There's one thing I love more than my travels - films! I have to admit, I am a compulsive movie collector, and I am quite "unforgiving" when buying DVD's during my trips. Little did I know that my Bali trip would serve me some amazing titles on my platter. You see, after losing the novelty of those golden Bali sunsets and the relentless partying, a lot of tourists who stay on for a week and longer turn to movies - and buying titles from a very open DVD trade.
DVD players are available for rent everywhere - from your hotel to the little nooks and crannies along Poppies 1 and 2, and to the hustle and bustle of Jalan Legian. You would somehow wonder why the Philippines is placed under the U.S. watch list of major copyright violators and pirated haven when DVD shops in Bali (and let me add: Shanghai) blatantly ply their trade. There's no hint of subtle selling - it is all out in the open. DVD shops selling pirated titles are a dime a dozen here. See the photo above - a huge DVD shop along busy Legian.
The good thing about these Indonesian discs: they are mostly good copies - instead of the cheap DVD-R's common in Quiapo. These are DVD-copy gold discs selling 10,000Rp (PhP49) a piece. If you buy 10 titles, you get 2 discs free. Some "imported titles" sell at 15,000 a piece (French titles).
Posted below are some of the foreign titles I got from Bali. If I had enough time, I would have loved just skimming through hundreds of titles! It's such a pleasure finding non-mainstream movies and those that come from world cinema.
Movies transport people to places. Isn't that a good, albeit cheaper way to travel too?
This is the Eye in the Sky!
Bali's golden sunset. Title: Easier With Practice
Country: United States
Capsule: In an effort to promote his unpublished novel, Davy Mitchell sets out on a road trip with his younger brother. However, the idealism of being on the road wears off and it quickly proves to be a lonely and unfulfilling experience for Davy. One night in a motel room he gets a random phone call from a mysterious woman named Nicole. They start a funny and intimate long distance relationship that leaves Davy happier than he has been in years. He rides through a relationship built around vigorous phone sex in hotel rooms and at the back of his car. Hoping there is more to the relationship than a voice and a phone bill, Davy decides he wants to meet Nicole. Ultimately, he will have to face not only the truth about their relationship but also about himself.
I have actually seen this already and it has been an interesting examination of loneliness and sexual gratification. Compelling performance from Brian Geraghty as Davy, and an ending that jolts like a taser gun. Won every nomination it got from 4 different film festivals, including Edinburgh Film Festival and Independent Spirit Awards.
Title: 3 Idiots
Capsule: Two friends embark on a quest for a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control.
I was lucky to get a copy of this critically acclaimed Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor ("Kurbaan") flick. This opened November last year the day I left Delhi for Chennai so i didn't get the chance to watch it, but I saw Kareena's "Kurbaan" a day earlier.
Capsule: The vilification of Myanmar as a country run by political monsters goes a notch higher as it turns the story of a mother's loss into a horrific tale in the Burmese jungles.
In Phuket Island, Thailand, the architect Paul Bellmer and his wife Jeanne lost their son Joshua in a tsunami six months ago. Jeanne is disturbed and has not accepted the loss of her beloved son. While watching some footages from Myanmar (former Burma), Jeanne is convinced that a boy wearing a Manchester United shirt in a poor village is Joshua, and Paul accepts to seek out their son in the sea gypsies camp. They hire the trafficker Thaksin Gao and they travel in the boat of master Sonchai to search Joshua. After a series of weird incidents, Sonchai leaves the trio in an abandoned village. They have to walk through the jungle where they face a journey to hell.
This film contains disturbing images, and some of the most mesmerizing "orphans" - but beware, they are hungry! I bought this from the souvenir shop of my Hotel Sorga in Kuta, Bali at 10,000Rp - right after checking out!
Title: Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
Country: United Kingdom
Capsule: I've seen this one already, but my first 2 copies (bought from KL and Bangkok, respectively, were bad copies). Since I enjoyed the film, I wanted a good copy.
The story centers on a 14-year-old girl who keeps a diary about the ups and downs of being a teenager, including the things she learns about kissing. The film is directed by the same person who brought us "Bend It Like Beckham" and the frolicky "Bride and Prejudice" so there's a delightfully light treatment on adolescent pains.
Title: Sweet Karma
Capsule: A mute Russian girl infiltrates Toronto's underground sex trade to avenge the death of her sister. Sounds like "I Spit On Your Grave", right? Unfortunately, unlike Daniel Grou's tale of the vengeful father in "7 Days" (below), Andrew Thomas Hunt's "Sweet Karma" is sloppy amateurish film making populated by borderline actors. Shera Bechard (who plays Karma) is such beauty but her facial expression hardly show any emotion. She could have mined her character's loss (her Anna was taken). Instead, she looked wooden most of the time. She does get her kits off so that should be a bonus. LOL. John Tokatlidis (who plays undercover cop William) registers well on screen, but his character is too underdeveloped to be fully appreciated.
Amazingly, Ms. Bechard won Best Actress plum at the Fantastic Fest for her performance which is a "spectacular" feat considering its merits - or lack of it. She also landed into the pages of Playboy to celebrate the US release of the film. Go figure.
Capsule: Pierre, a professional dancer, suffers from a serious heart disease. While he is waiting for a transplant which may (or may not) save his life, he has nothing better to do than look at the people around him, from the balcony of his Paris apartment. When Elise, his sister with three kids and no husband, moves in to his place to care for him, Pierre does not change his new habits. And instead of dancing himself, it is Paris and the Parisians who dance before his eyes.
Binoche and Duris in a rom-com. What could go wrong?
Title: Sorry If I Love You
Capsule: Raoul Bova of "Under the Tuscan Sun" stars in this cotton candy-coated rom-com. Mayhem ensues when a 37-year-old ad executive on the rebound falls for a bubbly high school senior.
Title: Eastern Plays
Country: Bulgaria -Sweden
Capsule: The two co-producing countries already make this flick interesting. The lives of four young men intertwine during a brutal incident. It won several major awards from different film festivals including Bratislava, Sofia, Tokyo and Warsaw International Film Festival.
Title: 7 Days
Country: Canada (in French)
Capsule: A doctor seeks revenge by kidnapping, torturing and killing the man who raped and murdered his 8 year old daughter. Now who doesn't wanna watch a father avenge his daughter's death? I've already seen this French fodder. Despite its theme, it avoids hysterical scenes. Grieving, for example, is shown while the father is turned against the camera. The corpse of the daughter is shown in a series of "still-life"-style pans, wordless and ultimately jarring. But since this is French, there is a surplus of full frontal nudity from actor Martin Dubreuil who plays Lemaire who raped and murdered 8 year old Jasmine. How does an avenging father redeem himself from a dark place? Claude Legault, playing Dr. Bruno Hamel, turns in a searing, affecting performance.
What's with Canada and tales of revenge? (See: "Sweet Karma" above.)
Title: A Boy Called Dad
Country: United Kingdom
Capsule: When he becomes a father at the tender age of 14, Robbie's life quickly spirals out of control. Feeling angry and neglected by his own dad, he jumpstarts a series of events that will catapult him at great speed into adulthood.
Title: The Mystery of Sintra
Capsule: In the late 19th century, two writers imagine and publish a mystery serial that turns out to be closer to a true-life case than they thought possible. Entertaining but slight period mystery that wastes a good premise and some solid acting in muddled scripting and TV-movie handling. Intellectual disputes and lust for scandal fuel this Portuguese yarn. This won a Golden Globe for actor Ivo Canlas.
Title: How I Ended This Summer
Capsule: A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere.
Title: The Man Who Loves
Capsule: A man is broken hearted at the loss of his lover, then later visits the same pain on the next woman with whom he becomes involved. There is one name that makes this Italian drama a must-see: Monica Bellucci!
Title: Mic Macs
Capsule: A man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers. But really now, who can resist a film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet who brought us "Amelie", "Delicatessen", and "The City of Lost Children". I have missed watching Jeunet's quirky characters.
Country: New Zealand
Capsule: It's 1984, and Michael Jackson is king - even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy's father, Alamein, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face to face with the real version - an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters.
Capsules courtesy of www.imdb.com
More Indonesian Movies Part 2 -
Waiting for the Bali novelty to wear off.