X-Men: Days of Future Past

3,5 out of 5

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Days of Future Past is an ambitious project, which I give kudos for the delivery way. Hardcore comic fans know, films are alternate universe. The story is based from 1980’s Uncanny X-men: Days of Future Past arc in the comic series and the same title episode from 1990’s über-awesome X-Men animated series (with the kick ass opening theme song, if you remember). If the comic uses Kitty Pride as the time traveller, the animation uses Bishop, here in the film, it is Logan who gets the honour. According to an interview with the director, Bryan Singer, sometime last year, Kitty’s phasing ability is the key to time travelling. Hence, Kitty pulling neat tricks to send Logan’s mind to his younger body in 1973.
As I mentioned before, this is an ambitious project. Not just because of the superstars cast and special effects, mainly because of the story. This is perhaps the most difficult arc in X-Men storyline ever, in the comic, animation, especially the film. It takes lots of effort to put some sense and emotions to make it look good on screen. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the final products. Actually, I was expecting worse. X-Men: The Last Stand was decent, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a let down and pardon me for being emotional, but I’m still spitting acid over it. Emma Frost would put her diamond nails in good use by clawing the eyes and faces of the scripwriters’ for making her a yokel and… God forbid, Silver Fox’s sister!
In Days of Future Past, the Sentinels really strike terror the firt time you lie your eyes upon them. The mutant’s nightmares have evolve in a way no one imagined before. They really are the menacing terror throughout the whole film. I love Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask. He delivers a charismatic performance as the scientist who created the ungodly machines. But the film does center around Wolvie, in which I have to say, just okay.
Wolvie, for the first time ever, plays the good and patient teacher. And surprise to us all… the voice of reason. He tries to get Charles and Erik come together to prevent tragic future from happening.  Charles has been bonker for the past 10 years, behaving like a spoiled little heir, blaming everybody for the tragedy that befell on him with Beast acting as his nanny and major domo. I find it interesting to see Charles not in the states as everybody knows him usually, it gives a new perpective to how his personality develops throughout the year. Young Charles Xavier is selfish in all of his vulnerability.
When he reunites with Erik, there are trust and bitterness between them. After all, they are the world’s number one frenemies. Erik, ever the wild child, still believes in his aggressive approach on handling humans-mutants issues. Raven on the other hand, tries so hard to live up with her new identity as Mystique while jihading for her fallen comrades. The triangle between these three people creates 90 percent of the drama in the film. I wish there’s more interaction between Raven and Beast as they shared a past together, but I guess It’ll turn the film into a soap opera.
The other mutants: Storm, Kitty, Iceman, Sunspot, Blink, Warpath, Colossus, and Bishop only have few scenes. But their powers and abilities are well-exposed within that short amount of time. It is good to see Professor X and Magneto working side by side as friends, which reminds us to First Class, where they were fun-loving people ready for adventures. But, the live of the film is Peter aka Pietro aka Quicksilver who truly gives the entertainment and joy. The characters in the films do not go according to the original comic storyline. For example, Angel Salvadore, originally from the present, is a character living in the 1960’s and one of Charles’ first recruit. Alex Summers, younger brother of Scott Summers aka Cyclops, becomes Scott’s dad. Can’t complain, films are alternate universe.
But there’s a cheeky moment when Pietro reveals who he actually is when he says, “My Mom knew a guy who could control metal.” And the expression on Erik’s face is priceless.
Stan Lee, where are you in here?

 

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meows of mellons mountain

It was a hot and humid Sunday, especially when you were in a market in East Jakarta. But somehow I managed to forget the sweltering heat for a while thanks to these bunch of kittens. They were just sitting there, on top of mellons. A molly and her three kitties. The little ones were busy climbing and hiding between the mellons, or chewing straws.

As I continued walking, I saw movements from a stall across the pile of mellons where the cats were. Lo and behold! It was another kitten, lost from its siblings. It managed to cross the small alley and climbed the mellons to be with its mum. After that, it happily nursed on its mum while the three others were either asleep or making themselves unseen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa coalition of cats

IMG-20140518-00223this one looked like my dad

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Little triplets

 There aren’t much informations about Jakarta’s outer islands, also known as Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands). The history of those 105 tiny islands are still vague and Indonesians, especially Jakartans, are seemingly to be happily ignorant about it.

It was on a Sunday that I, along with several mates, decided to go along with a tour to 3 little islands in Kepulauan Seribu, which were Kelor, Cipir, and Onrust Isles. To be honest, only few people knew that these tiny, 2 acres wide, isles were the Dutch’s outmost fortresses and the gate to Batavia.

Before we reached the isles, we had to go to Muara Kamal, an area in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, where the tiny port for reaching the isles located.  As many other ports cum fish auction places in Indonesia, Muara Kamal was lingered with heavy stench of salt, sweat, trash, pollution, and fish.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The number of people flocking the area was amazing, as well as the hustle and bustle. There were so much energy that woke me up frow drowsiness in an instant, even though it was 6 in the morning and, I have to emphasize it again, smelled really really foul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the sun rose, the ray gently showered zinc roofs and wooden boats. For a moment, the scenery looked like an exotic picture perfect tropical harbour. But you looked down and noticed the amount of trash piling in the water. The pile was so thick that chickens and cats could walk on it to scrape for food. Trash have always been Indonesia’s major problem. I hate to admit it, but we are a bunch of filthy people. Perhaps in few years coming, Indonesians will be the first to evolve and chew plastics for new and renewable source of fibres.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnough of trash talking. There’d be plenty of time to feel queasy since the trip was going to involve a small boat and waves. But I was hungry and craved normal food. Since I didn’t know how to digest plastics, I devoured 3 pieces of crispy fried bananas. For a second or two, the stench faded. It was only me and my fritatas basking under sunlight.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????transitions before I post the fried bananas photo
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhere you go, along with the lady who sold them

Tummies filled, time to go. Oh, I forgot to mention that this tour was arrange by Komunitas Historia Indonesia (Indonesia’s Historic Community), a group of people who are fighting to preserve Jakarta’s (for now) history and take clueless citizens like me to visit places that’ve been forgotten.

??????????????????????The trip took about 30 minutes under nearly blinding sunlight, passing bamboo cages for breeding green mussels.The first destination was Kelor Isle. This teeny isle first got noticed by Jakartans couples years back when a couple of film stars had their wedding here. The tourism department built a pier to help the guests landed fashionably. Helped me landed fashionably too, although it was quite a pity to put a concrete pier in the middle of a beautiful white sand beach.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKelor was the only isle that had the ruins of Fort Martello, a round-shaped brick fortress built by the Dutch as the first line of defense against the Brits, French, or whomever wanted to occupy Batavia. During the old days, Martellos could be found in 2 other isles, Cipir and Onrust, but now they crumbled to the ground.

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The walls were a metre thick, made it almost impossible to be shattered by cannon balls. On top of it was a cannon that could turn 360°, ready to blow any baddie ships coming. Thanks to our dedications in preserving historical sites, many parts of the walls were corroded. Apparently, local fishermen used Kelor as one of their fishing spots, so there were also nails on the wall to hang clothes. Remains of bonfires also scattered around the isle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdetails of Fort Martello. The bricks were produced in Tangerang, Banten Province. Each brick was 30 cm long and 15 cm thick. The fort itself was constructed without neither steel nor iron structures.

During early 20th century, the isle was abandoned as the fort already turned to ruins. Kelor became a graveyard for patients who died of contagious diseases. That tragedy now concealed under golden beach and pristine blue waters, which is a pity since a lot of Indonesians are hydrophobics and refuse to put on swimsuits.

???????????????????????????????OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen we hopped to Cipir, one of Kelor’s sisters. The atmosphere there was a lot more sombre. Perhaps it was because of the trees giving cool shades, or because there were ruins of a hospital used to isolate locals with contagious diseases, only to leave them waiting for death, away from their loved ones.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 1911, 3.500 patients lived together in this isle, along with several Dutch doctors. They had diseases such as pneumonia as pestilence, therefore must be taken away from society. But it was cheaper to let them pass away in Cipir rather than giving them cures.

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???????????????????????????????our little smoggy Jakarta

The cool thing about Cipir was it used to have a connecting bridge to Onrust Isle, around few hundred metres long. The bridge collapsed already, but the ruins of the pillars still visible to this day.

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Similar to Cipir and Kelor, Onrust (means ‘no rest’ in Dutch) was also a former host of a Martello fort. The most famous isle among the triplets functioned as a galley, opened 24 hours for fixing and making ships that came to the archipelago looking for spices. In 1930s century it became a ground for quarantine. The quarantined subjects were Indonesians who were going to Saudi Arabia for hajj pilgrimage.

Before embarking on sea voyages for months, the pilgrims needed to adjust to sea air. Afterward, the hajjs returned to Onrust where the colonial government made sure they didn’t have any bad foreign influences (i.e. religious extremism) and diseases. The quarantine itself took place for several weeks, after that, the hajjs were returned to their families fresh as daisies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA???????????????????????????????Onrustians

In 1942 Japan entered Dutch East Indies, Onrust was annexed. It became a prison where the most dangerous criminals from Batavia were condemned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAreplica of the ring used for holding Mandingo fights between most dangerous prisoners in order to save food supply.

For modern day Indonesians, the controversy of Onrust went around rumours about the isle hosts the grave of Sekarmaji Marijan Kartosuwiryo, leader of the rebellious Darul Islam movement. He finally surrendered in 1962 and soon court martialed. It was said that his execution took place in Orust, but so far, there weren’t enough evidence to prove it.

???????????????????????????????OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthese graves definitely host Darul Islam leaders. But no evidence suggested that Kartosuwiryo is within any of them
???????????????????????????????a Dutch graveyard, but it only had the tombstones to commemorate those who died in the Isle. The bodies were taken to Holland immediately after their passings

Despite being quite and only have visitors during weekends, Onrust was an active isle. Locals carry on their day-to-day business such as fishing and making boats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATourism such as this added income to the locals. But most importantly, it taught them to take care of the place. Having people and government paying attention to historical sites like these isles make locals realized that if they want to get extra income, they’d have to preserve these objects. It’d be mutual wins for everybody.

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??????????????????????OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis little lady carried freshly fried doughnuts to her mum’s shop. she was limping because a wood splinter got stuck on her right sole

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The Raid 2 – Berandal

5 out of 5

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This sequel of The Raid (Serbuan Maut) surely packs a hell lot of punches, with ouch factor that doubles its prequel. Sets right after the end of the first film, do-gooder SWAT member Rama is faced with an opportunity he can’t refuse. A deep cover mission to infiltrate a network of gangs and reveal corrupt policemen who are involved. To do so, Rama musts pretend to be a streetsmart hooligan and thrown to prison.

There, he meets Uco, spoiled yet ambitious son of a notorious gangster named Bangun. Rama, under a disguise named Yuda, soon finds himself to be Uco’s right-hand-man. The duo begin to develops an unlikely and fatal friendship.

Raid 2 is filled with adrenaline and jawdropping action scenes. I mean, who can deny the power of that literally bloody awesome fight scene between Rama (Iko Uwais) and The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman). Eleven minutes of pure violent pleasure in a wideshot and spinning camera. Gareth Evans the director really raise a new bar for action films here.

The cinematography is good. Evans’ eyes as a foreigner looking at Jakarta give fresh approach to what the city looks like. Although, since I’m familiar with the locations used in the film, I’m a bit piqued with the car chase scene. It jumps from one place to the other, but the shoots still work nevertheless. Also, the part in which Prakoso meets his end. There’s snow in Jakarta, which I think is a good way to portray the feelings that Prakoso has before he falls onto his knees. It adds a beautiful and surreal atmostphere to the story.

The film is peppered with high profile actors, both Indonesians and Japanese. Iko Uwais is cementing his status as an action star. So far, there are only 3 action stars who make on-screen kicking and punching look really really hurt: Donny Yen, Tony Jaa, and now Iko. Plus, Iko seemed to have practised his articulation in Raid 2. He was practically gargling in the first film.

In the muscle department there is Yayan Ruhian as eccentric hitman, Prakoso. Yayan was playing baddie in Raid, who was really annoying and almost impossible to kill. But in here, there is softness in his performance. His character, Prakoso, is nicely layered between a loyal hitman, a loving father, and a broken man. Pretty lady Julie Estelle plays Hammer Girl, a deaf-mute and half blind goon, armed with a pair of clawhammers. Very Tri Yulisman plays Baseball Bat Man, Hammer Girl’s older brother. These on-screen siblings create a dynamic performance, although they barely open their mouths.

In the brain departement, stars are plenty. Who would’ve thought that party boy Alex Abbad can deliver a slick performance as smooth-talking self-made gangster Bejo? Tio Pakusadewo and Cok Simbara, few of senior actors in the film are giving solid performances as gangster boss Bangun and head of internal affairs Bunawar, respectively.

There is Oka Antara as Eka, Bangun’s trustfull sidekick. He never disappoints. Kenichi Endo, Ryuhei Matsuda, and Kazuki Kitamura play the Goto crime family. Not much are said about them in here, perhaps Gareth Evans is saving them for the sequel. Then… there’s Arifin Putra. I have follow his tracks in cinema, this guy is consistently good. His performance as Uco is unbelievable. Sleek, ruthless, fragile, and irritating at the same time. Be happy, Indonesia. We have very promising character actors in our pockets.

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American Hustle

5 out of 5

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American Hustle is a display of horrible fashion and great humour. There are plenty of things to see other than Amy Adam’s cleavage, as well as plenty of things to laugh about other than the men’s hideous hairdos.
It is a story of a couple, Irving and Sydney, who make livings out of conning people. Until one day, they get themselves under the mercy of an FBI agent named Richie DiMaso. Ambitious Richie wants to utilize them to bust a string of white collar crimes. But, Irving and Sydney still have few tricks left up on their sleeves.
American Hustle is purely entertaining and unpredictable. It’s quite rare for a Hollywood film to be mainstream and witty at the same time. It’s full of cynical humour, it feels like it’s almost British.
Christian Bale sheds all his sexiness with his bulging stomach and terrible toupee. Bradley Cooper gives better performance than Silver-Lining Playbook as Richie. He’s good as a low-level agent, desperate for a big brake. Jeremy Renner and his bouffant hair attract sympathy, playing a kind-hearted mayor who falls into crime without even knowing it.
The life of the film is truly in the leading ladies. Well, actually Amy Adams is the leading lady as Sydney. She gives a new approach to a cunning woman, wowing in her plunging neckline dresses and subtlety. Jennifer Lawrence is so good playing her character that you want to strangle her throughout the film. She is a real magnet on screen. I will root for this film at the Oscars.

 

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Oldie & most definitely goodie

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???????????????????????????????There’s something eerie about the kiosks in Jalan Surabaya (Surabaya Street). Perhaps it’s the rows and stacks of wooden puppets. Staring into thin air with their bulging eyes. Perhaps it’s the dirt covering wooden masks, giving the impression that they have been dug out of tombs. Or maybe, it’s the dust stuck between fine threads of antique blouses. Giving mysteries of who were the previous owners of those silken garments.
At the same time, there’s a strong charm about the rustic things displayed inside and outside the kiosks.

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??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Jalan Surabaya, located in Cikini, Central Jakarta, is the megapolitan’s must go to place for antique shopping. Before this place only sold second hand stuff, but in 1972 Jakarta’s Tourism Department approached the sellers and persuaded them to sell antiques. It was meant to make Jalan Surabaya the city’s antique centre and a tourist spot. The plan, worked and in 1975 Jalan Surabaya became Jalan Surabaya that we know now.

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?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Accept antique vehicles, you can find almost everything in here. An entire set of brass musical instruments, lamps, fiddles, ceramics, statues, masks, puppets, trinkets, kebaya blouses, tree-bark handbags, bead totes, etc, etc… Phew! The only skill that you must have is bairgaining skill. Haggle, haggle, haggle. That’s the only way to survive here. Oh, and a plenty of cash also helps since they don’t accept cards here.???????????????????????????????making scabbard for a rencong (Acehnese dagger)???????????????????????????????fossils, shells & iron

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wayang golek (wooden puppets)
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whenever there’s a dollar, there’s always sunshine
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Mr. Mumu Hidayat, head of Jalan Surabaya sellers, posing inside his kiosk. In front of him is a British marine telescope
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an antique Chinese vanity box. inside is written with fairytales
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this is fantastic. a plate of 1920s Chinese military generals
 
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Hola, Penelope!
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all the marine stuff
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Boo!

Hallowe’en is always fun. Although originally we don’t have the holiday here in Indonesia, nowadays upper-middle class city dwellers like to celebrate it. For most Asians Hallowe’en is the time for girls to go out and dress like tarts. But hey, in a way all of us have that phase. Who am I to judge?
I’m walking down memory lane. Years have passed and the senses still linger. Remembering Hallowe’en 2010 in a pub slash tapas bar called La Bodega in Taichung City.
As usual with parties in Taiwan, most of the guests were foreigners. There were some Taiwanese girls wearing skimpy outfits, no surprise, of course. There were also young Taiwanese people dressed as Chinese dolls, murderous-looking transvestite — which I really liked — and plenty of Japanese anime costplay. It was east meet west in a childishly eerie night.
Below are my favourite shots from that night. And as Ministry always say… “Everyday is Hallowe’en”.
DSC06427Calaca Catrina & a happy bloody zombie girl

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the amazing fierce trannies and their arsenal
DSC06472a tall white guy dressing as a Taiwanese betelnut girl. whenever he striked a pose, he always looked like trying too hard. I finally got a shot, albeit blurry, where he actually looked like a Taiwanese betelnut girl
DSC06475my second favourite after the Calaca costume; a tall caucasian guy dressing as Zhu Ge Liang (豬哥亮), a famous Taiwanese comedian, with pale-faced dolls on each side. this is kitsch to the max
DSC06480must be hard to be someone who is hated by the entire population of Mexico
DSC06486night still young. La Bodega, Taichung 2010
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