Archive for ‘Movies’

January 2, 2011

Flicks of last year

by Kevin Aditya

Happy new year 2011! Last year was pretty much forgettable, if not for some stirring events spicing up what could have been plain days and months filled with studying and playing mindlessly as a teenager when I still can. No, what did I just say? 2010 was eventful in there were so many things happened that I figuratively might not recognize to the point of denying my 2009 self, but well, that’s the delightful side of being young. And movies. As an undergrad student I can’t possibly watch every other movies released last year, but as many times I spent as I could, not one movie I watched in 2010 seeps its brilliance way above others that made a truly delightful moviegoing experience. Many are mediocre, and the ones shining were, uh, shining enough. But of course there are some I highly anticipated that met my expectations, and what’s bad about starting a new year with reviewing good stuff of last year? I’ll write only three, promise.


The Social Network

This movie went quickly from something that was unheard of to the one I most highly anticipate in 2010 for one sole reason: David Fincher. And he did not disappoint. Though the idea of directing a biopic of someone who is now still twenty-six old sounds kinda ridiculous, but the story of Facebook’s creation is most definitely not. Or so it seems. Fincher has managed to craft a tense courtroom drama based on Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay with a pace so fast to mirror the generation it represents, which might not work well enough without the riveting performance of Jesse Eisenberg portraying the pseudo-sordid Mark Zuckerberg, real-life founder and CEO of Facebook. The ironic mix of sepia tone and modern technology might or might not be Fincher’s lead of a human’s lonely soul beneath the connectivity of the Internet age.  Behind the chain of unfortunate lawsuits that happened some years ago lies a tale of friendship and youth brilliance bent over the sole purpose of business, and especially, a history in the making. A story that depicts the attitude of the online generation, framed intriguingly by Fincher through Sorkin’s screenplay and well-performing casts including Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake.

Mother (Madeo)

The intention of watching Korean movies rarely ever cross my mind for all I know the famous ones are mostly family/love dramas made to jerk the most tears from people’s eyes, but not anymore after seeing Bong Joon-ho’s Madeo. Walking into the campus screening expecting some casual Korean tearjerker, fascination was upon me seeing how effective Bong made a thriller based upon an unexpected plot device, that is the unrequited love of a mother. While Won Bin played well as a somewhat mentally disabled rascal Do-joon, veteran Korean actress Kim Hye-ja is the one stealing the thunder with her role as Do-joon’s financially struggling mother who had to sleuth her way back to her son as he is charged with the murder of a young girl. Madeo’s storyline weaves well the intense essence of a true thriller with the faithful love and trust of a mother. Later I learned that with the success of Madeo, the award-winning director once again proved the significance of Asian auteurs. In between the sorrowful and near-hopeless air about the unnamed mother, Madeo packs the whole journey with a slow, painful punch and ends it with yet another tasteful Korean grassfield scene, this time enveloped in despair.

Black Swan

Performing arts in its various forms has always been more than what meets the eye. Years of dedicated training through rigorous drills and thousands of technique practice to achieve a single moment of on-stage perfection are not something unheard of, even in ballet productions that appear smooth and beautiful in the eyes of the audience. Baking such theme into a sexy psychological thriller about a frail and scared woman, Darren Aronofsky as the director once again showed the world the intriguing, at times self-destructive, refinement process of an art in the making. In what is intended to be a companion piece to his 2008 acclaimed work The Wrestler, Aronofsky put the fouetté and plié moves not just as something in the background to keep the motion in motion picture. It blankets the whole conscious space of the characters: they breathe ballet, eat ballet and sleep ballet. The ballet stuff is allegedly driving the main character (protagonist?) Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) to the edge of sanity, as the holy role of both White Swan and Black Swan is descended upon her by the often sly Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) that led her despairing for perfection, not to mention the fearless Lily (Mila Kunis) that made her pace herself to a competition. As any great main character with a strong tendency towards psychosis, behind the bipolar sides of Nina stands the enthralling performance of the actress Natalie Portman. The frail and innocent Nina was pictured astonishingly by Portman, complete with the moves and spins of a true ballerina achieved through extensive 10-month training exclusively for the role, making her a worthy contender for the upcoming Oscar. Not to forget the fitting grandeur scores composed by Aronofsky’s best collaborator Clint Mansell, Black Swan leaves little space to breathe inside its artful mental struggle of a perfecting ballerina.


Three might be too few, and I didn’t mean to dump great ones like Toy Story 3, Inception, or Winter’s Bone, and the enjoyable ones like Tangled and Remember Me (yes, I found the R-Patz flick delightful). But the aforementioned three films are the ones most captivating I’ve seen all year, and let’s have high hopes for this year’s blockbusters and art house productions, may 2011 be a great year in all aspects!

August 17, 2010

Slacking minds

by Kevin Aditya

Have you, at some instance, let your mind run idle for an extended period of time? Let’s say you have a full month holiday without anything to do and your movement is limited within the boundaries of your hometown. And you’re not the kind of guy who’s always fueled up to do various socially positive activities even just to kill your time. Admit it, in this age of internet, there will always be times when your ass seems to be glued on the bed and all you can think of is to surf the net for hours earning seemingly informative trivial news to reduce your couch potato guilt. When you finally killed the laptop off outta boredom and the day turned into night into day again, what you let free is the enormous uncontrolled power of your mind: channeling and condensing your every thought into an imaginative stream of consciousness, where you set up an entirely fictitious system from what you know about how the world outside could operate. Now, maybe I’m exaggerating, but what I’m trying to imply is that your mind probably will bloom off with random, insignificant ideas and often negative concepts about how people and things in your close proximity work. Or maybe even your own fundamental philosophy that you think the whole world should be based upon.

Writing a lengthy movie review is just beyond my thought process capabilities for today, but it feels obligatory for now to spill my beans about Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991). It’s an incredibly simple low budget movie, following around the common folks in Austin, Texas as they converse with one another, jumping from one person walking and talking to the next guy crossing their path on the street and so on, a 24-hour life of slackers rambling about various topics ranging from a monologue about parallel universe to a nerdy JFK assassination conspiracy theorist. Without a plot whatsoever. An exact definition of what Bruce Willis-blowing-everything-up worshipers call a ‘boring movie’, Slacker brought us the model concept of people who make just enough and have too much time on their hands as deep-digger into the obscure and often subjective field of knowledge (UFO buff? War veteran anarchist?) and put their routines into the big screen for us to follow around and bitch about how tasteless it is. This is social interaction depicted at its dullest, yet for those able to sense the level of feelings evoked on these ‘conversational movies’, there is so much to be learned. This movie is Linklater’s debut, yet it has proved his quality compiling seemingly mindless daily-life convos and tailor them into a remarkably watchable feature-length story. What I’m trying to say is Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly and the kind, they’re all Linklater’s.

Okay, it’s clear that the movie is targeted for American audience of the 90s as it is a ‘culture movie’ at its core, capturing and depicting the idyllic life of the Generation X twentysomethings, but what’s more than meets the eye is how they are the same to us in absorbing various news and theories without hesitation nor clarification — a barrel of knowledge seen only through one hole, one point of view. And it all goes without us actually doing anything about it. It’s the same all over the world, people criticizing and compelling about everything from how the government has made secret deals with the USA to the so-called rupturing moral of the country through porn videos. And while not everyone does those due to slacking, it’s the lack of actions involved that can be seen as direct slacking. Yes, I’m writing this in the vain of the Indonesia’s 65th independence day, and while I’m never a nationalist at best, you can obviously make things better for yourself (and presumably those around you, if you’re not that self-centered) with the consistent will to move your ass and actually do it. Maybe you’re too far from changing the world, and it’s not like we can make major change without a suppressive will, but at least you can start from tidying up your own life, smile a lot, take chances, stuff like that. You might be living comfortably now, only you don’t know it can be better once you actually do something. Uh, okay, I’m writing this primarily for myself. Hell, it’s out of my habit to write in such a positive light. Anyway watch Slacker and decide which one looks better, living in a status-quo stalled life of not actually doing and achieving anything or, uh, that movie provides no actual comparison in the storyline. Happy August 17th!

July 22, 2010

Your mind has been incepted

by Kevin Aditya

Hola, back to my usual film reviews. I kinda write less now, but once in a while I write movie reviews at Kineklub LFM ITB, but since it’s in Indonesian and there is already an Inception review, so I’ll post my take on the film here. Inception? Yes, the Christopher Nolan hype flick everybody on the internet is talking about — and I’ll bet my bottom dollar it’ll be the most discussed film of 2010, with good reasons. Inception is a rare, glorified mixture of modern-day movies we don’t see most weekends: the pure brilliance of concept developed in years blended with a monstrous complexity of plot that can only be untangled at second or third viewing, all layered around the big-budgeted state-of-the-art visual effects that so far only Hollywood could produce. Yet, just like any other movies, it is not without flaws. The lengthy discussions that can be found all over the web about the plot, minute details, and the concept of the film, will undoubtedly put Inception to the trophy case of cult classics along with the likes of Pulp Fiction or Fight Club in a matter of years. Now, let’s start the dreaming, and if you haven’t watched the film, stop right here and head straight to the cinema.

Inception starts with Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) being washed up ashore and found by a bunch of beach guards with guns, then he is taken to a Japanese-themed room where a very wrinkled old man in suits is waiting for him. The scene cuts to a similar room, but only now he and his colleague Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is in talks with Saito (Ken Watanabe), where they try to convince Saito to hire them for the sake of ‘subconscious security’. The plan goes awry as Saito has realized from the start that they are actually in a dream, and wakes up to a motel room with Dom, Arthur, and Nash (Lukas Haas) in a seemingly Latin neighborhood with people rioting outside, where they try to forcefully push Saito to reveal his company secret with no success since Saito soon realize that he is still in a dream. He then awakes in a quiet train, and impressed with the job of Dom’s team, hires them (without Nash) to perform a high-risked dream crime operation: inception, to plant a new, foreign idea into one’s mind that will then grow and subconsciously become the motivation of the victim’s actions without the victim realizing it. In this case, Saito wants to plant the idea to his rival company’s heir, the young Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), that his terminally ill father Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite) has the last wish that Robert should discontinue the corporate empire and start his own, therefore benefiting Saito’s own company. Dom insists that inception is almost impossible to do, but as Saito guarantees that Dom can once again meet his children, he begins assembling a team to carry the operation: Arthur as the point man who researches their target, the young Ariadne (Ellen Page) as the architect of the dream world, Eames (Tom Hardy) as the forger that specializes in imitating other people in dreams, and Yusuf (Dileep Rao) as the chemist that formulates the drugs needed to induce sleep. As Arthur teaches Ariadne about the basic rules and science of manipulating dreams, they begin to carefully writing down their plan to pull Fischer into a three-level dream (dream within a dream within a dream) since dreams that deep makes Fischer more prone to assimilating the idea being implemented. However, things don’t go well as planned because Fischer’s trained subconscious army begins to attack them, and Dom is disturbed by the presence of his deceased wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) that continues to haunt his consciousness.

As a movie and not a novel, Inception outclasses most movies in level of idea and plot complexity while still pushing the boundaries of what a movie can do. The concept of sharing and manipulating dreams and the interchangeable perception of dream and reality, while in no ways original (think The Matrix and Science of Sleep), has become a wildly imaginative thrillride in the hands and mind of Christopher Nolan. It is said that he has developed the concept of what is possible in dream manipulation for around 10 years, much like James Cameron’s Avatar, and the result of a decade of contemplation is the well-thought yet still fictitious structured workflow of creating and controlling a world within our dream, and this subject isn’t entirely impossible in real life. In one of my high school papers I took the subject of sleep paralysis, and connecting it to the possibility of having a lucid dream… but what is a lucid dream? Lucid dreaming is a method that has been developed for years by people around the world to help maintain awareness in our dream that we indeed are in a dream. Here, Nolan ingeniously not only take the concept, but also expanding it into a big idea of a controlled dream shared by people in close proximity and the possible things that can be done, in this case, a dream crime. The steps and structure of the dream, like kicks, limbo state, personal totem, and many others are so finely crafted in 10 years by Nolan that everything makes sense within the boundaries of rules he had set. This is ultimately the power of Inception that made the movie practically the talk of the town, if not the world. Complemented by powerful fight and chase scenes so intense you’d have a hard time keeping up with the story, wrapped in high-class million dollars Hollywood special effects, Inception is one enjoyable ride of story with high second viewing value. (Note that the innovative zero gravity fight scene was not shot in CGI imagery, but rather they made a rotating hotel corridor for the sake of the scene.) But then again, movies are never perfect, and Inception was no exception. What irks me the most is the acting, and Leonardo DiCaprio himself as Dom Cobb. It’s probably subjective, because I never really liked his movies, but Dom Cobb seems to be too tense at times where the situation is not even threatening. Ellen Page as Ariadne also played a one-dimensional character where all she did was becoming a private therapist for Dom and verbally serving solutions for him. The complexity of the three-level dream concept also serves as a potential problem, and the movie this complex would probably better made off in two parts (but then it would ruin the legacy it will build in future years). Then again, a second or third viewing of the movie would be definitely worth it to completely grasp the whole story. Inception’s true power stems from such a basic concept that grows wildly in the mind of Christopher Nolan, much like Memento (2000), and this is what Hollywood and filmmaking needs in general, to provide the audience with bursts of imagination translated in visual medium.


Inception termasuk film yang sulit dipahami dengan sekali nonton, dan atas permintaan beberapa orang maka gue coba tuangkan konsep yang gue dapat dari sekali nonton. Sekalian latihan menuangkan pemikiran dan hasil observasi ke dalam bentuk tulisan terstruktur, hehe.

1. Keseluruhan film Inception bekerja dalam konsep bahwa tiap orang bisa mengatur mimpinya, dan orang yang tidur berdekatan bisa berbagi mimpinya. Bisa dianggap bahwa tiap orang atau setidaknya tim ekstraktor profesional seperti Dom sudah bisa mengendalikan mimpi dengan mudah.

2. Seseorang yang bermimpi akan mengalami waktu yang lebih lambat dari dunia nyata, dan mimpi di dalam mimpi bisa terjadi. 5 menit dalam dunia nyata berarti 1 jam dalam mimpi, dan 5 menit dalam mimpi pertama berarti 1 jam dalam mimpi di dalam mimpi (tingkat dua), dan seterusnya. Hal ini menyebabkan waktu beberapa jam dalam dunia nyata akan berjalan sangat lama dalam mimpi tingkat tiga.

3. Semakin dalam tingkatan mimpi, maka jiwa pemimpi akan semakin sulit membedakan mimpi dengan dunia nyata, dan juga semakin rawan terhadap penanaman ide baru. Hal ini mungkin juga karena waktu yang terasa sangat lama yang dihabiskan pemimpi dalam mimpi yang banyak tingkatan.

4. Pemimpi bisa bangun dengan ‘tendangan’ yang berupa hentakan fisik kepada tubuh pemimpi yang sedang tidur (seperti dicemplungin ke bak air pas awal film) atau dengan mati dalam mimpi yang akan membuat pemimpi segera bangun. Namun jika pemimpi tertidur sangat lelap dengan pengaruh obat yang kuat, maka mati dalam mimpi akan menyebabkan terlempar ke dunia ‘limbo’ yang bukan mimpi maupun kenyataan, di mana waktu berjalan lebih cepat lagi dan dapat membuat pemimpi lupa dengan dunia nyata karena lamanya waktu yang dihabiskan. ‘Tendangan’ harus dilakukan secara bertahap dari tingkat paling bawah ke atasnya, dan karena itu pada bagian akhir film semua tendangan dilakukan hampir bersamaan agar proses insepsi dapat terjamin selesai sebelum obat biusnya habis.

5. Pekerjaan yang dilakukan Dom dan Arthur, ‘extraction’, adalah mengambil informasi rahasia yang dipendam dalam pikiran target ketika target sedang tidur. Dalam ekstraksi ada tim yang bekerja dengan keahliannya sendiri: arsitek (Ariadne) bertugas membuat lokasi atau daerah mimpi, seperti bangunan, jalanan, kota dan sebagainya, yang lalu akan diisi dengan orang-orang dari alam bawah sadar sang pemimpi. Area yang dibuat arsitek tidak boleh membangkitkan kenangan pemimpi karena akan menimbulkan kesulitan pemimpi untuk membedakan realita dan mimpi. Ahli kimia (Yusuf) bertugas membuat ramuan obat tidur yang cukup kuat agar mimpi bisa berlangsung tiga lapis, dan obat ini dimasukkan ke mesin berbentuk tas kecil yang berfungsi menyalurkan obat secara merata ke tiap penggunanya. Ekstraktor (Dom) bertugas mengambil informasi (saat ekstraksi) atau menanamkan ide (saat insepsi). Peniru (Eames) bertugas meniru sifat dan penampilan orang tertentu yang mempunyai hubungan dekat dengan target, agar proses ekstraksi/insepsi dapat berjalan lebih mulus. Arthur, yah, bantu-bantu yang lain deh.

6. Seseorang bisa melatih bawah sadarnya untuk membangun pertahanan diri dalam alam bawah sadarnya dari para ekstraktor yang mencoba masuk. Pada Fischer, pasukan bersenjata itu adalah pertahanan dari alam bawah sadarnya terhadap para penyusup.

7. Mal adalah sekedar gambaran alam bawah sadar Dom yang terus menyesal karena menganggap dia yang menyebabkan istrinya itu bunuh diri, dan mencoba mempertahankan kenangan akan istrinya dalam dunia mimpi. Mereka berdua pernah mengalami 50 tahun dalam dunia limbo yang nampaknya karena keduanya mati dalam mimpi saat memakai obat tidur, dan setelah bangun Mal menganggap dunia nyata hanyalah sebuah mimpi lainnya.

7. ‘Inception’ sendiri adalah konsep untuk menanamkan ide yang sama sekali baru dan asing ke dalam pikiran target, dan karena ide tersebut belum terdapat di pikiran target sama sekali sebelumnya, maka target akan menganggap ide tersebut sebagai inspirasi murni yang ia dapat. Dalam hal ini mereka berusaha menanamkan bahwa ayah Fischer tidak ingin anaknya melanjutkan perusahaannya dan membangun usahanya sendiri, yang pada akhirnya akan menguntungkan Saito yang berasal dari perusahaan saingan.

November 10, 2009

Pleasure for the eyes, contemplation for the mind

by Kevin Aditya

Over the last two days I’ve watched what I would call two of the most impressive movies of 2009. The first one being the tensely comedic Inglourious Basterds, and the second is none other than the Zooey-worshipping romantic drama (500) Days of Summer. Well okay, I know I haven’t written any review in quite some time, but both movies has truly intricate me with their delicate storylines, eclectic cinematography and of course those not to be missed, powerfully moving soundtracks.

In the darkly humorous Inglourious Basterds, the infamously bloody director Quentin Tarantino has come back with what can be called a “World War-era Pulp Fiction”. Tarantino went for a similar recipe as he did in one of his most famous movie gone cult, Pulp Fiction, where more than one stories from different backgrounds got tangled in a Tarantino-esque series of unfortunate events. One of the main stories revolves around a group of American-Jewish soldiers named “The Basterds”, led by 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), a group feared for their destructive strength among the Nazi soldiers. In the other time and place, in France to be exact, there lived a French Jewish woman on the run, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent). Over the past four years she has been living under the name of Emmanuelle Mimieux and runs a small cinema, after her family had all been killed in a house inspection by the infamous Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)  from the German SS and SD, nicknamed “Jew Hunter” upon his impressive ability to detect the hidings of the Jews and his mesmerizing interrogative skills. A number of what could be called unfortunate events led each other to make their own slick tactics on a movie premiere night on Shosanna’s cinema, with the main target being the Führer Adolf Hitler himself.

Overall throughout the movie, while still playing strong on Tarantino’s bloodbath fighting scenes, Inglourious Basterds shows a film made with a class. The whole 152 minutes truly shows the quality of a Quentin Tarantino, portraying the life and times of the 1940s Europe to its finest without forgetting the quirky humor, bloody bar brawls and tight dialogues that left the audiences stifling laughs at some so-tense-it’s-funny scenes. And another plus point is that the movie wouldn’t be as good without such powerful casts like the wonderful acting from Christoph Waltz. His portrayal as the slightly psycho Colonel Hans Landa can be clearly seen as humorously suspense yet still a charismatic detective at times. Oh, and Brad Pitt. His character is memorable as always, and Aldo Raine as the Indian-descent lieutenant with a thick southern accent will be a hard persona to forget. For the fans of spaghetti western movies with a World War theme, Inglourious Basterds is one movie that shouldn’t be missed.



The next day, which is today, I watched the long-awaited (500) Days of Summer and it was really an enchanting, moodlifting romantic comedy! Played by the ever-so-gorgeous Zooey Deschanel and the lucky guy Joseph Gordon-Levitt who happened to kiss Zooey all the time through the movie, (500) Days is a movie debut for the music video director Marc Webb who had directed MVs like Jimmy Eat World’s “Work” and Weezer’s “Perfect Situation”, this sure is one hell of a good debut. Alright I’d be a little subjective about this movie because of the Zooey Deschanel factor, but despite anything I would write, it’s still a lovely movie about falling in and out of love.

“This is a story of boy meets girl”. Those are the first words narrated in the movie, and the story flows as we are introduced to Tom Hansen, a failed-to-be-architect now working as a writer in a greeting card company. In January 8, he meets Summer Finn, his new boss’s assistant. Summer is known throughout the town with her enigmatic “Summer Effect”, as young men bought double amount of ice cream in the store where she was working previously, landlords lowered their rent special for her flat, and so on. From this point forward we are told the non-chronological story of their 500 days relationship from the start to the very end, beginning with how she likes his listening to the Smiths’ song when they are in an elevator and since then they have gone intimate, but Summer insists they are still in the terms of friends and nothing more, although they’ve even been sleeping together. After some three hundred days later or so, their relationship worsen and it gets to the point where Tom says they are just like “Sid and Nancy”. The breakup makes Tom so utterly depressed he gets to the days where he goes out of his apartment only to buy junk food. The obsessed Tom loses his job and gets swallowed by depression… but then he finally finds what love really is for him.

First thing I noticed watching the movie is that Marc Webb really knew how to exploit the beauty and grace of Zooey Deschanel. The “Summer Effect”, the close-ups of her smile and her hair, her make out scenes… a visual haven for all the Zooey (male) admirers out there. But Mrs. Gibbard isn’t the only main attraction of the film, it’s the dreamy relationship between the two that makes the movie as sweet as honey, and then the Tom’s miserable life after the breakup adds insult to injury. The story, although never chronologically, flows steadily like any other relationship would be, and when it’s about breaking up then it’s a movie most of us can relate to. Personally, the ending is a really touching one for me, as the film try to deliver that one’s point of view in the matter of love can be truly different and hurting for the other side (which I can truly relate). And apart from the visual matters, the filmmakers also put special highlight to the soundtracks. They try to plug your ears with the “indie”ness of this movie, as we can see bands like the Smiths, Regina Spektor, Simon & Garfunkel and many others into throughout many scenes. If you’ve experienced at some point in your life that love can break you down in pieces and you wonder how could you ever get back to your feet again, this movie can grab your hand and pulls you standing straight!

July 26, 2009

Dillinger escape plan!

by Kevin Aditya

If you’re gonna watch a crime-thriller movie with loads of gunfights and cop chases, the first rule is you have to bring at least 10 guys to watch together. Because cops against robbers with loud, ear-buzzing gunshot sound effect means a DUDE movie. Look, if the mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan (remember the single Panasonic Youth?) took their name from this guy, he must’ve been truly badass. And so I went to watch the highly anticipated crime thriller of 2009, Public Enemies, with 11 of the guys and you ask me how the movie goes? Awesome.

A nicely done flick directed by the guy who directed Collateral, Michael Mann, this film follows the life of the charismatic true-life bank robber of the 1930s John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), as he escapes prisons, rob unfortunate banks, and running away from the cops full-time. Was it that hard to catch and execute one group of robbers? No, he’s been caught, but even the movie opens with Dillinger’s prison break from the Indiana State Prison just to show his awesomeness. But wait, where’s the good folks? Oh, there’s one dedicated FBI agent named Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) who, after his recent success of hunting down Pretty Boy Floyd, has been awarded the task to catch the slick Dillinger by the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. And there the story goes as Dillinger did his bank jobs, fell in love with Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), stressed out with his tense life, escaped another prison and… oh, remember that films with stories taken from real life rarely ends happy. Because reality sucks, dude and that’s why people make movies. Hmm, come to think of it again, this movie is actually a summary of the last years of Dillinger’s life. Come on, how awesome should your life get to be movie-script worth? Watch it for yourself.

Robbing banks 30s style, dude.

Robbing banks 30's style, dude.

First thing, Johnny Depp really goes deep into John Dillinger’s character. Save for being a bad guy, Dillinger is genuinely charismatic, as you could see in how he treated the bank customers well while still pointing his SMG at the security guards, and a true gentleman when it comes to his love Ms. Frechette. Depp was also able to portray Dillinger’s worried, intense expression as he sneaks up on the street between police officers, but can also goes wild with his weapon when needed, killing prison guards on his way. Christian Bale delivers a fine performance as the disturbed, but continually seeking the truth Agent Purvis. He was truly dedicated to catch Dillinger without as few fatalities as possible, like shown in how he seeks more professional agents to avoid casualties in the field action against Dillinger and his cronies. And Marion Cotillard has done a good job as Billie Frechette, a normal girl that fell in love with Dillinger, and has always tried her best to support Dillinger ever since, like rejecting to cooperate with the police to help the chase.

The only aspect this film lack is the “Great Depression” theme that should be sticking close with the 1930s America setting. Without the financial collapse, Dillinger seems to be a folk hero that people love (maybe simply because he’s too cool.) and there wasn’t really any sign of the great financial depression along the movie. Actually the film is a 50:50 between gunfights and bank jobs and catch-me-if-you-cans, and the love story of Dillinger and Frechette. The film pictures how Dillinger fell in love with Frechette and treated her the true gentleman’s way, continuing to love her no matter how difficult his life was for their relationship to continue (“You ain’t going nowhere. I’m gonna die an old man in your arms. We’re too good for ’em.”) and fortunately, Frechette is also a truly loyal lover that has vowed to support Dillinger, although at first she was hesitant to go along with him. Ahh, that’s the way loving someone should be. No matter if you’re a guy or girl, go and watch this mesmerizing life and times of John Dillinger!

“I like baseball, movies, good clothes, whiskey, fast cars … and you. What else you need to know?”

— John Dillinger

June 8, 2009

A hell-done movie

by Kevin Aditya

Back before the new millenium, horror movies are supposedly for guys who want to appear bravehearted while watching it with his dream girl that clings in his arms, crying like babies needing someone to protect her life from the on-screen demons. But the 21st century horror films nowadays like Saw or Hostel, they all serve nothing but another new way to kill someone by throat-cutting, finger-ripping, limb-amputating the victims so severely they shriek in pain ’till death comes — this age is the rise of torture porn genre. Horror films today sure aren’t a good way to spend a Saturday night, correct?

Wait, there’s Sam Raimi to save the day with his newest movie, Drag Me to Hell. Yeah, I also thought how a guy who made Peter Parker dressed in all black complete with the emo fringe could make good horror movie, but hey, what I didn’t know is that he was well-known for making cult horror flicks way before those Spiderman stuffs. And so I entered the cinema with Harsyah, Luna and Sung — but two guys and two girls don’t necesarrily make us two couples — that’s where I remember that I HATE horror movies (I get scared easily, dammit). But whatever, the movie poster was convincing enough to make me want to watch it in the first place. How could you resist such poster full with emotion?

The movie starts, there’s this blonde cutie named Christine Brown who works daily as a loan officer, and currently she’s competing for the assistant manager position with the Asian guy Stu Rubin as her competition. One day an old crazy gypsy woman named Mrs. Ganush begs her for another mortgage extension for her house because she’s having financial difficulties. Reminiscing her boss’s words that he would prefer someone who can make tough decisions to be promoted, she rejects the extension even as the old lady begs on her knees, shaming Mrs. Ganush in the process. Later that night when Christine is going to her car at the basement parking lot, the old lady suddenly reappears and strangled her in a frightening struggling scene, but finally she only takes Christine’s coat button while cursing the word “laaamiiiaaaa” before disappearing, leaving Christine and her wrecked car behind. Then as her skeptic boyfriend Clay Dalton picks her up from the basement mess, she suddenly stops at a psychic store and intuitively decides to read her fortune. She’s damn well surprised when the Indian paranormal Rham Jas tells her that she has been cursed and within three days of torment, she will be dragged to hell by the demon Lamia…

Hey, come on old lady, dont barge into my car like that.

Hey, come on old lady, don't barge into my car like that.

Well, there’s no point in spoiling the story. What I have to tell you is that this is a really effective horror story, playing with classic blaring sound effects that will send you wrinkling on your seat instead of gore scenes full of blood. And hey, Raimi even inserted some awkwardly comedic scenes for some laughs! Really, this is a PG-13 rated horror movie. A really campy one, it reminds me of some 80s-90s decent horror flicks I’ve watched, but this one does the job well. Sam Raimi puts every element of classic horror thrills into the screen including the huge movie title just before the end credits.The demon rarely shows up throughout the movie, and that frightens you more than seeing zombies every 30 seconds, right? It brings back horror movies to be watchable on a Saturday night with your girl without feeling queasy for the rest of the night — if you’re single, go find some love!


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