Doctor Strange (2016)

After so long time not posting something, finally I’m back! Haha. Here’s the official website.

Doctor Strange tells us about Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant neurosurgeon that suddenly got a car accident that cripples his both hands. Within his despair, Strange goes to Kamar Taj, Nepal, looking for The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who’s said to be able to cure his hands. Strange then is being introduced to the world of mystical magic and other dimensions, beside Chakra and spirit. His intelligence leads him to find out that The Ancient One and her disciples are defending the earth from the evil spirit Dormammu that has been summoned by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), The Ancient One’s former disciple. With the help of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), Strange tries his best to defeat Kaecilius and prevents Dormammu to darken the earth.

9/10. No no no, don’t get me wrong of giving high score because my favorite Benedict Cumberbatch is the lead! Actually I’ve never seen any of Marvel’s comic books and still have no idea who or what this adaptation should be, and I won’t talk about the similarities of the comic books and this live-action movie. I simply find that this movie is entertaining. The CGI reminds me a little about Nolan’s Inception (2010), with Mortal Kombat’s fighting styles and then adds the Marvel taste in it with your brand new witch (I’m not saying a new superhero btw haha). It was mesmerizing! The dimensional shiftings, the magic, the mystical things, it’s like they’re all blended into a surprisingly excellent mix.

And I loveeeeeeeee the jokes! I mean, with all that upside down CGIs, the jokes are the only thing that keeps this movie grounded. The jokes is funny (it still can make me laugh), not exaggerated, and cleverly placed on the right place. The rest is just so-so. Benedict Cumberbatch is just acting, as usual. If you’ve seen him on Sherlock  (TV Series, 2010-now) and The Imitation Game (2014), this is clearly not his best performance. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams feel more like eye-candy. However, the only actor (or in this case, actress) that stole the screen is surely Tilda Swinton. With her bald head, low voice and undeniable persona, Swinton shines all through the movie and really stole the show.

Finally, I must remind you this is a PG-13 movie, so please don’t bring your children with you while watching this movie. Oh, and please do not leave your seat until the end of the credits. THERE ARE TWO AFTER CREDIT SCENES THAT YOU SHALL NOT PASS! Hahaha. Enjoy!!

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The Accountant (2016)

Check out the official movie website here.

The Accountant is a story of an autistic accountant, precisely forensic accountant (of course, or else you’re expecting the story of, let’s say, engineer?), under the pseudonym of Christian Wolff (or even Carl Gauss, Lewis Carroll and maybe other divine mathematicians, played by our current Batman Ben Affleck) who sometimes works to clean up financial messes of criminal syndicates, mobs, drug dealers, you name it. His associations with several dangerous criminal lords have made him become number one mysterious target of Ministry of Finance agents, led by Director Raymond King (JK Simmons) and his beautiful apprentice Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). One day, Wolff is hired by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), CEO of Living Robotics, to do the forensic audit of his late years discrepancies that have been found by junior cost accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). As Wolff discovers the motives behind the fraud, he realizes his life and Cummings’ life are in danger, and he starts to fight back.

7.1/10. Honestly I actually watched this movie since I consider myself as an accountant. And I was totally wrong. This movie is not as simple as the boring life as an accountant  (yes, it’s boring. I’m starting to think of another career though haha). This movie is a mix of family drama, dry comedy, actions and thriller, and there’s just a little touch of financial terms. If you think you are gonna confused with all that accounting terms like financial statements, assets, general ledgers, inventories etc., you are terribly wrong. The most confusing part is not related to any of accounting terms. I think they are considering the movie as a beginning of a franchise, since they put so many background details of the characters, and in my opinion, The Accountant would be a more promising franchise other than Affleck’s another movie franchise, for let’s say, Batman v Superman. However, too many flashbacks left us with so many puzzling stories that ended up confusing to the viewers.

So, this is my conclusion: The Accountant have touching family drama (I think the last fight of the Wolffs should be more emotional), quite thrilling action scenes, with poor deductions of the real big story. They should make bigger portion and greater attention how Wolff discover the fraud and how the fraud could make an impact to Living Robotics so maybe if the fraud was blowed up, it would be the end of the company. They should give us reasonable basic on why Blackburn wants to kill both Wolff and Cummings since they know about the fraud. And maybe instead of trying to kill Blackburn for his attempts of murders to Wolff and Cummings, their escape and fight to blow up the fraud to the authority would be a more interesting story.

So, lanjutkan saja, tidak apa apa, right?

Inferno (2016)

Very late post. Check the official movie site here.

Inferno is another adaptation of Dan Brown’s 2013 novel with the same name. The movie told us about (yes, another) adventure of Harvard Art History Professor and cryptologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). One day, he awakens at a hospital in Florence, (yes it’s on Italy again), remembers nothing of what happened to him in the last several days. Langdon later accompanies by (another younger) beautiful companion named dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). Langdon and Sienna must escape from the assassination attempts by Vayentha (Ana Ularu), an assassin covered as an Italian carabinieri and paid by unknown consortium led by the gorgeous Provost (Irffan Khan), while at the same time crack the mystery of Dante Alighieri’s poem Inferno, Sandro Botticelli’s Map of Hell and Giorgio Vasari’s The Battle of Marchiano in order to abort the evil idea of crazy billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster).

7.2/10. For me, this movie is like a replication of success formula of the previous adaptations, The Davinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009). First, create a conspiracy, then enter Tom Hanks as the almost-expressionless Robert Langdon, add a younger beautiful female companion, make them run and discover the exotic and historical places in Italy, add some popular arts and codes to be cracked, and voila! There you have another movie! Seriously, even Tom Hanks himself can make this whole movie so glorious, then what could go wrong with Ron Howard’s directing and Hans Zimmer’s awesome music? Unfortunately, the formula is so yesterday, and their attempts to add some more intense actions contribute nothing to its boring formula. Even when they added some personal details of Langdon’s past relationship with dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (played by the awesome Sidse Babett Knudsen), it doesn’t help with the plot development. 

Moreover, I know that Langdon is nearly expressionless, but the other characters in this movie actually don’t need to be as stiff as him. Maybe the director put all the efforts to make the scenes more intense, but surely he forgot to tell the actors to have expressions. The only feelings we can afford is acted by the brilliant Sidse Babett Knudsen. Her last scenes with Tom Hanks is like a statement of “This is how you should do this!” to other actors. 

Oh. And Vayentha’s hair is not blue. Sorry.

The Penjor of Galungan

penjor-31

Penjor (photo courtesy of Kura2 Guide)

So I visited Bali at mid September to, ehem, enjoying my solo birthday trip. Instead of telling you my boring solo trip, the bar hopping, temple hopping or beach hopping that surely some of you have been there, there’s one interesting thing that caught my eyes. That thing is yellow, bright and so full of festivities. That thing is called Penjor by locals.

As I said before, I went to Bali to spend my Birthday, while I didn’t know that my birthday is actually fell on between two Hindu greatest religious holidays, The Galungan (September 7th) and The Kuningan (September 17th). When I landed at Denpasar on September 15th, the festivals are still going on with all that wishes all over the airports. And the penjors that decorated Bali road sides were mesmerized me. I am a Jakarta local, often called Betawi, and we make penjor too occasionally. We usually erect a penjor during wedding, place it as a decoration outside the wedding reception area, as a symbol of hope and joy wishes to the bride and groom. Those penjors erected in Bali during Galungan and Kuningan are erected outside almost every house and shop, and have surely different meaning from our penjors.

Penjor are tall tapered poles made from bamboo and placed outside Balinese Hindu homes during certain religious holidays to symbolize the dominance of good (dharma) over evil (adharma) as well as to offer thanks to the gods

Kura2 Guide

Having highly interested in Hindu culture since no one knew (actually since my mother forced me to watch Mahabharata with her when I am six, haha), I soon browsed through the web to find all those meanings of that penjors. So again, that penjors are full of religious symbols, and making those required some special talents, so those penjors doesn’t end up of being decorations only as their companions at Jakarta. Penjors are made as a mixture of bamboo, tapered with coconut leaves and various other natural items like Pala Bungkah (tubers and roots like sweet potato, cassava, etc.), Pala Wija (grains that grown on field like rice, corn etc.), Pala Gantung (fruits like banana, oranges, etc.), Balinese traditional cakes and much more. Bigger, more elaborate penjor are a sign of wealth among all although the most simple structures are just as visually effective.

And everything you put on a penjor as religious symbols have different meanings. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Bamboo (and sometimes traditional cakes) are the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Brahma
  2. Coconut is the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Rudra
  3. Yellow Clothes, house shrine and the Upakara are the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Shiva
  4. Pala Bungkah and Pala Gantung are the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Vishnu
  5. Sugarcane is the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Shambhu
  6. Rice is the symbol of the vibrancy of Goddess Shri (Lakshmi, or Bhagavati Tara in Buddhism)
  7. White Clothes is the the symbol of the vibrancy of Lord Ishwara

However, although I know that the penjors in Bali are full of religious symbol af their grateful to God, this cannot pull my mind out from the feeling that I have been in a great wedding festivities. Haha. Oh, and The Galungan and The Kuningan are arranged twice a year. You can check their digital calendar here, just in case you wanna live in the bright and liveliness of the festivals, and especially, enjoy the penjors!

Ben Hur (2016)

This is my late review, and the official movie site is here.

Ben Hur is another adaptation of Lew Wallace’s biblical epic Ben-Hur: Tale of The Christ, following the beautiful 1907 and 1925 silent films, the 1959 Oscar Hoarding movie starring Charlton Heston and 2003 animated film. The 2016 story tells us about the complicated relationship between Jewish Prince Judah Ben Hur (Jack Huston) and his adopted brother Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell), their ups and downs, and Ben Hur’s encounter with the sexy (literally) Jesus from Nazareth (Rodrigo Santoro). The whole movie tells us how Ben Hur turns from a boyish prince into a slave, then his encounter with Sheikh Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) changes him into a chariot racer, to his climactic race against Messala.

I don’t even know why I watched this movie at first. I know that the 1959 is my favorite, and I don’t wanna ruin the entire grandeur image of that adaptation with watching this new version. However, then I finally decided to watch, and soon regretting my decision. This 2016 adaptation is nowhere of even shadowing the previous adaptation, even with all the CGIs and blockbuster hype. The 1959 version is a balance mix between colossal action, biblical storytelling, and grandeur relationship between the characters, and seems the director of this 2016 version is too lazy to put all those mixtures together. If the 1959 movie is like a grande wedding cake with very delightful feelings when you eat it, this 2016 is maybe just a mixture that even has not been baked! It feels like a puzzle with bad editings and lame storytelling, and the puzzle is not forming any big picture. The director even feels put little to no interest of deepening the relationship between characters, or even in showing us the background of each characters (you can barely know Morgan Freeman’s character is a Sheikh unless you’ve checked out their wikipedia page before) and just focusing on the climactic horse chariot race. The feeling when Ben Hur meets Jesus is also feels hollowed. Phew. Oh, and Ben Hur doesn’t wear blue. Big disappointment for me hahaha… 

However, as I said before, the director is just focusing into action scenes, and their action scenes are great. The scenes where the ship crashed feels so real that it just feels like a VR experience to all of us. The climactic horse chariot race is also feels amazing, looks fulfilling the whole hollowness the movie left from the beginning. And not to mention that Morgan Freeman narrated the whole movie, so you can enjoy his godly voice.