Bundy’s conversations with FBI agent Bill Hagmaier from 1984 to 1989. Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) is a young agent tasked with profiling assassins, conduct interviews to find out what’s on their minds. Bundy (Luke Kirby) becomes his newest target.

Since being arrested in 1975, Bundy has always refused to admit his actions. But unlike previous agents, Hagmaier tries to treat Bundy like a “normal” human being. Not the devil, not the mentally ill. After some time, their relationship grew closer, to the point that Bundy referred to Hagmaier as a friend.

The big misconception that writers often do is make Ted Bundy a monster figure. A bigger-than-life creature full of elusive darkness. That’s where the glorification takes place, whether intentional or not. No Man of God, on the other hand, positioned Bundy as an ordinary human. Not special.

Bundy felt he was special. As Hagmaier believed after their first meeting, Bundy was reluctant to confess, but implied he wanted the FBI to know that he had committed all the murders. He wants to be seen as great, extraordinary, big, dominant. No Man of God’s achievement lies in successfully disarming the killer myth. That behind his confidence and intimidating aura, Bundy was nothing more than a rotten man. A pathetic loser, lost in confusion, loses control of himself as the day of his execution on January 24, 1989 approaches. Best Movie

Bundy is not special, and because of that the action can be done by anyone. Including Hagmaier, who is described as religious. He regularly prays, even a cross hangs in his car. But the deeper he dives into Bundy’s psyche, the clearer it becomes that humans are still humans. Servant of God or not, when his mind falters (or can be called “faith” if you use a religious perspective), that dark desire can rise.

Unfortunately, the No Man of God script has never been so deep in digging into the protagonist’s head. We know he’s found an understanding of Bundy, we know slowly the temptation to walk the “path of darkness” begins to creep in, but exactly what that psychic dynamic looks like, which point acts as a trigger, tends to blur. The audience is only invited to “know”, not really “understand”.

Lasting about 100 minutes, No Man of God spends the majority of the time presenting chatter in a cramped interrogation room (perhaps some of you will think this film is based on a theatrical performance). Sealey is keen to adjust the dynamics through his direction, adjusts the tempo so that the intensity is consistent, knows exactly what to highlight “what” and “when” through his camera.

Sealey’s directing is like a rail. Tends to be subtle, aiming to keep the film on track, then letting the two main performers take center stage. Kirby’s version of Bundy reminds me of people who like to talk “tall”, are good at acting, act cool, in order to hide their real small figure. Meanwhile, Wood looks good showing a man who believes he is good, pious, but is actually very fragile. Yes, there is a parallel between the two sides.

One of the most notable moments was when in the middle of shooting for a religious-themed event, where Bundy was being interviewed about his motives for killing, Sealey turned his attention to the face of the show’s assistant. A woman. He was silent, but his face was filled with anger. His hands gripped the clipboard tightly, as if to channel suppressed emotions. Maybe that was Sealey’s honest reaction, when he saw his fellow filmmakers glorify Ted Bundy’s actions. Movie Review

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