Monthly Archives: November 2005

on ffi 2005.

i, nauval, wholeheartedly and dutifully accept the fact that i have not watched the following films shortlisted for official selection to compete in festival film indonesia (ffi) 2205:

ketika (does watching 1 disc out of 2 discs count?)

because it requires tremendous efforts to see indonesian films on a big screen here, and financial constraint forbids me to travel back to indonesia on regular basis.

thus, watching 3 films out of the 7 selected ones will be deemed not qualified to put any comments or judgment towards the festival.

i hereby refrain myself from giving any opinion on the result of the festival …

yet let me praise joko anwar for getting his film selected as an opening film for asian festival of first films recently held in singapore. the gesture of appreciation is given to joko for his hilarious debut which shows his penchant towards film, and the film was made with a clear and concise concept on how the film would look like on a big screen. not to mention to generate good, healthy laughter among the film’s intended audience.

for cornelia agatha and sauzan, good luck. may one of you walk with the coveted prize.

for rudi sudjarwo and his ‘tentang dia‘, next time do not ever do deus-ex-machina concept again, ok? ending a story by forcing one of the main characters to disappear in such a banal manner is hardly any logical, at least not to the mind of modern audience. we are convinced that this may work in any novels by graham greene, yet your film does not stand alongside the merits of them.

oh, have i said too much?

for the rest of you, do check the mecca of indonesian film reviews in sinema indonesia. the guys there have surely done a commendable job, and i tip my hat off to all of them.

i wonder if they ever drop by here, though. i doubt so, since we differ greatly in examining films.

the reason why i do not leave any comments on the blog is as simple as:

i don’t have an account in multiply.

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Posted by on 11/30/2005 in English, Film


admit it,

you’re scared.

yes, i am.

i’ve never been this afraid in my whole life.

you’re scared, aren’t you?

yes, in fact, i’ve been scared recently.

of what?

of questioning if it’s normal or not.

about what?

that i am much more terrified to live on my own in my home country than here, in a foreign land.

and i’ve to face it alone.

i’m scared.

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Posted by on 11/27/2005 in English


Pride and Prejudice

I assume that those who happen to drop by this blog and reading this have already been familiar with the novel, having read it as a compulsory reading if sometime during their pre-college or college days they choose literature as the subject, or by the very least, be already familiar to the story, thanks to the hype surrounding Colin Firth’s wet suit or Aishwarya Rai’s song-and-dance numbers in polished English. Whatever your resource is, I can assure you that the version of Pride and Prejudice being examined here does not change anything at all from the core of the story, thus leaving me not having to describe anything that happens between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.

In fact, there’s nothing wrong at all with this exquisite film. At the time of rising trend in turning classical literary works into some self-proclaimed modern re-imagining adaptation, often indicated by changing the setting of time and place (remember the less-than-great “Great Expectations”, anyone?), Joe Wright decides to stick to the truest nature of the book by keeping the background of the story intact. Such a relief indeed to see a period drama with girls wearing corsets hidden under layers of their enchanting dress while parading themselves in majestic castles, and not since Merchant-Ivory team that a director can treat a classic work into something precious and beautiful as this.

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The perseverance to keep the spirit of the book thus leads us to witness a fine acting ensemble, led by Keira Knightley in her spitfire performance as rebellious Elizabeth Bennett, an unlikely heroine at the time of women’s reservation. Keira’s determination indeed works like a magnet that captive audience to long more of her presence, and not even a scene where she fails to lit up the screen with her ethereal beauty alongside her bravura acts. In accordance to the film’s release at the end of the year during Oscar campaign season, I strongly believe she can pull off the same effect like what Winona Ryder did on 1994 with her “Little Women”, i.e. to emerge as an underdog, and slowly build the way up to scoring a nod for Best Actress in a film based on a beloved classic novel.

Her other compatriot is the hilarious Brenda Blethyn playing as her mother, a busy-bee woman whose mind is occupied in finding good men for all of her daughters. She might be over-the-top, yet her antics give the film necessary laughter whenever she appears on the screen. Talk about being an effective scene stealer here.

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And now comes the part that personally I dislike most: bashing a good film.

So the acting is superb, the screenwriting manages to stay faithful and keep the spirit of the book well, the direction is deft, the score is enticing enough, and what could possibly ruin the whole 135 minute of the film?

Believe it or not, it is the ending.

Here in Singapore, we are very unfortunate to be given with the US version, which contains additional scenes, and I have to warn you that these additional scenes deem unnecessary, and to some extent, these scenes linger on to my mind, way long after I watch this film more than a week ago.

Of course, I respect my readers’ preference not to have any spoilers, yet I do strongly suggest that if you manage to watch the UK version, it is slightly shorter and the scene the director picks to end the film is, indeed, a bang.

Whereas for the US version, what is meant to be sexy on the first place, turns out to become, sadly, an out-of-place laughing stock.

Anyway, I guess this is the first time for me to say:
Leave the theatre before the final scene appears, and you’ve got a beautiful film to treasure.

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Posted by on 11/26/2005 in English, Film



Before we begin, let’s talk about, or rather, let’s walk down the memory lane of good ol’ days. The same activity that I did when I watched the film, and soon enough you will be able to see why.

I remember Uma Thurman on her pre-Kill Bill days.

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She stormed to cinematic world with her classic, fragile beauty as shown on her luminous face, and at first Hollywood seemed clueless not knowing what to do with her otherworldly grace. Surely “Dangerous Liaisons” showcased her acting, and “Pulp Fiction” cemented her cult status, not to mention scoring an Oscar nod for that, but it was not until “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” she can be at her complete ease with her physical quality and make use of that in such a comical way. As further enhanced in “Beautiful Girls” where she still stands tall among an ensemble of fellow young actors, Uma has come full circle in accepting herself and her beauty, and play along with it nicely to equip her with amicable comic timing in every comedy she has done so far.

I remember Meryl Streep on her days in late ‘80s/early ‘90s.

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Already touted as a great actress by then, as proved by her 2 Oscars and 6 other nominations as of the year 1990, she surprised filmgoers and critics by taking comic roles successively in “She-Devil”, “Defending Your Life”, and the most hilarious of them all, “Death Becomes Her”. A challenge that she conquered brilliantly, indeed. Who can forget her maniacal expression when her face turned backwards in “Death”? Her sarcasm in “She-Devil” brought down Roseanne’s wits, and she easily matched Albert Brook’s style in “Defending”. Thus, the status of a great living actress is not too much, for she has proved her skill both in dramatic and comic roles equally wonderful.

Now, a film featuring the two actresses baring their souls to the core, when they have to show their range of acting skills, in a comedic film, what can we expect?

As simple as: class-act performances!

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In Prime, Uma and Meryl bring out their aforementioned comic skills to their scenes together that prove to be nail-biting and riveting. Look out for them having to chew the uncomfortable awkwardness after finding out that as a shrink (Meryl) and her patient (Uma), now they find themselves as supposedly nemesis to each other after the patient dates the shrink’s son (Bryan Greenberg). Worse, eventually the couple falls in love despite their age difference, not to mention having an overprotective mother who insists on the same-religion marriage.

Thankfully, the awaited solution proves to be satisfying, and I have a good suspicion on how the director and the writer, Ben Younger, can go away easily with this. But no matter what it is, the jovial mood he has on making the film is apparent enough, and such a wise decision indeed to have many scenes featuring Uma being goofy and Meryl turning mad filling up the screen together, sparking good and loud laughter.

After all, it is not everyday we get a mother talk about her son’s penis to his date.

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Posted by on 11/25/2005 in English, Film


Chicken Little

Oh. My. God.

So we all know that Chicken Little is Disney’s latest bait to test the water on what will happen after Pixar leaves them for good after “Cars” is released next year. A sad move, but such a move is necessary, and you will know why after you finish reading this piece.

Assuming that you watch this film during the holiday season, when you will take your kids or nieces or nephews or basically any people under the age of 12, I plea to you all to pick any other films to watch, because you don’t want to see your kids getting harmed by the film. Why? Because, oh God, do you all really want to know why?

Here’s a spoiler.

The film will be listed in my annual top films of the year as …


Everything in this film screams “Gay” out loud in pride! Do you want some proof?

Let’s start by the commonly perceived Disney’s convention in omitting the mother-character in almost every single (animated) film released by the studio. You’ve got Bambi’s mother killed within the first 40-minute of, well, “Bambi”; and whoever knows about Ariel’s mother? Then of course, Belle has no parents, and Nemo’s mother dies when he is still being an infant. I was convinced that Disney finally getting sober when “The Incredibles” was out, for finally Disney managed to break the boundaries … which sadly, did not last that long.

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Moving on, having your son imitating Chicken Little singing “I am the Champion” (a narcissist version of “We are the Champion”) under a spotlight made from a torchlight put on his bed will cause him being vain and God only knows what sort of effect will be derived by having the late Freddie Mercury as an idol.

And soon enough, Runt the Litter will be cemented and clamored as a gay icon, thanks to his “Streisand collection” (and his persistence to keep it), sadistically singing Spice Girls’ song during karaoke session, and talk about being a good buddy to a girl in distress over her not being popular and less self-confident about her look? This speaks loud.

Not that I don’t have a good laugh throughout the film, but I could not help pitying Disney over its waning magic in providing the audience with narrative storytelling that compels us to our seat and looking at the big screen with awe. The story that revolves son-father relationship has been told too many times, which could work differently if it is presented in a different angle. Yet, the plain manner certainly did not help elevating the film to be a distinctively feel-good flick, especially knowing that a similar theme has previously been explored in depth in “Finding Nemo”, released in only 2 years ago.

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Patching the plot holes with mindless pop tunes certainly would not do any good to the film, even worse, making the film becoming the most uninspiring Disney film in years, scoring-wise. Notice how recently Disney’s film seldom made to the Original Score nomination in Academy Awards? That’s another issue altogether, yet I can’t help thinking so after seeing the mess of the film in its musicality.

This concerns me most, especially for parents/uncles/aunts out there, if you happen to see your kids/nieces/nephews belting out pop tunes instead of show tunes, wouldn’t you worry that the girls’ will be popstar-wannabe and the boys’ will be non-culturally polished gays?

Whatever it is, my final say goes to Pixar: Run for your life, the (Disney’s) sky is falling!

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Posted by on 11/23/2005 in English, Film


Kiki’s Delivery Service

I remember when I was a kid, I made sure that I got up early in the morning on Sundays, so as not to miss my favorite cartoon series. From Unyil, to Dash Yonkuro, to everlasting Doraemon, and the short-lived Asari-Chan, although this came out on Saturdays during the time when I had just started studying here.
Somehow there was this inexplicable nature of seeing a cartoon on Sunday morning, it could be the feeling of a holiday that results in a jolly feeling during and after watching the cartoons, knowing that my 1-2 hour sitting in front of a television was not a waste, and I found myself recharged with energy to do any activities afterwards.

I could not be more glad to revisit the worth taking experience again earlier this morning, when I decided to watch Kiki’s Delivery Service, one of Hayao Miyazaki’s stellar works that made him a living legend.

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Such a praise never seems overrated though, for Miyazaki has been known for his heartfelt storyline without being weepy, and Kiki is no exception on this department. But if you look for otherworldly fantasy with larger-than-life characters, you are bound to disappoint.

This is what I was surprised at. Having been familiar with his works such as “Spirited Away” or “Princess Mononoke”, I expected some monsters to eat Kiki alive or turned her parents into pigs. Yet, Kiki’s greatest enemy, if only there’s any literally, is a group of crows who still act and behave like, appropriately, crows themselves. The only exception perhaps Jiji, her talking cat, but then, aren’t all the commonly-perceived witches equipped with one?

There you go, even without defying convention by twisting Kiki into some complicated or complex characterization, we still get hooked following the story of Kiki, a young witch who at the tender age of 13, must start living independently to sharpen her skill as a witch. The journey never fails to amaze us as Kiki, the witch, turns out to be an ordinary girl who starts getting a grip of her life while seeking for her truest identity.

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Feminists who complain how recent films seem to deter from portraying good female characters might find solace on the film, as such a rarity to find any films, be them animated or not, to have a strong character of woman carry the whole film throughout. It is definitely another Miyazaki’s element which has been persistently reserved in most of his works, and knowing that the film was made in 1989, anti-Hollywood film critics may quick to point out that the film is ahead of its time.

Children will love having Kiki as their sister or friend, or simply daydreaming to be one, to be able flying around with a broom and a talking animal as their faithful companion, thus starting to get the film’s merchandise, and thankfully, it was given a lesser treatment in business-minded Disney, despite handling the film’s international distribution.

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For me, I simply have a good time watching Kiki’s journey to be able to know what she wants to do with her life, how to live on her own terms, and be responsible for it. Too much? I don’t complain on having my Sunday ruined, right?! 😉

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Posted by on 11/20/2005 in English, Film


Love and Death

Watching any Woody Allen’s films set in anywhere but New York, a city filled with its sophisticatedly advanced and highly educated people according to him, is always interesting, in particular to his early works pre-Annie Hall. The much younger Woody Allen had already known by then to where he should be headed with his wits and penchants for twisted philosophical views, and satisfying audience based on box-office takings certainly has never been his main priority.

An auteur, they say. The directors who insist on translating their visions to the big screen as concise as possible, thus high risks are nothing new on their menu. They may face constant downhill or uphill, and this should not bother them, for they will keep on making films despite critics’ wariness, for these madly creative conductors hang on to their beliefs that when they die, both existing and newly found fans will dig up their works, all of them, calling their less-successful works as “underrated”, “hidden gem”, “underappreciated”, etc.

Perhaps then, Woody Allen is one of the few remaining auteurs still alive and kicking his creative gears in producing films every one or two years. So much anticipation is reserved for his upcoming “Match Point”, an oasis of his recent string flops, yet his failures are things I find them hard to decipher, especially after seeing his earlier works, including Love and Death.

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You don’t have to wait until the end credit rolls to find the film as ‘a Woody Allen film’. His admiration towards Ingmar Bergman is obvious enough on the presence of Death, a direct in-joke of the same character in the higher maestro’s classic “The Seventh Seal”, the split faces of Diane Keaton and the actress playing Ivan’s wife, and to those who nose on trivia, the mention of “The Magic Flute” as the greatest opera Mozart ever made during a pre-opera show scene also works double as it can be referred to other Bergman’s earlier work.

More importantly, what constitutes as a Woody Allen film is the director’s wits, a result of years doing stand-up comedy. Intelligent without being pretentious, Allen’s jokes are often punching you hard in minds, and the film’s laugh-out-loud-by-minute proves his excellence in delivering not just a comedy, but a mind-blowing film filled with originality in turning history to a hilarious result unthinkable at the time. Of course, you may think twice on being a pacifist during war season then.

Woody Allen’s deft comic timing is equaled by his muse of 1970s, Diane Keaton, who started developing her own comical sense, and she carries her deadpanned role easily, and watching her devilishly naïve in doing her wrongdoings gives the film a sense of pleasure to watch. After all, it is unlikely to find any other actresses can easily utter philosophical quotes in such a zany act to remain thoughtful.

And being one of great directors who has been widely known to bring out the best from his actors certainly will only cement the towering Woody Allen’s legendary reputation.

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Posted by on 11/18/2005 in English, Film


Me and You and Everyone We Know

Why is it that certain films prompt you to sit, watch, think, and cry while watching them closely?
Because of its sappy characters, overblown plot or mediocre musical scores that go overly used in the background of the film?

Sometimes, a film gets us big time because of its compelling storytelling that rings true to our basic necessity as a human being. The film on the spotlight here, Me and You and Everyone We Know, teaches us, or rather, reminds me on the necessity to communicate and interact with other people in this complicated world where self-recognition is on top of everyone’s priority list.

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Ever since the film starts with the images of neatly arranged pictures on the wall of our main character, Christine, and she starts imagining things by making up dialogues of what the people in the pictures might say to each other, we are hooked with the situation she traps herself in. Loneliness that turns herself longing for companion, that also turns herself to sacrifice her artistic ambition to become a cab-driver for elder people, who give her ears to share her thoughts, who, in some twisted fate, introduce her to people she will embark on some relationships … There you go, you have an idea why the film is aptly given such a title that seems to be a tagline for overrated Friendster.

Yet, perhaps it is not too much to derive a hypothesis that the film works like the website where everyone is connected to another, and at some points in their life, they are communicating to each other. Film-wise, the idea is far from original, perhaps one may quick to note Jafar Panahi’s The Circle as one of fine examples.

What makes Miranda July’s stunning debut poignant lies on the film’s acute and accurate depiction on people’s primary need on not being alone, knowing that their existence recognized in one way or another, be it through a bitter divorce process, being an object of sexual desires of a pervert, or doing sexual chats with an underage kid, unknowingly. July excels in her approach that reels on tenderness of human beings, and treating them equally as fellow inhabitants of one deserted city, without putting any judgment on them. Not even while she makes fun of artsy people with their pretentiousness, the joke is delivered subtly, as if July treats the film carefully like a baby on her early stage.

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Indeed, the affectionate feeling is felt as her labor of love, and a work delivered with a lot of hearts results in a film that screams out words like “original”, “beautiful”, or “a breakout”, or “simply a gem”.

She deserves all the accolades, and I deserve the film to be inhibited within myself, just like one of the main characters, Richard, says to Christine while she complains about how painful it is everytime she tries new shoes, and Richard consoles her without even touching her feet, yet carefully examining the pain, looking at her the way a shoe-store keeper treats a customer, and innocently tells her:

“You think you deserve the pain, but you don’t”.

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My favorite film of the year.

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Posted by on 11/15/2005 in English, Film


let me sing …

— the final scene of barbra streisand standing under the spotlight in funny girl belting out the words as follows,

“oh my man i love him so
he’ll never know

all my life is just a spare
but i don’t care

when he takes me in his arms
the world is bright

what’s the difference if i say
i’ll go away

when i know i’ll come back
on my knee someday

for whatever my man is
i am his
more …”

feels like life itself, achingly true —

(barbra streisand – my man – ost. funny girl – 1968)

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Posted by on 11/14/2005 in English


to be away.

i have not been living with family ever since i was 15.

at that time, the whole family decided to move, while i stubbornly insisted that i was gonna continue my study in this hometown where i was born, where i grew up, where i laid my first kiss on.

my dad, being a very moderate man and having the same experience when he had been a teenager to live independently, agreed on my proposal, while my mother tried to hold my decision back whenever possible.

i stayed in a rented room for 2,5 years, the time when i was at my utmost ecstatic life of being a teenager. friends, i had a few, but those few precious friends were the ones who stood by me for every foolish turn i made.

no, don’t get me wrong, drugs and drinks were not my cup of tea, but i was heavily involved in several organizations and extracurricular activities, although the acts still left me far cry from being the popular guy, no thanks to my average look and steering myself away from any sports events.

i was having enormous fun, until my dad was transferred back by his company to take over the office in my hometown.

it was painful process to adjust living together again with one parent, in which eventually my mum and my sis moved back, happily together under one roof situated in a land of a city they love most.

while me, i was the rebellious one who always seeked for opportunity to live as far away from the comfort of home as possible.

when the chance came true six years ago, i couldn’t be happier, and i was more than ready to set my suitcases and pack my stuff, marched to a foreign land, which along the process has been my comfort zone.

there’s no reason for me not treating this rich land as a comfort zone, for it has everything i longed to have. the films, the books, the arts scene, the convenience, everything i consider as a staple of my survival.

my relationship with my parents and sisters have become somewhat static, with a few minutes phone call in a week or two, yet we remain close at heart, we say prayers to one another unknowingly.

whenever i miss home, i could board a plane to go there, although recently, there has not been much to do at home.

apparently, my resistance of staying at home affects much on my sustainability in doing nothing, but sitting comfortably while looking through my past photos.

no, i’ve got to get out, i’ve gotta do more than this, and that leads me to sneak out.
whenever i go back to my home country, seldom i go back to my hometown.

but tonight, for one rare time, i miss them greatly, to the extent of, aptly, being unbearable.

i miss my dad’s tender, firm, comforting words, who still insisted on driving me around whenever i’m home, and the one who insists on following my heart, to do any works with the force inhibited by all our senses, not merely brains, because it only makes us stressed out. being a great man himself, i trust him completely.

i miss my mum’s punchlines, her jokes, her easy-on-life views which make her a great mum any inspiring writers should look upon when they write films or plays with an unusual mom character on them.

i miss my elder sis’ nagging on how she should look best, and i’ve to say that she has such an amazing array of books, as later i do inspection on them myself, i’ve got to admit she has a sensible literary selection.

i miss my younger sis’ bravery in bracing herself out to the streets, the youngest in our family who seems destined knowing what to do to make herself happy, and i felt bad being a big brother who seldom spent much time with her. i know she’s lonely not knowing much about her only brother since i have not lived with her on a daily basis ever since she turned 6, but the time with her is always a jolly one.

and i miss them all.

i haven’t loved them enough.

and it feels like i’ve always needed them around,
yet i feel ashamed to admit that,
for the sake of my shield that goes by the name of:
pretentious independence.

i miss them.

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Posted by on 11/13/2005 in English


don’t we?

what we wish is to have a day or two,
strolling along the alleys of a supermarket,
a trolley full of meats, ingredients, vegetables, unhealthy canned foods,
sweetened fruits, buttered snacks or crunchy peanuts with the look that says,
“didn’t i tell you not to pick up those junk?”,
you’re pretending not to hear,
you’re continuing what you hear.

the trolley passes each and every alley slowly,
while they two look at the shelves,
and each other.

talking over what’s good for dinner,
any left over for breakfast is deemed good,
but let’s not waste too much darling,
we’re not feeding the cats after all.

the trolley seems to be heavier,
while we’re not getting anything.

it’s because you’re holding my hand.

alrite, but where’s the champagne?
oh no! white wine please …
uh huh, creamy mushroom soup, sweet sour fried chicken and a bourdeaux?!
green tea will do just fine!

oh but what’s the occasion?
a meaningful look in a wide smile of warmth.

if this is an occasion,
then let it be for spending this time
in a supermarket
and later for cooking what we’ve bought
have a dinner for two, just you and me
whatever we cook, whatever we eat
it’s for us.

don’t we wish for the kind of small things
that matter most

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Posted by on 11/12/2005 in English


a simple life.

there used to be a time when living a simple life means:
– going to bed before 10 pm, lights all out, occasionally do bedtime reading for a while, but definitely not later than 11 pm,
– waking up early in the morning when roosters start shouting their infamous alarm out,
– having a good breakfast in a big portion,
– going to school/work/market/etc. which are within walking distance, or taking less than 20 minutes to reach by car/motorcycle/bike etc.,
– coming back home latest by 7 pm to have dinner together,
– talking about what has happened on a day while glued on the TV set showing a feel-good sitcoms,
– settling down on who’s gonna do the dishes, and who’s gonna use the bicycle on the following weekend,
– and uttering prayers before hitting the bed.

nowadays, an effort to live a simple life based on modern standard means:
– going to bed before 10 pm is laughable, after all, juggling between workloads and CSI is not easy,
– waking up early to have breakfast at 7 am?! i thought breakfast is served at 12 pm, the earliest!,
– oh no! i’m late! now i’m stuck in a traffic jam, which means i’ll reach the office in … two hours?!
– there’s no way i could go home early, i’ve got to stay back to do the overdue works, and while waiting for the traffic jam to cease, i’d better hit the gym to shed away these calories,
– i can’t believe they’re showing fear factor at dinner time! and what’s up w/ these so-called reality shows? nothing on TV is real!,
– i’ll just sleep on weekend, don’t bother to knock. well, unless you can put me on the guest list for the new pub in town,
– look, i’m tired, i’ve got a meeting tomorrow, so … i … zzzz … zzzz … zzz ..

looking at how i’ve managed to survive both lives, i can’t help making comparison among these two. if you think that the former is tad boring, think again.

you wake up in the morning, you go to the office and do your work without thinking because you are trained like a machine, while the only think that you’re looking forward to is the salary slip, and its paycut for taxes, bills, and rents.
no worries about that, there are ways to sneak out and have fun, although for that matter, living in 5 or 6 days of routine has to be endured without any complaints.
complaining does not change anything though, you’ll still end up being a slave of life.
after all the complaints, the life to meet up the standard has to be fulfilled.

what standard, and whose standard?
has there been any rules on living the way like most people do?

for sure, government along with their phone companies, electric companies, and big giants of supermarket chains only care of you when you pay the taxes, fines, bills, dues, and shopping fee on time, on the right amount, preferrably as excessive as possible. the way to obtain the means is considered less important, anything can be disguised and covered under the mask of generosity.

and living a modern life proves to be no feat of excitement.
and living a traditional life deems impossible to lead among the rushes of surroundings.

choose the life you want to be. be warned that this piece of advice is given by an undetermined guy not knowing what he needs to do with his lack-of-clear-direction life. what matters to him most is how he makes use of his current, remaining pieces of breathing existence.

we choose our lives.

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Posted by on 11/10/2005 in English


Ungu Violet

Knowing that the film is submitted to some international film festivals, I joked with my friend about how they might translate the film into English. Will it be “Purple Violet” or perhaps “Violet, Violet”? Such a redundancy, in fact, since there’s no character by the name of Violet in the film, unlike “Eliana, Eliana”, aptly titled as the story revolves around the girl by the name of Eliana.

Considering the fact that I’ve been living away from Indonesia most of the time, I have to settle seeing the film as distributed by a Malaysian film distributor, and that means I have to compromise my patience not to bitch about the “suitable” Malay subtitle shown throughout the film. By any means, English subtitle is a must for a film like this to avoid any confusion in matching the dialogues and the written words, and I believe any Malaysian films imported to Indonesia (like there’s any, though), should be having English subtitle as well, so as to not getting bitched about by audience well-conversed in the similar two languages.

Now, you might be wondering that this is not my habit of spending two paragraphs talking about anything but the film itself. Not that the film itself is a trash material. In fact, the film has some standout scenes that work well to present good quality on being a melodrama movie. Particularly, those scenes belong to most of the time Dian Sastro and Rima Melati act together. The former girl has injected much of herself in the character, an assumption made from the fact that Dian is indeed a model, and one of the brands in which she is the spokesperson of is featured in the dialogues, thus seeing her comfortably bringing out her character is a pleasant to watch. The latter actress is a senior actress who has mastered her dramatic skill never deters along with the passage of time, and on her final scene with Dian where they talk over the phone yet they do not reveal many words, is indeed heartbreaking. Rima successfully shows us a master class of conveying a convincing act without uttering, or worse, screaming words, but rather, inhibit them, and projecting the intended meaning to the outer facial expression.

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Sadly, the same cannot be said to the leading actor, Rizky Hanggono. In his leading role debut here along with two more established performers, Rizky seems trying hard to catch up while maintaining his supposedly cool looks, which unfortunately translates as blank, incompetent looks on the screen. If he thinks that his words help him carrying the role, he could not be more wrong, as his words were kept to minimum in this visually generous (yet less gorgeous) film.

Emphasizing more on Rizky, I partly blame his failure to the director, Rako Prijanto (am I having a Freudian slip to type wrongly, that the directorial credit belongs to Rudi Sudjarwo? It feels like Rudi’s film all over the place, though).
Rako should have known the limitations on Rizky’s ability in donning his lack of dramatic acting skills, and the fact that Rizky was given lesser dialogues, quantity and quality wise, is perfectly acceptable. Yet, during Rizky’s scene with blink-and-you-miss presence of the always reliable Niniek L. Karim, when the camera zooms in on his non-expressive look and forcing him to shift within seconds to project extremely different feelings from laughing silly to drastically becomes sobbing uncontrollably, Rizky simply fails to nail it down. The effect was laughable throughout, and worse when the scene was shown for more than three seconds, immediately registering to this writer’s memory as the one scene that brings the whole movie down.

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Not even the lush cinematography seems to be rip-offs from any Christopher Doyle’s shots found in any Wong Kar Wai’s films matter to me most. Not even I mind lack of variety on background music scores created by Piyu from Padi. Not even I bother about the repetitive deus-ex-machina concept overtly used in most dramatic Indonesian films and TV series to bring the story to the end.

Not everyone can do what Diane Lane does in Unfaithful or Juliet Stevenson in Truly, Madly, Deeply.

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Posted by on 11/08/2005 in English, Film


confession of a boredom.

i may be what you define as a boring human being.

oh god! that even rhymes, unintentionally.

for the past 26-going-on-27 years of my life, i will state that:

i don’t drink.

i don’t do drugs.

i don’t smoke.

i don’t do one-night-stand.

i don’t do orgy.

i don’t do flirting.

i don’t go to saunas or public bathrooms.

i don’t apply for jobs recently.

i don’t watch asian horror films.

i don’t enjoy “frasier”.

i don’t read “harry potter”.

i don’t dwell on sex.

i don’t sleep around when i’m single.

i don’t possess a to-die-for looks and bods.

i don’t have both sexual and non-sexual infidelities.

am i dead?

no, i’m pretty much alive, because i know i’ve chosen this life to be comfortable with.

and before i go on, kindly apply the words “… have never done …” on every “don’t” as well, it works both ways.

i am welcome with every single pre-conceived notion everyone already stores at the back of their mind whenever they approach me, talk to me, be it for a small talk or initiating a conversation. some of them are surprised, but other may accept it from the face-value, god only knows if it is a pretentious act of courtesy or simply doing some nods rather than just sitting still in front of me, which of course, is an uncomfortable gesture to do.

i may lie.

i may say harsh words.

i may give confusion headache.

yet, this is me, who thinks that boring is good.

who thinks that good film review writing should be based on the late pauline kael’s extremely approachable manner, or extremely serious a la the writers of ‘sight and sound’ magazine.

who thinks that it is okay to spend an evening at home, watching 1948’s black-and-white version of “hamlet”, directed by laurence olivier, as borrowed from esplanade library.

who thinks that blaming myself is the right way when other people within my surroundings start hurting me, because i think that i do not give enough of myself to them.

who thinks that sex can still be substituted with self-service act of decency.

who thinks that long-distance relationship is scary, yet comforting.

because i believe on its longevity.

because i can see that the door is opening on the intended side.

now, who wants to be with me?

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Posted by on 11/07/2005 in English


riding on a train.

most of the time, i take the train heading to pasir ris.
to the east direction.

from buona vista station where i usually hop on, i usually face the opposite way of what other people are facing.
i show my butt to the exit door.

because i know that i’m going to alight at city hall station,
in which the exit door is the opposite of all the exit doors in all other stations.

because i am headed differently.

if i could do the same with my life …

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Posted by on 11/04/2005 in English