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Guess the Oscar! (Like You Know and Watch All the Nominated Films!) – 2015

Here we go again.

The time when we could not help but pretending. We pretend we have watched all the nominated films. We pretend we know the taste of around 6,000 members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), commonly known as Oscar voters, but for most of us, they’re known as, good God, “Oscar juries”. But hey, don’t we like to play God? And what better way for it than to guess who get the gold statue of naked man without penis holding a sword?

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Posted by on 02/22/2015 in Film

 

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Top Cinema Going Experiences of 2014

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:

1. CAHAYA DARI TIMUR

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.

2. CHEF

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.

3. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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.

4. INTERSTELLAR

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.

Interstellar (Courtesy of hastagstudios.com)

Interstellar (Courtesy of hastagstudios.com)

5. JALANAN

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.

6. LOCKE

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.

7. THE LOOK OF SILENCE (SENYAP)

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.

8. PK

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!

PK (Courtesy of bollywood.celebden.com)

PK (Courtesy of bollywood.celebden.com)

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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.

2. THEY CAME TOGETHER

3. DANS LA MAISON

4. LIFE ITSELF

5. GONE GIRL

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

See you next year!

 
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Posted by on 12/29/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Much Treasured eX

Cinemas come and go, but sometimes, there is one among those that holds the most memory in us as a filmgoer.

For me, the place is Studio XXI eX in Jakarta.

 

The four-hall cineplex was the most luxurious cinema when I was in the middle of my permanent shift to town around 9 years ago. I was mesmerized. Never before had I seen high end materials adorning spacious, bright cinema lobby, and I was even more amazed with the seats. Those big, comfortable red seats with wide leg room, so big that we just threw ourselves easily and comfortably as our back rubbed against the soft fabric of the chair.

 

However, beyond the plush experience, it was the moments that make the memories.

 

As I joined Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFest) a year after I stepped in the eX cinema for the first time, I realized that the year’s festival was actually to be held in the cinema.

We heard complains, we heard praises for the move. Suddenly the festival reached out unassuming mall visitors in addition to regular patrons. The festival that year was one of the most attended editions, and the most fun one for us to organize.

 

The festival began my attachment to the cinema.

As I lived nearby to eX the shopping centre, I always made a point to watch latest films here. Be it on weekday or weekend, be it alone, with friends, or with my then partner, the cinema was the to-go destination. 

Most of the time, I came to the cinema to watch on Saturday night for midnight shows. I remember watching Juno with friends; Dreamgirls, on which we clapped after Jennifer Hudson’s big number; The Tree of Life with a friend on a date, which I’m sure the date was ruined by the absurdity of the film, and many others.

There were some film launching events or premieres, most of the titles I couldn’t remember anymore, but I did recall watching Kala there.

 

This is the cinema where I applied for my first local credit card, the one that comes with buy-1-get-1-free ticket, which is obviously the reason I applied on the first place. It only made more sense then that this is also the cinema where I used the card most often.

 

This is also the cinema where I hardly had any problem with the crowd. Most people may be overtly dressed up to watch films on regular screenings, but be them in casual sneakers or gown, audience were hardly annoying. I don’t remember shushing noisy audience here. Even if I did, they came very few in between.

 

For almost a decade, coming here has become a regular habit. 

 

Then came the news of the cinema closure.

Image.

 

When I read the news yesterday, I could only stare at my phone in silence and disbelief. Another cinema gone, but this time, it’s not an ordinary cinema. 

For the cinema itself, it started as the pioneer of other luxury cinemas in town.

For others, it started the experience of comfort in watching films on big screen.

For me, it started the cinema-going habit in then a new town.

 

I always love cinema, and it always hits me the hardest whenever a cinema is closing down for good.

 

Cinemas come and go, and soon enough, they may be forgotten. 

But sometimes, there is one you will remember the most.

That is a much treasured eX.

 
 
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Posted by on 06/15/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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