I’ve gotta tell you something: I love short movies.
In fact, I love our local short movies.
Having sat through around 500 short films to watch every year for the past 3 years now, there is nothing more exciting to finally see short films now made with big screen viewing in mind. Sure, I’ve worked to grow 21 Short with all its might. But beyond that, short films create a long lasting impression, extended beyond their limited duration.
However, this annual note celebrates feature film as seen on big screen. The above number of short films to assess often gets in the way to enable me writing the note. That, and the endless temptation of American TV series. Goodness, these series keep getting better and better, don’t they? The best dramatic plots for the past 3 years have been found in our living room, or wherever you watch TV series.
Hours will go by easily as we hook on the series. But once in a while, we need to breathe fresh air. A walk to nearby cinema is needed to see other people, strangers, friends, or anyone. It’s good to dress up a bit, even in T-shirt and sneakers just to go to cinema. After all, cinema still matters.
And these films matter to me this year.
In alphabetical order:
Date of watching: June 19, 2014
Movie magic does not come very often in Indonesian film. But this film, particularly in the penultimate scenes involving mosques and churches, come very, very close to being a defining one. It still gives me chills as I am typing this while recalling those scenes.
Date of watching: October 28, 2014
The film proves and shows that heart and passion about anything you love will eventually be reflected in whatever you make. “Chef” Jon Favreau loves good food. He loves people. He loves seeing the good in people, or rather characters, he creates. The result is perhaps the warmest feeling we had in cinema-going experience this year.
Date of watching: April 16, 2014
I could not hold back overflowing emotion that the first Wes Anderson’s film I can see on big screen is his most well-rounded yet. This is his most accessible film so far, and it is easy to see why: the characters feel very human.
Date of watching: November 6, 2014
Love it or loathe it, Christopher Nolan knows how to succumb both his fans and haters together to his world. The film is unmissable. The technical wizardry is used to accommodate his ideas that he is willing to toy with his audiences, something we, as mentioned earlier, either like or be uncomfortable with. But let’s agree on one thing: his film always, and always, deserves a cinematic viewing.
Date of watching: March 28, 2014
Perhaps this is the most heartfelt tribute to Jakarta on big screen yet. What others fail to capture is the essence of struggle, something the film is proud to wear on its sleeves with genuine laughter and tears. I watched it again in regular screening after the full-house preview, and it held up. A tight editing and a carefully written screenplay allow greater freedom for Daniel Ziv, amazing first time director, to explore the emotions of the three main character we cannot help but love.
Date of watching: April 24, 2014
A film like Buried or this one makes a terrific cinema-going experience. We are forced to sit through the entire duration of 90 minutes with one person in real time. Tom Hardy delivers the impossible with crazy intensity, and we cannot help but marvelling at the highly discipline of filmmaking in creating this film. To put it simply, it is unforgettable.
Date of watching: November 10, 2014
While The Act of Killing jolts us in shock and surprise, its follow up chooses a different path. The tender and often quiet treatment results in one thing: the film stabs us gently, and before we know, we weep in silence.
Date of watching: December 21, 2014
It is not easy to surpass 3 Idiots in terms of being a message movie that is still likeable and entertaining. But the film achieves the impossible feet by choosing risky theme, and present the time as blatantly as possible. Forget subtlety. Banal religious issues, being as it is, should be presented with images and lines that often show the extreme. And it works. And it stays in our mind long after. And it provokes discussion. And it works!
And for many reasons that the following films are not available in cinemas, either by the time it was shown on big screen I was out of town, or they were not picked by local cinemas for various reasons, they still make impressive viewing memory in me.
Thus, my top films, non-cinema wise, in 2014 are (in alphabetical order):
1. THE LUNCHBOX — my favorite film of the year.
4. LIFE ITSELF
5. GONE GIRL
See you next year!