6th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

•March 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

6th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

Movie Reviews
Philomena (Britain-France-US/2013/Stephen Frears)

philomena

This year’s Oscar Best Picture nominee (along with three others category incl. Best Actress for Judi Dench, Best Adapted Screenplay for Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope and Best Original Score by Alexandre Desplat) was based on the book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ by journalist Martin Sixsmith, about the true story of a woman, Philomena Lee (played by Judi Dench) in a 50 years long search for her son.

Having pregnant but unwed, the teenage Philomena Lee was sent to a convent in Ireland. Forced to work, the nuns of the convent then put her boy into adoption. Now in her late 60s, in her redemption attempt, Philomena turns to a former BBC journalist, Martin Sixsmith (played by Steve Coogan), who eager to find an intriguing story, to help her. Against all odds, they trackdown the adoption history to find Philomena’s son.

Not only being a powerfully heartfelt drama of a mother to son lost relationship, ‘Philomena’ also explore the thought-provoking nuns and convent history of the old Ireland. Although cursed by some critics as an organized hate against conventional church and anti-Catholic, beautifully acted by the strong chemistry between Dench and surprisingly, Coogan, this is an affecting drama which made you easily fell in love with.

The Round Table (Japan/2014/Isao Yusikada)

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Based on Kanako Nishi’s 2011 famous Japanese novel, ‘Entaku’, ‘The Round Table’ marked Mana Ashida, the little girl from Guilermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ in her first lead performance. Directed by Isao Yusikada from ‘Before The Vigil’ (2013), a director well known learned under acclaimed indie filmmaker Shunji Iwai, the movie tells a story about Kotoko ‘Kokko-chan’ Uzuhara (played by Mana Ashida), a tenacious and sharp-tongued third grade elementary schoolgirl who’s perpetually unhappy and trying to figure out the social life around.

Aiming the unique Kansai dialect from a Hyogo native, which considered harsh to other Japan area, Mana Ashida is Isao’s first choice as she originally comes from Kansai. With the other children’s charming performance and the wonderfully crafted script, Isao Yusikada has succesfully brought Mana Ashida’s acting talent. Played a homeroom teacher of Kokko-chan, Ryuhei Maruyama of the popular boy band Kanjani8 also delivered a fine performance. Using the main character’s unique view of the world, the source’s original message about understanding the concept of normal also comes strong. On the surface, ‘The Round Table’ might be looked just as kids movie, but reminds adults of things they once lost in the coming of age, the movie will easily capture everyone’s hearts.

One Third (Japan/2014/Hiroshi Shinagawa)

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Based on the popular novel ‘Sanbunnoichi’ by Hanta Kinoshita, ‘One Third’ is a dark heist comedy directed by Hiroshi Shinagawa from the Japanese smash hit ‘Drop’ and ‘Manzai Gang (Slapstick Brothers!)’. Starred Japanese heartthrob Tatsuya Fujiwara, the movie tells a story about the cabaret club manager Shuu (played by Fujiwara), the worker Koji (Koki Tanaka) and the patron named Ken (comedy duo Black Mayonnaise’s Ryuichi Kosugi) with a bank robbery that runs amok beyond twists and turns.

Also starred Mika Nakashima in its fun ensemble cast, ‘One Third’ has many aspects that made it look much different than the other cliche heist comedies. Along with fast and energetic pace, like the jazzin’ theme song, recently released ‘Triad’ from Japanese jazz duo Pia-no-Jac, Shinagawa’s script and direction – storytelling brought many homage to Quentin Tarantino’s movies, from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ to ‘True Romance’. It has successfully built necessary details in its larger than life but interesting characters. He also dare to cross boundaries with perverted insanity incl. anal rape scene which surprisingly worked to hit even darker comedic tone. A dark comedy with hilarious intensity, and again, who could resist a ‘True Romance’ homage in a movie?

Gravity (US/2013, Alfonso Cuaron)

Gravity

One of the most acclaimed sci-fi last year, Academy Award nominee for Best PictureGravity’, directed by Alfonso Cuarón is really not a usual one. Introduced new ways of creating atmosphere and effects, which gave Cuarón his first Oscar, this is a thrilling outer space adventure, tribute to moms and truly amazing over the moon experience, made even bigger by the Open Air Screening in the largest outdoor screen for this year’s festival.

Read the full review here

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (US/2013, Ben Stiller)

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Had been in years in development hell, this rather surreal romantic comedy was based on the short story by James Thurber which was also adapted into 1947 movie starred Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. Now helm by Ben Stiller in his other directorial and acting effort, ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ is a strong romance fantasy, built over grand visual design and life metaphors. Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn and Shirley MacLaine also gave a terrific performances along with the score by Theodore Shapiro and remix version of David Bowie’s classic ‘Space Oddity’ feat. Wiig.

Read the full review here

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (US/2013/Jeff Tremaine)

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As a slightly different Jackass film series, the fourth installment ‘Bad Grandpa’ was written by director Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville. Combining Jackass’ stunts and pranks, road movie and hidden camera comedic style, the movie moved around a nasty 86 y.o. man named Irving Zisman (played by Knoxville) and the blunt 8 y.o. grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) as they travels across America to look for Billy’s dad. From supermarket shoplifting, wreck a wedding, male strip club to a child beauty pageant, this is a total show of sick jokes and Jackass’ stunts.

The comedy might be segmented to sick-jokes lovers, and Nicoll obviously stole the show from Knoxville at many times. But surprisingly, it has quite a lot of empathies and also landed in Academy Award nominee for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, becoming the first Jackass series to be nominated for an Oscar.

Antboy (Denmark/2013/Ask Hasselbach)

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Centers on 12 y.o. boy Pelle Nehrmann (Oscar Dietz) which was bitten by an ant and delivered super hero strength and abilities under the help of his comic book nerd friend Wilhelm (Nicholas Bro), ‘Antboy’ is the first Danish superhero movie based on their popular children’s book written by Danish author Kenneth Bags Andersen. With the local success and worldwide distribution, the sequel ‘Antboy II’ which will be setup as Danish/German co-production is also coming its way.

But unlike what we’ve seen on the trailer and the truth that it has been shown in some movie festivals since the premiere at Toronto, ‘Antboy’ was actually cliche. We could see that Hasselbach used the original book’s superhero cliche elements to mock them up with quite a fresh energy from the young casts, but the movie still failed to reach wider ages of audience. Then again, as Denmark’s first attempt in superhero genre, this might be something to be celebrated.

Grudge Match (US/2013/Peter Segal)

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As a match over 30 years in the making, Peter Segal’s ‘Grudge Match’ marked the reunion of Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro (they paired for the first time in ‘Copland’ ensemble cast) in a show of boxing ring homages, both to ‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’.

The movie might quite far from what it promised to be, but seeing Stallone and De Niro landed together in a lead role, playing oldcrack boxers came back from their retirement to settle their old grudges, this is still a hilarious comedy match with hearts all over. Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Jon Bernthal added the power of the ensemble cast.

Miss Granny (Korea/2014/Hwang Dong-hyeuk)

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It’s truly hard to believe after ‘My Father’ and even more depressive ‘Silenced’ a.k.a. ‘The Crucible’, South Korean director Hwang Dong-hyeuk came with this wonderful romantic comedy with a glimpse of fantasy. ‘Miss Granny’ tells a story of 74 y.o. widow Oh Mal-soon (played by Na Moon-hee) who magically finds herself in the body of her 20 y.o. self (‘Sunny’s’ Shim Eun-kyung, again shows her huge acting talent) after having her picture taken at a mysterious photo studio.

While the chaotic comedy is very entertaining, as many other South Korean movies, the movie never missed its heartfelt dramatic turns and beautiful lovestories that strongly sparks more serious matters of regrets, memories and family desertion. A heartwarming fantasy that easily peak your mind to an emotional state in a wonderful cinematic experience.

Fukrey (India/2013/Mrigdeep Singh Lamba)

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Like some other finest Bollywood’s that went into this festival, this year they brought Japan premiere of ‘Fukrey’ from director Mrigdeep Singh Lamba. Considered as one of Indian sidestream directorial efforts which won several local awards, ‘Fukrey’ is a slacker comedy centered at four nobodies running after their dreams. A fun adventures from school walls to drug cartels, this film also marked an acclaimed performance from Richa Chadda from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’.

Another noted work in ‘Fukrey’ comes with the music composed by ‘Delhi Belly’s Ram Sampath. It’s not as big as other Bollywood’s showcases with big stars and veteran directors, but ‘Fukrey’ was somehow felt fresh in its own ways.

Suck Me Shakespeer (Germany/2013/Bora Dagtekin)

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One of the highest box office hits in German cinemas last year, from director Bora Dagtekin and actor Elyas M’Barek from 2012 smash hit ‘Turkish for Beginners’, ‘Fuck You Goethe / Fack ju Göhte a.k.a. ‘Suck Me Shakespeer’ is a cynical comedy about education problems in Germany. The movie tells a story of an ex convict who becomes substitute teacher to some disturbed high school kids.

Although being fussy and at times too cynical with its rapid-fire dialogues, ‘Suck Me Shakespeer’ surprisingly put the audience in a really good laugh and offers a loud question of moral integrity in screwed educations. Playing with the updated ‘Romeo & Juliet’ school play, the movie also has a wonderful chemistry between the casts. Brassily funny and quite sexy.

Mr. Go (Korea/2013/Kim Yong-hwa)

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Based on Huh Young-man’s 1984 popular Korean manhwa, ‘The 7th Team’, about a gorilla who becomes a baseball superstar and his young female manager, ‘Mr. Go’ is a joint production between South Korea and China. When her grandfather dies in the Great Sichuan Earthquake, young circus ringmaster Wei Wei (played by ‘CJ-7’s Xu Jiao) has only Ling Ling, a bat-swinging gorilla to depend against their family’s insurmountable debt. Enters the Korean Baseball League by the materialistic agent, they set to a miraculous winning streak that will win everybody’s hearts.

With the main elements of gorilla, baseball and a young girl, almost everything in ‘Mr. Go’ was a cliche plotting. But one thing that made it really interesting among Korean ways to build a dramatization in a sports comedy were the efforts of special effects, which was never seen before in K-cinema. With almost every single scenes was built in beautifully done CGI and motion capture compositions, produced mostly by local talents over 300 production members over four years and even the first Korean movie to be fully shot in 3D, this is by far the director Kim Yong-hwa’s most ambitious work. Japanese famous star Joe Odagiri also appeared as a cameo.

Bay Blues : 25 Years and 364 Days (Japan/2014/Tomohiro Takayama)

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Bay Blues : 25 Years and 364 Days’, still a tentative international title from this movie directed by Tomohiro Takayama is a biography of his late comedy partner, Eitoku Kawamoto that closed his life at the young age of 25. Depicts the short but turbulent life that Eitoku lived, this movie also reflect an life anti-thesis to a strive to pursue a carreer in comedy.

While this movie got a potential to be an elaborate portrayal on the real life of a comedian, and so a moving story about friendship and rebirth, unfortunately, it has a serious problems with the pace and acting that made some important points felt a bit too flat.

Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats (Japan/Italy/Taiwan/Germany/2014/Yosuke Fujita)

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Known as one of the most renowned and popular Japanese newspaper comic strip boy-character since long and adapted into movies or TV anime, this movie is actually has no straight reference to that character nor any adaptation. But for those who knew the character, this can be quite a reimagining of some elements into a new character. As a resident of the rundown apartment Fukufukuso who lives with his loser-friends, a thirty y.o. housepainter Tatsuo, often called Fuku-chan (played by female comedian Miyuki Oshima) is a shy and goofy chubby-guy with passion for cooking and kites. Everything changed when suddenly his high school crush, Chiho (Asami Mizukawa), now a passionate photographer came back into his life beyond Fuku-chan’s ghosts of the past.

Not only being the first Japanese film co-produced by Third Windows Films from UK, Tucker Film from Italy, Joint Entertainment from Taiwan and Rapid Eye Movies from Germany and to be distributed abroad for Germany, UK, Italy and Taiwan, this rare Japanese comedy directed by Yosuke Fujita, from the smash hit ‘Fine Totally Fine’ (2008), the movie also shared the world premiere in Udine’s Far East Film Festival and Okinawa International Movie Festival.

Playing a young man role, female comedian Miyuki Oshima has done a wonderful job portraying an awkward character of Fuku-chan and building a lovely chemistry with ‘Dark Water’s Asami Mizukawa. It was a comedy, but not the usual one you’ve seen in Japanese Cinema. Also brought lot of hearts into the movie, director Yosuke Fujita has once again proved his distinctive style of movie making. A funny and warmhearted comedy of life.

The Sting (US/1973/George Roy Hill)

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In Special Screening’s World Comedy section, the festival offers a chance to ones who never seen this classic in a cinematic treatment. Known as one of the best ever world’s caper comedy, 46th Academy AwardsBest PictureDirectorOriginal Screenplay and 4 more Oscars from 10 nominated, ‘The Sting’ starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman in their reunion after ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’.

Also starred actor Robert Shaw, the movie was also noted for its anachronistic use of ragtime, including Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’, adapted for the movie by Marvin Hamlisch and became rarely instrumental single to hit the top ten chart at that time.

Cold Fish (Japan/2010/Sion Sono)

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As well as the World Comedy, at Japanese Comedy section the festival also offers 2010’s hit ‘Cold Fish’ by director Sion Sono that was premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival and won the best screenplay award in Fantastic Fest.

‘Cold Fish’ is an absurd journey of dark comedy about serial killers. Inspired from Tokyo’s real killer Sekine Gen and Hiroko Kazama, the movie tells a story about an owner of tropical fish shop whose life and family are taken over by a fellow fish enterpeneur who happens to be psychopath killer. Like other Sion Sono’s features, ‘Cold Fish’ is a hysterical and gorily twisted and comically cartoonish tour de force.

Makkhi/Eega (2012/India / S.S. Rajamouli)

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It’s rarely known that Indian movies doesn’t have to be all Bollywood. Many remarkable talents and extraordinary ideas actually came from the regional film industries. ‘Makkhi’, the Hindi dubbed version of original titled ‘Eega’ in Telugu, also known as Tollywood, where the movie came from, is a groundbreaking effort in their movie industry.

From director S.S. Rajamouli with his previous works, ‘Makkhi’ was conceived with all the Indian’s pop movie signatures. It’s mostly cheesy and comical, but made bigger by the technology they’re using to create the visual effects. The best thing about ‘Makkhi‘ is they could translate every aspects of their fantasy into mindblowing visual works. Combining live action animation and visual effects which was never used in any Indian movies by Rahul Venugopal, Adel Adili and Pete Draper from Makuta FX, ‘Makkhi’ was not only received positive critics, becomes a high grossing blockbuster, but also travel around many international film festival among the market section from Cannes, Shanghai, Madrid and Puchon Fantastic Film Festival.

Exclusive Interviews

Kim Yong-hwa (director of ‘Mr. Go’)

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Q : ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ and ‘Take Off’ was a huge success in Korean domestic box office. You made a film in quite a long period of time, like once in every 3-4 years. Is it becoming your standard of success?

A : I actually always want to make more movies, but I guess everytime I develop a movie, it’s the necessity. Both ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ and ‘Take Off’ has more technical matters. Mostly in ‘Mr.Go’, I need more and more time to conceive the special effects.

Q : I can see that ‘Mr. Go’ is by far your most ambitious project, and it was based on a popular Manhwa. Why you picked that one?

A : ‘Mr. Go’ is a very famous comic and I found it a bit of a challenge. It was so hard to make that no one decided to take it as a project before.

Q : The visual effects in ‘Mr. Go’ is actually a never before seen efforts in Korean cinema. How was the difficulties creating all of the effects in the process?

A : We first offered it to ILM (Industrial Lights And Magic) but the budget is way too much. I still wanted to make it happen, though, so I decided to find a way, to do it with local talents. I even put my own money and that was a huge decision for me. I first hired like 200 employees, most of them are Asians and some has worked in well known blockbusters like ‘Man Of Steel’ and ‘Pacific Rim’ but it’s still not easy. We also wanted the movie to be fully shot in 3D. There was many challenge to make it smoother, like the gorilla’s hair which you’ve seen in the movie. We had to do some visual effects tricks like duplicity to make it better but financially cheaper.

Q : And how far is the helping efforts from Rhythm & Hues (visual effect company) ?

A : We have some of their engineers to partially supervised, but mostly we’re like doing it by ourselves

Q : ‘Mr. Go’ is a co-production with China, and you even put Japan’s Joe Odagiri in a cameo role. Is there something you want to achieve in this joint production between Asian countries?

A : I think so. Many Hollywood movies was collaborated with Europe companies. In Asia, we rarely have that kind of collaboration. I guess this is the time where Asian countries can collaborate in more movie productions, and the distributions also could be wider.

Q : Is casting Xu Jiao as the lead was also a demand in that collaboration? Have you seen her debut in ‘CJ-7‘ before?

A : Not particularly, but yes, Huayi Brothers (China producers of ‘Mr. Go’) first recommended her for the part. I saw CJ-7 after our meeting then went to Hangzhou, where the girl lived, and a bit surprised with her visions. She’s only 15 year old but instead just look, she has a strong spirit and great heart.

Q : ‘Mr. Go’ has created a huge box office in China, but it’s actually didn’t do so well in Korea. What did you think about the factors?

A : Yeah, I think maybe China audience is more attracted to special effects and positivity in children’s movies. The idea of baseball and gorillas elements in ‘Mr. Go’ might be a bit unusual to Korean audience.

Q : How do you see Korean movies these days?

A : It could be changing, but right now, Korean movies has created a great success everywhere, mostly in Asia, and domestically our audience were very supportive to go see a movie in cinemas. Many asians choose to see more asian movies and this is like a culture that also becomes a part of the improvement that push the growth of local markets.

Q : One last question is a bit cliche. What is your impression to Okinawa International Movie Festival?
(Laugh) I’m having a really great time here. Japanese people are very nice, very kind supports and Okinawa has a different warm feeling. The festival itself has a size that’s not too huge which is very comfort for me. And that the movies wasn’t all arthouses, I think it’s better to reach audience from all ages.

 

Hwang Dong-hyeuk (director of ‘Miss Granny’)

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Q : Comparing to your previous movies, ‘My Father’ and ‘Silenced’, which has a very dark and depressive social subjects, ‘Miss Granny’ has a really different tone. Why did you pick something different this time?

A : (Laugh) I really need healing time after ‘Silenced’. I’m actually a fun guy, which is why my friends didn’t believe me when I made ‘Silenced’. Like the audience, I also got a bit depressed making that movie. And even more depressed seeing the faces of my audience while watching the movie. They’re just.. you know… very silence. ‘Miss Granny’ is really something I need to overcome that feeling. I loved to see my audience smile and laugh instead of depressed.

Q : ‘Miss Granny’ might be felt so light and funny, but I think deep down, it also has a strong theme about families, just like your previous movies. Did you find that family themes were actually your signature?

A : Well, might be. I always love the idea about family. I lost my dad when I was like 5 and grew up with a single mom who struggled to support the kid. In ‘Silenced’, which based on the novel, I also added more family characters.

Q : And is it true that ‘My Father’ is actually your own stories?

A : No, not particularly. I changed it a bit. It was based on my aunt’s life. She’s adopted since 5 year old, sent to America and then came back many years after to meet her real mom, which is my own grandmother. I really moved by that story.

Q : Ah, that grandmother of yours also appeared in ‘Miss Granny’, right?

A : She’s actually in ‘Silenced’, too. (laugh). In ‘Miss Granny’, I need a character for an old woman who like just sitting around and has no dialogues. So I thought why not asked her to play? She’s 96 year old and I had to pay her double for this role (laugh)

Q : So you should know that ‘Miss Granny’ is now playing in Indonesian theatre, and they give a special treatment to audience that came with their grandma.

A : Wow! That’s lovely!

Q : Unlike your previous movies where you wrote your own script, ‘Miss Granny’ was written by someone else. Whose idea actually was it?

A : It was like 7 years ago, there’s a female writer wrote the script, and it’s a completely different character. The girl is a cook and not a singer like what you’ve seen in the movie. No one wanted to do the project, then after 2 years, the producer found the script, bought it from her and got re-developed with the new writer, but again, they fail to made it into a movie. The last thing I knew, they’re offered me and I loved the idea. We were rewriting some aspects to make it even better.

Q : Some people were comparing ‘Miss Granny’ to Penny Marshall’s ‘Big’ starred Tom Hanks. But I loved how you choose the photo studio as the important turn of the plot in ‘Miss Granny’. Is there like any metaphors you wanted to tell?

A : Right. When I looked at some photos, it’s like each of them telling me a story and it created some kind of feeling. Yes they have it in the script, but I developed it with more details like the James Dean or Audrey Hepburn things.

Q : Is Shim Eun-kyung your first choice to play the young Mal-soon? I did love her from ‘Sunny’, though…

A : At first, I wanted to make the character younger, sexy and taller. But I thought this would be really cliche and I didn’t have the candidate yet. So why not go with something different, with the stronger character. Someone who could play both dramatic and comedic role. At that point, yes, Shim Eun-kyung is my first choice. You know, before ‘Sunny’, she also played in many TV dramas since she was very young.

Q : How do you see Korean movies these days?

A : Well it still have its ups and downs. You know, first in the beginning of 2000 it was getting very big, then it went down, I think it was when I made ‘My Father’. Then it’s going up again until now as the largest film industries in Asia and large distributions too. Indonesia also has CJ, right? I think it’s dynamic, but who knows? At this time, ironically, with the governmental tense between north and south, and also with Japan or China, they will create many interesting topics and ideas to put into movies.

Q : Right. And here goes the last question, what is your impression to the Okinawa International Movie Festival?

A : I loved Okinawa. You know that Korea doesn’t have a clean air with many dust from China and other industrial area? Here, the air is very clean and the weathers are always very nice. And as the movie festival, OIMF is also much more relaxing, it’s more like a comedy festival and I felt like a tourist on holidays here. (laugh)

6th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : BEYOND THE UNIQUE CONCEPT OF LAUGH AND PEACE

•March 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

6th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : BEYOND THE UNIQUE CONCEPT OF LAUGH AND PEACE

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The Concept Overview
While most of the international movie festivals don’t have many differences except line ups, the Okinawa International Movie Festival (OIMF) offers something unique. Known not only as the largest island of Japan’s southernmost prefecture, the population also noted as the longest-lived people in the world, where the distinctive traditions from other sides of Japan still strongly take places. The concept of ‘Laugh & Peace’ which coloured the festival through 5 previous events might also come from those unique things around Okinawa culture.

Now entering its 6th presentation, still with the same concept that full of enjoyment, happiness and smiles, the festival has developed a new catch phrase of ‘All Things Great in All The Islands!’, aiming to be a different pack of movie festival with music ; traditional and contemporary, image and variety shows including traditional performing arts One that brings together all the regions and people of Okinawa, and also sending information and entertainment through the charms of Japan, mostly Okinawa, to the rest of the country and the world.

The festival itself has various district support groups, from the officials of Okinawa Prefecture and citizens from local areas, Okinawa Convention Visitors Bureau, Promotions Associations to numbers of media and sponsors. To introduce them more, the commitee has done a year-round efforts, from Japan to overseas countries. In this year’s festival, the venues spread from the famous Kokusai-dori in the capital city of Naha, Sakurazaka Theatre, which known as the indie movie theatres bringing alternative movie to its audience, some satellite venues to Ginowan Convention Centre and largest mobile outdoor screen in Ginowan Tropical Beach.

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Like the previous years, this year’s program consists of 9 categories. The main program, Competition (Laugh category & Peace category), brings a variation of fascinating movies with the concept of ‘Laugh & Peace’, movies from all over the world which make people laugh, feel happy and inspired. The juries, Sadao Nakajima (veteran director, President of the jury), Gary Tang (Hong Kong based movie and TVB drama director/producer), Yoko Narahashi (producer and casting director from United Performers’ Studio), Etsuko Higa (Ginowan City Museum comission director and Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts lecturer, singer), and LiLiCo (movie commentator) will pick the movie as Special Recognition Award in two categories to receive Golden Shi-sa Award (Golden Okinawan Lion Statue Award). As well as the jury’s choice, public and theatre audience will vote for the best movie, Laugh-category Grand Prize for the Uminchu Award and Peace-category Grand Prize for the Uminchu Award.

The other competition category are the project ‘Creator’s Factory’, newly conceived in last year’s festival, aiming to discover promising talents as the leader in next generation’s cinema with three awardings, ‘Best New Creator Award’, and Nibichi Movie Festival as a result of collaboration between two festivals. In this category, the contestants will compete for the best picture of wedding ceremony entertainments. Why aim the wedding, is because wedding ceremonies in Okinawa, unparalleled outside the prefecture are filled with entertainments, music and traditional dance.

There are also Special Invitation category ; movie screenings introduces unique and richly varied movies with strong drama and comedy feel, including Japanese movies soon to be released, major and much discussed foreign films, TV Director’s Movie, where the collaborated movies between TV stations and Yoshimoto Kogyo, the largest entertainment company in Japan will be categorized independently to encourage the production of even more ambitious Japanese film made for TV. As Japan known famously producing TV movies which also shown in cinemas, the new trend of their film industry, this new category is also run in cooperation with the AEON Group where all entries are expected to be screened at AEON Cinemas nationwide.

The next is Open Air Screen, following the past 2 years where the festival sets up a world’s largest mobile outdoor screen transported from Switzerland. This category will screen around the world’s masterpieces with numbers of events where the audience will feel a unique sense of openness and freedom through overwhelming scale of cinematic experience. While the Special Screening, a category that has been around since the first year of the festival, consists of Japanese Comedy / World Comedy, which screen the classic movie selected through ages, Sakurazaka Movie College Screening where movie lecturers and guests who are professional in their own field from directors, actors, musicians, comedians and film critics will give live audio commentaries of the selected movies. Panorama Screening, movies with wider themes regardless of the genre, Short Film Screening (presented by SoftBank and Yoshimoto comedians’ directed movies) and Deru-cine, a unique movie screening where the audience can participate in the actual filming set as extras and watch their own performance afterwards.

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The last four categories are Local Origination Project, a screening of Community-based movies and Jimot CM Competition, both consists of movies with the charms from each region with information, lifestyle, legend and local area, Beach Stage Event featuring trending comedy/music live stage with Okinawan Residents Participation Stage, Laugh and Peace Town ; a new name for the booth exhibits and interactive entertainment, and Okinawa Contents Bazaar, a Yoshimoto Kogyo’s showcase event to connect Asia and the world through new joint ventures with Asia’s large entertainment company.

The Complete List of Movie Screenings :
Competition :
Laugh :
Antboy (Denmark/2013/Ask Hasselbach)
One Third (Japan/2014/Hiroshi Shinagawa)
Jackass Presents : Bad Grandpa (USA/2013/Jeff Tremaline)
Ultrafast! Sankinkotai (Japan/2014/Katsuhide Motoki)
Fukrey (India/2013/Mrigdeep Singh Lamba)

One third

Peace :
Miss Granny (Korea/2014/Hwang Dong-hyeok)
The Round Table (Japan/2014/Isao Yukisada)
Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats (Japan/2014/Yosuke Fujita)
Bay Blues : 25 Years and 364 Days (Japan/2014/Tomohiro Takayama)
Mr. GO (Korea/2013/Yong Hwa-kim)
Fuck Me Goethe (Germany/2013/Bora Dagtekin)

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Special Invitation :
Oh! Father (Japan/2014/Michihito Fujji)
Grudge Match (USA/2013/Peter Segal)
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (USA/2013/Ben Stiller)

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TV Director’s Movie :
Furiko (Japan/2014/Norihiro Takenaga)
The Love Session (Japan/2014/Eiji Haya)
Slight Fever of 100o C : Island Breeze of Life (Japan/2014/Koichi Okamoto)
NMB48 Geinin! The Movie Returns (Japan/2014/Hidemi Uchida)
Pirameki’s Children Story (Japan/2014/Yu Ota)

Open Air Screen :
Gravity (USA/2013/Alfonso Cuaron)
Jamaica Diary : An Unbelievable True Story (Japan/2014/Kiyotaka Tamiya)

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Special Screening :
Japanese Comedy :
Cold Fish (Japan/2010/Sion Sono)
Dynamite Don-Don (Japan/1978/Kihachi Okamoto)                                                                                                                                            Why Don’t You Play In Hell? (Japan/2013/Sion Sono)

World Comedy :
The Sting (USA/1973/George Roy Hill)
Duck Soup (USA/1933/Leo McCarey)

Sakurazaka University Movie Screening :
Eega (Indian/Telugu/2012/S.S. Rajamouli)
Philomena (Britain-USA-French/2013/Stephen Frears)

Panorama Screening :
Summer, Kyoto (Japan/2013/Hiroshi Toda)
Photos That Bind Us, The Disaster Area ‘Now’ (Japan/2013/Kihachi Okamoto, Takuro Watabe)
Documentary SO.ON Project (Japan/2014/Sumiko Adachi)
High School Manzai 2013 The Movie (Japan/2013/Yo Hirose)
The Burning Buddha Man (Japan/2013/Ujicha)

Owarai Life Short Film Screening :
Shrinking Man (Minowa)
Crime and Punishment (Takahashi)
Cake (Maeda)
Surpriser and Surprised (Kazutoyo Koyabu)
Benjamin Bonus (Kawashima)
Everyone’s Strawberry (Iwao)
Benchi (Murakami)
Senpai (Fujiwara)
Toome (Oi! Kyuma)

Local Origination Project :
Community-based Movies :
TOP (2014/Nozomu Kayagi)
Sunday, Suzu Decided To Whistle (2014/Atsushi Kokatsu)
Light My Fire (2014/Kyoto Kawamura)
What is the Best Life! (2014/Hirokazu Fujisawa)
Naha NAHA Nafa! (2014, Yasushi Kyan)
Tamako and Chocika’s Incantation (2014/Soichi Takayama)
Life Sucks (2014/Gori)
The Path of Kumiodori (2014/Chikako Yamashiro,/Atsushi Sunagawa)
Run Seoul Run (2014/Takashi Koshika)

The Okinawa Contents Bazaar Showcase
Along with various movie screening in Okinawa Convention Center Ginowan, Sakurazaka Theatre and local venues, the festival opens with Okinawa Contents Bazaar Showcase at Okinawa Gender Equality Center, Tiruru. This showcase event marked the expansion efforts in Asia of the festival committee, Yoshimoto Kogyo Co, Ltd, now the largest major Japanese entertainment company. After the opening addresses by the head of Okinawa International Movie Festival executive committee Mr. Hiroshi Osaki, the event continues with presentations that includes their efforts to open up asian distribution of TV shows, taking over some international movie festival from other regions in Japan, and short film production with major asian broadcasters such as TVB, Astro and Media Asia Group.

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Also presenting the collaboration plans on China-Japan International Film Festival, joint production with Thailand in Japanese TV content and digitalization of Thai TV, joint program production with the South Korean Comedy Association and also insights from Hollywood regarding the latest trend in television, the event ended by the signing ceremony between Yoshimoto Kogyo, Media Asia Group Holdings (Hong Kong), led by CEO and Chairman Peter Lam and Content Land, Inc. (Hong Kong), led by Johnny Yau, known for his long time experience in Asian television industry. In this new joint-forces, Yoshimoto will build the new media platform, produce more contents with Media Asia through Content Land’s large scale of distribution, not only for various national markets in South East Asia and China, but also aiming to connect Asia to the world.

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Okinawa Location Tour
This year’s Okinawa International Movie Festival also introduces shooting locations in Naha City for the community-based movie ‘Naha NAHA Nafa!’ by the filmmakers and Naha Tour Association Guide. Naha City, the prefectural capital is marked by the world heritage site including Shurijo Castle from the old capital ‘Shuri’, the Kinjo stone-paved roads to the Bingata, a coral dyed workshop studio, Tomariiyumach fish market and the street markets on the famous Kokusai-dori. As the center of Okinawa’s politics, economics and culture, this part of Okinawa is also known as a spot where both history and culture are strongly alive.

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On the indie scale production as their submission to the festival, this film directed by 18 y.o. Yasushi Kyan and starred comedian Hiroki Kawata from Garage Sale with some fresh young actors, told the 3 multiverse stories set in Naha ; about a high school student and a university student who works part time at the public market in ‘Yui Yui Yui at the Public Market!’, a road movie of a high school student aiming to become a movie director which bumps with a foreign tourist and the search for a girl in an old picture in ‘Amakuma Naha Machi Long Way’ and a tale of youth beyond a character’s father’s ‘Kobujutsu’ (ancient Japanese martial arts) in ‘Shall We Kobujutsu?

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The Red Carpets
Kicked off the festival with the belle of every movie festival, where artists and celebrities walked the beachfront red carpet held in Ginowan Tropical Beach, the parade started with the introduction by Yoshimoto CEO Hiroshi Osaki. Followed by the MCs Koji Imada, Ayako Kisa and Mai Sato, Okinawan musicians and dancers then performed the Eisa traditional dance among the pounding of various kinds of drums.

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The red carpet, which spread 170 meters long, filled with over 50000 wildly enthusiastic crowds. 595 paraders, from the host of TV comedy, talk shows, sponsors, hugely popular character such as Kamen Rider to famous actors like Shidou Nakamura, Manami Koshiki and Mana Ashida, directors from the submitted movies including China-Korean’s famous ‘Mr. Go’ and jury members, the whole show translate a great combination between movie and art festival.

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While the 2nd Red Carpet, held on the 4th day of the festival on Kokusai-dori, Naha City filled with even more audience (58.000 people) crowding the street. With the 150 m carpet length, 371 paraders (from 40 teams) and a large screen above the main stage in Tenbusu Naha Culture Hall, this was actually the first red carpet event ever held in the heart of Naha City.

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This 2nd red carpet event opened by Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga, Hiroshi Osaki from Yoshimoto Kogyo and Kyoraku Vice Chairman Yoshinori Enomoto. Some of the most awaited were Osaka-based girl idol group NBM48 and JackassJohnny Knoxville. With the all-ages crowds celebrate, reach over barriers to greet their idols, both were truly a fascinating one!

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The Open Air Screen
Like the past two years, the festival sets up the world largest mobile outdoor screen (26.65m width / 14.76m height) transported from Switzerland. Not only screen world movies, the stage also filled with number of events for the audience to experience the overwhelming scale and the sense of freedom.

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For this year, with the world premiere of a non-fiction documentary about I-VAN, a reggae dancer in Okinawa, ‘Jamaica Diary : An Unbelievable True Story’, Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar nominee ‘Gravity’ is one of the program’s highlight. Screened under the stars, this sci-fi masterpiece gets a different cinematic treatment than ones we’ve ever seen before.

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In the stage event, the comedy and music live both were performed on the stage, along with the local show of talents and linked TV programs like Okinawa TV ‘X Factor’. From Okinawan artist to other popular idol groups, there were ‘Chura-ii’ Girls Up! , comedians from Yoshimoto Okinawa Entertainment College, NBM 48, The Boom, Yawaranaraba, Kiyama Shoten, I-VAN and Kariyushi 58 that sets in the annual chorus finale singing the festival’s official theme song ‘Egae No Manma’ under the fireworks.

Laugh & Peace Town
Unlike most content exhibitions in any other movie festivals, ‘Laugh & Peace Town’, previously named ‘Content Land’ is more like a celebration for both the residents of Okinawa and the visitors from all ages. In this 6th festival, in addition to booth exhibits and PR performances, the organizer also develop more interactive experience in music, games and other professional skills of hobbies with Yoshimoto performers.

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And furthermore, this creatively created spaces also filled with the 800 seat ‘Laugh & Peace Town Theatre’ that feature PR, live broadcasts, program tapings and live music, along with the new ‘Mini Stages’ for Okinawa Culture Smile Club, comedic performers to workshops in a fully packed additional program for a different movie festival.

Daniel Irawan

 

NEED FOR SPEED : A FUN BLOCKBUSTER RIDE

•March 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

NEED FOR SPEED

Sutradara : Scott Waugh

Produksi : Touchstone Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Bandito Brothers, 2014

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            Adaptasi game ke film layar lebar memang tak meninggalkan banyak rekor yang baik. Kesalahan terbesarnya biasa ada di effort-effort untuk mengubah beberapa template penting yang justru akhirnya meninggalkan feel dari source orisinilnya sebagai sebuah videogame. Tapi tunggu dulu. Meski dari deretan cast-nya tak terdengar se-menarik itu, ada DreamWorks dengan Steven Spielberg di belakangnya. So, mungkin ini tak juga akan jatuh ke kelas film-film Uwe Boll. Apalagi, sepeninggal Paul Walker, belum ada kepastian jelas franchise terbesar race car actionFast & Furious’ akan jadi seperti apa nantinya.

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            Datang dari sutradara Scott Waugh yang kemarin mengarahkan ‘Act Of Valor’, tetap bersama produsernya Bandito Brothers yang kini juga menjadi salah satu co-producer, skripnya digarap oleh dua bersaudara George Gatins dan John Gatins dalam kolaborasi pertama mereka, sekaligus memberi jalan buat George yang belum punya rekor setinggi saudaranya yang sudah menghasilkan ‘Real Steel’ dan ‘Flight’. Dari filmografi mereka, barisan nama-nama tadi, plus Spielberg, sudah menekankan bahwa ‘Need For Speed’ memang ada di kelas blockbuster ketimbang sebuah adaptasi game kelas B. Tapi resikonya tetap ada di penempatan Aaron Paul dari ‘Breaking Bad’ yang baru kali ini didapuk memegang porsi lead di produksi sekelas ‘Need For Speed’. Meski filmografinya sudah banyak, bukan pula selalu sebagai supporting tak penting serta sudah memenangkan masing-masing dua Emmy Awards & Saturn Awards, sulit untuk menampik bahwa kekuatan lead merupakan faktor penting dalam sebuah blockbuster, apalagi kabarnya berpotensi untuk dikembangkan menjadi franchise baru.

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            Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), pembalap yang mengembangkan bengkel khusus mobil-mobil berperforma tinggi bersama rekan-rekannya, Joe Peck (Ramon Rodriguez), Finn (Rami Malek), Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) dan Maverick (Scott Mescudi a.k.a. rapper Kid Cudi) mendapat tawaran menarik dari Dino (Dominic Cooper) dalam sebuah transaksi Mustang Shelby. Keberadaan Dino sebagai mantan saingannya baik di arena maupun kehidupan pribadi atas hubungan lamanya dengan Anita (Dakota Johnson), kakak Pete, awalnya membuat Tobey enggan, namun kebutuhan finansialnya akhirnya membuat Tobey menyanggupi permintaan Dino. Tawaran yang datang dari Julia (Imogen Poots), gadis Inggris milyuner lewat pelelangan membuat standar persetujuan mereka meningkat, berlanjut pada tantangan Dino yang memicu sambutan Pete buat membawa mobil impor ilegal Koenigsegg Ageras milik keluarga Dino balapan menuju interstate. Balapan yang berujung pada sebuah insiden lewat ulah Dino ini akhirnya menghilangkan nyawa Pete, dan Tobey yang harus menanggung akibatnya. Menjauhkannya dari Anita bahkan dipenjara dua tahun, Tobey akhirnya keluar dengan sebuah niat balas dendam pada Dino yang terus berambisi mengalahkannya. Sasarannya adalah balapan ilegal bergengsi via online De Leon yang dikelola DJ Monarch (Michael Keaton) lewat bantuan Julia dan Mustang Shelby-nya. The race is on.

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            Dan benar saja. Deretan nama-nama yang ada dibalik produksinya, memang membuat ‘Need For Speed’ punya profil jauh lebih besar dari yang dibayangkan sebelumnya. Selain pameran mobil balap keren termasuk Koenigsegg yang hampir tak pernah muncul di genre sejenis. Walau agak melebar ke durasi sedikit lebih dari 2 jam, skrip George yang dibantu John sudah menuangkan naik turun konfliknya secara efektif, tak lantas jadi draggy bersama storytelling Scott Waugh. Impersonating Michael Bay dengan atmosfer sangat mirip dengan film-film produksi Jerry Bruckheimer atau sentuhan tangan Spielberg lainnya, dari kerja Shane Hurlbut, DoP cukup senior yang sudah membuktikan kiprahnya dari ‘Drumline’, ‘Terminator Salvation’ hingga ‘Act Of Valor’, secara genre ini memang mutlak memerlukan visualisasi cantik hingga scoring Nathan Furst yang sangat mengingatkan kesana. It’s like copied template atau atmosfer, namun hasilnya cukup impresif, termasuk scene-scene race car action dengan pace editing ketat yang mampu tampil membawa kesegaran baru dalam genre-nya dalam pembagian pas di tiap chapter-nya.

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              Masih ada pula Michael Keaton dalam penempatan karakter yang terasa begitu hidup. Meski tak banyak mendapat porsi tampil, karakter DJ Monarch dengan taktis diselipkan Gatins menjadi benang merah kuat sebagai God of the game yang benar-benar bekerja mempertahankan feel-nya sebagai sebuah adaptasi game. Aaron Paul sendiri sebenarnya tak cukup kuat meng-handle debutnya sebagai lead dalam kelas blockbuster seperti ini. Kerap memunculkan ekspresi berlebih dengan tekanan suara berat yang terkesan tak natural dan kelewat dibuat-buat, namun untungnya bisa tertutupi oleh cast lain yang masing-masing mampu mencuri perhatian. Baik Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek dari ‘Twilight’ dan terlebih Scott Mescudi bisa tampil sebagai comedic sidekick yang kuat dibalik chemistry mereka, begitu juga Imogen Poots dan Dakota Johnson dalam kontras masing-masing karakternya. Sementara Dominic Cooper justru berhasil bertransformasi menjadi badass villain dengan emosi akting yang pas.

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           So yes, dalam wujudnya sebagai blockbuster, ‘Need For Speed’ mungkin tak juga sempurna. Karakternya serba klise, pendekatan Waugh terasa sangat mirip dengan Michael Bay, dan lead-nya juga agak lemah. Namun unsur-unsur lain di dalamnya bisa saling bersinergi dengan baik satu dengan lainnya buat menciptakan race car action highlights yang seru. Masalahnya kini hanya satu, dan akan jadi sangat menarik membayangkan pengembangannya menjadi sebuah franchise, kalau pendapatannya mulus, akan jadi seperti apa. Satu yang jelas, sebagai adaptasi game ‘Need For Speed’ sudah mendapat polesan yang layak dari para pembuatnya. A fun blockbuster ride, apalagi dengan treatment spesial dibalik gimmick 3D atau 4DX cinematic experience-nya! (dan)

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AKU CINTA KAMU : PIYU’S ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY

•March 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

AKU CINTA KAMU

Sutradara : Acha Septriasa, Fajar Nugros, Fajar Bustomi, Piyu Padi

Produksi : Starvision, Indie Picture Productions, Upbeat Publishing, 2014

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            Sempat jadi trend sesaat di sinema kita, sebuah omnibus kembali hadir. Satu yang unik adalah benang merahnya yang diangkat dari lagu-lagu ciptaan Satriyo Yudi Wahono a.k.a. Piyu dari band Padi. Film kita yang diangkat berdasarkan lagu memang tak banyak. Diantaranya dulu ada ‘Madu Dan Racun’ (1986) dan beberapa film musikal dangdut. Bedanya, yang jadi source disini bukan juga lagu yang tergolong sangat populer, kecuali mungkin bagi penggemar Piyu. Ide yang sebenarnya cukup fresh mengangkat antologi cinta berdasar lagu ciptaannya, apalagi mencatat debut penyutradaraan Piyu sendiri di salah satu selain muncul sebagai cameo di semua segmen, ada juga Acha Septriasa, sayangnya, sama seperti banyak film-film yang menjual lagu yang sudah lebih dulu populer tadi, hasilnya hanyalah sebuah gimmick tanpa pengembangan lebih serius. Skrip yang ditulis oleh Cassandra Massardi lebih terlihat malas-malasan membangun premis yang seharusnya bisa jadi variasi genre yang menarik dibalik judul cantik yang diusungnya.

Firasatku (Acha Septriasa)

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            Menjelang pernikahannya dengan Randu (Rio Dewanto), Sita (Acha Septriasa) kian merasa bahwa Randu sepele dengan rencana pernikahan mereka. Selagi Sita ingin semuanya sempurna, Randu terlihat cuek dan lebih mementingkan kesibukan pribadinya. Firasat Sita atas adanya orang ketiga dalam hubungan mereka lantas memuncak kala ia mendapati Randu menyambangi seorang model bernama Rani (Fanny Fabriana) di depan matanya sendiri.

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            Sedikit mengejutkan, segmen yang menjadi debut penyutradaraan Acha Septriasa dan ditempatkan paling awal ini justru merupakan segmen terbaik dari omnibus ini. Tak ada yang terlalu istimewa dari akting Acha, Rio dan Fanny, namun selain setup-setup penceritaannya cukup efektif, romantic twist klise di penghujungnya juga tak jadi merusak bangunan keseluruhannya.

Cinta Adalah (Fajar Nugros)

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            Seorang pemain sepak bola naturalisasi yang tengah naik daun, Kim (Kim Kurniawan) mendapatkan bahwa tetangganya, Raisa (Eriska Rein) terobsesi pada dirinya. Walau Kim hanya menganggapnya tak lebih dari sahabat, Raisa terus menunjukkan kesetiaannya mendampingi Kim, hingga ketika sebuah kecelakaan terjadi pada Kim bersama kehadiran perawat cantik Yudith (Martina Tesela) ke dalam kehidupannya.

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            Segmen ini sebenarnya punya potensi sangat berbeda dalam variasi genre-nya, namun sayangnya, skrip Cassandra terlihat berantakan menyusun konflik-konfliknya. Kerap dipenuhi lagi-lagi ketidakwajaran bangunan karakternya sejak awal, storytelling Fajar Nugros pun jadi terlihat tak lancar. Debut akting Kim Kurniawan sama sekali tak spesial dalam meng-handle porsinya sebagai lead, sementara Eriska Rein juga terasa miscast dalam penerjemahan perannya sebagai wanita penuh obsesi. Sayang sekali.

Sakit Hati (Fajar Bustomi)

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            Gerry (Giorgino Abraham) yang sejak SMU sangat dekat dengan Lisa (Pevita Pearce) mengikat sebuah janji. Sayang usaha Gerry untuk menunaikan janjinya ternyata sama sekali tak disukai Lisa. Konflik diantara mereka semakin berkembang ketika Lisa mulai terjerat oleh pergaulan yang makin jauh dari kesederhanaan Gerry. Dalam sakit hatinya, Gerry mulai menggeluti bakatnya menciptakan lagu dengan serius, hingga satu saat, Lisa ingin kembali dalam kehidupannya.

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            Segmen terparah diantara keempatnya. Bukan saja premis menye-menye yang serba instan dan dangkal menerjemahkan lagunya dan sudah berulang kali muncul dalam film kita sejak puluhan dekade lalu, bangunan karakternya lagi-lagi serba tak konsisten. Dialog-dialognya, walaupun mungkin dimaksudkan untuk membidik sasaran penonton belia, tak kalah cemen dengan emosi akting terutama Pevita yang jatuhnya malah jadi sangat datar, meninggalkan keseluruhan segmennya bagaikan sebuah videoklip panjang tanpa niat lebih.

Jernih (Piyu)

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            Mengakhiri antologinya dengan genre komedi, Piyu yang turun tangan sebagai sutradara mengisahkan tentang love at first sight pedagang dvd bajakan asongan Tora (Dimas Anggara) pada wanita cantik Elena (Manohara Odelia). Tas yang tertukar dalam insiden perkenalan itu lantas menempatkan Tora dan rekannya, Gofar (Gofar Hilman) terjebak dalam intrik mafia ormas yang dikepalai Haji Joe (Joe P Project), yang notabene adalah tunangan Elena.

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            Comedy effort dibalik premisnya sebenarnya menarik, namun lagi-lagi, selain skrip, karakterisasi serta setup yang lemah, karakter utama yang diperankan Dimas Anggara benar-benar terasa miscast seperti banyak kasus sama dalam FTV-FTV kita. Semua pendukungnya yang hadir dengan lawakan-lawakan garing seakan benar-benar tak sanggup menciptakan comedic chemistry dengan Joe P Project yang jadinya terlihat asyik melawak seorang diri.

            Jadi begitulah. Sempat tertunda dari rencana rilis awalnya memeriahkan Valentine’s Day tahun ini, jauh dari judul universal yang dipilih untuk mendeskripsikan romance anthology dengan konsep fresh yang sebenarnya bisa jadi sangat menarik dalam beda-beda genre-nya, ‘Aku Cinta Kamu’ pada akhirnya hanya menyisakan segmen awal ‘Firasatku’ sebagai satu-satunya yang cukup baik. Bahkan penggarapan teknisnya tak lagi bisa menyelamatkan keseluruhannya. Kita tak akan pernah tahu sejauh mana Piyu pada akhirnya bisa nyaman dengan hasilnya, secara omnibus ini jelas punya kepentingan besar terhadap eksistensinya sebagai pemusik terkenal yang mulai merambah film layar lebar, tapi ini, lagi-lagi, sayang sekali. (dan)

99 CAHAYA DI LANGIT EROPA PART 2 : TRACES OF A SPIRITUAL SEARCH

•March 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

99 CAHAYA DI LANGIT EROPA PART 2

Sutradara : Guntur Soeharjanto

Produksi : Maxima Pictures, 2014

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            Dalam konteks film sebagai jualan, membagi dua sebuah adaptasi tentu merupakan trik bisnis. Then again, kalau orang-orang dibalik produksinya yakin ini bisa menjual, kenapa tidak? Meski kecenderungan penonton kita biasanya hanya hangat di satu dua pembuka dan kemudian melempem di deretan pengikut sesudahnya, tema reliji, apalagi dari novel yang cukup dikenal, masih punya kemungkinan. Film pertamanya sudah terbukti sukses, jadi tak ada alasan untuk segera merilis lanjutannya. Toh ’99 Cahaya Di Langit Eropa’ cukup punya batasan beda yang cukup fresh dibanding tema-tema reliji yang lain, dan penggarapannya juga cukup baik bersama deretan cast-nya. Diangkat dari pengalaman pribadi pasangan suami-istri penulisnya, Hanum Salsabiela Rais dan Rangga Almahendra selama mereka melewatkan masa pendidikan Rangga di Eropa, pencarian spiritualnya tetap jadi fokus dalam mengarungi jejak-jejak sejarah Islam di benua itu.

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            Skrip yang ditulis oleh HanumRangga bersama Alim Sudio melanjutkan penggalan kisah di film pertama setelah Hanum (Acha Septriasa) kehilangan sahabat Turki-nya, Fatma Pasha (Raline Shah) dan putrinya Ayse (Geccha Tavvara), yang sudah membuka mata Hanum yang kesepian dibalik kesibukan Rangga (Abimana Aryasatya) dengan tugas-tugas kuliahnya. Mengalihkan fokusnya ke hubungan Hanum – Rangga di tengah perhatian Maarja (Marissa Nasution) yang makin gencar terhadap Rangga serta hubungan dua sahabat Rangga, Stefan dan Khan (Nino Fernandez & Alex Abbad) yang selalu berseberangan soal kepercayaan, bagian kedua ini kemudian kembali ke penelusuran jejak-jejak Islam dalam perjalanan mereka ke Cordoba dan Istanbul, dimana bukan lagi sekedar sebagai agen muslim yang menyebarkan kebaikan, Hanum menemukan pencerahan spiritual buat dirinya sendiri di akhir perjalanan itu.

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            Bagi sebagian pemirsa, ’99 Cahaya Di Langit Eropa’ mungkin jadi menarik atas informasi yang dihadirkannya dalam menelusuri historical landmark Islam di Eropa seolah sebuah live tour dibalik sinematografi panoramik dari Enggar Budiono dan pengarahan Guntur Soeharjanto yang tetap hadir disini. Namun bagi sebagian lagi, penuturan deskriptif yang sedikit menutupi konflik antar karakternya sebagai sebuah penceritaan utuh dianggap sebagai kekurangan cukup fatal. Bagian kedua ini terlihat lebih punya keseimbangan antara keduanya, tapi bukan juga tanpa resiko, di luar masalah penyamaan bahasa (Indonesia) antar karakter berbeda etnis yang tetap terasa kurang sinkron.

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          Startup-nya cukup efektif untuk menyambung benang merah pembagian cerita serta karakternya, namun konflik atas kehadiran karakter Maarja yang semakin dikembangkan ke ranah-ranah sangat klise diatas hubungan Hanum dan Rangga malah lebih lemah ketimbang plot persahabatan Hanum dengan Fatma di film pertama. Walau chemistry Abimana dan Acha dibalik akting keduanya yang cukup cemerlang tetap bagus, namun bagian ini berjalan agak bertele-tele di first act-nya serta sedikit kehilangan feel terhadap momen-momen yang seharusnya bisa jadi lebih menyentuh dalam hubungan itu. On the other hand, part love-hate relationship Stefan dan Khan yang kini diwarnai dengan sepenggal penjelasan latar lebih dengan chemistry kuat Nino dan Alex untungnya bisa menyelamatkannya ke paruh film sebelum pattern-nya kembali ke petualangan mereka mengarungi landmark-landmark bersejarah itu sebagai agen muslim di tengah misi spiritualnya.

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            Set Cordoba dan Istanbul itu memang terlihat lebih unik serta eksotis dibanding bagian-bagian Eropa lain di film pertama, yang secara visual juga sudah lebih sering dimunculkan di film-film lain, begitu juga dengan informasi-informasi penting yang digelar di sepanjang bagian ini, namun eksesnya jadi mempengaruhi final act yang seharusnya jadi konklusi penting perjalanan panjang karakter sentralnya. Terkesan kelewat terburu-buru, bagian ini juga jadinya meninggalkan kekuatan karakter Fatma bahkan Ayse yang sebenarnya sudah dibangun dengan kuat dibalik motivasi akhir Hanum dalam konklusi akhir eksplorasi penceritaannya. Tak ada juga penjelasan lebih buat pemirsa di luar latar relijinya yang mungkin memerlukan alasan Hanum memilih angka 99 dalam judul itu.

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        Jadi begitulah. Dalam kaitan-kaitan persyaratan adanya plot utuh ketimbang hanya eksplorasi visual dalam sebuah film, penceritaan Guntur di bagian kedua ini bisa jadi lebih kuat dibandingkan film pertama, namun di sisi lain, kita juga jadi kehilangan beberapa poin penting termasuk penempatan motivasi yang seharusnya mendapat fokus lebih dalam konten keseluruhannya sebagai adaptasi yang mengusung misi reliji serta dakwahnya. Tapi jelas, dwilogi adaptasi ini masih tetap lebih baik dari film-film reliji lain yang rata-rata hanya bicara di wilayah kisah cinta menye-menye tanpa kekuatan informasi. Dan yang paling penting, walau punya latar Islami yang kental, ia bisa menjadi tontonan yang cukup universal dalam penyampaian pesan-pesan baiknya. (dan)

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300 : RISE OF AN EMPIRE ; A COMPANION IN THE EXTENSIVE UNIVERSE

•March 13, 2014 • 1 Comment

300 RISE OF AN EMPIRE 

Sutradara : Noam Murro

Produksi : Legendary Pictures, Cruel And Unusual Films, Warner Bros, 2014

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            In cinematic history, ‘300’ , fictionalized retelling Zack Snyder dari legenda ‘300 Spartans’ berdasar novel grafis Frank Miller dan Lynn Varley itu memang sudah membawa kita ke sebuah pengalaman sinematis luar biasa. Almost never before seen in a movie, bahkan lebih dari effort awal penggunaannya di ‘Sin City’ atau ‘The Spirit’, teknik super-imposition chroma key dan CGI yang mereka gunakan di sepanjang film untuk memberi kesan visual komik muncul begitu impresif dibalik penekanan stylized, larger than life visuals yang serba artifisial. Bersama keunggulan teknis itu, karakter-karakternya juga memorable, terutama Gerald Butler sebagai King Leonidas, pemimpin para prajurit Sparta yang gagah berani dan Persian God-King Xerxes yang mengubah sosok Rodrigo Santoro hingga tak lagi terlihat seperti wujud aslinya. However, kabar tentang pengembangan sekuelnya terdengar agak berlebihan. Bukan saja tak lazim karena dari legenda aslinya pun kita sudah tahu endingnya seperti apa, pengalihan ke prekuel juga punya resiko sangat tak populer dalam pakem-pakem sejenis.

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            Tapi mereka sudah memiliki alasan kuat. Tetap dengan Zack Snyder yang kini duduk sebagai salah satu produser dan penulis, ‘300 : Rise Of An Empire’, judul akhir yang menggantikan rencana awal ‘Battle Of Artemisia’ diangkat dari novel grafis Frank Miller, ‘Xerxes’ yang belum dirilis. Jika ‘300’ mengetengahkan sejarah ‘Battle Of Thermophylae’, ‘Rise Of An Empire’ memindahkan latarnya ke peristiwa ‘Battle Of Salamis’ sebagai cakupan besar dari banyak peperangan termasuk Artemisia yang masih saling terkait satu dengan yang lain dalam sejarah perang Yunani-Persia. Secara taktis, mereka menggagas kaitan-kaitan yang menjadikan sekuel ini bergerak paralel dalam universe yang makin diperluas sebelum, di saat dan setelah event di film pertamanya. Sutradara Noam Murro yang baru punya kredit layar lebar lewat ‘Smart People’mungkin sedikit jadi resiko bersama cast baru, aktor Australia Sullivan Stapleton yang kini memegang porsi lead-nya.

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            Dimulai dari ‘Battle of Marathon’ dimana Raja Darius I (Yigal Naor) dari Persia terbunuh oleh prajurit Athena Thermistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). Berlawanan dengan putranya, Xerxes (tetap diperankan Rodrigo Santoro) yang memilih untuk mundur dibalik anggapan ‘Only the gods could defeat the Greeks’, Artemisia (Eva Green), panglima perang wanita tangguh yang sudah dianggap Raja Darius sebagai putrinya merancang sebuah pembalasan. Mengirim Xerxes untuk memperoleh kekuatan baru sebagai ‘Persian God-King’ di sebuah goa pertapa, mereka pun melancarkan serangan balik menuju Thermopylae. Thermistocles kemudian meminta bantuan pada Sparta dan Leonidas, namun lewat Dilios (David Wenham ; juga memerankan karakter dari film pertama), permintaan itu ditolak atas keraguan Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) dan ramalan The Oracle ke Leonidas. Dengan bantuan Scyllas (Callan Mulvey), rekan lama yang disusupkannya ke pasukan Persia untuk menyelidiki latar belakang Artemisia, Thermistocles mengumpulkan pasukannya bersama Aeskylos (Hans Matheson) dan putra Scyllas, Calisto (Jack O’Connell) dalam pertempuran di Laut Aegea. Menolak perundingan serta rayuan Artemisia, Thermistocles yang terluka akhirnya menyadari bahwa Leonidas dan 300 prajuritnya telah dihabisi Xerxes. Menggunakan Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), pengkhianat Sparta untuk kembali menyerang, ia pun meminta Queen Gorgo untuk membalaskan dendam Leonidas. Pertempuran Salamis pun dimulai, dimana Thermistocles harus berhadapan untuk terakhir kali dengan Artemisia dan pasukannya.

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            Almost in full creative control, keikutsertaan Zack Snyder dan tim produksi yang sama membuat ‘Rise Of An Empire’ tampil tak jauh dari pendahulunya walau kursi penyutradaraan kini berpindah ke Noam Murro. Rentang waktu hampir 7 tahun mungkin sudah membuat mereka bisa memaksimalkan technical efforts di ‘300’ dengan visual yang makin impresif, tetap di formula yang sama, over much bigger stylized attempts, dari desain produksi, set, kostum hingga efek CGI dan kini gimmick 3D, bahwa visualisasinya memang dimaksudkan untuk tampil se-artifisial mungkin seperti sebuah komik. Super slow motion yang menghantarkan tiap adegan aksinya, muncratan darah dengan warna-warna darkly comical, hingga dialog-dialog yang juga sangat komik. Mungkin tak ada lagi quote serta adegan se-memorableThis Is Sparta!’ dalam ‘300’, tapi toh gelaran adegan-adegan perang serba fantastis itu tetap terasa sangat seru. Like it or not, ini memang menu utama franchise-nya. Satu hal yang membuat instalmennya terus berlanjut, tak peduli sebagian orang menganggapnya tak diperlukan.

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            Dan usaha taktis untuk membangun extensive universe dengan plot paralel yang menggamit event300’ di tengah-tengah eksplorasi cause & effect event sebelum dan sesudahnya, berikut asal-usul Xerxes yang jadi salah satu fokus disini, memang terasa unik dan jarang-jarang ada di sekuel atau instalmen lainnya. Beberapa scene dari ‘300’ masih digunakan sebagai benang merahnya, juga flashback ke karakter Leonidas dan prajurit-prajuritnya termasuk Dilios (David Wenham) dan Stelios (Michael Fassbender). Paling tidak, penuturannya sekaligus sebagai prekuel, parallel events dan sekuel sangat terasa fresh dan memberi alasan bagus mengapa franchise-nya perlu berlanjut. Scoring dari Junkie XL juga membuat kesan stylized visuals itu jadi semakin kuat.

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            Sayangnya, deretan cast itu memang cukup jauh dibanding pendahulunya. Baik Butler, Fassbender, Santoro, bahkan Headey dan Wenham di saat ‘300’ dirilis memang belum sebesar sekarang, namun Sullivan Stapleton dan para pendukung lainnya, meski bukan sama sekali tak bagus, masih belum mampu menandingi pencapaian cast di film pertamanya. Fokus lebih yang diletakkan pada Eva Green pun tak sepenuhnya bisa mendominasi dengan baik buat menyelamatkan yang lain. Penampilannya sebagai Artemisia, a comically needed villain role, memang dibawakannya penuh emosi untuk menggambarkan sosok licik serta ambisius, namun skrip Snyder dan Kurt Johnstad terasa tak konsisten mengembangkan karakternya. Instead, in many gonzo ways, pemirsanya akan jauh lebih tertarik menyaksikan sepenggal sexy scenes antara Green dan Stapleton (yang sayangnya disini dibabat sensor) ketimbang setup karakternya secara keseluruhan. Sementara Rodrigo Santoro dan Lena Headey juga tak diberi porsi terlalu banyak.

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            However, sebagai instalmen kelanjutan ‘300’ yang dalam banyak hal sangat remarkable sebagai sebuah stylish war fantasy itu, ‘Rise Of An Empire’ bukanlah film yang buruk. Snyder dan tim produksinya tetap kelihatan tahu betul kekuatan utama franchise-nya, yang meski repetitif tapi dikembangkan ke level lebih lagi, dan sebagai blockbuster, entertaining factor-nya tetap ada di jalur beda melawan arus tema-tema sword and sandal yang tengah kembali jadi trend di produk-produk Hollywood. With weaker leads but stronger visuals, ‘Rise Of An Empireis not precisely a sequel. This is more like a companion in the extensive universe, dan itu artinya cukup bagus. (dan)

HER : A DEEPLY ELECTRIFYING SCI-FI ROMANCE, AND MORE

•March 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

HER 

Sutradara : Spike Jonze

Produksi : Annapurna Pictures, Warner Bros, 2013

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            A movie conceived through various ideas. True. Tapi film yang jadi besar lewat sebuah kekuatan ide, itu tak selamanya bisa kita dapatkan. Membangun distinctive concept-nya lewat kegilaan ide, nama Spike Jonze adalah salah satu dalam vanguard cinema sekarang bersama sineas seperti Michel Gondry atau Charlie Kaufman. Ide itu boleh saja berkembang secara liar kemana saja, tapi Jonze selalu punya konsep untuk menerjemahkannya jadi sesuatu yang unik. Berlanjut dari kiprahnya di video musik akhir ’90an ke awal 2000-an, dari ‘Being John Malkovich’, ‘Adaptation’ bahkan ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, walau banyak dianggap sebuah penurunan, sudah menunjukkan itu. Ketiganya bukan film yang gampang buat dicerna, tapi semuanya menunjukkan kecemerlangan konsep yang diusungnya. Tak heran kalau karya-karyanya hampir selalu dilirik oleh event-event movie awarding.

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            Karya terbaru Jonze, ‘Her’ yang juga meraih banyak prestasi, meraih Best Film di National Board of Review Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (shared with ‘Gravity’) berikut nominasi Golden Globe dan Oscar dimana Jonze memenangkan Best Original Screenplay, juga sama. Walau pada dasarnya ide itu bukan sepenuhnya orisinil dalam template yang diambil Jonze tentang hubungan romansa manusia dengan artificial intelligence yang bukan baru kali ini diangkat, dari greek mythPygmalion’ ke banyak film dengan premis senada, ‘Her’ tetap punya orisinalitasnya sendiri.

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               Begitupun, banyaknya tudingan bahwa ‘Her’ merupakan re-imagining salah satu ‘80’s teen moviesElectric Dreams’ yang malah lebih lekat diingat lewat theme songTogether In Electric Dreams’ dari Giorgio Moroder & Phillip Oakey, walau dari sebuah wawancara dengan Luke Goodsell dari situs Rotten Tomatoes, Jonze mengaku belum pernah menonton filmnya, memang sesuatu yang inevitable. Apalagi sutradaranya, Steve Barron, juga punya perjalanan karir mirip dengan Jonze, berawal dari sutradara videoklip diantaranya a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ dan ‘Billie Jean’-nya Michael Jackson, berikut interpretasi Jonze ke banyak konsep ‘80s disini. Terutama bagi yang sempat menyaksikannya, film yang menempatkan salah satu console komputer komersil generasi awal ‘UNIVAC I’ ke dalam romance-musical fantasy cinta segitiga diantara dua karakter manusia yang diperankan Lenny Von Dohlen dan Virginia Madsen juga bukan sekedar romance, tapi sama-sama punya social critics terhadap prediksi perkembangan teknologi yang diangkat. Ah, tapi sempit sekali kalau menuduh Jonze menjiplak reka ulang film itu. Anggapannya mungkin lebih mendekati ke sebuah companion atau referensi tontonan.

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               In the near future, 2025, era dimana manusia mulai kehilangan kekuatan komunikasi lewat gempuran teknologi, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) sebenarnya termasuk satu yang masih mempertahankan itu. Sayangnya, pekerjaannya sebagai penulis di agensi surat cinta profesional bagi orang-orang yang tak lagi mampu menyatakan perasaannya secara alami, tak sejalan dengan kehidupan pribadinya. Berada di ambang perceraian dengan childhood sweetheart-nya, Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore hanya punya hubungan dengan rekan kerjanya Paul (Chris Pratt) serta tetangga seapartemennya, Amy (Amy Adams) dan suaminya yang insensitif, Charles (Matt Letscher). Saat Amy ingin menjodohkannya dengan Amelia (Olivia Wilde), Theodore memutuskan untuk menginstal teknologi OS (operating system) terbaru, voiced artificial intelligence yang bisa menjadi asisten pribadi hingga teman bicara. Menamakan dirinya Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), hubungan Theodore dengan OS ini akhirnya berkembang jauh lebih dari yang diperkirakannya.

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             Dibalik eksplorasi futuristic what-ifs? dan penelusuran kemana saja teknologi ini bisa dibawa dalam batasan-batasannya terhadap human’s physical intimacy dan sebuah kebutuhan komunikasi antar manusia yang makin jauh tertinggal, premis itu memang boleh jadi tak spesial. Namun lihat bagaimana Jonze mengemas konsep dari skrip, storytelling hingga ke desain produksinya, dengan detil-detil cermat diantara satu dengan yang lain untuk membentuk sinergi yang nyaris sempurna di setiap titik temu penerjemahan ide itu.

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                Kombinasi dari interpretasi kostum high-waisted trousers dan hairstyling ala ‘80an, paduan dreamy atmosphere dengan dominasi red colors yang sangat mencolok, scoring Arcade Fire dan Owen Pallett (termasuk additional music dari Karen O. dengan theme songThe Moon Song’ yang jadi nominee Oscar’s Best Song sampai tampilan efek untuk mendeskripsikan futuristic console and devices yang sangat believable dalam nafas sci-fi-nya, dimana kita bisa percaya apa yang ada sekarang hanya memerlukan waktu singkat untuk sampai kesana, Jonze lagi-lagi membawa pemirsanya masuk dengan liar menelusuri pikirannya, sebagaimana yang ia lakukan di film-film sebelumnya.

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          Dengan tampilan kumis tebal dan awkward act-nya, Joaquin Phoenix bermain bagus sekali menokohkan Theodore dengan ambiguitas emosinya yang terombang-ambing diantara karakter-karakter wanita yang ditampilkan sejak awal, dari fisik hingga sekedar suara. Amy Adams walau tak diberi kesempatan terlalu banyak, bersama Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, Portia Doubleday hingga sedikit sempalan komedi dari voiceover Kristen Wiig, juga jadi pendukung yang tak kalah bagusnya. Masih ada kiprah Brian Cox sebagai pengisi suara salah satu OS, Bill Hader serta Jonze sendiri sebagai alien child di 3D interactive game yang dimainkan Theodore. Namun yang paling pantas mendapat kredit terbesar adalah Scarlett Johansson sebagai OS Samantha. Suara serak khas-nya terasa begitu hidup membawa pemirsanya berada tepat di tengah pikiran Theodore, menciptakan seductive chemistry dari tiap-tiap line dialog hingga fantasi liar bersama atmosfer romance  baik ke dalam hingga ke luar layar, sangat komunikatif seakan benar-benar membuat penonton mengharap sosoknya bisa jadi nyata.

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         So yes, Spike Jonze lagi-lagi menunjukkan bahwa film-filmnya memang jadi bisa begitu kuat lewat kematangan konsep untuk menerjemahkan setiap distinctive ideas-nya yang serba liar dan luarbiasa imajinatif tanpa sekalipun kehilangan pijakan ke kedekatan nyata yang jadi latarnya. Dan ini yang lebih penting. Walau bergerak lamban di keunikan jalurnya sendiri, jauh dari style romcom atau tema futuristik lain yang serba mainstream, pun bukan juga menjelma menjadi sebuah arthouse yang njelimet, ‘Her’ bisa memenangkan semua hati pemirsanya secara universal, baik kritikus serius hingga mainstream seperti Metacritic, dan itu sungguh bukan sesuatu yang mudah. A deeply electrifying sci-fi romance, and more. Much more! (dan)

 
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