Daily Archives: 01/16/2006

9 Naga

Imagine you are in a foreign country, being there for the first time, and you decide to hop on a bus, taking a trip that lasts for 105 minutes from one point in the West to the other end in the East.

When you jump aboard, you will see unfamiliar faces revealing their characters, yet you can’t trust your instinct to believe in face value, but you’d rather wait for them telling their stories which may transport you to disbelief, as the stories will actually reveal their multi-layered characters. Of course, part of the stories will bore you to death, especially if they decide to give the explosive parts within the first half an hour, while you still have more than one hour to reach your destination.
How do you fill the gap hole?
One option will tell you to enjoy the scenery, something you might need to keep you well informed about that new city you are in. Otherwise, you can (pretend to) nod in whatever agreement those people telling you, and slowly sink yourself to doze off, right until you see that the terminal of your last stop is within the horizon.

There goes how you should watch 9 Naga.

9 Naga

The unsteady pace in telling the stories might be exactly what you experience when a car you’re in hits a bumpy road, after a brisk pace, you are forced to take a few gears back, and slowly build up the speed again, right before hitting another bumpy ones.

In this case, we are given a blowing promise within the first 30 minutes when Rudi Soedjarwo decides to lift the story up, pumping our adrenaline with some gritty scenes done exquisitely well, without either being banal or vulgar.
After all, this is the theme where Soedjarwo finds himself familiar with, having directed Mengejar Matahari which shares a similar brotherhood theme, and even Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? that puts a strong emphasize on sisterhood.

Yet, what follows afterwards is one big hole with overtly long, unnecessary scenes that seem to be filled in order to make the duration lasts longer than 90 minutes, something that Soedjarwo should be able to avoid. A conspiracy theory might predict that Soedjarwo tries hard to compromise the highly macho-theme with a touch of feminine side with a few light-hearted scenes, although the effect tends to prolong the film circling to nowhere.

Thankfully, the balance is more than enough to make the film as one of the rare films to bare the multi-faceted layers of its male characters. This is the field where Soedjarwo excels best, and he never shies away from exploring their emotional outbursts to a good extent. We get to see a tough man with a gentle heart and being responsible towards his family in his own way, whereas the other get to provide us with enlightening comic efffect, much needed in a film with such a ‘heavy’ theme like this.

No matter how heavy it is, your trip has ended, and when you look back, you realize that it shouldn’t take that long to reach your destination. But you are still grateful for the people you meet along the way.

Isn’t it a worth taking trip after all?!

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Posted by on 01/16/2006 in English, Film


feeling films.

When was the last time you feel good after watching films?

Ask the question to me, the answer is simply: last nite.

Living in a suburban area means I have to deal with the setback of not being able to scout any sophisticated cinemas, thus what you have is what you get. And among the selection of the films offered, my eyes were set on revisiting In Good Company after watching it sometime last year back then in my comfort zone.
What an experience indeed!
I remember I wrote something about the film here, which in this case was a praise, and what made me pleasant most was how the film got better after repeated viewing. For a feel-good film, it is almost flawless I say, since the film can make me feel good while I took mikrolet and becak to reach home. And I keep thinking, how films can actually make me feel good.

don't tell her what we do during lunch hour!

As the wind started getting into my skin, I tried recalling many emotional experiences I have encountered after I finished watching films.

It began when I was on my 4th/5th grade of elementary school, I remember I was hoping to become Jessica Lange’s son and getting involved in her father’s (which would make Armin-Mueller Stahl as my fictional grandfather) war crime after I watch her knock-out performance as a tormented lawyer in Music Box.
A year later, I often imagined that I was one of Robin Williams’s students in Dead Poets Society, and being surrounded with the pals like Robert Sean Leonard or Ethan Hawke.

alrite, you upstage me, you get the Oscar nod, and I'm acting rotten here, unrecognized?!

Of course I didn’t write any reviews at that time, as the habit only began when I was in Senior High School.
Dilligently I pasted ticket stubs at the back of this thick book where I wrote down my daily expenses, and I wrote a little comment next to the stubs. I remember how I started becoming critical after watching Independence Day, as I was mad at the film’s stupid plot. Yet, I forgave the cheesiness of Phenomenon, and chose to cry over John Travolta’s character, the same thing I did towards Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient. And I still shed my tears whenever the film started showing its scenes in a dark cave, after many repeated viewings.

we are looking at nothing but the sand, and soon we'll be Oscar nominated actors! how we love Weinsteins!

As I graduated, and went to colleges where both times I took English as my major, I find my penchant for reviewing films was increasing. From having one-line notes to become one-paragraph notes, I began listing down every single film I watched, be it from cinema or VCD, or DVD, which only came to my life three years ago.
And no matter what medium my film watching is, it’s the emotional experience that counts most.

It was a drizzling night when I took a long walk after I watched The End of the Affair, which made me think about love and faith to be co-existent all through the night. Reading the source novel a few months back enhanced my understanding about the characters more, which needless to say, it is also an indication that the film successfully captures the spirit of the novel.

ralph, i'm not gonna give this hat to you, even you did me good those steamy scenes

And exactly around this time last year, I remember I took the same long walk in Bangkok after watching Closer, one film that made me shut my ears for its frank dialogues. Again, the film’s brutal yet honest look on love made me thinking about all the relationships I had.

And it took me a while to grasp my breath when I finished watching Hiroshima, Mon Amour on DVD, knowing that love actually hurts when it gives the most faithful commotion one can ever ask.

And I couldn’t move myself to do things for days after I watched The Hours at the time when my life was full with uncertainties, and I questioned the meaning of happiness I long to have in my life.
The same feeling gripped me hard when I watched Blue from Kryzstof Kieslowski’s first installment of his Trois Couleurs trilogy. Seeing Juliette Binoche had to come to terms in dealing with her loss made me think of what I have had in life.

question is, am i seen on a big screen? am i? gosh, being a diva in france means to suffer a lot!

The list would go on, and not often they included my harshness towards bad films, in this case what I remember most is Troy, when I really felt like throwing my sandals to the big screen, and rip the screen into two, mashed it to pieces, and asking for my $8 back.
That showed you how much I could be on films I dismiss most.

And of course, the opposites as mentioned in the previous paragraphs is more than enough to convey what I want to say, that to experience films is a pleasure unlike any other kind.

Another question will raise though. How long will I be able to do that?

As much as I want to answer the question with ‘timeless’, I realize that there may come a time when I won’t be able to experience those emotional feelings.

repeat after me: nicole never won, nicole never won ... darn it!

Last night, after sorting out my feel-good moments, I realized my own doings in a way that put me into bewilderment. As most of you know, my decision to move to the city here was filled with hopes of working in the field that has become my passion all this time: films.
Yet, many obstacles seemed to prevent my way to going further than being a distant appreciator. Disappointment of one kind met with another, there weren’t many jolly experiences in store so far.

However, I made peace with that.
No matter what I do or end up doing, it’s hard for me to reduce or decrease my likings towards films, the way I appreciate them in my own way that no one will dare to intervene or prevent me from doing.
When things go awry, I turn to films for a two-or-three-hour of plunging myself into a different world from mine. And even if I fail to secure any jobs in film industry, film remains one thing I treasure most, the one I’m willing to spend my money on, the one I crave most to make me intelligent. Sort of.

Perhaps just like in Sabrina when she asks her father why he chooses to become a chaffeur, he replies with a smile, “So that I can spend much time reading books”.

thank god it's not those bloody horrible padme amedala again

Thus, to feel films is what I’ve been after, and will always be.

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Posted by on 01/16/2006 in English, Film