see through me

A bit of my thoughts about life in general and things that keep it worth living...


Djenar, you monkey!

Writers are the director of their own story in which they have the freedom to create their own world; the core nature of the process of writing. They would put life in the environments that they constructed, filling them with characters they breathed life in. It’s their personal world. A world in which they are, dare I say, the God.

Nobody else know better than they do.

And when the time comes to envision that world, no one could do it better than its own creator. A mother would always be able to tell interesting stories about her child, an art director would –well, should- always be able to present his storyboard. For the simple reason that they know better about what they did than no one else.

And no one could make Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet better than Djenar herself.

I have to confess that I was rather sceptical about her directing her own movie, I was thinking that she was only, sorry to say, showing off… searching for sensation, a spotlight. But yes, now I have to swallow my own pride and say, “Fuck, she’s good…”

I am not familiar with the story because for some reasons, I didn’t read the book; I only glanced at some pages and somehow, I didn’t want to continue. But whatever the story is, you could see that in this movie, Djenar is simply putting her creation into images. Well, “simply” would not be the right adjective technically, but in the end, it’s what she did.

Transferring her words into images. As if without effort.

The fluidity of the storytelling impressed me. It was almost without choke and I found myself immersed into the story. I must say it is a risky move for a first timer because of the film’s various flashbacks, the number of characters… But she did stay on track; the story is always focused on the main characters, Adjeng (Titi Sjuman) and her mother (Hanidar Amroe) along with the almost clichéd relationship between them.

The main story deals with Adjeng, a writer who quits making children's tale to create a short story about her painful past. Some sort of a healing process, if you please. Along the way, she would discover that her present is mirroring her past and the key to let go is to actually jump in. It's another story of self-discovery, emphasized by one scene in the end involving Adjeng looking out of her window and waving. What can I say, it's a very simple story.

But it's done beautifully.

And it's not only Djenar. The entire casts are doing great as well, I love the interaction between Adjeng and her married lover, Asmoro (Ray Sahetapy), an almost has-been writer. The nearly oedipus relationship sometimes could get tiring, but I swear there are some excellent scenes about them and I had a good heartly laugh in one scene where Adjeng slams the door and opens it again; the dialogue is... priceless. Hanidar Amroe sometimes overdoes her perfomances, I really have something against how actresses portray strict mother here. It's too comical. Because sometimes it's not the high pitched voice that defines anger, you know.

I wouldn't say that the film is flawless. Au contraire, it has some weak spots, notably in camera angles, lighting, etc. But hey, it's all forgiven for me, because I saw those same faults in some of far more senior directors.

I love how Djenar loves her story. I think it is what makes this film beautiful. Djenar, how dare you monkeying around with my feeling?

If you have the chance, go watch this flick. Hopefully it's still playing at Blitz Megaplex

I dare you.


Radit & Jani: Brutally Romantic?

I was invited to the premiere of Radit dan Jani, a new feature film from Upi who directed Cinta, Realita & Rock n Roll, which I thought was one of the better teen movies in present time. Radit dan Jani has a quite interesting rooster such as Vino G Bahtiar, Fahrani, Marrio Merdithia, Fahrani, Joshua Pandelaki, Fahrani, Nungki Kusumastuti and did I mention Fahrani? So I went to see the movie last night and after the whole 110 minutes of it, I got out and saw my friend.

She eyed me and said, "You hate it..."

I quickly looked for a mirror to see my own expression.

It was an expression of confusion. I didn't understand what I was feeling at that very moment. I felt that I was missing something. It was weird.

But let me get back to the film for a while before we discuss it further.

Radit dan Jani is a romantic movie. A different kind of romantic, emphasized by the "Brutally Romantic" tagline. A romantic movie with a touch of rock 'n roll, a rebellious liaison between two people, a modern tale of Romeo and Juliet if you please, injected with doses of heroin.

Radit (Vino G Bahtiar) is your typical rocknroller; skinny, t-shirt and tight jeans, skinned hairdo and tattoos (they look fake though). He doesn't have a steady job, relying only to his dream of becoming a rock star. He is persuaded that one day his demo tape makes it to some music producers. Meanwhile, he's destroying himself by taking drugs almost daily. Well, maybe he sees it as some kind of training of becoming a rock star. He is also married to the love of his life, Jani (Fahrani, Fahrani, Fahrani...), a cool cat without any job, also tattooed (and yes, they're real). She is always there for Radit. Hell, she would do anything for him. They live in a shady apartment which cleanliness could be compared to the bottom of a trash bin and their only concern is how to live another day. They are the outcasts of the society, their parents, their peers...

... but they don't care.

They have each other's love.

Screw food, screw jobs, screw life... they have each other.

That's what the film is all about. That's the whole conflict.

And that's the part I really dig about the film. The spirit of love conquering all, the sole belief that as long as they -or we, as lovers- have each other; everything else is just details. Because for me, it's how love should be. A love so deep, so great and so pure, it hurts you to your very core. Unconditional love. Nothing would stop them.

Fuck, it's beautiful.

But did I see it in the movie?

Well, yes and no, actually.

You see, I have to empathize with the characters to truly experience what they're going through. I need backgrounds, I need back stories... I need to know them as people, not only characters. I had a hard time for those two lovebirds because, frankly, I feel that I don't know them at all... I only know superfluous things about them. I can't reach for them. They are just people I saw on the streets on my way back home or my forgotten neighbors. They are not my friends. And that was what made my face being weird at the end of the movie. I don't know them well enough.

I would love to feel them. To experience their pain, their joy... their life.

Trust me, I would love to. But I couldn't.

Because there are moments where you could feel it. The warm feeling that starts to embrace you the moment when, for example, Radit was playing a silly alphabet game with Jani. I want more of those.

What's a tragedy without moments of monumental joy to crush afterward?

It's the one main problem for me in this film. There are way too much depressing, sad, crying scenes with repeated dialogues. I wanted a roller coaster. Ups and Downs. Make me fly higher so you could crash me harder at the end. Remember Life is Beautiful? That movie singlehandedly jerked some of my tears -did I just write that?- because it brought me gigantesque cheers before it crushed me with that freaking final walk.

Look, I know Radit dan Jani went for another direction. It wants to be brutal, draining your emotion. But in the end, I only felt drained.

Don't get me wrong. I like this movie. I like how the director managed to portray the real life, the "backstage" of the rock n roll culture and the dangerous liaison. It has interesting camera moves, editing and the soundtracks are pretty good too.

Vino has really matured from his previous works, his delivery is pretty convincing. I tag him as one of indonesian actors to be watched. Although he sometimes overdid his deliveries, but overall, I was quite impressed. But not as impressed watching Fahrani. She has a certain undefined quality, for me, that can make her a great actress; give her some more time, she would shine. Not to mention she's cool as hell -pretty contradictive, ain't it?-

I could recommend this film to anyone for the various reasons stated above.

But to be honest, the one thing that can make me go back seeing Radit dan Jani is its one simplistic core.

A story of a love so deep it hurts.


another year...


I like the sound of it... two thousands and eight. It rhymes with Create. And Great. And Fate.

Create Great Fate. -Full rhyme, yay.-

Maybe it's what we're supposed to do this year; creating a greater fate to ourselves. But the question is, is it possible for us to make our own destiny? Because it's kind of contradicting. Fate is supposed to be there whatever you do, and somehow there is nothing we could do about it. It's there; shut your mouth and pretend you enjoy it.

So what can we mere mortals do in this situation?

Remember that angel stripper scene in Can't Hardly Wait - love this flick-? I always remember that scene because it has a certain meaning to me. First, the angel stripper was sexy as hell and second, it gave me a new perspective on fate. She said something about how fate is always there, but it only takes you as far... you have to make it happen.

We still have a choice after all... to take or not to take the fate that lies before our eyes.

It might not be true, I know, and some of you might disagree with this, but for me, fate is not absolute. We could always shape it according to our choices in life. Example, if I chose not to participate in Daun Muda Award, I wouldn't be here working late in my office doing some lousy layouts -wait, I wonder if it was a good choice :)-. But I could be somewhere worse. I am here because I made that decision... and yes, I am happy to be where I am today.

Back to the topic. Create Great Fate.

I think I hesitated a lot in the previous years, I made some poor choices in life, and few other choices that I should have taken. But I know there are some that I know were the right ones for me. This year, I would try not to hesitate that much. I want to create a greater fate for me in the future.

Fate is nothing but the accumulation of your present actions.

So be sure that you're doing the right thing.

Because your fate depends on it.

Just don't forget to enjoy your life; you only live once.
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