INSURGENT : A PROMISING SEQUEL THAT LIFT UP THE FRANCHISE

•April 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

INSURGENT

Sutradara : Robert Schwentke

Produksi : Red Wagon Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Mandeville Films, Lionsgate, 2015

insurgent

            Menyambung trend YA (Young Adults) adaptation dan kesukesesan ‘Twilight’ yang memulainya, ‘Divergent’ yang diangkat dari novel series karya Veronica Roth sebenarnya tak terlalu kuat, meskipun terlihat sangat punya potensi. Toh dengan hasil box office yang biarpun laku tapi tak terlalu besar, pihak pembuatnya mungkin benar-benar yakin dengan potensi itu. Packed with more budgets, franchise-nya dilanjutkan ke adaptasi buku ke-2-nya, ‘Insurgent’ bahkan dengan nama-nama lebih kredibel lagi di susunan cast and crew-nya. Sementara main cast-nya tetap kembali disamping Miles Teller yang jelas mendapat porsi lebih atas eksistensi yang makin kuat dalam industrinya setelah ‘Whiplash’ menuju ‘Fantastic Four’ baru nanti.

            Picked up whereDivergentleft off, setelah serangan Jeanine (Kate Winslet) dari Erudite dengan Dauntless soldiers dibawah pimpinan Eric (Jai Courtney) berhasil mendapatkan kotak misterius yang ternyata hanya bisa dibuka oleh Divergents, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) dan Peter (Miles Teller) masih bersembunyi di kawasan Amity. Keributan yang dipicu oleh Peter terhadap Tris membuat pemimpin Amity, Johanna (Octavia Spencer) berniat mengusir mereka, namun keburu disatroni oleh Eric dan orang-orangnya. Tris, Four dan Caleb berhasil melarikan diri ke Factionless namun Peter dengan licik berpindah ke kubu Erudite. Disana, menyadari pimpinan Factionless adalah ibu Four, Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts), mereka mulai menyusun kekuatan untuk melawan Erudite, namun Caleb yang trauma akibat pengalaman membunuh pertamanya memilih untuk memisahkan diri. Tris dan Four kemudian menuju Candor dan bertemu dengan pimpinannya, Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), namun lagi-lagi Eric menyusul menyerang Candor. Pengejaran ini berlanjut hingga akhirnya Jeanine berhasil mendapatkan Tris yang menyerahkan diri akibat rasa bersalah terhadap komunitasnya, dan kemudian mendapatkan kenyataan mengejutkan tentang eksistensi mereka dari kotak misterius itu di tengah penyerangan Factionless terhadap Erudite. Semuanya belum berakhir disini dan masih akan berlanjut di instalmen ketiga, ‘Allegiant’ yang lagi-lagi akan dibagi menjadi dua film di 2016 nanti.

            Penyutradaraan yang beralih ke Robert Schwentke (sementara Neil Burger, sutradara film pertama kini ada di kursi executive producer) memang membuat ‘Insurgent’ jadi makin dinamis dalam tampilan adegan aksi dan efek visualnya. Skrip yang memuat nama Akiva Goldsman dan Mark Bomback, both are very credible Hollywood writer, plus Brian Duffield, pun berhasil mengemas plot kompleks dalam universe ribet yang tak digelar dengan benar-benar memorable oleh Burger di film pertama jadi jauh lebih enak buat diikuti. Sementara scoring yang dibesut Junkie XL dan diproduseri Hans Zimmer bisa bekerja dengan baik mengiringi action sequence-nya.

            Namun di saat pace lebih kencang, action yang jauh lebih seru serta visual cantik dari sinematografi Florian Ballhaus memberi keunggulan lebih untuk sekuel ini, seperti YA adaptation lainnya, titik berat utamanya memang tetap ada pada main cast-nya. Disini, Shailene Woodley tampil makin kuat bersama chemistry yang juga makin baik dengan Theo James. Ansel Elgort masih tak diberi kesempatan kelewat lebih dibanding Miles Teller yang mendapat kompleksitas tambahan atas konsistensi karakternya, begitu juga sebaris well known supporting cast-nya dari Maggie Q, Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer plus Octavia Spencer serta Tony GoldwynAshley Judd yang mengulang peran mereka dalam beberapa flashback sequence. Di deretan antagonis, Jai Courtney juga mendapat sorotan lebih bersama Kate Winslet yang jadi semakin kuat dibalik interaksi yang ditunggu-tunggu bersama Naomi Watts. Walau sebagian side characters-nya masih terkesan sekedar tempelan, komposisi cast yang makin besar di ‘Insurgent’ sedikit banyak memang berhasil menambah kekuatannya.

            Selebihnya tentu ada di marketing campaign-nya. Dalam salah satu persyaratan mutlak YA adaptation, Divergent series ini memang boleh dibilang sangat berhasil memanfaatkan kesempatan yang ada lewat awarding events di pangsa pemirsanya. Dari MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice dan People’s Choice Awards, paling tidak, franchise-nya berhasil menapak eksistensi yang lebih kuat di tengah persaingan dengan YA adaptation lainnya, terutama satu yang paling berat dan punya similaritas tema, ‘The Hunger Games’. Walau masih berada di bawahnya, paling tidak ‘Insurgent’ sudah bisa meletakkan ekspektasi yang lebih baik ke finale-nya di 2016 nanti. A promising sequel that lift up the franchise. (dan)

MELANCHOLY IS A MOVEMENT : A TALE OF BEING STATIC

•April 5, 2015 • 1 Comment

MELANCHOLY IS A MOVEMENT

Sutradara : Richard Oh

Produksi : Metafor Pictures, 2015

melancholy is a movement

Yes this is mostly empty.

Static.

But look closer and feel deeper.

Barangkali…

barangkali, sebagian dari Anda akan bisa menangkap maknanya.

Seperti kata Joko ke Upi di salah satu adegannya : ‘deep deep gitu’.

Selamat mencoba, dan semoga sukses.

Lulz. (dan)

HOME : A CHARMING BUT WEAK DREAMWORKS’ ANIMATED ENTRY

•April 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

HOME 

Sutradara : Tim Johnson

Produksi : DreamWorks Animation, 20th Century Fox, 2015

home

            Punya franchise sekelas ‘Shrek’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, ‘Madagascar’ dan ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ jelas sudah membuat DreamWorks sebagai kontender terkuat Disney di ranah animasi layar lebar melebihi studio lainnya. Dan tentu mereka tak berhenti hanya sampai disana. ‘Home’, animasi terbaru DreamWorks yang merupakan adaptasi dari buku ‘The True Meaning of Smekday’ karya Adam Rex (2007; yes it has a weird name and original title asHappy Smekday!‘) sebenarnya punya segudang potensi untuk jadi showcase unggulan selanjutnya dari mereka. Sebuah buddy fantasy comedy antara alien dengan anak perempuan bumi dibalik latar invasi bisa jadi bukan lagi hal baru secara ‘Lilo and Stitch’ sudah lebih dulu menyentuh temanya. Namun dengan Rihanna dan Jennifer Lopez di deretan voice cast yang sekalian mengisi soundtrack dan concept album-nya, plus Jim Parsons dari ‘The Big Bang Theory’ dan Steve Martin yang sudah cukup lama tak muncul di layar lebar, tentu sudah jadi kekuatan ekstra bagi filmnya.

            Melarikan diri dari serangan alien Gorgs, spesies The Boov dibawah komando Captain Smek (disuarakan Steve Martin) memilih bumi sebagai sasaran invasi mereka. Walau mengaku bersahabat, tetap saja invasi itu menimbulkan kekacauan karena mereka memindahkan manusia ke kawasan lain. Di tengah invasi ini, salah satu Boov underdog dan annoying bagi sesamanya, Oh (Jim Parsons) secara tak sengaja bertemu dengan anak perempuan bernama Tip (Rihanna) dan kucing peliharaannya Pig yang sebenarnya menyimpan dendam terhadap mereka karena kehilangan ibunya, Lucy (Jennifer Lopez) dalam kekacauan itu. Keadaan lantas menjadi semakin runyam saat Oh menyadari bahwa dirinya mengirimkan mass signal ke seluruh galaksi dan membuat alien Gorgs mengetahui keberadaan spesies Boov. Menjadi buronan dibawah kejaran polisi Boov, Kyle (Matt L. Jones) dibawah perintah Smek, Oh yang kemudian berjanji akan menemukan Lucy memulai petualangannya bersama Tip.

            Problem terbesar dalam ‘Home’ adalah begitu kompleksnya plot itu berjalan, namun hampir sama sekali minus tensi yang bisa membangun intensitas adventurous elements-nya lebih seru. Bukan tak ada highlight scenes yang menunjukkan kapasitas DreamWorks Animation membesut visual keren di tema-tema seperti ini, terlebih dalam polesan 3D. Sebagian jokes-nya pun masih terasa sangat lucu. Namun lagi, sutradara Tim Johnson (‘Antz’, ‘Sinbad : Legend of the Seven Seas’ dan ‘Over the Hedge’) lebih membiarkan elemen-elemen kiddy-friendly yang memang harus diakui, charming dan sangat colorful, mendominasi keseluruhan durasinya.

            Bukan juga berarti Rihanna, J-Lo, Steve Martin dan Jim Parsons tak mengisi voice act mereka dengan baik. Di banyak sisi, ‘Home’ masih tetap punya daya tarik dan turnover-turnover terutama subplot mother to daughter serta moral-moral baik yang menyentuh menuju sepenggal twist menarik di konklusinya. Hanya saja, dalam keseluruhan perjalanannya, ‘Home’ tak bisa berjalan benar-benar mulus, apalagi dalam penempatan lagu-lagunya, biarpun ini berada dalam keperluan jualannya, which appeared a bit too loud, hingga kerap menenggelamkan dialog-dialog yang seharusnya sama penting. Scoring dari Lorne Balfe dan ke-8 lagu-lagu dalam concept OST-nya pun bukan tak bagus, namun membuat ‘Home’ jadi tak punya balance yang benar-benar baik dalam wujudnya sebagai animasi non musikal.

            So that’s it. Sebagai child-friendly animated flick, ‘Home’ jelas tak jelek. Biar tak benar-benar remarkable, karakter-karakter itu masih bisa tampil dengan menarik di tengah sejumlah adegan yang memang bagus. Tapi sebagai entry dari animasi sekelas DreamWorks, ‘Home’ kurang lebih menanggung hasil keseluruhan yang tak jauh dari ‘Monsters vs Aliens’ dan ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’. It was a way too weak and might not have enough heart to be remembered long after. Sayang sekali. (dan)

TRACERS : A GENERIC BUT ENTERTAINING PARKOUR ACTION

•April 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

TRACERS 

Sutradara : Daniel Benmayor

Produksi : Freerunning Melbarken, Temple Hill Entertainment, Saban Films, 2015

tracers

            It’s always interesting to see the postTwilightaftermath among the stars’ instant popularity. Selagi Kristen Stewart dan Robert Pattinson sibuk mengejar prestise akting di film-film yang lebih ‘berat’, Taylor Lautner agaknya cukup tahu potensinya ada dimana. Postur kekar dan kemampuan yang lebih pas berada di action genre sudah dimulainya lewat ‘Abduction’ yang sayangnya tak berhasil menaikkan pamornya. ‘Tracers’ adalah usaha selanjutnya setelah langkah mundur sebagai supporting konyol di ‘Grown Ups 2’ tempo hari. Dalam rentang waktu lumayan panjang, ‘Tracers’ yang merupakan tahap-tahap awal kiprah Saban Capital Groups dalam divisi distribusi film layar lebarnya, walau masih terbatas di B-class actioners, sebenarnya cukup memenuhi syarat sebagai hiburan penuh aksi.

            And yes, it was formulaic. Menggabungkan ‘Premium Rush’, ‘B13 (District 13)’ dan ‘Point Break’ – No Man’s Landesque theme dalam kemasan parkour action, ‘Tracers’ berpusat pada karakter Cam (Taylor Lautner), bike messenger yang terlibat hutang untuk menyelamatkan keluarganya pada mafia Cina. Sebuah insiden kemudian mempertemukannya dengan Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos) yang membawa Cam masuk lebih dalam ke sebuah parkour gang tanpa menyadari aktifitas kriminal mereka. Hingga di satu titik, persahabatan barunya dengan Miller (Adam Rayner), pimpinan gang itu bisa jadi jalan untuk menyelesaikan hutang-hutangnya, namun hubungannya yang kian berkembang dengan Nikki juga jadi konflik internal yang tak terhindarkan.

            Tak ada yang terlalu spesial dari plot-nya yang serba generik itu. Seperti rata-rata B-class action, setup-setup-nya dari awal lewat skrip yang ditulis keroyokan oleh Kevin Lund, Leslie Bohem, Matthew Johnson dan T.J. Scott, semua bukan nama-nama kelewat kredibel, sudah terbaca dengan jelas menuju ending yang juga predictable dalam batasan genrenya.

            However, ‘Tracers’ sungguh tak sejelek itu, terlebih dibandingkan ‘Abduction’ yang dipenuhi deretan cast jauh lebih dikenal. Sasaran ke pangsa jualan pemirsa belia-nya tergelar dengan fokus yang cukup baik dengan Taylor Lautner sebagai potensi terdepan. Tampilannya yang kini jauh lebih dewasa paling tidak menunjukkan bahwa Lautner adalah kontender yang pas untuk tema-tema serupa, dengan tampilan fisik supporting cast yang juga rata-rata sangat menjual dari Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner, Rafi Gavron dan American Born Chinese Johnny M. Wu yang memerankan chinese debt collector Wu.

            Tapi hal terbaiknya jelas ada pada pameran stunts yang di-handle dengan baik oleh tata teknis adegan-adegan aksinya sebagai sebuah parkour action. Sutradara Daniel Benmayor yang sebelumnya sudah punya kiprah cukup bagus dalam historical adventure Spanyol ‘Bruc: La Llegenda’, DoP Nelson Cragg dan editor Peter Amundson yang lebih senior (‘Hellboy’, ‘Blade’ hingga ‘Pacific Rim’) bisa dibilang sangat berhasil meng-capture aksi-aksi parkour yang rata-rata dilakukan oleh pemerannya sendiri termasuk Lautner. Being surprisingly well shot, camerawork-nya bekerja dengan detil-detil yang bagus di tiap parkour action sequence dari jalanan ke rooftops sets-nya di tengah-tengah keramaian New York, dan ini benar-benar jadi penyelamat bagi keseluruhan filmnya. Yes it’s still a B-class action, tapi seperti tampilan posternya yang tak kalah keren, a generic but entertaining parkour action. (dan)

THE GUNMAN : SEAN PENN’S REBRANDING ATTEMPT AS MIDDLE-AGED ACTION HERO

•April 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

THE GUNMAN 

Sutradara : Pierre Morel

Produksi : Anton Capital Entertainment, Canal+, Nostromo Pictures, Silver Pictures,, TF1 Films Production, Open Road Films, 2015

the gunman

            Tak bisa disangkal kalau lewat ‘Taken’ yang juga disutradarai Pierre Morel, Liam Neeson sudah berhasil merubah citra sekaligus memunculkan trend middle-aged badass action hero yang diikuti banyak formula serupa. Tak heran kalau lantas banyak aging actors yang dilirik produser untuk mengikuti jejaknya. Namun ‘The Gunman’ adalah kasus yang sedikit berbeda. Datang dari Sean Penn sendiri yang masuk sebagai penulis sekaligus salah satu produser bersama Joel Silver berdasar novel ‘The Prone Gunman’ karya Jean-Patrick Manchette, ini memang seperti ambisi pribadinya buat jadi satu dari kontender genre tadi. However, dalam histori karirnya di genre aksi, Penn sebenarnya memang jauh lebih potensial dibandingkan Neeson. Dari ‘Bad Boys’ di awal-awal karirnya hingga ‘Colors’ yang jelas sangat badass, Penn jelas punya bakat itu, walaupun posturnya yang bukan tinggi besar mungkin kalah meyakinkan.

            ‘The Gunman’ dimulai dengan plot cinta segitiga yang sangat generik antara Jim Terrier (Sean Penn), tentara bayaran yang diupah menjaga aktifitas pertambangan di tengah kerusuhan Kongo tahun 2006, kekasihnya Annie (Jasmine Trinca) yang bertugas sebagai relawan medis dan Felix (Javier Bardem), pengusaha sekaligus kontraktor yang diam-diam menginginkan Annie. Mengumpankan Terrier ke sebuah misi rahasia pembunuhan seorang menteri, Felix akhirnya berhasil mendapatkan apa yang diinginkannya. Yang tertinggal adalah Terrier yang dengan terpaksa harus meninggalkan Kongo dan Annie tanpa jejak hingga beberapa tahun kemudian saat ia kembali ke Kongo sebagai relawan, misi masa lalu itu balik menjadikan Terrier dan rekan-rekannya sebagai sasaran balik. Sadar satu-persatu dari mereka menjadi buruan, Terrier pun menggunakan seluruh kemampuannya untuk mengungkap konspirasi yang terjadi.

            Sebagai adaptasi dari novel, mau tak mau ‘The Gunman’ memang berhadapan dengan subplot yang sangat penuh sesak untuk dituangkan dalam durasi film, dari soal persahabatan, kisah cinta, kisah-kisah mercenaries di tengah politik negara dunia ketiga ala ‘The Wild Geese’ hingga civil war dan intrik spionase sebagai lapisan teratasnya. Sementara dalam tendensi utama, bangunan action-nya juga menjadi concern yang tak mungkin bisa ditinggalkan bersama sederet ensemble cast yang memang cukup menjual.

            However, skrip yang ditulis oleh Penn sendiri bersama Don Macpherson, penulis Inggris senior yang dalam waktu dekat bakal berkolaborasi bareng John Woo, Terrence Malick hingga Martin Scorsese, dan Pete Travis dari ‘Vantage Point’ dan ‘Dredd’ sebenarnya sudah membangun kerangkanya dengan cukup rapi. Dalam banyak hal bisa jadi terasa seperti dua atau tiga genre thriller dan action berbeda yang dijahit jadi satu meninggalkan satu-dua diantaranya hanya sebatas tempelan, namun juga punya pace dan keterkaitan yang tak kalah bagus. Subplot berlatar medis soal PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)-nya juga masuk dengan baik bersama satu hal baru soal penggunaan ammoniac inhalant / smelling salts di final showdown-nya, which is really, really, badass.

            Selagi Pierre Morel jelas tak diragukan lagi membesut badass middle-aged action dalam style action kontemporer ala film-film Luc Besson, salah satu kredit lebihnya harus diberikan pada DoP Flavio Martinez Labiano yang belum punya banyak kredit dalam karirnya. Membesut badass action dengan detil-detil shot bagus yang juga sangat memberi penekanan terhadap latar belakang karakter-karakternya, grainy looks dengan shaky-cam ala franchise Bourne membuat adegan-adegan aksi lintas negara dalam ‘The Gunman’ menjadi sangat intens menuju klimaks seru di arena matador. Tight paced editing dari Frédéric Thoraval juga sama baiknya dalam menghadirkan sisi ini hingga ke no holds barred climax-nya.

            Di deretan cast-nya, baik Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance hingga Javier Bardem dan Idris Elba yang walaupun lagi-lagi mendapat perlakuan spesial dalam sisi jualan ke pangsa penggemarnya, menyenggol inisial JB atas opini-opini yang menganggapnya sangat pantas jadi kontender African-American James Bond, masing-masing punya sisi kuat menambah dayatariknya secara keseluruhan. As the only female lead di tengah pria-pria gaek tapi badass ini, Jasmine Trinca juga hadir dengan pesona lebih ke tampilan fisiknya.

           Namun hal terbaik dalam ‘The Gunman’ tetaplah Sean Penn yang secara cukup mengejutkan bisa bertransformasi dengan best looking shape di tengah usianya yang sudah kelihatan sangat menua. Muncul dengan konsistensi penuh diatas ambisi tadi, bermain dengan kualitas action hero yang tangguh tanpa meninggalkan kemampuan award-winning acting seperti biasanya, Penn menunjukkan bahwa dirinya bisa menyaingi aktor-aktor old crack lain yang sudah lebih dulu terjun sebagai action lead ke genre baru yang tengah jadi trend ini. So yes, if you’re really looking for a middle-aged badass action, ‘The Gunman’ adalah salah satu juara yang tak boleh begitu saja dilewatkan. Bagus! (dan)

7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 2)

•April 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 2)

OIMF7a

            With the total 58 films screened (16 Special Invitation, 6 TV Director’s Movie, 19 Community Based Films, 5 Japanese and World Comedy, 9 Sakurazaka Film University Selections and 3 Open Air Screen), the 7th Okinawa International Movie Festival was attended by 400.000 visitors (increasing from last year’s 380.000 attendance).

[Official_Photo]20150328_KozaGateDoriRedCarpee_02

            The other red carpet events of the total three this year was held in Koza and Naha along with the festival’s closing ceremony in Naha, and still, the shows and fireworks in Ginowan beachside. For the first time in Koza, supported by the Koza Support Group in the military base town, often used for film shooting, the 180 meters length carpet walked by 383 guests in 48 groups was attended by 20.000 visitors.

[Official_Photo]20150328_KozaGateDoriRedCarpe_Timeline_01

            While continuing from the year before, the red carpet event in Kokusai-Dori, Naha City has 170 meters length red carpet, walked by 271 guests in 39 groups and attended by over 60.000 visitors. The total numbers of Yoshimoto artist appeared in various shows during the festival was 199, and in addition, there were 131 program guests, 12 Eisa groups, 199 dance performers and 167 idols / live artists. The newly rebranded name that spread the festival wider over the island has also added the support group to 23 by numbers. Hope this will getting bigger by next year, and keep the laugh and peace all over Okinawa!

[Official_Photo]20150329_NahaKokusaiDoriRedCarpe_RUMAH_03

Award Winners

☆The Local Origination Project

 

JIMOT CM COMPETITION

On March 26, Jimot CM Competition Final was held at Open Air Screen and the following winners were announced.

<JIMOT CM Prefectures of Japan – Grand Prize>

Prize money: JPY470,000

Shan Shan Matsuri, Tottori Prefecture (Conceptor: Takuya Toyama)

<JIMOT CM 41 Municipalities in Okinawa – Grand Prize>

Prize money: JPY410,000

Uminosachi Festival

Zamami Village, Okinawa Prefecture (Conceptor: Zamami Support Group)

[Official_Photo]_20150326_OpenAir_JimotCmCompetitionl05

☆CREATORS FACTORY

CREATORS FACTORY aims to uncover “the next generation of creative artists.” A winner of the top award will be provided with the full support of Yoshimoto Kogyo for their next production.

<Best New Creators Award>

“Kizu Ningyo (An Injured Doll)” Director:Satoko Motoyoshi

Jury Chairman: Film Director, Yuji Nakae / Vice-chairman: Film Director, Tsutomu Makiya

Movie Reviews

GEMS ON THE RUN (2014, Cambodia, Sok Visal – Quentin Clausin)

gems on the run

            Being the first Cambodians road action comedy, ‘Gems on the Run / Kroab Pich’ tells a story about two childhood friends who reunited for their best friend’s death and realizing they were standing in the opposite way in a diamond robbery. Rith (played by Cheky Athiporn) who became a cop followed the wish of his widowed father to marry into a newly rich family, while Sovan (Vandy Piseth) who became a gangster was looking for the way to get out after accidentaly comes across three diamonds worth $3M. With Sovan’s attractive female friend, they embark on a journey across the south of Cambodia with each agendas.

            From its looks as Cambodia’s rising cinema scenes, ‘Gems on the Run’ might felt no different than any ‘70s to ‘80s Asian cheesy action comedy, but give a deeper look, this movie also offered many of the country’s social issues of classes and good moral about friendship. Packed with quite intense action, good chemistry between the leads – both new actors and funny slapsticks over a dynamic directing from Sok Visal – Cambodia’s music video director and Quentin Clausin – a French director in his second Cambodian feature, it’s nevertheless an entertaining piece of mainstream film, something we rarely seen from Cambodian cinema.

HARAJUKU DENIER (2015, Japan, Hideta Takahata)

harajuku denier

            Featured the female action star Rina Takeda and Harajuku boys group sensation BEE SHUFFLE!, ‘Harajuku Denier’ sets in its titular center for high fashion and culture, intertwined a policewoman (played by Rina Takeda) and a bunch of young people with different dreams.

            Directed by Hideta Takahata from some variety television program and ‘Hotel Venus’, his first film which won an award at the Moscow International Film Festival, ‘Harajuku Denier’ was quite an impressive, fun and entertaining look on Japanese young cultures. While Rina Takeda gave her different performance combining her tough side and deeper act, in their first time movie appearance, BEE SHUFFLE! personnels were also decent. ‘Harajuku Denier’ will be release nationwide in Japan next May.

DEADMAN INFERNO (2015, Japan, Hiroshi Shinagawa)

deadman inferno

            From ‘Manzai Gang’ to ‘One Third’, Japanese black comedy master Hiroshi Shinagawa still give his stylish signature in ‘Deadman Inferno’. Being his first zombie movies with conventional formula which we rarely seen in Japanese cinema, ‘Deadman Inferno’ sets in the mysterious ‘Z Island’ where all the characters, filled with star studded cast, fought for their survival. It’s action packed, funny with a little dramatic touch but above all, a different zombie movies with strong Japanese culture all over. A must see.

THE NINJA WAR OF TORAKAGE (2015, Japan, Yoshihiro Nishimura)

ninjawaroftorakage

            Known famously for Japanese gory showcase with lots of blood splatter movies, director Yoshihiro Nishimura brought the old fashioned ninja fantasy genre back to the big screen. ‘The Ninja War of Torakage’ sets in the Sengoku Period where a retired ninja, Torakage (played by Takumi Saito in his action role we’ve never seen before) had to get back over a treasure quest to save his family.

            Although still felt like Nishimura’s with less blood, the movie paid big respect to the conventional ‘80’s ninja fantasy with lots of the elements. The action was high octane, and Takumi Saito looks just like the young Hiroyuki Sanada in his bunch of old fashioned ninja movies. Fun and entertaining, but might work only for the real fan of the genre.

TIMELINE (2014, Thailand, Nonzee Nimibutr)

timeline

            In the vein of Thailand’s romantic genre, Sahamongkol’s ‘Timeline’ tells a story about Tan (played by the rising Thai heartthrob Jirayu Tangsrisuk) who against his mother’s (Piyathilda Woramusik) wish to took care of his dead father’s farm in the northern rural part of Thailand. Went to the university in Bangkok, Tan then fell for a free-spirited girl named June (Jarinporn Joonkiat).

            Comes from director Nonzee Nimibutr (1999’s ‘Nang Nak’ and 2001’s ‘Jan Dara’), there were nothing really special about ‘Timeline’ with the story that spread a bit overlong, though at least, scenes of Japanese traditional festival Karatsu Kunchi from Saga prefecture and exotic rural Thai sets add color to this film, along with the lovely chemistry between the popular young couple, Jirayu and Jarinporn.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014, USA, James Gunn)

GOTG

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (2012, Eric Darnell – Conrad Vernon – Tom McGrath)

madagascar 3

THE LOCAL ORIGINATION PROJECT :

            These three OIMF’s Local Origination Project was made to promote Japan’s prefecture with its special culture and beautiful landmark. In a special note, ‘Rumah’, directed by Indonesian indie filmmaker Yosef Anggi Noen (‘Peculiar Vacation and Other Ilnesses’) through the process of synopsis pitching contest includes Indonesia’s Mouly Surya and Adriyanto Dewo marked the first collaboration between Indonesia and Okinawa.

RUMAH (2015, Okinawa NANJO, Yosep Anggi Noen)

RUMAH_RUMAH_ëÞ_main

            Working for over 10 years as the operator of an information center that already took over with internet technologies, 34 y.o. Ayumi (played by Erika Oda) was reaching her line of boredom. As she got dismissed, Ayumi then headed home to see her long loving father (Masahiro Arakaki).

image (32)

            This simple premise was tackled finely by Anggi Noen in his own style of filmmaking. The panoramic and silent scenery worked perfectly to describe the main character’s loneliness yet also showing the beachside beauty of the Nanjo prefecture, and while the face expressions could be deeper, the restrained emotion was quite wonderful even without the obvious title card in the end of the 20 mins shorts.

            As Anggi said in the Q&A session, he found many similarities between Okinawa and Yogyakarta, his hometown, as the small and beautiful side with strong culture. It is indeed filled with sensitivity as his first time filming overseas, mostly with the help from Anggi Noen‘s colleague incl. Indonesian famous sound designer Khikmawan Santosa and some local musicians from Yogyakarta who works on the soundtracks which introduced Indonesian traditional sound beyond those beautiful selections.

KERAMA BLUE (2015, Okinawa ZAMAMI, Tsukasa Kishimoto)

Kerama_Blue_SS--Ji‹main

            Different than ‘Rumah’, promoting the beautiful ocean of Zamami prefecture, ‘Kerama Blue’ was way more comical. The movie tells a story about a foreign couple come to stay in the village inn, a Swiss photographer (played by Daniel Lopez) and his Japanese-American wife (Haruka Tobaru), who can’t speak Japanese, over a language comedy to show culture bumps with the owner of the inn and her grandson (played by Shogen, Okinawan famous actor). With the language each other couldn’t understand, a relationship chaos came as an aftermath.

image (29)

            Although told more as a comedy, the language bumps in the screenplay, wrote by the director Tsukasa Kishimoto, has captured the conflicts well. The character was a bit stereotypical with distractions, mostly from the actor Shogen, originally an Okinawan but looks more like a foreigner, yet it didn’t stop the idea of the hearts and minds are stronger than words.

TAMAKO (2015, Okinawa URASOE, Soichi Takayama)

TAMAKO__~Ph}ÎKnÞ¸àó_á¤ó

            This children fantasy promoting the Urasoe prefecture, one from the last year’s film location tour for invited journalist, tells a parallel story of the 13 year old Tamako (played by Natsumi Ikema) who tries to save the Himukae bridge and a real legend beyond the bridge which told that once in every 500 years it will connect the demon world (Majimun-kai) and human world.

image (30)

           Directed by Soichi Takayama as a sister-piece to his previous ‘Tamako to Chochika no Jumon’ in the same set, this 31 mins short has an exciting parallel storytelling and genre which rarely seen as shorts. It might work better as a longer feature regarding the whole information about the legend, but still a remarkable and well made. Natsumi Ikema shines beautifully as the little main lead.

Exclusive Interviews 

Vandy Piseth (Vandy Vibol) & Cheky Athiporn, actors from ‘Gems on the Run’ 

image (27)

Q : We mostly just see your arthouse cinema for these couple of years, without knowing there were any mainstream movies from Cambodia which went to the international festival. ‘Gems on the Run’ is actually our first experience. Talking about your rising movie industry, how many movies did your country produce in a year nowadays?

A : Yeah, some of those movies were actually not shown in our local theatres. Cambodia actually produced not many, about more than 10 movies a year.

Q : And what genre are they in general?

A : They’re vary, but most of them were horror and romantic drama or comedies. These are the genres our audience loved the most.

Q : And we heard that ‘Gems on the Run’ as an action were the first of its kind. Is it the first action movie from Cambodia?

A : Actually no, there were action movies before, but ‘Kroab Pich’ (local title of ‘Gems on the Run’) offers something new in the formula. It is indeed our first action comedy with road trip themes.

Q : And it’s also made with the bigger budgets and longer production time, right? How much is your average budget for one theatrical feature?

A :  Yes, unlike any other Cambodian movies, which has the average budget for about 30.000 US$, ‘Gems on the Run’ took more budget (about 80.000 US$) and production time, about 6 months from the script development (the first draft was actually written in english), applying it to our movie board to the post production.

Q : So like China, you also have strict rules by the board / ministry where everything has to be approved before productions. How do you feel about this?

A : Our ministry has a department called department of cinema and art which worked to decide which movie can go into production. They read the script and watch the whole production including costumes. However, once they got approved, the department facilitates our needs during productions.

Q : So do you think the existence of the department hold your freedom of expression in making movies?

A : Not at all. They are actually very flexible as long as we didn’t go against any regulation in the censorship. In themes, ‘Gems on the Run’ featured a bank robbery scene and we even have the upcoming film, it’s a road comedy  titled ‘Papi Goes to Hollywood’ which dealing with the main gay character.

Q : Interesting. And how your audience react to this kind of theme and overall your local productions? And how did ‘Gems on the Run’ perform at the box office?

A : They’re okay with that, I think. And our audience loved local movies and looks like they prefer Asian movies including Bollywood more than Hollywood movies, which mostly dubbed when showing in our cinemas. ‘Gems on the Run’ was actually doing very well in our local cinemas. The box office is quite impressive regarding the movie has ours, who were the new faces in the local industry as actors.

Q : Good for you then. I loved your bank robbery scene at the beginning of the movie. Did you experience any challenge to shot this scene?

A : Sure, but the department was very helpful. They helped us block the road with police guards. It was the street next to a busy market with lots of extras and we also used real guns. When I shot the guns to the air everyone around is watching like it was a real robbery.

Q : You (Vandy Piseth) said that you and Cheky were actually not an experienced actor. Could you tell us more about the casting process?

A : (laugh) Yes, we’re really not an actor before. I was working as a casting agent in some production including this movie, and sometimes I did the art department and also assistant director. It was Quentin (Quentin Clausin – the one of the two director of ‘Gems on the Run’) who told me after we cast some actors, that I would be fit in this role perfectly. Maybe they see me more like a bank robber (laugh). And I found Cheky in his faceboook then offer him the role.

Cheky: Yeah, I was never been an actor. I actually worked as a graphic designer and got surprised when Vandy message me through facebook. I felt this as a big chance to explore my talent. It’s one of the main role and who doesn’t like to be famous? (laugh)

Q : Okay, one last question. How did you perform the movie promotions in Cambodia, and how effective it was to create the audience’s interest to see the movie?

A : It’s basically the same with others. We collaborate with the media and also doing the digital contents in local websites. For some movies with more promotion budgets and capable sponsors such as local phone company, like ‘Gems on the Run’, we also set huge banners everywhere to attract more audience to see the movie in the cinemas. As far, it’s effective enough in our industry.

Rina Takeda, actress of ‘Harajuku Denier’

image (26)

Q :  Most people know you for the action roles, such in ‘High Kick Girl!’ and ‘Karate Girl’. But you also did a wide range of role through your carreer, including in your latest work, ‘Harajuku Denier’. Are you worried to be seen only as a Japanese female action stars?

A : Yes and no. (laugh) I actually doesn’t want to do only action movies. I like any parts with more heart and soul and I love to explore my acts with lots of emotion in it. You’ve seen that I also did an indie arthouse like ‘The Tale of Iya’ to action blockbusters. But since not many female action star from Asia, I also wouldn’t mind considered as one.

Q : However, we still see you’re doing your roundhouse kick as a signature in ‘Harajuku Denier’. Was it in the screenplay or not?

A : There were no particular action choreography in the script. It’s only my part as a policewoman to catch the criminal, but of course, like the director (Hideta Takahada) said, we have Rina Takeda, so why not do the kick to nail the scene? (smiled)

Q : I heard that you’re also doing the film outside Japan. Can you describe more of it?

A : It’s actually one of my goal, to take parts in film productions. On behalf of Japanese actresses, I want to be more active in the productions. Luckily, I finally had the chance to do that, as a co-producer in a Japan – Myanmar movie. The film also had Sonny Chiba and me in the cast.

Q : There were issues that you also played in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 : The Green Legend’. Is it true?

A : No, unfortunately it’s not true. I would love it if they asked me, for sure. (smiled)

Q : You were one of the jury in the recent Osaka International Asian Film Festival. Is it your first time, and how was the experience?

A : Yes, it’s my first time. At the beginning I wasn’t sure I could do it since I knew I was still very young in the movie industry. But then again, I think I can judge from a younger point of view and overall represent movies from my own country which was an honor. I watched a lot of Asian films in Osaka and I felt they had so much power which Japanese film have to catch up.

Q : What do you think are the flaws in Japanese cinema? Did you ever have any frustration to them?

A : I think Japanese movies is very sensitive. While most Asian films also have sensitivity but comes in powerful emotions, I don’t think ours are the same. Maybe it’s just a different culture. And no, I’m not particularly had any frustration, but maybe I would point one  to the casting process. I wish the industry could provide more opportunities to new talents and unknown actors instead of keep casting the well known ones in their productions.

Q : Soon you will appear in the long awaited live action version of ‘Attack on Titan’. How big is your role in the movie and what excites you the most?

A : Oh, I’m very lucky to be the part of it. I couldn’t tell a lot about it because there’s an embargo, but I could say that I’m one of 12 protagonist in the film. The process was very interested because it’s the first time I should act beyond the green screen for half of my part and we did a lot of shooting in the countryside.

Q : Do you have your dream role? One that will excite you as a big step in your carreer?

A : Maybe I’d love to do horror movie, but I think I’d like a part which has something mentally or physically survival like what Jennifer Lawrence did in ‘The Hunger Games’ (laugh)

Q : So you loved ‘The Hunger Games’. Did you choreograph your own action scenes in your movies?

A : Mostly no. Usually I have an action director to tell me what to do in the action scenes, but of course I’d love to choreograph my own action scenes, if I could.

Q : Who is your most favorite action star, the one who influenced you the most in action scenes?

A : My most favorite would be Jackie Chan. ‘Police Story’ is my favorite martial arts movie, but I also had a dream of pairing asian and international action stars in one movie, maybe when I became really famous, then. (laugh)

Q : Interesting. And who would they be?

A : From Japan, of course, Sonny Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada. And outside Japan, could be Jackie Chan and my other favorite action stars like Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin. I love Jeeja Yanin since there were not many female action stars. I also loved Indonesian action stars like Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais. And let’s not forget our own Yasuaki Kurata. He’s actually my master’s master. (dan)

7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 1)

•April 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 1)

OIMF7a

            The first day of the festival was marked by the first red carpet event held in Ginowan along with the Opening Ceremony. Located in the same area as last year’s red carpet event from Ginowan tropical beachside to the main stage that filled with musical and comedic performance from Yoshimoto’s artists, the 67 meters red carpet was attended by 580 guests in 73 groups and 35.000 visitors. The ‘Assalamualaikum Beijing’ team from Indonesia consists of the duo producers Yoen K. And Ody M. Hidayat with the actress Revalina S. Temat also attended the event. The opening day was closed with the special screening of ‘Interstellar’ in open air – giant screen treatment in Ginowan beachside, just like last year’s ‘Gravity‘.

[Official_Photo]_20150325_OpeningRedCarpet_AssalamualaikumBeijing03

            Along with the ‘Big Meeting in Okinawa’, a business seminar and panel discussion which was held in the second day at Yoshimoto Okinawa Kagetsu, placed at the newly owned Hapinaha building, Kokusai Dori, there were also the Okinawa Omoro Haunted Mansion Tour. Introduced a new little themed experience, this haunted mansion was more like a live experience in a thriller movies, including solving quests through the rooms full of maze which you’ve never been in before.

image (24)

            The meeting event opened with the introduction from Ryubo Holdings President, Goichi Itokazu, followed by the panel discussion ‘Front Line of Okinawa x Entertainment’ features William Ireton from Warner Entertainment Japan, Inc., GYAO! Executive Yusuke Dan, Twitter Japan’s Kazuhiro Misawa and Harvard graduate Dr. Hideyuki Negoro which talked about the health content as a part of entertainment industry. The ‘Cool Japan and Entertainment’ panel meeting featured the upcoming AEON Mall Rycom’s general manager Takahiro Otawara, Yoshimoto CA vice president Yoshito Toda and Yoshimoto Overseas Operations Division Ryutaro Ko and Wim Manopimok came after with the introduction to Sumimasu Asia performers, the new program of Yoshimoto that send their 9 groups of 13 comedians to Asian countries from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia to Indonesia. The second session of the event featured a showcase program, Slava’s Snow Show and Hinton Battle’s Dance Showcase.

[Official_Photo]_20150325_OpeningCeremony04

Movie Reviews:

ASSALAMUALAIKUM BEIJING (2014, Indonesia, Guntur Soeharjanto)

assalamualaikum beijing 1

DREAM FLIGHT (2014, Taiwan, Khan Lee)

Dream_Flight_main

            The box office hit from Taiwan was a 147 mins melodrama with the touch of ‘Top Gun’ traditions. Based on the real life story of Lt. Col. Lee Cheng-liang, an IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter) Air Force jet pilot (played by Bryant Chang), ‘Dream Flight’ tells his love story with his genetically caused – visually impaired wife (played by Tiffany Hsu). Filmed at the Air Force Academy in Kaohsiung and Tainan, this touching melodrama also has other subplot among families and some aerial action sequence which was beautifully shot. Might be a bit overlong, but nevertheless, worth a look for a lot of its heart factors and fine acts.

KYOTO ELEGY (2014, Japan, Kiki Sugino)

KIFF3

ONE NIGHT STUD (2015, China, Li Xinman)

one night stud

            Still playing in China theatres since Valentine’s Day and became one of box office winner, ‘One Night Stud’ gained a respective 9.67 million after 10 days and still counting. Comes from female director Li Xinman, the movie tells a story about a female architect (played by Jiang Yiyan from ‘The Four’ franchise) who wants to have a child without marriage. She then bumped with a pick-up artist (played by Zheng Kai) who she has a baby with and many issues came after, from raising a child outside a marriage to the true love at second sight.

            While as a romantic comedy, ‘One Night Stud’ was filled with cliche slapsticks, helmed by a female director whose the first work was more to a non-commercial, the movie has something more to offer. Not only talked about the issues of a carreer-woman and single mother in their society among the raunchy – yet – believable characters, the more adult-themed was also felt different than many other teen-romcoms in Chinese cinema these days.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (2014, USA, Shawn Levy)

night at the museum 3

AT HOME (2014, Japan, Hiroshi Chono)

at_Home_main

            The opening movie of last year’s ‘Kyoto International Film Festival’ is a unique and tricky black comedy unlike what you think it is. Based on the novel with the same name by Takayoshi Honda, ‘At Home’ will take you to discover each member of an unlikely family of five and how they got connected to each other beyond a kidnapping attempt to one of them.

            It was indeed an unusual storytelling with unique message and sharp edges about the family ties. Beautifully acted by Yutaka Takenouchi, Yasuko Matsuyuki and Kentaro SakaguchiYuina Kuroshima, especially Yuto Ikeda who played the three children, the most powerful element of the movie came from Teruo Abe’s script. It was funny, bloody, twisted yet also very heartful. One of the best Japanese movie last year which not yet released theatrically until now.

THE SEX CANNON BALL RUN 2013 THE MOVIE (2014, Japan, Company Matsuo)

sex cannon ball run

            Being a Sakurazaka Film University’s selection, ‘The Sex Cannon Ball Run 2013 Movie’, which was screened in Yubari fest earlier this year was a Japanese attempt in their unique transgressive cinema. Shaped as almost a real porn documentary, it was both hilariously funny and insanely awful. It might not fits into the ‘Laugh & Peace’ theme in this all ages- movie festival thoroughly, but it was also fun to explore the audience reactions during the whole movie, presented with live commentary from Sakurazaka people. You have to look for yourself for this one of a kind movie experience.

Exclusive Interviews

Li Xinman, the director of ‘One Night Stud’

image (25)

Q: There were so many romantic comedies in your cinema (China) these days with almost similar theme. What made yours different?

A: As a female writer – director, for my second feature I really wanted to make something more market driven movie. Yes, it was a generic formula in terms of straight out comedy, but as a romantic comedy, it tells more about woman’s physical strength and their power over man in sexuality. It’s always interesting to create something artistic as I did in my first feature (‘BeLoved’, 2013 / won the 2008 Tokyo’s TIFF project market under the title ‘Red Dragonfly’), but I also want to make mainstream movies.

Q: Some of the movie was shot in Okinawa. Did you find any difficulties in the process?

A: The shoots in Okinawa took a full ten days in the process and most of them were located by the beach. Yes there were difficulties and one of them was facing the typhoon which delayed some shooting process.

Q: Interesting. The movie paired Jiang Yiyan and the rising heartthrob Zheng Kai. Are they your first choice of cast for this movie?

A: Actually no. At first I wanted to cast a male lead from outside the country, but I couldn’t find the right one. While for the female lead, my first choice was Yao Chen (from ‘Firestorm’ and ‘If You Are The One 2’, many considered as China’s answer to Angelina Jolie) but unfortunately has a schedule conflict.

Q: As an adult romantic comedy with sex-themed, how did you deal with the censored in China?

A: In China, since we develop the script, everything has to be approved by our movie board. Yes we have to think more about the sexual reference according to the rule of censorship in China, but they have read and approve the script, so there were nothing got censored after.

Q: Okay, speaking about censorship, I also heard in some articles that ‘One Night Stud’ was being called as a first and one of a kind – self rated movie since your country hasn’t introduced a film rating system yet. Could you explain more about this?

A: No, I thought it was the media vocabulary. There’s no such thing as self rated movie by its own producer in China. As I said, since the process of developing a script, everything has to be approved by our movie board.

Q: How do you see a romantic comedy trend in Chinese cinema nowadays?

A: In terms of selling, it might be necessarily needed because most of the audience now are much younger and romantic comedies worked best for them as an escapism fantasy. But I really didn’t want mine to be similar with the others. By making it more for adults and mostly by woman’s POV, I wanted to create something different. (dan)

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,452 other followers