The Matrix Resurrections – Review
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The Matrix Resurrections – Review

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The Matrix is ​​a film series with an extremely severe deterioration in quality. His first film, which was released in 1999, was revolutionary. One of the best of all time. Four years later, Reloaded followed, which despite having had some enticing action titles, was clearly in decline. Then Revolutions closed the trilogy with deep disappointment, and deservedly enter the ranks of the worst sequels ever made.

As the title suggests, Resurrections are expected to be a revival point. The first hour is like a revival, as the script by Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, and Aleksandar Hemon “replicates” the opening sequence of the original film, as Trinity escapes from the invading agents after discovering Neo’s whereabouts. But there have been changes, one of which is the figure of Trinity, which is different from what we know. Top Movie Site

As if being an extension of the audience, Bugs (Jessica Henwick) also witnessed the event and realized the difference. Not long after, Bugs also found that Thomas Anderson alias Neo (Keanu Reeves) was still alive, after accidentally meeting Morpheus, who this time played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, replacing Laurence Fishburne.

Why is there another version of Trinity and Morpheus? Then how come, the last Neo we know who sacrificed his life in the conclusion of Revolutions, is still in good shape? Is the woman named Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) who always steals his attention also the Trinity who comes back to life?

You should find the answers to the questions above for yourself, because that is the main foundation of the first hour, which throws back complex reflections on existence. After the expansion of the mythology in Reloaded made the story lose focus, while Revolutions actually threw away all narratives about humanity, The Matrix finally returned to basics. Best Movie

The use of a verbal exposition full of foreign technical terms that is delivered so quickly does require the audience’s concentration, but if it manages to follow it, the first half of Resurrections offers a very binding mystery. Meta storytelling has been expanded, including by addressing The Wachowskis’ concerns about the demand to produce a fourth film (Neo is like their representation as creators), and then raising questions about everything we see in the trilogy. Like Neo 22 years ago, the audience was asked to ask, “Is all that real?”

Unfortunately, the mystery is closed through simplification, which confirms that this film, especially the first act, is intended as a mere retcon for Revolutions’ conclusion. It’s not wrong, it even needs to be done, considering the “big sin” that the third film has committed. But after an hour full of complex searches, the answer leaves more hope.

Since then Resurrections has not been able to restore the strength of the narrative, although the decision to make love as the driving force of the protagonist, brings the story into a more personal realm than the previous three installments.

At least, as a filmmaker who always opens his arms wide for technological advances, Lana Wachowski (because of the production schedule for the Work in Progress series, Lilly Wachowski is absent from the directing chair) is able to bring her films to look stunning in that department. “That Looks real”, said Neo when he saw the sky made by Io, Zion’s replacement city. That’s how I feel every time Resurrections shows off their CGI.

Advanced. This word is a must-have for The Matrix, both in terms of the packaging of the world, and in the execution of the action. Unexpectedly, the quantity of Resurrections action is minimal, especially when compared to its duration of 148 minutes. More theory, philosophy, reflection and discussion. Some appeared as if they were only for themselves, instead of stimulating the audience’s mind, but Lana’s consistency in telling stories kept her pacing awake.

The action itself tends to be inconsistent. Very inconsistent. There are times when, right after high creativity such as the “human bomb” at the climax, we are immediately treated to minimal style action, which doesn’t seem to come from The Matrix series. The exploration is not as wild as it used to be, which rather than “maturation”, it is more appropriate to call it “decline”. Neo was most affected. Reducing the impression of a godlike hero in him is a reasonable choice, but it’s a different story when he is only equipped with a boring energy shield.

The Matrix Resurrections are the perfect definition of an “it’s good, but…” reaction. There’s always the word “but”. Including about casting. Narratively, including the time setting, replacing Morpheus was the right decision. Moreover, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II could give birth to a different version of the character. On the other hand, changing Smith from Hugo Weaving to Jonathan Groff actually hurt the film. There is a moment at the climax, which will only succeed in sparking enthusiasm if Smith is still played by Weaving. Groff is good, but… Movie Review

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Drama, thriller, comedy, horror, war, science fiction, crime, adventure, action, fantasy, romance, biography, animation. Since his debut half a century ago, Steven Spielberg has touched all of these genres. When Spielberg finally made his way into the musical, which he had been dreaming of for a long time, I was not surprised. There is no director as complete as him.

Even so, his decision to make West Side Story is quite a question. Based on the stage musical of the same name, the previous big screen adaptation (1961) was a resounding success. Winning 10 Oscars (including Best Picture) from a total of 11 nominations, and earning about 6 times the production cost, is a new version really needed? Top Movie Site

Honestly, the first few minutes were a bit dubious. West Side Story (1961) has one of the best opening sequences in the history of musical films. Blessed with a cast with superhuman physical abilities, the film, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, creatively choreographs all events, including fights between gangs.

Spielberg appears simpler, more conventional, safer. Quite disappointing. However, as we are brought into the setting of 1950s New York with its various conflicts that are still relevant today, it becomes clear that this new version is superior.

Once upon a time, there were two gangs fighting over territory, namely the Jets under the leadership of Riff (Mike Faist) which was filled with white youths, and the Shark led by Bernardo (David Alvarez) and consisted of Puerto Rican immigrants. Then, similar to the story of Romeo and Juliet, which became the inspiration for his stage play, the feud of the two camps became more complicated when the seeds of forbidden love grew.

Tony (Ansel Elgort), Riff’s best friend and co-founder of the Jets who tries to “live straight” after getting out of prison, and Maria (Rachel Zegler), Bernardo’s sister, fall in love with each other from the first meeting at the dance. Of course, their relationship was met with great opposition from all parties.

Appearing more faithful to the stage play than the 1961 version, especially in terms of song sequences, the script by Tony Kushner (who has twice written for Spielberg in Munich and Lincoln), cleverly modernizes the story, by adding to issues that are not yet there, while deepening what is previously still appear “shy”. Best Movie

The issue of racism is strengthened. There is no more solidarity between gangs. In the 1961 film, despite fighting over territory, the Jets and Shark tend to protect each other when the authorities intervene. The Jets only care about power. Not race. This time, the impression appears that the Jets’ hatred is also a form of rejection of immigrants, which is more realistic.

The great theme of the endless cycle of violence is getting wider and wider. About the unbroken chain of vengeance that only leads to death, about the possession of weapons based on mutual suspicion and hatred, about the injustice of the system which results in perpetuating the culture of violence.

Regarding the characters also underwent modifications, both individual characterization, and their interactions. Especially regarding gender. Anybodys (Iris Menas) is no longer “just” a girl who wants to join a male gang, but is transgender, making her name more meaningful (it isn’t about a particular somebody, but anybody). Maria became more empowered in front of Bernardo, standing firm in defense of the argument, even replying to her brother’s words. Even the film explicitly mentions “rapists”, when the Jets gang harass Anita (Ariana DeBose), Bernardo’s lover, as a form of rejection of justification for rape in any form.

There is one more interesting point about gender. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 version, here appears as Valentina, replacing Doc (Ned Glass). This gender change is not only a form of respect for the legend, it is also used to strengthen the emotional impact of the narrative, as a mentor who forges a stronger bond with Tony, as well as a figure who voices his frustration at the lack of a safe space for women.

The 156-minute duration is really used to compose a rich story, complete with solid pacing, in which Spielberg and Kushner are able to avoid the shortcomings of the 1961 version which often lingers in one event.

What about the musical itself? Accompanied by classic songs that are increasingly polished, Spielberg shows the true definition of “update” and “upgrade”. America’s rendition became one of the most striking when moving the rooftop background to a public space, making it more lively, more uplifting, as well as providing a big stage for Ariana DeBose to show off her charms.

Zegler with a smile and sparkling gaze can melt hearts with his debut, but DeBose is the best performer in this film. Playing a woman full of dreams and optimism, who is then hit by a heartbreaking reality, her energy is stinging, the overflow is piercing. Especially in his duet with Zegler at number A Boy Like That / I Have Love as an emotional exchange that touched both of them. At the 1962 Academy Awards, Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita. It’s worth waiting to see if 60 years later, DeBose will repeat the same feat. Interestingly, it is likely that one of DeBose’s biggest rivals is Moreno himself.

In A Boy Like That / I Have Love, the song ends on a high note, and Spielberg focuses the camera on the faces of the two actresses, creating the scorching feel of classic Hollywood musicals. Such is the West Side Story. Despite its modernization status, Spielberg knows very well the elements that made musicals one of the most popular genres of the past. So that works that adapt to the times are born, while still maintaining their advantages and uniqueness. Again, a superior version over its predecessor. Steven Spielberg broke the impossible, as he had been doing for decades. Movie Review

House of Gucci – Review
Movie Review

House of Gucci – Review

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Korean drama viewers must be familiar with the term makjang. A genre full of exaggeration, which is good at raising the blood pressure of the audience (example: Sky Castle, The World of the Married, Penthouse). Different caste love, extraordinarily rich family (usually has a dictator father and one of his children is useless), lavish setting, convoluted conspiracies, corruption, infidelity, murder, to name a few of his signature elements. Execution tends to be over-the-top. Too much.

House of Gucci has all of the above elements, but Ridley Scott clearly never watches makjang. Adapting the book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamor, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden, the script by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna is full of shocking events, but Scott is giddy, tossed between understanding how campy is the story, with the ambition to speak elegantly. Top Movie Site

The look of the House of Gucci is definitely elegant. Luxurious. Expensive. From the selection of sets, props, costumes, as well as how Dariusz Wolski emphasizes the grandiose feel through his camera lens. Her outer skin should be like that, considering her character comes from a family that used to make and rule the famous fashion brand, Gucci.

In 1978, Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), heir to 50% of Gucci’s shares owned by his father, Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons), met Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) at a party. They fell in love, even though Rodolfo (and I think many in the audience too) doubted Patrizia. Is he sincere, or is he just after Maurizio’s treasure?

The question kept spinning throughout the duration, but not because the script was complex. On the other hand, the House of Gucci script failed to delve deeply into the character’s internals. Unlike other members of the Gucci family, Maurizio is not obsessed with money. At one point he was even willing to give up everything, working as a truck washer in Patrizia’s father’s company, in order to marry the girl he loved, whom Rodolfo didn’t approve of. Patrizia is happy.

Does that mean he’s sincere, or is he playing a trick? If you are “playing”, the game is really smooth. But why did the smoothness disappear after the two got married? Patrizia begins to pit all parties against each other, from Maurizio’s uncle, Aldo (Al Pacino), to Paolo (Jared Leto), Aldo’s son who is eccentric and ambitious to start his own line of business even though he is not talented. Or does the script want to show the process of changing humans due to the power of property? If so, the script fails to delve into the details of the transformation (note, “transformation”, not about greed in general).

Maybe because the script itself is struggling to summarize the 400 pages of the book, because the flow of the plot is often not smooth. Rough jumps full of the impression of “sudden” occur frequently, which is more pronounced when Scott moves the film at a fast tempo. There are still points that are conveyed strongly, namely the question of “Which party is right?”. Best Movie

The answer is “no”. All wrong. Everyone is entangled in greed, so they betray each other. Stab each other. The House of Gucci is a tragedy about mutual destruction based on greed, which ends up destroying everything. It’s dark, and this is where the main problem of House of Gucci begins: tone inconsistency.

I can imagine how Scott and the team looked at the material and said, “Wow, this is absurd”. Tragic, dark, but absurd. Instead of choosing, Scott actually merged the two sides that were like water and oil. Serious scenes, plus “cold” color grading, wrap up silly moments, say Patrizia’s meeting with a psychic named Pina (Salma Hayek), who in addition to predicting the future, also sends magic spells for Maurizio. Out of sync.

Driver, Gaga, Irons, Pacino, Leto, all played well, but each character seemed to come from a different movie. Maurizio is from a serious biopic reminiscent of Michael Corleone’s “good-boy-turns-bad” journey in The Godfather series, while Gaga and Leto have fun showing off their eccentricities.

Confusing. Inconsistent. At least, Scott’s fast pacing, despite sacrificing the solidity of the narrative, makes the 157 minute duration less tiring. And no matter how hard Scott tries to suppress the absurd side of his film to make it look elegant, basically House of Gucci has been blessed with colorful material that is interesting to follow. If only Ridley Scott had watched Makjang before making this film. Movie Review

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Review
Movie Review

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Review

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After Avengers: Endgame, I said, “I’ve never seen anything like this”. Naturally, considering its status as the culmination of a journey of more than a decade. But even after that, Spider-Man: No Way Home was able to provoke a similar response. Once again Marvel Studios is pushing the boundaries of the impossible.

In various locations (including the studio I was in), the audience cheered, laughed, cried, clapped. An increasingly unfamiliar sight due to the pandemic. No Way Home does it as fan service for a multigenerational audience. No Way Home is like home, not only for Spider-Man fans, but also for those who miss theatrical experience. Top Movie Site

Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, the story continues the end of Far from Home (2019), when the identity of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as Spider-Man is revealed, instantly making him a public enemy. The only solution he finds is to ask Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell to erase people’s memories of his identity.

We know the spell ended up being screwed up by Peter’s interruption. We know, that’s why the gates of the multiverse are open. We know many of the old foes from Raimi and Webb’s version are back. It’s all been revealed in the promotional materials, and it’s better if you stay “blind” to other things.

No Way Home is a fan service, where the word “service” does not stop in the trivial realm. The more you get to know Spider-Man, both the comic version and the big screen, the more you will realize that this film has successfully captured the essence of the character.

It’s fun to see Otto Octavius ​​/ Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Norman Osborn / Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) get into a fight, Flint Marko / Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) still put family first, or how Max Dillon / Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Curt Connors / Lizard (Rhys Ifans) introduce each other’s identities. But it’s no less fun to find No Way Home understands who Spider-Man is.

Similar to his nickname “friendly neighborhood”, as well as the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility”, the spider man not only quells evil, but spreads good. Sounds similar, but not the same. This point is also emphasized by the film, especially regarding the way Peter responds to the arrival of uninvited guests from another world.

The task of expanding the scope of the MCU does not make this film neglect to take care of its own universe. In the midst of multidimensional turmoil, No Way Home remains the story of teenagers. Stay centered on Peter and those closest to him. What’s Peter’s main problem apart from dealing with a bunch of villains? He, along with MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon), are in trouble when enrolling in college, as a result of the revelation of Spider-Man’s identity. Meanwhile, May (Marissa Tomei) has validated the position as Peter’s personal motivation for his heroic actions.

Spider-Man is actually a coming-of-age story. Peter experiences maturity after going through phases like us, including romance. No Way Home patents Peter-MJ as one of the MCU’s strongest pairs. Then at the end of the story, it is clear that Peter is much more mature than when he first appeared in Captain America: Civil War five years ago. Be the Homecoming trilogy a complete story.

Movie Review Kindness and intelligence. Once his film defined Peter Parker. These two aspects form the second half, which explores Peter’s scientific side rather than his fighting skills (although on one occasion this side is also cleverly used to put Peter’s scientific genius into action). The pacing falters, but can be forgiven for its suitability to describe the essence of Peter Parker’s characterization.

Through the second half, No Way Home was reluctant to let go of its grip. Excitement, surprise, fan service, all mixed up. Forget about the lack of editing that sometimes seems rushed, because at that point No Way Home fulfills its essence as a blockbuster: to wow the audience.

First class action. Not only relying on fan service, Jon Watts has proven to be more mature in directing the spectacle’s festivities, including by not making Doctor Strange a mere glorified cameo, also being used to create unique actions as a characteristic of “the wizard”. This is how crossovers should be. Not just piling up the characters, but also applying the uniqueness of each.

Of course his third act is unmatched. There all kinds of feelings peaked. Whether from action that was never imagined before, or the presence of an emotional conclusion, not only for the Homecoming trilogy, but also all branches of the story that spanned nearly two decades. Yes. All. Both problems that have not been resolved, atonement for sins, the process of overcoming grief and guilt, and others.

Best Movie Perfect? Maybe not yet. As I mentioned above, there are some gaps around pacing and editing. But throughout 2021, or even in recent years, there hasn’t been a blockbuster on par with Spider-Man: No Way Home, which really shows why theatrical experience is irreplaceable. A communal experience, where tens, if not hundreds of people, share their feelings without the need to know each other or interact directly, united by a giant screen displaying the magic called “cinema”.

Raging Fire – Review
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Raging Fire – Review

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Raging Fire is the final work of Benny Chan, who died of nasopharyngeal cancer before post-production of the film began. Before being known through titles starring Jackie Chan such as Who Am I? (1998), New Police Story (2004), to Rob-B-Hood (2006), Chan was familiar with the bloodshed heroic genre at the beginning of his career. A Moment of Romance (1990) and Man Wanted (1995) are examples. So it feels a bit poetic, when he closed his journey by re-exploring the genre (though never really leaving it).

Donnie Yen plays Cheung Sung-bong, a dedicated senior inspector who is never swayed by the temptation of money, even though that principle makes his career tend to stagnate, and is shunned by higher-ups. When a terrorist squad under the leadership of Yau Kong-ngo (Nicholas Tse) begins to target the lives of the police, it is revealed that Cheung’s principles have apparently left deep wounds for several people.

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Written by Benny Chan, Ryan Ling, and Tong Yiu-ling, Raging Fire’s method of speaking was problematic. The urgency of using non-linear plots is questionable. First, unnecessary complexity is born (it is quite difficult to identify names and faces that appear because of time-jumping). Second, the reason why the flashback contains the background of the character is placed in the middle, which forces the plot to move back and forth, solely to create a twist, rather than the emotional impact, which the film can have if it applies conventional narrative patterns.

Even so, the script also has advantages, regarding the way he plays with the bloodshed heroic formula. Usually, the genre’s protagonists are clean cops (similar to Cheung), and/or noble-hearted criminals, who betray the boss for good. Yau’s character is like the opposite of the second type of characterization. It is not black figures who have shifted to white because they refuse to follow the rottenness of the black side, but white figures who have fallen into black due to the corruption of the white side (the apparatus). Best Movie

The climax presents an interesting view of the characterization above. One by one Yau’s men died. But rather than a villain who is on the verge of defeat, he is described as an antihero who is cornered, while preparing to defy death. It was at this point that Yau and Cheung seemed equal, as two men with their own principles.

As a result, the confrontation as the closing of the film becomes more convincing. Of course, the capacity of the two main actors to handle the moment of the game also plays a big role. Also taking on the role of action director, Donnie Yen as usual, showed off a series of moves that required extraordinary physical capacity, while Tse, with the aura of “gloomy machismo” ala 90s Hong Kong action actor, was good at swinging a knife. Accompanied by blaring music by Nicolas Errera, a high-tension mano-a-mano battle was created.

Even though the story is stuck, Raging Fire’s action is extraordinary, full of complex and dangerous stunts that require high precision (including because it often involves so many extras) typical of its genre. In addition to the climax, the chase between Cheung behind the wheel of a car and Yau on a motorbike, became one of the peaks of madness. In his last work, Benny Chan pours all creativity, breaking through boundaries, while inserting some imageries (fire explosions behind cool walking characters wearing sunglasses and suits, gun pointing at close range, etc.) that act as tributes. for classic Hong Kong cinema, especially the works of John Woo. Movie Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Review

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife is nothing special. Light, safe, cliché. But at least, under the direction of Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) who is the son of Ivan Reitman, the director of the first two films, it managed to do what its reboot failed to do five years ago. A modernization as well as respect.

Similar to Paul Feig’s version, the protagonists (though not all) are women. Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is her name, a brilliant-brained girl who has no friends. Due to financial difficulties experienced by their mother, Callie (Carrie Coon), Phoebe and her older brother, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), are forced to move to the old farm owned by their late grandfather who recently died. Top Movie Site

It is there that Callie meets Podcast (Logan Kim), a conspiracy theorist, while Trevor falls in love with Lucky (Celeste O’Connor). As POC, Kim and O’Connor complete Afterlife’s mission to look modern in terms of diversity as Feig’s version, without overselling it. Best Movie

Another modernization lies in the element of “passing the baton” to the younger generation, while respecting the legacy of the older generation. If you have watched the classic film, it is certainly not difficult to guess the identity of Phoebe’s grandfather. Even Gary (Paul Rudd), Phoebe’s teacher and Callie’s love interest, plays a similar role to Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). The connections between these two eras are brought out neatly by the script by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (Monster House, Poltergeist remake).

Perhaps what is quite disappointing is the more obvious form of respect, such as the legendary theme song that has just appeared in the credits, and the choice of Reitman’s shot to wrap up the long-awaited grand reunion moment. Instead of epic heroism, an awkward impression is created by the director’s lack of precise packaging choices. Even so, watching familiar faces reunite after a long time is still fun.

As a standalone spectacle, as already mentioned, Afterlife is solid but nothing special. Although the use of practical effects is commendable, the battle against ghosts including Gozer the Gozerian will not be stored in the audience’s memory for as long as the events of Manhattan 84.

Fortunately, Jason Reitman’s signature humor, from running jokes about Phoebe being bad at throwing jokes, a few dark comedy inserts, to lines of sarcastic tone, can be a refresher. Coon is the best performer when it comes to throwing sarcasm, as a mother figure who doesn’t even try to filter the words from her mouth. Movie Review

Drive My Car – Review
Movie Review

Drive My Car – Review

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Drive My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, as Japan’s representative at the 2022 Academy Awards, is a maze, in his quest to understand humans and life. What is the reason behind a person’s behavior? Why does life go in certain directions? Based on Haruki Murakami’s short story of the same name, and a “silent” adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, the film offers a simple answer. So simple, it seems complicated.

Yusuke Kafaku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is an actor and theater director known for his unique multilingual style, where in one performance, the actors communicate in more than one language, depending on their country of origin. His wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima) is a television series scriptwriter. Their marriage seemed harmonious, and their sexual life was going well. Top Movie Site

Regarding sex, there are unique “rituals” that are always performed. In the midst of sex to orgasm, Oto shared script ideas, which he could not all remember. The husband served as a reminder, then recounted it to Oto the next day. If so, can sex be called an expression of love? More generally, do sex and love (always) intersect?

After a shocking event that was followed by tragedy, the story jumps two years into the future, highlighting the production process of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya script, for Yusuke to perform in Hiroshima. Actors from various countries are involved, including Koji Takatsuki (Masaki Okada), a popular Japanese star who admires Oto’s work, as well as a mute Korean actress named Yoon-a (Park Yoo-rim), who communicates using sign language. Both of them later play a big role in Yusuke’s journey to find meaning in life.

Yusuke has a special method for studying the script, namely driving around his red Saab 900 car, while playing a cassette containing Oto’s voice recording reading the script. After Oto’s voice was heard, Yusuke read the passage, as if having a live dialogue. Rather than the usual practice, getting here, the activity seemed like a catharsis. At some point the audience might ask, did Yusuke really read the script, express his heart, or both (life imitates art)?

The car became an intimate space where Yusuke could talk anything, while driving wherever he wanted. The small space sometimes feels spacious when we are led to explore the stories that emerge after being buried for a long time. But sometimes it’s very narrow and stifling, when Hamaguchi shows off his ability to build intensity through secrets that are slowly being revealed. Best Movie

For Yusuke, being in control of every aspect of life is important, as he “drives” the cast of the show. So, as one problem after another arose, leading his life to go in an unwanted direction, Yusuke lost control. Like a lost car driver. But he firmly “drives” everything, including refusing the presence of Misaki (Toko Miura) who was appointed as a driver while Yusuke was in Hiroshima.

Simply put, the script written by Hamaguchi with Takamasa Oe shows the dynamics of two humans who are afflicted with grief (as well as guilt) through the relationship between Yusuke and Misaki. Why did I write “simple”? Because the other subtext in it is so rich. Rich in contemplation, exploration, and then leads to understanding. One of Yusuke’s contemplations is related to the reason his wife did “something”, which he said was against their love. From there, another question arises: Why is life so hard?

In order to answer those questions, we need to review the story of Uncle Vanya. Drive My Car is indeed an adaptation of Murakami’s story, but subtly, the writers also incorporated Chekhov’s work into the script, combining two mediums (short stories and theatrical scripts), to create a third medium (film).

Uncle Vanya is a story about how we must keep moving, even though life is filled with suffering. Not because “life is beautiful” or other hopeful meanings, but driven by the thought “that’s life”. Why is life so hard? Because that’s life. We just need to live it, until it’s time to “rest”. It’s the same with the question about Oto’s actions. He did it, because that’s what he did. There’s no need to be associated with romantic ramblings.

As I mentioned above, very simple isn’t it? But it won’t be that easy to be accepted, both by the characters and by the audience, considering we’re used to looking for meaning, especially when we’re faced with problems. Then what if there is no “more meaning” behind the problem? What if we just need to keep walking down the street until it’s time to rest? Can we just give up? Maybe yes, but that doesn’t mean we always have to “drive” alone.

The duration of 179 minutes plus a slow tempo does not make Drive My Car appear tiring. The narrative is really neat, consisting of stages that help the audience understand the intricacies of characterizations and conflicts, so that they are easily absorbed into them. The plot flows like it’s traversing a smooth road, albeit a bit draggy into the final minutes, when the melancholy peaks and the slow tempo slows down even more.

For me, the strongest and most beautiful presentation of emotion in Drive My Car occurred during the Uncle Vanya performance. Precisely at the end of the show, when Vanya played by Yusuke, and Sonya played by Yoon-a, interacted. Both Nishijima and Yoo-rim both display peak performances through non-verbal speech, as if proving that taste transcends language barriers. Movie Review

A Hero – Review
Movie Review

A Hero – Review

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When I was in elementary school, I really liked PPKn. Not because of the material, but how easy it is to get a 100 in that subject. The line between right and wrong is so clear. One of the questions that often appears on exams is, “What should you do if you find money on the street?”. Of course return it to the owner” was the answer. I used to think, if I behaved according to the answer to the PPKn question, I would live happily as a good citizen.

Unfortunately, reality is not as simple as PPKn’s replay, and Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero captures this complexity, where the definition of “doing good” is questioned. The case is the same as the question above. Rahim (Amir Jadidi), who was imprisoned for failing to pay his debts, steals public sympathy after returning a bag filled with gold coins, which he is said to have found while getting two days out of prison. Top Movie Site

His name was hailed. How come? A prisoner who is in financial trouble, chooses to act honestly, even though he has the opportunity to take gold that can be used to pay off his debt. The audience seems to agree. We know some of Rahim’s secrets before his characters, but it’s hard to get rid of the impression that despite his faults, he is indeed a good person.

Both his family and acquaintances warmly welcomed Rahim home for two days. Jadidi’s demeanor also reinforces that impression. His smile radiated humility, like a village man who suddenly had the opportunity to appear on national television. There is pride mixed with shame. But over time, along with the various turning points that Farhadi threw, Jadidi also brought ambiguity to his game.

A Hero starts like a normal drama. More specifically, Iranian dramas that we often encounter at festivals. Rahim has to deal with Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh) who “imprisoned him”, manages a relationship with his son (Saleh Karimai) who has a speech disorder, while secretly having an affair with his girlfriend, Nazanin (Sarina Farhadi has returned to appear in his father’s film since A Separation). Best Movie

But if you are familiar with Farhadi’s works, you will know that, even though he dwells on a similar theme, the director carries a different style than his compatriots. It’s not just a matter of time. Farhadi’s number of shots is higher, for example, than names like Jafar Panahi or Abbas Kiarostami who like static images. The result is more dynamic, as well as (somewhat) more friendly to ordinary viewers.

So it feels natural when A Hero also moves in a different direction. The further the plot rolls, the further A Hero goes from the conventional drama form. Then the more surprising facts come to light, the more difficult it is to predict its direction. But it is even more difficult to define “goodness” here.

Did Rahim really do good? Or is it just something that shouldn’t be celebrated? Is there a difference between “kindness” and “goodwill”? Does kindness lose its value if it is based on bad intentions? It gets even worse, when goodness is clashed with interests, games armed with media, and the modern culture of social media. A Hero is an illustration, how in the post-truth era like now, the meaning of goodness and truth is no longer as easy as answering PPKn exam questions.

The packaging is not all serious. Farhadi’s manuscript is full of satire, which is clever and sharp, inviting us to laugh at the silliness of the “leaders” of the post-truth era. Regarding directing, Farhadi is still good at wrapping up debates. Even the exchange of opinions that was not accompanied by shouts was able to be presented intensely. But the best direction comes in the closing shot, when it shows the line between freedom and confinement. The line looks thin, but is actually very thick. Movie Review

Encanto – Review
Movie Review

Encanto – Review

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Before the main menu Far From the Tree first played. Telling the story of a raccoon who has a hard time taking care of his child, while he is looking for food, this short animation talks about the learning process of the younger generation, so that one day they can be better than the previous generation. Encanto is also similar, although this time, instead of taking the place of a role, the younger generation also invites the older generation to improve, then together they welcome a new, better era.

The Madrigal family are known for their miracles. Thanks to the magic candle that the matriarch, Abuela (María Cecilia Botero) gets, once they reach a certain age, the whole family gains different powers. However, unlike Isabela (Diane Guerrero), her eldest sister who is admired for her ability to make flowers bloom anywhere, and Luisa (Jessica Darrow) the second sister who is a mainstay thanks to her physique, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is considered nothing special. He was the only Madrigal Family not endowed with power. Top Movie Site

How could that be? Forget for a moment about the miracles, because we often encounter similar conditions in reality. Imagine a family. Maybe both parents had high positions, abundant wealth, and were also highly respected. While the children, either have got a well-paying job, or are doing very well in school. Then there’s one kid who doesn’t stand out in any field. People, including his parents and siblings, all said, “How can he be so different, huh?”.

That difference made him underestimated, or even distrusted. So, no matter how hard the child tries to prove himself, as long as he is different, his existence will continue to be sidelined. That’s roughly what Mirabel’s condition is. Movie Review

The script by Charise Castro Smith and Jared Bush composes a series of relatable conflicts, which even though they are filled with magical things, are still grounded, and of course emotional. No antagonists here. No terrible monsters, no bad humans, no curses to be removed. The enemy of the character is “expectation”. The family expects all members to be perfect. Expectations that put tremendous pressure if they fail to be met. Even for those who are successful, it does not mean that peace always accompanies, because perfection could be in the form of falsehood that is forced to be pursued.

Apart from writing the script, Jared Bush also sits in the director’s chair with Byron Howard (Bolt, Tangled, Zootopia), and the two are good at putting together beautiful, colorful pictures, especially in musical sequences, which, like the story, are magical. The songs composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda are still catchy, although overall they are still below his best works. Dos Oruguitas (Two Oruguitas), an acoustic number that accompanies one of the most touching moments throughout the film, is my favourite.

Unfortunately, the third round appeared a bit rushed. The scriptwriters seem confused to outsmart the absence of conventional antagonists when compiling the climax. At least, the third act is able to link all the problems, then bring them into one direction, which is about fighting for the family (and community). That one of the opposites of struggle is that, over time, individuals forget their reasons for fighting for it. Best Movie

Tick, Tick… Boom! – Review
Movie Review

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

Basketball player

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

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