We ushered in 2012 with a sigh of relief.
Import film crisis was over. People seemed to completely forget the crisis by the beginning of the year. Cinemas were added across the country again. We flocked to cinemas regularly like we always do.
Some of us noticed the shift from film reel to digital projection in cinemas. We see films in sharp clarity sans flickering and often awkward change of reels. Some of us miss the grainy look of film, but some welcome the high-def reality with open arms.
But despite the change in technical quality and the price we pay for that, we still go to movies. Be it alone, with friend, or dates, we cannot have enough of those 90-minute or more than 120-minute escapade in a darkened room shared with other strangers, enjoying what is being shown on a big screen. No 3D big size TV can replace the communal enjoyment.
After all, cinemas make us a social person.
And as what I always do since last year, I rank films based on very personal effect that the films gave me. Some of us always look for that tingling sensation throughout and after watching the films. Such effect sucks us in deep that we cannot think of anything else during the film, and we talk about it long afterwards.
I am a sucker for that sensation.
Hence, with the desire in mind, herewith the list of my personal top 10 cinemagoing experiences in 2012:
Date of watching: November 26, 2012 – Blitz GI, Jakarta (Europe on Screen)
Earlier the day, I received a short text from mom, saying that my dad fell gravely ill. His mind went blank for a moment, and he lost balance. Eventually he gained consciousness, and has been put in an ongoing intensive care treatment.
I received the news with a great surprise. Not only because the news came all of a sudden, but it came on the day I was supposed to watch a film with similar premise: a man witnesses his wife slowly sinking into Alzheimer.
A part of me prompted cancellation from going to watch the film, but eventually I braced myself.
As much as I had prepared myself, tears uncontrollably started rolling with greater intense since we see for the first time Emmanuelle Riva did not respond to Jean Louis Tritignant’s questions. The scene alone shook me. I kept thinking of my dad, and my mom in reverse position reenacting the scene. Maybe. Maybe not.
But the personal reference kept coming throughout the film, so much that I chose to shut my eyes in a few scenes, yet the sound heard still echoes the pain as created by the actors.
These actors do not act. They live their characters. Thus it draws me close to the film, and I have to thank Michael Haneke for creating an effortlessly beautiful film about devotion. Love is shown between the two leads with such intensity that we cannot help but crying for them. I was. I am as I am recalling the film right now.
This is the ultimate film that defines my cinema-going experience this year.
This may be close to destiny, in the sense that a real life crosses with reel life, and it happens unexpectedly, and obviously unplanned.
In a way, magic does happen in cinema. I am fortunate enough to experience that in a grand note.
2. COLDPLAY LIVE 2012
Date of watching: November 13, 2012 – Blitz GI, Jakarta (Special Event)
Spectacular. You don’t use the word often to describe a film, but this film deserves the accolade. Coldplay’s music comes alive in striking colors and beautiful presentation, thanks to the band’s genius in planning their concerts. But besides that, you have to give credits to filmmakers who cleverly edit and capture the right moments to be presented on big screen.
And it was an unforgettable night of watching the film in awe with other fans. People sang along, gasped and a few screamed together. Some exited the cinema with red cheeks and teary eyes. Sometimes, a documentary concert this beautiful came to our life, and we are grateful enough to see it on the mighty big screen.
3. LIFE OF PI
Date of watching: December 3, 2012 – Blitz GI, Jakarta
If there is a film that makes us believe in the power of 3D to tell a story … Wait. I mean, to tell a good story with a good storytelling, then this film does it with a striking justification. Ang Lee takes us to his fantasy world from the first rolling credit showing shots of animals. Immediately I was enchanted with a beautiful clarity of the 3D, and I sat up straight. I sat up straight throughout the film, jaw dropped and often gasped at the film.
I said on Twitter that if there is a film that is closest to being a heaven of cinema, then this film is the answer. To date, I am still holding my opinion up high.
4. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Date of watching: August 11, 2012 – Studio eX XXI, Jakarta
I saw this the first time on its first midnight show release. I couldn’t remember when was the last time I had such a huge blast in cinema! We said “what-the-fuck” throughout the film, as it keeps taking us to unexpected direction, and that makes a jaw-dropping moment in cinema. Consider it a huge compliment. And the less I say, the better you watch it again, and again.
Date of watching: December 9, 2012 – SF World CInema, Bangkok
I could not remember when was the last time I was at the edge of my seat being entertained and thrilled at the same time. The desire went on and on until I kept wishing for the film to never end. This is a highly engaging political thriller without gimmick of tech wizardry. In fact, it relies on old school tool called story telling. Watching this film means we surrender to the skilled craft of story telling by, unexpectedly, Ben Affleck, and wait until the last car chase scene in the airport that makes you clinch your fists in thrilling climax.
6. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Date of watching: December 13, 2012 – Shaw Lido, Singapore
Many teen films give sweet sensation that ends after end credits roll. This one is an exception.
Long after exiting the cinema door, I could not help but smiling throughout, despite the rain that greeted me the afternoon I watched the film. Smiled, because the trio performances provided by Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller (a revelation) feel genuine, sincere and honest. No big scenes of guys getting girls in loud music, but this one gets to the hearts of both young and old ones alike. One of the best teen films in a long time.
7. LEWAT DJAM MALAM
Date of watching: June 22, 2012 – Blitz GI, Jakarta
Others may choose the nationalism sense of pride in seeing Sony Pictures Classic’s logo at the beginning of The Raid: Redemption or in 5 cm.. But I could not help feeling proud in watching this classic film on big screen, for the first time after complete restoration by World Cinema Foundation. The transfer is crisp clean, and more importantly, it preserves the dignity of the film, proven with its timeless story on psychological effect of war to ordinary citizens stuck in unfortunate circumstances. I could not believe that in 1954, we could make a beautifully harrowing thriller, with advanced story telling that puts many recent films to embarrassment. The heroic Iskandar, the femme fatale Laila, the leading lady with a wit Norma, these are all modern day standard of strong characters on screen. We really struck gold then.
8. THE MASTER
Date of watching: December 11, 2012 – Apex Siam, Bangkok
I was lucky enough to see the latest Paul Thomas Anderson’s film on big screen, and this is a rare opportunity. Why? Apart from none of his films ever made local cinemas, each of his film consistently feels operatic, be it in the look of the film, or how Anderson crafts the story and its characters. Shot in 70 mm, and is supposedly seen in the format, I only managed to see this in the glorious old style of 35 mm print. Still, the larger-than-life feeling watching the film remains intact. I felt swept to the huge Pacific sea as Joaquin Phoenix rested on big ship. And I shivered as Anderson put extreme close up in Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman while they banter in prison, making us watching an acting masterclass in session. Johnny Greenwood’s mythical score even heard more believable in big screen. It was a rare opportunity, indeed.
9. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Date of watching: July 4, 2012 – IMAX Gandaria City XXI, Jakarta
Since this list is highly subjective, then I may as well going deep here.
Sure, by any means, this reboot is unnecessary. Still, it is a decent film on its own, with believable chemistry between the leads, and a standout song-in-a-film moment. It is right when Coldplay’s “Till Kingdom Come” played when Peter Parker starts learning the ropes of being a superhero, with montages of him running, jumping in the air, skate boarding, and breathing a sigh of relief over his new identity that I, sitting on a giant IMAX screen, was stunned in silence. I was hooked to the scene, and the whole atmosphere the song injects to the film. Then I realized, it was there, from this film, that the song ushers this heart for another that also saw the film together. The whole scene was unforgettable.
10. TEST PACK
Date of watching: September 10, 2012 – Blitz GI, Jakarta
Surprised? Me, too.
It is not a perfect film. Neither is this list. But once in a while come a film we realize its imperfection, yet we cannot help being drawn to its charm.
I went to see the film right after being passed out, thinking of canceling the film altogether, fearing that I might sleep throughout the film. Instead, I was completely succumbed to how Acha Septriasa and Reza Rahadian behaved and talked to each other, I willingly put my empathy to their characters, and I woke up the next morning still completely amused by them. You cannot help but liking them, despite oddities in the storyline. Call it the power of acting, and effortless direction, but this film makes a pleasant viewing anytime.
And for other memorable experiences in cinema this year that I also cherish deeply, in alphabetical order:
The Artist (seeing a contemporary black-and-white silent film in cinema, screened with digital projection, is a kick of joy for anyone);
Detachment (a no-holds-barred film with powerful performances from Adrien Brody that I would associate him with this film from now on);
The Dark Knight Rises (a majestic treatment of a superhero film that deserves repeated screenings on the first two days of release);
Looper (jaw-dropping sci-fi/action film that left me stunned, despite watching it at a midnight show);
Lovely Man (saw the first time on screener, then saw it again on a big screen, only to be amazed by how the film holds up, and still cries when Claire de Lune is played); and,
The Muppets (Need a further explanation? Kermit and Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang on the big screen? Come on! :D).
See you in cinema next year.
Or next week.