Image

 

Three stories interwoven together in an accident, in a random city named Jakarta, in a random night. Gia (Adinia Wirasti) just got back from New York only to find out that the old Jakarta she had been missing had totally changed. Even her former best friend and lover back then in New York, Naomi (Marissa Anita) also succumbs to the same peer pressure to glue eyes on Blackberries and eat rainbow cakes, as well as consuming everything imported. Indri (Ina Panggabean) is a towel girl at a gym who tries so hard to climb the social ladder by trying to date a rich man who she met in a chatroom. Also, only to be disappointed at whom she meets. Ci Surya (Dayu Wijanto) is recently widowed due to the passing of her husband, until she finds out that her previous husband cheated with a love hotel singer named Sofia (Dira Sugandi). Three stories are resolved in a love hotel named “Lone Star.”

 

“Selamat Pagi, Malam” which also goes with “In the Absence of the Sun” is a cinematic ode to Jakarta, a city we often love and hate simultaneously. It offers honesty about what Jakarta is, both disgusting and sweet slices. From the snob urbans to a sweet restaurant waiter. It shows the bitterness of urbanization and it criticizes Jakartans obesession with everything imported, but at the same time still shows that despite all that, Jakarta is still a sweet place to seek for love and friendship. It does not preach the audiences, it honestly describes what Jakarta is up to right now. The biggest compliment must go to how the storytelling goes; it is not overdone. It’s not effortless non nonchalant either, but the dosage of sentimentality is just right. Sentimental enough (through the songs and the background of the characters) to make the audience dissolve into the story, but not forcing it to the extent of flowery words. That’s just it. Three Jakartan women who can’t find love, and they don’t just blurt tears, but the silence and the awkwardness are enough to absorb us.

 

Telling three different stories that somewhat must be jointed in a film is not an easy task. “Selamat Pagi, Malam” is simple enough for audience to understand what the movie is about yet complicated enough to make the story strong and the characters develop. It doesn’t rush the audience through all three stories; all is done in a nice pace that does not tire the audience. It’s a good thing that Director Lucky Kuswandi gets the exact tone, colour, and pace to this picture that makes it outstanding.

 

“Selamat Pagi, Malam” is not yet perfect. The conversations still feel dry sometimes. Jakartans don’t talk like that most of the time. Hopefully the exaggerated portrayal about Jakartans behavior is just a satire and not exactly how the filmmakers wanted to frame how Jakarta really is, because it’s too much, audiences will sure cringe seeing the excessive urban culture references offered in this movie. Blackberries use has waned, and is rainbow cake that overrated? As someone who has lived in Jakarta whole her life, I can assure you that although the urban culture is somewhat annoying, it is not as explicit as told in the movie. Hopefully, the way urban culture is portrayed is the only easy way for the filmmakers to convey the message that Jakartans behave like that, without wasting too much time, if not for the satire–I’d so love it if that meant to be a satire, though.

 

Being an embroidery of Jakarta citizens’ slice of life story, “Selamat Pagi, Malam” is one of a kind. I rarely enjoy Indonesian movies but “Selamat Pagi, Malam” entices me to love it as I love the night–a grandiose view that makes me wish I were somehow in love.

 

What I’m about to say is not something neutral. In fact, I’ve made my decision and I’d like to share my two cents on why I stand on the right side.

 

Election day is near. SBY will soon be dethroned after two terms of presidency. Two candidates bravely stand up, running for the next president. Profiles of all presidential and vice presidential candidates can be found here. To be brief, here is a major contention of each candidate :

 

  1. Prabowo-Hatta

Prabowo : He was involved in disappearance and kidnapping of several activists during the New Order regime.

 

  1. Jokowi-JK

Jokowi : He had been the governor of capital city Jakarta for only one year until he ran as president.

 

Picture was taken from http://mejahijau.net/

Picture was taken from http://mejahijau.net/

Now, why Jokowi-JK?

 

First of all, let’s establish what we want the most as the presidential figure of this beloved country. We have bleak history dealing with New Order and a lot of activists sacrificed their lives for the democracy that we enjoy today–a privilege that not all people in this world have. We need a figure that can maintain democracy and human rights. Let’s analyze why Jokowi serves this purpose as a leader.

 

It’s simple. Jokowi’s human right record is clean. It’s cliche and perhaps some people are bored already having this fact being shoved to their face. But why is human right record really important? Why are there human rights activists who campaign like crazy to protect innocent human beings from getting killed? Why do people need to not kill other human beings? Why are there laws to protect human rights? Let me pamper you this: because as a leader with the highest power in a nation, enjoying power from their constituents and benefit provided by our tax money, the least thing I can demand from my leader is to understand that I’m a human being and I have concerns and I need safety to address my concerns. Prabowo was involved in kidnapping several activists during the New Order regime to shut them down.

 

Rebuttal from Prabowo’s corner : “But hey, people can change!”

 

Why? Why can people change? And specifically, why would someone with higher position and bigger power have the interest to change especially if he’s voted as a president that means majority of us Indonesians deemed with clear conscience have pardoned his actions? Secondly. that rebuttal certainly does not explain that Prabowo will better ensure democracy than Jokowi. We have clear reasonable doubt upon what Prabowo would do while there’s a clean candidate on the other side.

 

I believe that looking at track record is the best way to forestall possible harms in the future. You’ve got to be kidding me if you say that you rely your entire nation’s future on a blind faith that someone can change with no explanation why that particular someone will change.

 

Rebuttal from Prabowo’s corner : “Well, but… he was told by his superordinate to do the kidnapping! He was only being obedient!”

 

So, let’s assume that from that side, being obedient is good.

 

But why does that side always attack Jokowi upon being “obedient” towards Megawati? Saying that Megawati will be the puppetmaster of a puppet government? To say the least, that side has double standard. To be really honest, they only contradict themselves to protect human rights claim from Jokowi’s side. And there are three things wrong from that rebuttal :

 

a. Let’s assume that they think being obedient is wrong as they accuse on Jokowi. Their statement only gives us proof that Prabowo has more tendency to just obey what’s told to them compared to Jokowi; so far we have no proof that he’ll just blindly obey Megawati. Or even if he’ll just obey Megawati, I really don’t understand the examples of the wrong interests from Megawati that will be inherently forced upon Jokowi if he hypothetically is chosen as the president.

b. Even if being obedient is right as they defend Prabowo to be, then Jokowi is not wrong. Anyway, so far, the example of Jokowi being obedient towards Megawati is only the fact that he runs as president after being mandated by Megawati to be PDI-P candidate. Let’s assume that Prabowo “only” followed the order of his superordinate (it irritates me to write this sentence, really) then Jokowi’s not different from Prabowo in order to follow “order”, really. (Which, anyway, brings me up to another contradiction where Prabowo side says that Jokowi is an opportunist to be governor of Jakarta after being Solo’s governor and then runs as president, while on the other hand they claim that Jokowi obeys Megawati. If Jokowi as a party member has to follow Megawati’s order including to be party’s candidate in the election race, he’s not that much of an opportunist, isn’t he? Well, continue.)

c. And yes, order that Jokowi obeyed does not harm anyone. If it does, only in minimum level. Period.

 

So much double standards used by Prabowo side on this issue I can’t even write a well-structured paragraph. But seriously, Prabowo side needs to be less defensive on this issue because, man, that looks really bad on them.

 

Secondly, what do we need from a president? Their good work; building infrastructures, prioritizing budget, ensuring that they make best from our sweat. We all concede this. Now, let’s analyze on what they will do if they’re elected as president based on what they explicitly say in the presidential debate that can be watched here.

 

In the first debate it was really clear that Jokowi knows his programmes, he didn’t waste time to talk about rhetorics; he was being practical. Compared to Prabowo who talked a lot of rhetorics. In the end of Jokowi’s speech it became clear what he wanted to do, it gave portrayal to us audience, and clearly he put a lot of thoughts into it. Prabowo talked too much about rhetorics, he spent a lot of time talking about why food is important, while obviously Jokowi wouldn’t say that food is not important. In terms of strategy of using limited time to talk about programmes, Jokowi side has surely prepared well about their programmes. The fact that he has been a governor of two cities was maybe a bonus; since he did not have to explain his programmes from zero since most people have been familiarized with his programmes and ideas that now will be made nation-wide.

 

Of course, everything can be twisted. Here’s how Prabowo side defended Prabowo after “losing” the first presidential debate :

 

“Look, Jokowi talked about technicality; it shows that he’s a manager type! Not a leader type!” (real statement from Prabowo side in the discussion held right after the debate)

 

It was really confusing what they meant by manager type and leader type; furthermore, why both are mutually exclusive. They also did not explain why explaining about technicality necessarily means being a manager type (if being this type is that wrong, according to them). It also kind of hurts common sense if what they meant by being a leader type was to talk vague concept and blurry programmes, it also hurts my intelligence too to assume that way. They also said that Jokowi’s programmes were only applicable local-wide but not nation-wide that creates another confusion what they mean by nation-wide programmes and the examples of such programmes. Furthermore, Jokowi has also defended his claim by saying that all his programmes about cards given to low-class society will be internet-based that reduces the glitch in manual administration in a significant amount. So far I think it is a pretty neat programme. Loopholes are there, but it can always be minimized.

 

Anyway, previous statement also creates confusion and potential inconsistency. Saying that Jokowi’s programmes are local-wide applicable means they concede to the fact that Jokowi is a good leader the fact that he can apply those proposals. That means based on Prabowo side’s statements, Jokowi is two things: manager-type that can not be a leader-type, and a local leader type. Conclusion: under their logic, local leaders are managers. Jokowi’s a manager-type who can’t be a leader but he’s a local-leader type. Their view towards Jokowi is as vague as Prabowo’s statements in the first presidential debate, seriously.

 

Third reason on why I stand on the right side. Religion issues. Utilizing religions, for me, is always wrong, not only does it ignore the sanctity of religions by commodifying it, it also benefits from people’s faith and fear towards hell and sins. Prabowo gains votes mostly from Islamic bases by promising them to incorporate FPI to create order. He’s also backed up by various conservative Islamic parties such as PKS, PPP, and PBB. I think that fact is self-explanatory in itself. I can’t imagine being led by so much power from religious bases. Can we please only have one Tifatul Sembiring, learn our lessons, and just move on for a better future, please.

 

Fourth issue is perhaps not that important for a lot of people but is really important for me and my fellows as the potential taxpayers in 2/3 years ahead. It’s about money politics, a hot issue surrounding our nascent democracy. So Prabowo has clearly stated, Just let people buy your vote and accept the money, that’s your own money.

 

a) This individual totally does not understand the concept of tax and that government needs to pay back the tax people pay through infrastructures and stuffs that benefit ALL people in ALL possible time not only when it comes to election and to gain personal benefit, b) This individual clearly underestimates the value of voting and democracy that’s supposed to educate people. What he says only justifies the easy way for politicians to not educate citizens about politics but just use the capital to gain vote.

 

I was totally speechless when reading that news and I hoped that it was a scam or joke or satire news, because I refused to believe that people with little understanding about democracy and tax can become president in this country. Meanwhile, Jokowi has advised all voters to not accept any kind of bribery, as a comparison (source).

 

The last issue is dealing with Prabowo’s supporters main argument on why they support Prabowo.

 

“He’s bold and assertive! I can’t imagine Jokowi talking about international issues as a president!”

 

I understand it. Figure is what they want. They want a strong figure and they believe that figure is a merit by itself. It’s a valid stance, I think, but please consider these points :

 

  1. We (well I did not since I was not 17 at that time yet) voted for SBY for two terms for the exact same reason–figure. Did he display any boldness during his presidency?
  2. Jokowi dealt with thugs when he was the Governor of Jakarta–and he succeeded. Was it not bold enough movement?
  3. Are you seriously thinking that a picture of someone riding a horse a president-worthy?
  4. Does having a strong figure really supersede all what Jokowi has done and has promised to do towards this beloved nation?

 

I understand that Jokowi is not perfect; but no president is. No one will ever fully eradicate poverty, no one will please everybody else. I also admit that he still weaknesses and there’s still room for improvement and he still needs to work hard to be the next president of Indonesia. But Jokowi is the lesser of two evils by clear margin. He’s better prepared, he’s shown contribution, he’s proven as a good leader.

 

Then again, this is all my opinion. I can be wrong, I can be mistaken. Leave a comment if you wish, rebut me, disavow my arguments. That’s what campaign and election are about, right? Democracy, when people can talk and opine freely in public. But once again let me remind you that there is the one proven to ensure democracy, and I hope we’ll all vote for him.

tgbh

 

Who really pays attention to lobby boys or hotel concierges, really? Wes Anderson does, and in his world, these people lead lonesome lives in beautiful universe Anderson makes and star-studded world inside a picture he creates.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel is one loop for audience to fully see the lives of two (or three, or perhaps four) people. The story itself is not ambitious; it doesn’t tell you about someone changing the world nor something spiritual or groundbreaking. It’s a simple, humble story about the adventure of a hotel concierge—who really has a thing towards much older women—and his lobby boy, his right hand. It narrates a tale about a little, lonely boy whose life is changed forever by his only family member he has (or lack thereof).

 

This star-studded picture locates in Eastern Europe, in between two world wars (though special names to refer to the setting of this movie were created). Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is a concierge at a hotel and he has Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham to recound the old one and Tony Revolori for the young one) as his trusted lobby boy. The adventure includes their conflict with Gustave’s old girlfriend’s (pun intended) family upon her will that results in Gustave and Zero stealing a Renaissance painting and how Gustave wishes to save himself from an unproven murder charge in a Shawshank Redemption way mixed with comical action scenes. It’s also surprising to witness big stars play minor roles in this movie, such as Harvey Keitel as Ludwig, Jude Law as the Young Writer, Bill Murray as M. Ivan, Jason Schwartzmann as M. Jean, and Tilda Swinton as Madame D. The stars are in a poster below.

 

tgbh2

 

Those who are familiar with Wes Anderson will find that this story is like Wes Anderson’s distinguishable birthmark especially when it comes to story that revolves around loneliness, broken or non-existence of family, as were portrayed in his previous masterpieces such as Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and the critically-acclaimed Moonrise Kingdom. Anderson’s quirky way of directing and storywriting is a big attraction. Given the background of the characters that is bitter, the resistance to overuse the potential ability to make The Grand Budapest Hotel a tearjerking movie deserves a huge applause. That being said, Wes Anderson seems to be focusing more on the details and not the plot of the story. From rhyming poetry to blunt profanity. Humor and then mexican standoff in the next minute. Some politically incorrect jokes. What makes The Grand Budapest Hotel as splendid as it is is even the casualty of writing the story and the reluctance to debunk characters’ questionable past. The characters are written in the present and the audience are let to linger questions on their own by Anderson in an unconcerned manner.

 

It’s not a review about Wes Anderson’s movie if it doesn’t talk about cinematography. Anderson leaves his fingerprints everywhere on the screen and he’s guilty as charged. The cinematography is majestic with colors like a mixture of summer and autumn. Even the dash of black and white in the end still yells “Anderson” loudly. And no one will ever understand his angle “fetish” where every scene needs to be symmetric.  The cinematography is surreal in a majestic manner—as in his other works as well.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel is there to reassure Wes Anderson’s position as one of the best current directors. The Grand Budapest Hotel is for the dearest, darling, treasured, cherished audience whom Anderson worships with respect, adoration, admiration, kisses, gratitude, best wishes, and love[1]. Because no one narrates loneliness like Wes Anderson does.

 

 

[1] Inspired by an actual quote from the movie, from an inscription written in a book given by Zero to Agatha. The original inscription is as follows : “For my dearest, darling, treasured, cherished Agatha whom I worship with respect, adoration, admiration, kisses, gratitude, best wishes, and love.  From Z to A.”

Image

 

Before I watched this movie I did some research first. I didn’t put much expectation on this movie; the rating in IMDb is “only” 7.6/10 and not much positive review from what I read. And I totally got mixed feelings after finishing the movie.

 

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Devdas is a star-studded movie that successfully gathers three biggest Indian stars in one screen. Shah Rukh Khan acts as Devdas Mukherjee, the beautiful Aishwarya Rai as Parvati, and the legendary Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi. The story starts off as the meeting of childhood sweethearts; Devdas and Parvati, that has been separated for more than 10 years due to Devdas’ pursuit of education abroad. Devdas comeback soon becomes class struggle where Mukherjee family think that they’re far better and richer to form a union with Parvati’s family through the youngsters marriage and Parvati’s mother does her revenge through marrying her only daughter to a richer man than Devdas family is, only to result in Devdas’ broken heart. He hits his rock bottom when he finally chooses to follow his drunkard uncle to a brothel–where he meets Chandramukhi that eventually falls in love with him.

 

Devdas is not much like other cheesy Bollywood films, yes it’s cheesy but despite its cheesiness (that is forgivable) Devdas offers a darker romance story that is rarely seen in Bollywood screens. It’s for limited audience–not for hopeless romantic seeking for a happy ending, not for misogynists who shame prostitutes. As for the former one, the complicated story–questionably the love triangle, unrequited love, childhood memento, even mixed up with social class issues and social issues like prostitution–is executed rather flawlessly if not on minimum flaws at all. Upon the latter point, at first audience will get this movie as a typical patriarchal movie that wants to send a message that prostitution is bad and blablabla, until Chandramukhi slaps everyone at a traditional function with her fabulous speech on prostitution in the middle of the movie.

 

On a more technical level, the 3 hours movie has a perfect timing for each issue to be thrown intermittently with no break, driving audience in an emotional roller coaster at a staccato pace. Only when you think Paro will find Devdas, Chandramukhi then appears, then you’ll find Devdas’ wishy-washy stance on two girls. The vendetta of Parvati family is also brought up all of a sudden in the middle of peaking romance scene. Shall you be prepared, you have to enjoy the songs and dances–the usual Bollywood ritual–that were made especially to be sung and danced by two biggest female Indian stars ever. In the end, “Devdas” is a satisfying unusual Bollywood picture, the dark staccato that carries you through the interwoven, complicated narrative, without remorse.

Because I have been catcalled enough to know how common it is and how terrifying it is to be seen as an object to the male; I don’t wish to be treated as such anymore.

 

Because I don’t want to give opportunity and feed any man’s inflated ego to think that they have power over women in any sort.

 

Because what I owe to these women is tremendous; to those feminists who help provide path to other women through all good deeds they’ve done, or simply to those who have survived by being women in this patriarchal society—who have fought a great fight everyday; and I owe nothing to people who do nothing to better the situation.

 

Because I can’t spend the rest of my life with someone who thinks that half of the population—that his mother who gave birth to him, that his little sister, that his teacher in elementary school that taught him to read and write, that even his future daughter—is less of a human being than he is.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.