Friday, December 24, 2010

My DVD Stash From Indonesia Part 3 - Indonesian Films

In this post, we continue with our list of movie titles that we acquired from Indonesia. Most of these titles are comedies laced with a sprinkling of romance, a bit of sports ("Garuda Di Dadaku"), a little dancing and music ("Benci Disko"), lots of melodrama ("Menebus Impian"), and smudges of sexual innuendos ("Arisan Brondong", "My Name is Dick").

Indonesia undoubtedly makes better films than its economically more stable neighbor Malaysia ("Evolusi: KL Drift", "My Spy" with Carmen Soo - to name some representative Malay flicks shown last year 2009). There are new wave Indonesian directors like Rizal Mantovani (Did you see "The Chanting 2" shown in Manila earlier this year?) who have stagnated into doing suspense-horror films, but on the whole, the artistic input of the country is looking bright - and we are hopeful. We have yet to watch our copy of the sequel to the heart-warming "Laskar Pelangi " (Rainbow Troop) called "Sang Pemimpi" (The Dreamer) which also featuresrockstar Ariel Peterpan (who notoriously became famous worldwide after his sex videos went viral - his name trended with Twitter for several days).

I can't wait for future Indonesian titles. But how come I can't seem to get a copy of "Selamanya"(Forever)?

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Here are the DVD titles:

Title: Fiksi ("Fiction", above)

Capsule: "Fiksi" spins an intriguing tale about a lonely rich girl's obsession with a handsome writer. Variety describes it as briskly paced with well-drawn characters. Though we bought this Indonesian suspense-thriller from our Melakan visit 5 months ago, we decided to include it in this collection.

Title: Namaku Dick (My Name is Dick)

Capsule: Bama, a successful guy with women trailing him everywhere, is actually haunted by events from his childhood when a love letter he wrote for a girl in school was read aloud in class. Embarrassed, the girl swore off him, and Bama moved on. Years later, he transforms into this serial womanizer. But one morning, he wakes up alone and hears someone chatting - his dick talks!

Title: Garuda Di Dadaku

Capsule: Finally, a film that pays homage to the country's most loved sport - "football"! A prepubescent boy deals with young love and his passion for the sport, and how he won over the odds. Disneyish flick with a rousing finish.

Title: Roman Picisan

Title: Benci Disko (Hate the Disco)

Capsule: Hamdan is the local dance club's favorite habitue. Unfortunately, his popularity results to his getting 2 women pregnant. As a consequence, he marries both of them (he's muslim, after all, so it's allowed). His children grow up and embark on a rivalry that would ultimately have them help out their younger sister who's in love with a relatively unsuccessful cad. Problem is, the guy could dance like there's no tomorrow - exactly like their dying father!

Title: Cinlok

Title: Menebus Impian

Title: Kidnapping Miyabi

Title: Kawin Laris (Fast Marriage)

Capsule: Will it be marital bliss for Agus? Or will all his troubles fall through the chaos surrounding his life?

Title: Ai Lop Yu Pul

Capsule: Debt, an explosion and vengeance populate this comic narrative that stars Ricky Harun (below).

Ricky Harun joins the cast of "Ai Lop Yu Pul".

Title: Arisan Brondong

Capsule: Socialite women - "cougars, if you will - compete to have the most good looking, younger men. Indonesian, Japanese and an American woman join the fun. What becomes of Rian (Ferly Putra) after the catfight's been subdued?


We haven’t seen these DVDs yet, but for this post, we found it hard to get plot lines and story capsules from their original DVD boxes – or even from search engines in the web. Though the films have English subtitles, the blurbs at the back are written in Indonesian Bahasa. So - we left them blank.

For queries and a whisper:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My DVD Stash From Indonesia Part 2 - Indonesian Films

I am particularly proud of the Indonesian titles I purchased from Jakarta, scouring through 2 shops at the Plaza E-X along Thamrin Road and another at Sarinah Department Store. I didn't wanna spend so much of my cash on "vices" such as these so my credit cards graciously took the brunt of my compulsion. I love their covers (very contemporary) - and I like the way they include "censors" stickers with them. All of these titles were released 2009 and 2010; each is original - and everyone has English subtitles, except for Nayato Fio Nuala's "Belum Cukup Umur" (Too Young) which looked interesting anyway.

I actually forgot 2 other titles here: "Glitch" and "18+".

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Here are the titles:

Title: D' Love (above)

Capsule: When Elmo (Agung Saga) learns of his father's wayward ways and indiscretions, he leaves home and earns his keep as a street fighter. But life in the streets isn't as easy as he thought it would be. Meanwhile, Neina (his girlfriend) bemoans of a family secret (her father's gay) while their friend Aprilia (the beautiful Aurelie Moeremans) is being roped into Elmo's world. What becomes of Aprilia's and Elmo's seeming mutual attraction with each other? Won't Neina notice?

Young lookers - Agung Saga and Aurelie Moeremans - star in this romantic drama about infatuations at the wrong time in Hela Kardit's "D' Love".

Title: Love and Edelweiss

Capsule: An abused child Ryo grows up a conflicted psychopath seeking the help of a psychiatrist. On his way to redemption, he finds Cinta with whom he’s fallen in love. Unfortunately, Cinta is spoken for – and her boyfriend is starting to get suspicious. So is Cinta’s sister Marsha who’s compelled to inform the authorities about Ryo violent tendencies and possible murderous past. And Ryo isn’t too amused with Marsha’s poking around.

Title: All About Love (Tentang Cinta)

Capsule: Like hundreds of Indonesian flicks, this has "Cinta" on its title. And like many mainstream love stories, it has popular actor Vino G. Bastian as the male lead. In the story, Shereen is a broken-hearted soul whose boyfriend recently died. She stays in a villa trying to forget her boyfriend. There, she meets Evan (Bastian), who's also nursing a broken heart. His girlfriend recently left him. Their paths will eventually cross - at the most unexpected time.

Vino G. Bastian's popularity is buoyed by his boyish good looks. He stars in several DVD titles available in DVD shops.

Title: Emak Wants To Go To Mecca (Emak Ingin Naik Haji)

Capsule: Faith and perseverance come together when a mother so desperately wants to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. His son Zein goes along for the ride. A multi-nominated feature that has a lot of local color.

Title: Jermal (Fishpen)

Capsule: A father-son relationship is forced when Jaya arrives at the fishpens (fish cages) in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, his father Johar, who's initially unwelcoming, must accept working along side his son. The film is an intimate examination of a long estranged father-and-son relationship with the backdrop of the unpredictable blue waters.

Title: White, Grey and Sepatu Kets (Putih, Abu-abu Dan Sepatu Kets)

Capsule: Three close friends in a high school deal with issues that include the wild fire circulation of Dea's intimate encounters with boyfriend Adit (through cell phones and the internet). Young lives and their domestic preoccupations - parental divorce, lesbian mothers, menstruation - there are no secrets among them. A youthful, albeit charming cast.

Rendy Septino and Adipati star in "White, Grey and Sepatu Kets".

Title: Too Young (Belum Cukup Umur)

Capsule: Three friends, all 15 years, encounter unwanted pregnancy, jealousy and the boundaries of friendship. Will they find a doctor who's willing to abort a baby? This is the only title I bought without an English subtitle so I decided to just wing it.

Title: Nakalnya Anak Muda

Capsule: A group of young people gather at a villa, passing through forests and waterfalls. But they soon realize that their holiday would soon turn fatal. Who is the killer? Another slasher flick led by Ratu Felisha.

Title: Pengantin Topeng

Title: Bride's Waterfalls

Capsule: Tiara invites her friends to join her on a soul-searching holiday near the spectacular Bride's Waterfalls. But a killer is on the loose and the body count soon piles up. If you haven't seen any of director Rizal Mantovani's horror-suspense fodder, this might as well be a bearable introduction (although my pick would be "Jelangkung" if you have the means to get a copy).

Casualty at Bride's Waterfalls.

The cast of "Bride's Waterfalls" - a typical slasher flick from director Rizal Mantovani. His "The Chanting" and its sequel was shown in Manila.

Title: The Dreamer

Capsule: The sequel to last year's spectacular "Rainbow Troop" which absolutely renewed my faith in Indonesian cinema. This one follows the boys from the first film as they dream of studying abroad (Their ultimate goal was Sorbonne in Paris) and seeing the world - and loving someone. Also stars rockstar Ariel Peterpan (of the notorious sex scandal that went viral) aka Nazril Irham who commendably played the dreamer Arai, one of the 3 main protagonists!. The story telling was told in languid, leisurely pace that, in several levels, offered inspiration. Dreaming is free, but to attain it entails several obstacles. Then, it will all be worth it!

The Rainbow Troop, one of southeast asia's most inspiring films which we saw last year! This is a must-see!

Up next: Part 2 of Indonesian DVDs -

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bali as Film Paradise - My DVD Stash From Indonesia

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
Country: India

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.

Title: Vinyan
Country: France-Belgium-UK

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
Country: Canada

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.

Title: Paris
Country: France

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
Country: Italy

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
Country: Brazil-Portugal

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
Country: Russia

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
Country: Italy

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
Country: France

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.

Title: Boy
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

More Indonesian Movies Part 2 -

Waiting for the Bali novelty to wear off.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Messages From Nowhere - Roaming Messages in Indonesia

Fogbound tea plantation on my way to Cetho Temple up Gunung Lawu (Mount Lawu).

For some reason, I find it hard to discard these automatic messages that come from local telecoms and networks during my travels. Like most countries, roaming services in Indonesia are being "shared" by local telecoms thus we'd get several welcomes from different companies. Fortunately, these messages are mere "welcome messages" or "infomercials" that don't charge a dime.

The same situation doesn't apply in India. Indian telecom services notoriously siphon off loads like a hungry vacuum - and rack up exorbitant charges from these unsolicited roaming messages that come aplenty while you're traveling in India. In fact, during my 2nd visit to India last year, I had my post-paid phone as well as my pre-paid phone, and despite not using my postpaid cell, I ended up footing an indecent amount at the end of my trip to the tune of almost PhP17,000 (more than $400). It is thus wise to avoid taking your post-paid phone with you. If you need to call, there are plenty of phone services everywhere. Or you can buy an Indian sim card - though you'd have to "apply" for this. (You fill out a form, submit an ID photo and show your passport. In 4-5 hours, you have your Indian sim.)

I have so far learned not to take my post-paid phone with me during my travels. It was horrible racking up that much for calls I never made! I never call. I text instead, and when I do so, I use my pre-paid which has loads enough to cover more than my whole travel duration. India is just relentless in overcharging in their roaming services.

For my Indonesian trip, there's been several of these messages that come off almost twice a day, but since they're "free", I don't mind getting them. There have been 4 networks rotating so far: Telkomsel, XL, AXIS and INDOSAT.

Here are some of these messages:

From 62811 (Telkomsel) : "Welcome to Indonesia! Dial 100 for your Voice Mail, the same way as you do in the Philippines. Have a pleasant stay with Telkomsel."

From AXIS: "Thank you for choosing AXIS during your stay in Indonesia. We hope you enjoyed using our great quality services and we look forward to your next visit."

Waiting for cleansing. During full moons, the Hindus in Bali partake on a bathing ceremony to cleans their soul from worldly impurities. I wonder if Liz Gilbert did so herself. Tirta Empul, Bali

From AXIS: "AXIS welcomes you to Indonesia! Enjoy the best 3G services including data access and Blackberry service with AXIS. To call home, simply dial + . Have a pleasant stay with AXIS. Dial 838 for AXIS customer care."

Father and child at the mythical beach in Parangtritis.

From INDOSAT: "Dear Smart customer, welcome to Indonesia. Thank you for choosing Indosat. Dial 001 or 008 for international calls."

Heading towards Prambanan temples.

From XL: "XL provides an automatic local number +6281905798963. Roam Roam in XL to enjoy free Receiving CALLS and SMS in your XL local number. For more information, call +622157959817."


From INDOSAT: "Stay in Indosat network and enjoy special discount in many merchants. Simply show INDOSAT/MATRIX sign in your phone and this SMS. Info:"

These "voices" join you in your solitude at unexpected times. I like the randomness of their "appearances" - seemingly reminding one that no one is too far removed from his origin.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Cetho Temple's ill maintained bas relief.

Jumog Waterfall

Devotion of the faithful, Bali.

Sukuh Temple, Berjo Village, Karanganyar Regency

Floating Pavilion, Klungkung

A relaxing corner at the Delta Garden Hotel, Yogyakarta.

Cafe Java along Jalan Prawirotaman I in Yogyakarta.

Statue in Cakra, Solo