Saturday, January 10, 2009

Move out, once again.

The contents of this blog will also be moved there as well. But in time, until such feat accomplished (well, I was lazy most of the time), this blog will stay alive for a while.


I won't recommend hosting at For as it is, the database to my previous blog is acting-up and they don't seem to have good intentions to fix it. So, pissed off, I moved yet again to:

I hope, this one is going to be my lasting brand for I had prepared several services that uses the aforementioned domain.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've been so wrapped, entangled, whatever words out there to describe inability to spare some time for a non-real-life related activities such as Films and Bloggings. There, it's out of the box. Now back to the checked list of "Things to do before the clock hits December 31st, 2008"

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Tropic Thunder is one of those films that I personally thought, has more than enough buzz-words and marketing campaigns surrounding its impending release that made the effort of ignoring this film in order to keep any expectations in around a normal level, is virtually impossible. Therefore, it's pretty understandable that I head to this film expecting on perhaps one of the best comedy of the year. In that sense though, the film is satisfying albeit it runs a wee bit too long for a comedy and an obvious tip of the scale regarding its actor performances.

Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is a tried-true-and-tired action star has been. He teams up with another tried-and-tired comedy star, Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) and 5 time Academy Award winners, Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) to shoot a film dubbed as "the most expensive war film ever made", Tropic Thunder. But the ego soon collides, and one decision after another put the actors and crew in a real-life situation as they crosses-path with opium smugglers amidst the depth of Vietnam jungle.

The film is more about Ben's take on Hollywood industry. About how Hollywood tends to squeeze the cow until the very last drop of milk (e.g sequels), evil producers, details attentive (useless) managers, drug-addictive actors, et cetera. As far as a commoner concerned, you could find pretty much every thing you need to know on how the industry worked in here. There's also a pretty hilarious take on why Sean Penn didn't even had a nod for I Am Sam. All in all, even if some of the jokes found here dangerously trotting, even breaching the lines of offensive attitudes, they're at least above average and thus made this film indeed, qualify as a serious candidate for one of the best comedy of the year. And some of the cameos are really worth the time on checking them out when the end credit rolls.

I personally couldn't get my head around Ben. Sure, he's been making some popular movies that no doubt most of you would be fond of remembering but, somehow, and I don't know why, I couldn't really spare any small amount of likenesses or gratitudes for him. But apparently, he has many friends in Hollywood that when he make this film as a some sort of mockumentary to this film, he'd get many support in and out of the screens. The most daring decision was of course to put Robert Downey Jr. as a dedicated Aussie actor who went as far as "re-pigmented" his skin in order to "correctly" portrayed the African-American actor in the Tropic Thunder film. And for a comedy that runs more than 90 minutes which is a long way to say "too-damn long", most of the time, the lines from Kirk that kept me going toward the finish line. Robert Downey Jr. is no doubt, an actor on a very different class of either Ben or Jack. Both of Ben / Jack seems like a sad sad foolish toddler who kicking in dirt to win some attentions ... and failed.

My rating: **1/2 / **** - A fun "mockumentary" on Hollywood, that albeit runs a bit too long, filled with uneven jokes that weren't as funny as the filmmakers think they are, able to provide some decent quality entertainment time that most of the moviegoers could enjoy. Robert Downey Jr. out-shined everyone else, and oh, pay attention to the cameos.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jakarta's Film Festival (the Lack of)

The lack of a decent Film Festival in Jakarta is staggering. Jakarta International Film Festival, which has been my most-see events for the last few years has hit another low this year. The festival has been known to struggle to even exist. With no apparent/immediate support from the government, I've had an impression that whomever held the Festival, is doing so not because of a promising return-of-investment but simply because they love films and would love to share some of that love through the festival.

This year however, when everybody's talking about the global crisis, the festival has hit another low. According to some forums I skimmed through, this year's festival which scheduled to begin on December 9th, would last only for five days. Five days for a film festival? Not nearly enough.

Anyway, another film festival is scheduled for this week. INAFF 2008. I might going to check them out if I had an ample over-supply of time which is a rather long way to say, "Not interested"

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace. Even if I've seen most of the James Bond series thus far, I'm not and won't considered myself as an avid fan of the double-oh agent. Thus, I was totally indifferent when the news about Pierce Borsnan being replaced by David Craig starts to surface. Alas, as I've seen Mr.Craig in Layer Cake, I was known as seemingly the supporter of Craig as Bond. Well, it's merely because I hate it when people gave a presumptuous assumption on one's capability BEFORE they even see or experienced the said capability themselves. And guess who had the last laugh?

I dare to say that most viewers, casual or serious would agreed about the undeniable Craig factor when talking/discussing about Quantum of Solace. Again, portraying James Bond in his early career, Daniel Craig launches the suave agent into a more physical stretching tasks that required him to once again leap over buildings, avoid explosions, taming a speed-demon roadster, and not to mention, save the damsel in distress. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, is the shortest James Bond film ever, and although the knowledge of previous film that precedes this film is minimum, it is at least recommended for a skim through to familiarize yourself with names and faces throughout this film.

Written by Paul Haggis, who wrote Crash, it was to be expected that this film is at least consists of couple layers of story as once again our agent is pitted against the very same yet un-named secret organization (before SPECTRE?) from the first film. This film's "official" Bond-girl, Camille (Olga Kurylenko) involved herself with this organization on a personal agenda that doesn't really deal with the organization itself directly. James Bond's employer is also testing their (her) trust on Bond's "unique" methods, some old names returns, and some familiar recurring character re-shapes themselves to a level we're all familiar, the villains are also has kinks and quirks of arrogance that makes me actually wonder why does the "good" guys didn't see that they were up to no good from the first sight. All in all, the violent and angry James Bond is return yet again, and even though it's different than the elegant spy he used to be known for through the decades of the franchise, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever of Daniel Craig's imminent increasing popularity as James Bond. Especially for the younger generation.

The film opens with beautiful car-chase sequence, and it's rarely stop from here on unless in a few moments required in order to advance the plot. In terms of action, it has everything I could think of. Bare-hand fights, check. Close-quarter combat, check. Boat-chase sequence, check. Plane-chase sequence, check. Increasingly popular but threateningly close to become a staple of boredom rooftop chase parkour-style sequence, check and I haven't mentioned everything, yet. All that, crammed into a film that barely touches the two hour mark, plus a maddening attention to details and the palpable level of dangerousness, would surely please even the least attentive casual viewer.

But, once you get passed the innuendo action sequences, there's Bond. This Bond is angry, and fueled by the need to revenge, that even his Boss threatened to let him go. He kills seemingly without hesitation or hints of regret. But well hidden beneath that calm, passive outward presence, he is troubled, boiled with rage, mourned with loss, torn between duty and revenge. On one single heartbreaking scene, I had a suggestion that Bond is actually shed a tear. And guess what, from this scene, I hereby proclaimed that Daniel Craig is now my favorite James Bond.

My only complaints? Probably Olga Kurylenko. But she doesn't get much of attention anyway, so no biggie. And oh, Alicia Keys should never ever sings in a duet again.

My rating: *** / **** - This film's overall theme is "personal" This is where we see James Bond finally abandon his personal grit and shove aside his feelings that turns him into an effective, flamboyant, and confident spy agent he was so famously known for decades. Either that, or this is simply an above average, um, make that WELL above average action film. Your choice. If you love Casino Royale, you should SEE this film. Period.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dr. No (1962)

Dr.No. Before Q, before gadgetry, before box-office, before "gimmicky" questions such as "Who's going to be the next Bond girl?" there's "Dr. No" a display of early James Bond, a gritty, violent, sometimes a cold-blooded agent, who relies more on his muscle and wit i.e physical assets as an agent than the gadgets. This Bond is susceptible to fear (as he admits to Honey Ryder, this film's Bond girl, so to speak), and panic which actually makes him a little more human than what he would portrays in his next films.

I've read that it was due to a limited budget at the time (this is after all, before an accepted agreement that any 007 films would costs many and expected to earns more) that made this films felt so raw. Granted, the first Daniel Craig's Bond film is also portrayed the raw Bond but money doesn't lie, and it shows.

The film opens in Jamaica (in fact, the film took place almost entirely there), where an agent and his liaison were killed for investigating a nearby island called Carb Key. Our favorite double-oh agent was soon sent to the ground-zero where he met with Felix Leiter (a recurring character), a CIA agent, and with help from locals, including probably the first ever Bond girl, Honey Ryder (whose first scene is quite legendary, or so I heard, and infamously reenacted by Heather Graham in one of the Austin Powers' film - can't remember which) was soon face-to-face with Dr.No, a member of an evil organization, SPECTRE, a recurring nemesis in James Bond films, who controls the illicit and up-to-no-good operations in Carb Key island.

In my opinion, you can't be more formulaic with 007 films. Give some plot to the antagonists to disturb the order of peace with one way or another, thrown our vodka-martini-stirred-not-shaken-lover agent into the scene, mix it with some hottie, preferably buxom and exposing as many skin as possible, and pit him against the arch-nemesis in some archetypal pyrotechnics work in the end. So, you asked, what's the appeal then? To be quite honest, I really have no idea. I'm not considering myself as a Bond's fan anyway. Not by a mile.

I thought, that James Bond films, especially the early releases are more valuable in its historical aspect than anything. We're talking about forty years and twenty films of franchise, after all. However, it should be noted that statistically, films that were released in the 60's are on average longer than films released nowadays, Dr.No may seems slow for many casual viewers. I was guilty as well, I played Final Fantasy Tactics A2 on my NDS while watching the film for the whole time, only occasionally rewind the DVD when I felt like I missed something important. Just for a couple of times, if I remembered correctly.

P.S: This is an attempt to see ALL of James Bond films prior and in an anticipation of the release of "Quantum of Solace" later this year (part 1 of 21 - or 22, whichever version suits you, planned)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers. The positive buzz generated around this film has promised this film to be a sleeper hit. It does, and more. In fact, it is more than likely that this film would ended up as one of the two best thriller/horror film of the year in my list. Although, given the shock value of the film, I would give Funny Games a slight edge. Just a slight, though.

The film opens with a word that surely going to sent some viewer's mind troubled. "The brutal events that took place there are still not entirely known" Peace-loving audiences who doesn't want to get troubled or annoyed with a film should leave the theater immediately. Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) is a couple. One night in February, 2005 (ow, yes, this film is based on true events), they went from a wedding-party to Hoyt's summer house. And well, as these summer houses goes as seen in the films, they are always pretty much secluded. No neighbors, no phones, no cars passing by, which made a perfect choice of place for individuals with an appetite for murder as these so called "The Strangers" in this film to stalk their preys. One time in the film, Kristen asks "The Strangers" of why they were doing what they were doing. Their answer is simply, "Because you're home" and THAT is what I called terror.

The first build-up scene of the film (the first thirty minutes or so of the film) is awesome. I felt Kristen's distress of having someone knocking the front door of your house at four a.m, not knowing who they are and what they were up to. Suddenly, those walls around my room, as surely as those walls around Kristen's house, closing upon me, confined me almost to a point where it almost choked me. This feeling persists, and stays, right until the end.

Well, I don't have anything else to say, but it is in my opinion that our horror filmmakers should rely to the purely human's side of the evil instead of re-hashing the idea of "boo" scenes, sudden appearances, and long haired ghosts. These ideas are already old and stale, anyway. After all, if you asked me, the only thing capable of pure evil in this world is more often than not, are human.

My rating: *** / **** - Although most unlikely, I hope that this film (with Funny Games) could made into this years' Jakarta International Film Festival in December or at least into this year's INAFF in November (if Saw V could made it into this festival, I don't see any reasons of why Funny Games or this film couldn't made it into the festival as well but we shall see) for I am eager to re-experience the whole thing in bigger screen. Currently in the top two of my list of this year's best thriller/horror film.

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About This Week's New Releases

I had planned to go see Max Payne last night as one of the two "new" releases this week. The other one is P2. I know, P2 is originally released sometime last year, and I've seen it months ago albeit that no review had come from yours truly here. This, again, raises the questionable methods of our local theater network to pick their new releases. The same questionable methods to pit Lindsay Lohan's I Know Who Killed Me, almost a year after its original release.

Alas, considering that Max Payne is one of those game-based movie adaptation, and the last time I saw a game-based movie adaptation is Hitman (which from what I understand, had the same breadth with Max Payne) and it wasn't really that pleasant experience to endure, I had opted to stay at home instead of battling the midnight air.

What about P2? As I've told before, I've already seen P2. But, if you think that I should relive the memory and writing a review about it, well, sorry to disappoint, but that's just not the way it (or this) work. I usually had a one-two hour window of opportunity to write a proper review right after I've seen the film or at the very least, listing key points of strengths and weaknesses. Had I missed the window, well, the opportunity is lost. All I could remember about P2 was a nasty death scene and a generous cleavage of its leading actress. But that's just about it.

So, two options, none appealing, thus, I had stayed home and watched The Strangers instead. One thriller film that had positive buzzes all over the festival film worldwide.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eagle Eye (2008)

Eagle Eye. What do I think about Shia LaBeouf? Love/Hate, at best. I thought that he was quite decent on D.J Caruso's Disturbia (probably his first big role) even if its resemblance to Hitchcock was rather uncanny, and then I don't really care about him on Transformers for all I care about was understandably, its Autobots and Decepticons line and given that a small fraction of the care leftovers I had from the film (if there's even any) goes to Megan Fox, it practically renders him nearly invisible. And of course, we had Indiana Jones. If even Stan thought George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had raped Indy, how would you think I'd fared? A kid who grew with Raiders of the Lost Ark? Not very much. Anyways, Eagle Eye is one of those films with catchy trailer that actually looks good, heck, probably awesome in some standard and the fact that this film again pitted Shia under D.J Caruso's direction, I was willing to give it a try.

Brutally honest? For all its worth, the film would please most casual viewers flocking the theater on a weekend for an escape from a daily routine while having a buttered pop-corn and ogling the screen for a light entertainment albeit a forgettable one. Well, actually, after the film ended, I heard a whisper from a dude who sat in front of me proclaimed that it was and I quote, "a best non-stop action film" I took an interest to this dude because he has spent most of the film texting with his phone (Oh, how I hate this kind of attitude. The glare, folks! The glare!).

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a rebel, a laid-back dude who has been under the shadow of his twin-brother for most of his life. That's why instead of going to Stanford, he chooses to work in a copy shop, gambling in his spare-time, scraping for change to pay his rent, and cut all ties to his family. One day, he found that his bank account increased by $750,000 overnight, and there's enough equipment in his apartment to start a World War III. Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monahan) is a single-mom, on her way to sent her kid for a musical performance in D.C. Enjoying her rare quality time, she went out with her friends until a phone call arrives telling her to do things in exchange for the safety of her son. Meanwhile, Jerry captured by the F.B.I only to find himself receiving the similar phone calls that helped him escape the containment and put him firmly on the red book of the F.B.I. Jerry and Rachel met, car chases ensues, explosions here and there, Eagle Eye, final confrontation, and a fitful ending. Now, whoever controlled Jerry and Rachel Holloman has access to almost any electronic devices from satellite, phone cells, traffic lights, automatic crane stuffs, even to McDonald's CCTV!. My advice, don't ever think about the reason behind why such a powerful entity or organization that had its fingers on almost anything (Brother Eye style) still required the assistance of two normal people to do its bidding because this film works well if you just sit back, relax, and put your mind at ease. Oh, and digging to that huge and greasy pop-corn of yours certainly helps to kill some stray thinking cells in your brain.

As for me, the film ended after the FIRST car chase. Granted, its probably the only memorable sequence in this film if there's one. The camera however, swivel and shifted like it was in the middle of a hurricane. Occasionally, we get a glimpse or two of our hero/heroine only to be replaced by flying metals, crashes and explosions in a quick cuts but of course, that is how they shoot action sequences these days. Still, D.J Caruso earned a kudos for this sequence. Even so, believe me or not, I have already guessed the entire plot after this scene and I had to stifle a laugh when the final confrontation occurs because it remind me to a film, which has been cross-referenced so many times I've lost count (I've seen it twice for this year's film releases alone) and in an inferior and pathetic way it's almost sad. I'm not telling what film though. That, and the film runs a bit too long for my taste (of course, given that I've already guessed the plot and manages to keep one-two steps further in the plot development) and this is coming from a guy who loves Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Captivo.

And oh, Shia LaBeouf is still Steven Spielberg's "Golden Boy" I was surprised during the end credit that this film's Executive Producer is Mr.Spielberg himself. Just when I thought that Shia could finally get out of his clutch.

My rating : ** / **** - Not my cup of tea, too easy, too long in dwindling before the plot concludes, but action fans should enjoy this film. I've seen no significant improvement from Shia (he still bore that same "panic" look simply because the film keep telling him to "Run, Jerry! Run!") and the rest of the cast fared in similar manner. With perhaps one exception, Michael Chiklis even if he only appears in two or three short scenes. Love the guy! Imagine a less badass version of Death Race with dialog! That's why the dude who sits in front of me was able to texting the whole time and manages to utter a comment about "best non-stop action film" His word, not mine.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Body of Lies (2008)

Body of Lies. When the world swept away with an avalanche, and people went to the theater by the millions to see Titanic, I, acting like a true introvert, frown at its success and particularly to its leading roles, Mr.Leonardo DiCaprio and Ms.Kate Winslet as my teenager peers at the time mooning and swooning over both. Mr.DiCaprio's previous role in Romeo & Juliet and his subsequent role in The Man in the Iron Mask did nothing to improve his image in my eye and I had thought that Mr.DiCaprio will always be like those boyish actors (example, Freddie Prince Jr.) forever trapped in their young boy persona. Not until Gangs of New York did I finally had some perspective to Mr.DiCaprio's true capacity as an actor. Ironically, both Mr.DiCaprio and Ms.Kate Winslet who started as someone I took for less has both become my personal favorite actor as implicitly evident in my blog for the last couple of years and I greatly anticipated their next re-team feature, Revolutionary Road sometime this year. But that's another matter.

From William Monahan's script who quickly become one of the screenwriter who had the knack of writing a multifaceted and complex script (The Departed), Body of Lies promises a rewarding film experience. That is if a story-driven multi-layered and a thought-required film is really your cup of tea. This film won't surprise or tried to conceal the hidden fact up its sleeve in order to provide some "ahh" moments at its climax. Even so, the nature of the script doesn't too often in putting us ahead of the character which made the two hours plus of duration, as I've said before, a rewarding experience.

Mr.Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) is CIA's field-agent working in Middle East. He knows the culture, he aware with the daily situation, he speaks Arabic up to a point where he could distinguishes the accent, and as it's easily seen, he was in a constant danger. His handler, his attachŽ is Edward Hoffman (Russell Crowe), an ambitious desk-officer with his own agendas some of which he concealed even to his field-agent. An event (best I leave it for you to observe by yourselves) put the guys hopping the airlines across the Middle East, U.S. and briefly in Europe but most of the time, they find themselves in Amman, Jordania where they had to work together with Jordanian Intelligence Agency identified by the magnificent Hani (Mark Strong). Hani is willing to co-operate with the CIA with one simple rule, "Do not lie to me" And of course, given the title of the film, you could easily guessed that the truth would found itself rather hard to breach the surface.

One small advice, go take your leak before entering the theater. This is a tight film with many locations, many names (more importantly, many faces) and many story-angle although the film generally focus on Ferris' point-of-view. This is a kind of film where the rare moment of silence would be filled with murmurs from the audience and this is a kind of film where most people (in Indonesia) would describe as "too many talking" film. On a simple glance, one could very much put this film in the same breath with Jason Bourne films although in my opinion, given the nature and overall tone, The Kingdom would be a fairer, albeit much lesser in quality, contender.

Naturally, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe drives this movie. Although, after The Departed and Blood Diamond, I had to say that this is his most "standard" performance and Russell Crowe is much more awesome in American Gangster. However, after a month or so, this film gives me a reason to open again.

My Rating: *** / **** - If you liked The Kingdom, I dare to say that you're going to like this film as well, better even. However, Leonardo DiCaprio's performance has a tendency to decline (believe me, I've seen all his films in earnest since Gangs of New York) and Russell Crowe's portrayal as Edward is sort of a mix between his role in The Insider and American Gangster which if you've seen both, you'll know that it screams inconsistency. That, and the "meh" ending. Well, at least Mark Strong steals the scene.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wrath of the Lich King System Requirement

In my plurk page, I've been mulling about the possibility to stay connected through mobile devices, through my MacBook for 24/7. The image above is the partial reason of why. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. If you had no idea what World of Warcraft is, then congratulations, you're not yet cursed by the imminent addiction of gaming. It is after all, THE most popular MMORPG. Now, the system requirement of the game has been revealed

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer
Processor: Minimum: PowerPC G5 1.6 GHz or Intel Core Duo processor
Recommended: Intel 1.8GHz processor or betterProcessor:
RAM: Minimum: 1 GB RAM
Recommended: 2 GB RAM
Video: Minimum: 3D graphics processor with Hardware Transform and Lighting with 64 MB VRAM (such as an ATI Radeon 9600 or NVIDIA GeForce Ti 4600 class card or better)
Recommended: 3D graphics processor with Vertex and Pixel Shader capability with 128 MB VRAM (such as an ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA 7600 class card or better)

Hm, given the requirement, I might need to buy an iMac or better yet, a MacBookPro. It just a matter of convincing my wife that spending US$ 2000+ on a machine I already own is actually a good, beneficial thing, :D

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Dark Knight DVD (December 9th)

When Blu-Ray wins the format war against HD-DVD, I was seriously considering of buying a Blu-Ray DVD player. But of course, with stellar price of Blu-Ray DVDs and the lack of HDTV had so far prevented me of doing so. However, I've already made a plan to give the honor of my first ever Blu-Ray DVD to "The Dark Knight", scheduled to be released on the 9th of December. I've got my eyes trained on the 2-disc set, which includes extras such as Gotham Uncovered documentary, featurettes, and many more.

Pictured above, however, is not the 2-disc set, but the limited edition one, which includes a steel DVD case and a Batpod replica. Heh, I won't even bother to ask for the price of that one. I mean, come on, any thing with limited edition brandished in it could easily surpassed the US$ 1,000 mark. Worse, some eBay speculators might, euh, most likely would tried to get their hands on it. After all, if you could find a buyer who willing to flush US$ 100 for the ticket on eBay, you could easily find a buyer who willing to flush more and more for a freakin' limited edition AND a Batpod replica.

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