Friday, August 28, 2009

Merah Putih, Merantau, Cin(T)a

August is nearing its end, and as befits the nationalism-laden month I watched three indonesian movies this month alone: Merah Putih, Merantau, and Cin(t)a. On theatres. Actually spending money. 

Anyway, all in all, I think this is great. When I think about it, there's only a handful of Indonesian movies I watched in cinemas, most remarkable perhaps Gie, with Denias on close second. Jomblo was more weird than comedic--the book was better, and as for 3 Doa 3 Cinta, you can see here. I refused Laskar Pelangi (the book turned me off), and a quick glance of Oh Baby when it is aired on local TV confirms my suspicion: most of Indonesian movies are crap masquerading as arts. 

But back on the three movies for this month, I can't quite decide which is better, Merah Putih or Cin(t)a. Both are not your usual movies seen in theatres. Merah Putih, set in early 50s (?or was it late 40s?) can be easily affiliated to Indonesia-vs-Dutch struggle. The actions scenes are decent, and the explosions was way above normal bar for local movies. Oh, and the bloods are also realistic--to some extent. Minor inconsistencies aside, it has a surprise for you: a plot! (gasp! oh? it's a trilogy? GASP!) 

The conflicts revolves around Javanese smugness to people from other areas in Indonesia, boot camp, and so forth. Again, not your usual menu, yet it failed to keep me on the edge of my seat. I think what the movies lacking is a sense of purpose to engage the audience. Major portion of the movies revolves around the military training, but it didn't felt like there is any imminent threat. Pretty flat, that way. But at some point, BOOM! The movie suddenly shifts into war-mode. In retrospect, the first minutes or so did show a scene where Dutch troops killing locals, but it was soon forgotten. So here's its flaw for you: opening, build-up, and audience. Oh, and I failed to find it's comedic aspect that amusing.

On the other hand, there's cin(t)a. I think that a major reason why I am impressed with this movie is my initial low expectation. I first heard of this movie from Uphie, and did not even aware that this is even a movie. I looked it up at, and found that the description of the movie there is just gibberish. I barely understand anything written there, and give it a premature verdict of extreme-corniness. Yet then I was clueless on how to kill time, and when some of my friends suggested to watch cin(t)a, who am I to say no? They said some parts were shot in ITB, which also made me rather curious. (You get gerbang depan, stairs to Taman Hewan, and Arsitektur, as well as Perpus Pusat, I think).

So why am I impressed? For one, a lot of the shots are (to me) artistic. I also don't find the movie patronizing, the OST is impressive, and it's unexpectedly profound. I was expecting soppiness and it was there, alright. But not so much that it felt distracting (unlike the sinetron-esque scene involving Lurah in Merah Putih). It's the lead actress' husky voice that's distracting. That, and the subtitles. 

It tackles on inter-religion relationship issue, the inevitable quest and comparison between religion, and this was exactly an additional point as I find the stance both daring and realistic. Inter-racial relationship, not so much (as it's less of a problem in our society anyway, contrary to what the title may suggest). 

As it were, inter-religion relationship is there in our society, but no one really speak of it. I know couples who were in such situation and even in my family as well. But the operative word here is 'frowned'. Still, the subtle and not-so-subtle points are delivered well. 

Now what about Merantau? I was lured by its action, and it did not disappoint when the action was on. Problem was, I spent most of the opening half waiting, thinking, "Actionnya manaaa?" When it's on, I was more 'finally', and even then at one point, the fight got meanwhiled. To be honest, it was not the most gripping fighting scenes (I think one of the best was in Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne fighting with pen), but as Astari pointed out, it takes years before Hong Kong movies got to where they are right now, so it's a heartening start. Another minus point, the plot is even more illogical at times (what with the bravado and all), lebai at most (the girl ndeprok inside a cargo container, whispering soft "tolong..."), and its duration is too long (150-ish minutes, compared to 70-ish minutes of cin(t)a). On the other hand, to me Christine Hakim do looked very motherly there. 

If I am to give a rating, cin(t)a would be 7/10 because it's more profound, and I can't give it lower than 3 Doa 3 Cinta, with Merah Putih (6/10) and Merantau (5/10). So cin(t)a wins after all. I think the key here is my expectation, I had high expectation of Merah Putih and Merantau, but ridiculously low for Cin(t)a. 

I think I should do another post on God (not necessarily in correlation with cin(t)a), or on our theatre audience (see Mearh Putih weakness above), but it'll have to wait. Next up should be some travel reports from Lombok trip. Can't say much about Singapore and Thailand.


virtualysanity said...

wah, the review is so interesting and quite helping, although i already have a picture in my mind about how this movies will be. anyway, it's pretty hard to watch them here.

it's just me maybe, i'm too lazy to check & recheck on the 21 at amplaz where most of indonesian movie are screening. &i think it's not available anymore now, do you think they're going to release this in dvd/vcd?

indaystar said...

bener syur, kalo terlalu ngebayangin keren emang bakal jadi jelek ya tuh film...beda lagi kalo kita ngeremehin malah.. hehe.. :D