Monthly Archives: April 2005

SIFFest Journey – Saturday, April 30, 2005

(Siffest will definitely return for its 19th year, and beyond!)

And with Tropical Malady, I heartily close another chapter of the annual film-fest pilgrimage.

Tropical Malady

Surely I wish for a bang to end my journey with, not with a bewilderment and puzzlement over watching a gay-themed flick turning into a fable where real animals do talk like human beings (and couldn’t stop thinking how one part of the film is actually going to be a waste).

But then, not every journey is a fulfilling one, or a displeasant one.

It is best to think that once a journey is completed, then we feel rich with another added experience, and like it or not, some knowledge.

Over films.
Over life.
Over people.

And over the fact that …

I just need to go abroad this time to properly enjoy a film festival!


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Posted by on 04/30/2005 in English, Film



Gimana sih rasanya disunat?

Waks! Kalo pertanyaan ini ditujukan ke saya, bakal saya tanya balik,


Nah, sekarang tergantung dari jawabannya dulu. Kalo misalnya ini pertanyaan literal, yang berarti ritual sunatan adalah ritual buat laki-laki, jawaban saya simpel aja.

“Ngga kerasa, lha wong dibius, trus mataku ditutup waktu itu.”

Tapi kalo misalnya yang disunat adalah alat penyambung hidup yang lain, terutama berkaitan ama UANG alias DUIT alias MONEY, maka bukan jawaban yang ada, tapi kata-kata seperti,


Sakitnya itu udah kerasa dari awal bulan, ngga perlu lama-lama nunggu sampe tengah bulan atau akhir bulan.

Dan itulah yang terjadi dalam 3 hari terakhir ini, ketika pertama kalinya dalam 7 bulan terakhir ini, slip gaji datang sehari lebih awal dari gajiannya sendiri yang langsung masuk rekening.

Robek ujung pinggir kertas.
Buka perlahan-lahan.

Lihat bagian kredit.
Aaaahhh … Tersenyum lebar.
Ada bonus dari work-performance yang lumayan.

Lihat bagian debit.
Ah, paling itu-itu aja.

Lihat bagian total.

Scroll up bagian debit lagi.
Potongan buat CPF udah naik … 15%!!

Dan maaf mbak Hany, mustinya ini bagiannya mbak Hany buat ceritain Singapore and its so-called uniqueness in everything, tapi sungguh-sungguh saya ga tahan dan udah kegatelan buat complain disini. (See? Singapore sungguh-sungguh sangat kondusif menyuruh warganya buat complain all the time!)

Jadi, kalau kita udah jadi penduduk tetap (Permanent Resident alias PR) disini, maka gaji yang kita terima tiap bulan disini akan dipotong buat CPF.

Apakah CPF itu?
Singkatannya sendiri adalah Central Provident Fund, yang kalo diterjemahin kira-kira
sama dengan Dana Pensiun. Nah, dana pensiun ini bisa juga kita buat investment, atau asuransi, atau jaminan kalo mau beli rumah, mobil, etc. etc.. Yang jelas, bisa diputerin, ato didiemin aja. Nanti kalo dah pensiun atau cabut PR, semua yang kita simpen emang dibalikin ke kita koq.

Berapa besar sih CPF nya?
Ini yang bikin gue lagi culture shock ya!
Tahun pertama dari kita dapet PR, gaji kita dipotong 5%.
Tahun kedua, 15%.
Tahun ketiga, 20%.

Jadi kebayang dong, setelah selama ini dibuai dimanja dengan potongan sekecil setitik itu, dimana setiap bulan paling ngga ada simpenan buat beli majalah Sight & Sounds berikut Film Comments yang lumejen mahal2 itu, atau nonton pertunjukan teater atau nonton konser di Esplanade dengan tempat duduk yang lumayan, sekarang harus nangis meraung-raung sambil ngiris bawang sambil jejeritan,


Sambil masih megang slip gaji itu dengan hati nanar tapi raut muka sok tenang karena lagi di depan anak baru, gue cuman tersenyum miris, sambil sms teman-teman seperjuangan di Komang dan lain-lainnya yang cuman dibales serempak:

“Welcome to the club, baby!”

Yes, I welcome myself living in an impossibly materialistic world of Singapore.

Yet, somehow I indulge on it.

Oh No! My Salary's Being Cut!

Disunat? Oh biasa aja … 😉

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Posted by on 04/30/2005 in Bahasa Indonesia


SIFFest Journey – Friday, 29 April 2005

(Siffest, when it comes towards its end, pretty much has nothing left to offer. Good ones are shown in the beginning, so unless you’ve got yourself a ticket to watch the Closing Film, it’s very seldom the joy will spark in the last 2-3 days.)

But worry not, the socializing process still continues.

I once wrote here on how Shaw Towers building comes to live during the Film Fest, resulting in a good business for the shops and stalls scattered around there.
When it comes to food stalls, of course this translates to getting hard time finding a seat to have our meals, for most of them are taken by festival-goers who decide to grab a bite before or after screenings.

Such a thing really tested our patience, until we manage to get a seat, be seated and begin talking to a stranger sitting in front of you whom you can be assured that she has her meal there because she’s about to catch a screening.

We don’t even have to mention our names, occupation or other silly and unnecessary details for what bonds us together is the same passion towards basking ourselves in a festive glory.
Raving and cursing about the same object of affection has never been fruitful, if you do it with other people who share this same liking.

But then, I do not have anyone to share my disappointment towards Bow Barracks Forever, an ambitious project that works like a mediocre public-service announcement.

Bow Barracks Forever

Dwelling on the story about diminishing traces of Anglo-Indian heritage in Calcutta, the film revolves around the stories of supposedly several different characters leading different kinds of lives.
Why only ‘supposedly’?
Because what we see is the same harsh life that do not unite the characters, but distract them to be on their own … film?!
That’s more like it.

Surely Anjay Dutt has put an effort in executing the story, turning it into a film, directing or composing the ensemble cast, but does it show enough heart? Hardly. The film only manages to scratch the surface of a deep topic on minority lives, distancing us from getting to the core of the problem. It may only be noted as being different from other typical Bollywood films, but then, we’ve seen quite a number of that in the annual Indian Film Festival.

The barracks may be something worth fighting for, but not on films.

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Posted by on 04/29/2005 in English, Film


SIFFest Journey – Wednesday, 27 April 2005

(Siffest has often proved itself to be a festival of surprises, and in terms of films, that refers to many things that may go beyond expectation of any expected feeling. Confused? Read on!)

One of the advantages of attending screenings during a film festival is that a rare chance of meeting creative minds behind a film, be them directors, actors, producers, screenwriters or cinematographers. The latter may apply if they carry household names like Christopher Doyle or Anne V. Coates, for example.

How do you feel when you get to see those remarkably talented people in the screening of their films that we’re about to see?
Or simply indifferent?

Whatever our feeling that may reflect our perception towards the film itself, be thankful for this rare chance we may not likely often encounter in the first place. And wouldn’t it be cool if the director himself said something like,

“Relax. If you fall asleep during the film, please do so!”

Oh! Can anything get any greater than that?

So I salute you, Hou Hsiao Hsien.

First, for being what you are, a respected, honored director. May your recent The Best of Times will bring its best at Cannes this year.

Second, for being humble and honest in seeing your own works objectively. You even persuaded us to be ourselves on how to treat your film, Cafe Lumiere.

Cafe Lumiere

And I did what you had, erm, suggested, Maestro.

I fell asleep throughout the entire film.

No, no, no. Of course not the entire per se, but apparently, closing your senses in some parts of the film means losing the core essence of the film. So, no matter that I managed to wake up and tried to decipher the series of images appearing on the screen, I lost the main thread of the story.

And so I lost the film.

Too bad.

But then, it’s worth a second viewing. 😉

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Posted by on 04/28/2005 in English, Film


SIFFest Journey – Sunday 24 April & Monday 25 April 2005

(Siffest has its own ability to lure everyone, or rather, some serious film-afficionado like me, to cash out their piggybanks in this annual pilgrimage. Hey, haven’t we heard this before? Oh c’mon, I can’t think of any “proper” introduction).

Or rather, juggling your work and doing something that has become your main source of feeling alive has never been easy. That leads to having tremenduous lack of time to indulge in our interests, and in this case, doing breadwinning work, watching films and review them has surely taken up most of my time.

Sacrifice is Freakingly Fabulous! That’s how SIFF should stand for.

And for the faithful followers of this so-called journey, you may notice how I’d to sacrifice some confirmed populist films on the list of the fest this year.

Resting time may be substituted, financial constraints can be solved by worshipping loan shark, but meeting your old friends and current ones who are not into films crazily like us is something worth doing, eventhough *deep sigh* we may have to be taken aback when people say something like,

“Hey, I love Garin Nugroho’s Rindu Kami Pada-Mu!”
“Really? I missed that :(“

But gladly, despite the hectic social hopping here and there, I decided not to miss another fabulous film which is more than qualified to be considered as another hidden treasure in the fest.
I was blown away, literally hopeful in fact, to the Far Side of the Moon.

Far Side of the Moon

So much so that it never fails to drift my attention away despite its cosmic subject playfully treated to become comical, yet touching.
On top of that, in a rare achievement of artistry, Robert Lepage manages to spread his artistic comandeering evenly, making the film a pleasant journey of viewing without any hints of watching a work of egoism.

As a director, he turns this film into one imaginative film that still sets its foot deep down to the earth.

As a screenwriter, he turns his own play into a series of quirky and witty utterances that invite genuine laughter.

As an actor, he slips into the dual roles easily, believing contrast characters among the sibling.

As a moviegoer myself, this is a film worth repeated viewings which deserve greater number of audience.

However, the same feeling is hardly the same as when I went to catch a documentary flick on Monday nite.
Common assumption sets that the fest is the best time when we can cram as many genres as possible. Therefore, a fest will not be complete without diversity of genres, and how can one resist new emergences of watchable documentaries?

But this time, as the title itself suggests, I was kidnapped by the terror haunting me when I watched Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst.

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Arguably one of the most controversial kidnappings in the ’70s happening at the height of mass hysteria over Vietnam war that leads to rebellious movements from some underground organizations, which contrasted with the lives of the rich, the film presents the fact as is, without taking bravery on making its own opinion.

Whereas such action might be seen as an objective move, the film itself becomes lack of emotional attachment to the audience. Robert Stone presents the film in a straight-forward narrative structure, outlining the story in an organized manner of daily-come-weekly-come-monthly basis, as if to make us feel like observing the whole events as news, and nothing more than that.

Yet, the constructed structure takes its blow when the film abrupts its ending by presenting a footage of Patty Hearst a few years later transforming herself as a celebrity. As if to make an ironic comparison to her younger days being with the the Symbionese Liberation Army (that infamous SLA), the footage does not give any weight to the story as it blatantly is presented there for the sake of continuation of the story, to make it as chronological as possible.

And chronologically, this festival journey should continue, despite hiccups and bumpy roads here and there.

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Posted by on 04/26/2005 in English, Film


waving hands …

udah nonton “love, actually”?

di bagian awal ama akhir pelem ini, ada adegan dimana kita bisa ngeliat ekspresi orang-orang yang lagi nunggu temen/pacar/kekasih/pasangan mereka di bagian kedatangan. dari ekspresi mereka yang harap-harap cemas nungguin orang-orang asing keluar satu per satu, kita ngeliat raut muka mereka yang penuh kekhawatiran sekaligus ketidaksabaran. dari ekspresi mereka, kita ngeliat bahwa yang ada di pikiran mereka cuman satu: bertemu dengan orang yang mereka tunggu.

sampai akhirnya … dari gerombolan penumpang-penumpang lain yang keberadaannya kurang atau malah tidak berarti di kehidupan kita, datanglah apa dan siapa yang kita tunggu! raut muka langsung berubah ceria, segala kebetean kita sebelumnya langsung hilang, ga peduli kalo kita udah ngabisin waktu berjam-jam di airport nungguin.
peluk cium ketawa seneng, everything pays off in the end.

nah, gimana kalo dengan suasana keberangkatan?

keberangkatan berarti kita harus nganterin temen/pacar/kekasih/pasangan kita kembali ke tempat asal mereka, dan biasanya, suasana disini bakal beda banget ama suasana kedatangan.
mungkin dari yang ketawa-ketawa pas dalam perjalanan ke airport, eh begitu mo masuk pintu imigrasi, yang ada malah peluk-pelukan dan tangis-tangisan.

walaupun ngga sampe separah itu, tapi kemaren yang gue rasakan adalah kebingungan.

bingung, karena bolak-balik gue ngomong ke sahabat gue selama 11 taun yang bernama Fay ini, dan juga his lady Noriko, “don’t worry, there’ll always be next time.”
padahal sumpah gue bilang ini cuman sekedar rasa assurance aja, tanpa tau pasti kapan bakal ketemu dia lagi.

jarak jauh? ngga ada waktu?
lebih karena kita berdua sama-sama sadar kalo kita dah punya kehidupan sendiri-sendiri yang udah jadi center of our own life, yang bisa aja, ngga mengikutsertakan satu sama lain disitu.

which is why it’s all perfectly clear kalo gue pulang ke jakarta dan ngga ketemu dia, then there’s gotta be other important thing that i need to attend.

thanks for the easiest friendship ever, fay! look forward to another decade.

(ps.: no films on last weekend)

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Posted by on 04/23/2005 in Bahasa Indonesia


SIFFest Journey – Thursday, 21 April 2005

(Siffest means that we won’t hear usual buzz of mobile’s ringtones like what we may usually experience in any other cinemas for any other screenings. Thanks to who? Us. Audience. C’mon, give a credit to ourselves, shall we?)

Indeed, so niche the market for Siffest is that we tend to see the same people patronizing Shaw Towers’ cinemas over and over again. Considering that these cinephiles would be willing to spend their piggy bank savings to lure themselves into film-indulgence session like this, chances are that we may see them again in any other festivals, be it the country-themed festivals in Singapore, or even within region. After all, my Bangkok Film Festival journey that I did a few months back wouldn’t be fruitful had Zefri been not around.

Yet, tonight I missed my chance to politely scrutinize the faces of audience, thanks to my stressed-out day I had had at work earlier. This means that I would crave for a nice, not necessarily healthy dinner, and that would take quite significant amount of time as a dinner would not be complete without chatterings with people that you care for.

But then, this is not Psycho or any Hitchcock’s films where you can’t afford losing the first few minutes. The film that slightly suffered from my unapologetic lateness happens to be a straight-forward drama from Argentina, and it’s about one Live-In Maid in Buenos Aires.

Live-In Maid

Now, we’ve often decided to watch a film because of its actor in the film, right?

Exactly. The main reason why the film got selected in my list, not to mention that I bought the ticket at a very last minute, was simply because of one name: Norma Aleandro.

I fell in love with her immediately after seeing her performance in Son of the Bride as an amnesiac woman who was introduced to experience love at first sight again to her husband of 40 years. Looking at her tiny figure in that film, I was taken by surprise to see her voluptuous hair style that transformed her as a demanding matriarch at the brink of bankruptcy in Live-In Maid. She dominates every scene she is in with her sharp facial expression that does not require any words to tell what her character is thinking of.

Her uncanny portrayal of a woman basking in good old days of her height to be crashed with current harsh reality of aging life seems to steal the spotlight from the main actress herself who carries the title role, Norma Argentina as Dora, the maid. Even if Argentina has to share the screentime equally with the more popular Aleandro, yet together they form a duet of class-act performance that elevates the already smart script to be a film so enjoyable, that eclipses the disturbing rough look of digital format the film reels in.

And now, if only I could’ve finished my dinner any sooner …

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Posted by on 04/21/2005 in English, Film