Monday, November 29, 2010

INAFFF 2010 Surprise Movie Review: DREAM HOME

Every November, I and a bunch of friends gather together for one joyous occasion. This occasion is now known as INAFFF, although it wasn't always known as that. Being a thrill-seeker that I am, I was more than thrilled when I first learn about SCREAMFEST four years ago. I immediately got all my friends together for a movie marathon in the horror film festival. Back then, all we had were festivals for pretentious foreign movies. So, this festival, first in Jakarta, was like a shining beacon of hope to me. And boy, did we have a lot of fun. It made us yell, scream, and scared shitless, but it also got us to laugh together. We've been going back ever since the first year and it has become an annual ritual for us. Now in its fourth year, INAFFF is going stronger than ever and bringing more thrills and fun to a wider audience.

In INAFFF there is always this one special screening which you can buy the tickets to but they don't tell you what the movie is. My experiences with these Surprise Movies in the past have been pleasant. The first year, we had PATHOLOGY as the surprise movie. For second, COMING SOON, which was the best in my opinion. And then PARANORMAL ACTIVITY for the third. This year, we had  the  Hong-Kong horror, DREAM HOME. The tickets were sold out within the first three hours and the committee had to get the venue to let them have another screening in a second studio. The anticipation was high and fortunately, the movie didn't disappoint.

The basic premise of DREAM HOME was of a girl finds a flat, fell in love with it, wanna buy it, but got screwed over by the seller, so she went on a murderous spree of the flat residences to get the asking price for the flat reduced. The movie was great because it didn't fall into the trappings of cliched gory slasher flicks with cheap scares and thrills. Instead the movie built the tension by making the protagonist struggled for a successful kill. Make no mistake, our protagonist was just your normal average-sized everyday girl (but then again normal girl wouldn't be killing people :p) so it took some effort for her to kill the victims. She wasn't some kind of supernatural creature or a towering 6 feet giant with a hockey mask. Our protagonist even got knocked over several times and in the process it made us root for her even more to triumph and successfully mangle, maim, and slice open all of her victims (maybe it's just me... i don't know :p). Some of the killings were creative and varied. Strangling with cable ties, plastic bag suffocation, eyes popping out, impalement, and mutilated genital.
Even more wonderful was that the movie managed to sneak in one or two socially relevance issues of today's time like the crashing housing market, predatory real estate developer, and the foreign domestic workers (the humor of the last one is reserved for Indonesian only). Josie Ho as the lead gave an all-around solid performance as a murderess who found herself pitted between losing everything she has worked so hard for and taking drastic measures to keep her dream alive. The scene where she burnt a paper house to grant her mother's soul a place in the after life was heart breaking and I found myself sympathizing with her character from then on. Another props should be given to the director, Ho-Cheung Pang, for using two intertwining time-lines to tell the stories of the murder acts and how our protagonist arrived to that point. It made for a riveting watch reaching to the powerful climax.  

DREAM HOME is an emotionally complex movie that didn't let itself forget to pack the punch when it came to delivering blood, gore, and the 'ick' factor in slasher flick. It successfully elevated itself above the graveyard that is filled with poorly conceived '80s slasher flick remakes and therefore lending the movie a "must-watch" label and two thumbs up from me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jakarta Fashion Week 2010: OSCAR LAWALATA

Here are some pictures from the Oscar Lawalata's show at JFW 2010.

Nanny's Pavillon Bathroom: The Sweetly Adorable Bistro in Pacific Place

Pancakes is one of my favorite food. You can eat them sweet or savory. You can eat them with jams, chocolate, peanut butter, fruits, ice cream, sausage, eggs, mushroom, or tuna (probably not all at once). Suffice to say that there are plenty of ways you could eat pancakes and yet you could simply eat them with just butter and maple syrup and they will still taste great. You could eat them for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, who cares? So, what's not to like, right? 

Sadly, there are not that many pancake restaurant chains in Jakarta. When we start craving those warm and soft disks full of buttery goodness, the name Pancious or Pan-O are usually the ones that pop up in our mind. For quite some time, those two were the only options pancake-lovers had. I often find myself gravitate towards Pancious more than Pan-O. However, I started to long for more variety and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. So, when Nanny's Pavillon opened its first restaurant earlier this year in Jakarta, they were welcomed with open arms by me and many pancake lovers alike.

Originated from Bandung, now Nanny's Pavillon already have two restaurants now in Jakarta. The first one is in Citywalk and the newest one opened in Pacific Place Mall. Still keeping in touch with its cute and quirky spirit, the new restaurant created a splash with its bathroom-inspired design. Besides pancake, the menu also offers other foods such as Pasta, Steaks, and Baked Rice. Nanny's Pavillon is an excellent alternative for when you're shopping in Pacific Place and you find yourself in the mood for something comforting and easy. With that being said, Nanny's Pavillion definitely warrants repeat visiting and it definitely tops the list of my favorite places to eat. 

For appetizer, we had Nanny's Customer Fries. French fries, gratain with mozarella cheese and white sauce for 25k.

Auntie's Sausage Baked Rice. Sauteed rice served with sausage and white sauce, gratain with mozarella cheese. 34k.

Mom's Green Spaghetty. Pasta saute with pesto base , garlic, shallot, and smoked beef. 34k.

Black Crunchy Waffle served with cookies crumb, caramel sauce, &1 scoop of ice cream. 26k. The salted caramel tasted homemade. Love it!

Potato Pancake. 1 hash brown potato served withsausage, smoked beefm and sunny side eeg. 26k.

Uncle Harold's Pasta with Grilled Steak for 39k. The steak had a surprisingly nice peppery flavor.

Nanny's Fruit Cocktail for 4 people for 40k and Strawberry Lemonade for 19k. Loving the strawberry lemonade. Must try!

Frilly curtains and pastel colors made for an endearing and cheeky atmosphere. ^o^

Pacific Place 4th Floor
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 52-53,
Kebayoran Baru.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jakarta Fashion Week 2010: IVAN GUNAWAN

Inspired by the princesses of Versailles, here is Ivan Gunawan's latest collection from the show: GRAZIA Glitz & Glam in Jakarta Fashion Week 2010.

INAFFF 2010 Opening Movie Review: MONSTERS

I have been hearing a lot of hype surrounding this movie since Cannes Film Festival back in May. The critics generally favored this movie and gave it a lot of praise, so I have been very very curious. Lucky enough I was given invitations by this year's INAFFF committee to attend the showings of their Opening and Closing movies. Thanks to them, I had a chance to watch it for myself and I am now writing a review for them.

Directed by Gareth Edwards, this movie basically tells a story of a journalist who's made to escort his boss' daughter back to America through the alien-infected zone in Mexico. The premise is simple enough, but the movie itself is anything but. If you had the chance to watch the trailer beforehand, you might expect MONSTERS to be similar in tone to alien/sci-fi movies such as CLOVERFIELD or DISTRICT 9. Suffice to say, if you walk into the theater expecting huge action set pieces and lots of explosions, you will be disappointed.

At its core, MONSTERS is a drama about the nuances of human emotions and relationship set against the backdrop of alien invasion. There is a recently released alien invasion movie that you could juxtapose it to, SKYLINE. While SKYLINE is more of an alien movie with people in it, MONSTERS is a movie about people with aliens in it. 

One remarkable fact about this movie was that it was shot within a limited amount of budget, estimated around $200,000. The film was shot entirely on location: any settings featured in the film were real locations often used without permission asked in advance, and the extras were just people who happened to be there at the time. Edwards did all the special effects himself using off-the-shelf Adobe software. With that being said, the movie still managed to boast pretty nifty special effects. Sure the movie still had that low-budget indie movie feel, with dark shots obscuring the flaw in the special effects,  but that is exactly what the movie is. It didn't try to be shiny and glossy, preferring substance over style. 

Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy who portrayed the two main characters are relatively unknown talents. The two had good chemistry together. Able who portrayed the girl Samantha, somehow just didn't show a lot of range as an actress. However, it might be due to the material given to her. The script  just didn't provide much development to her character and from the beginning of the movie she was just pictured as a girl with a rich daddy who has a problem with his fiancee and wasn't quite sure of what she wanted. The character just wasn't sympathetic enough. The script didn't address the issue that the character had with her fiancee and why she was reluctant to return home. We were just left to assume. Her counterpart, McNairy, showed a broader range and was given a slightly better material. Considering everything though, both actors did pretty good job within the context of the movie. 

There were two points of social commentary that the movie tried to get across. The first one was about the state of media that flourish from tragedy and the violent human nature towards something we don't understand. The aliens weren't shown as aggressive unless provoked by the humans first. However, those messages didn't come across as strongly as they should have been. On the other hand, if subtlety was what the director was aiming for, then it was a success. In my opinion though, those messages should have been conveyed stronger and bolder to create a lasting and assuring emotional impact for the audience. 

To surmise, as with any sci-fi movie a certain degree of suspension of disbelief is needed to watch this movie for it to be an entertaining experience. MONSTER was definitely one of the superior selection in the INAFFF 2010 movie line-up and it is a nice change from some of the hollow Hollywood movies that are flooding our cinemas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Trapped" for TEMPER TRAP: My Recount of The Jakarta Concert

Sweet disposition, Never too soon...
Oh reckless abandon, Like no one's watching you...
A moment, a love
A dream, a laugh
A kiss, a cry
Our rights, our wrongs

That was probably one of the band's most popular songs. Temper Trap gained a lot of recognition in Indonesia after "Sweet Disposition" was featured in a soundtrack of (500) Days of Summer and as a theme song to JIFFEST 2009. The band received greater fanfare when we learned that the vocalist, Dougy Mandagi, was actually from Indonesia. Their other songs then went on to be featured in many popular TV Shows such as 90210, Grey's Anatomy, Chuck, and One Tree Hill. The band, who gained prominence with their atmospheric sound featuring grand guitars set to pulsating rhythms, was scheduled to have their debut Indonesia tour from 11-13 November 2010.

The 12 November Jakarta concert was held in Tennis Indoor Senayan. And being  such an alt-rock fanatic that I am, I just simply couldn't miss it. Not to mention that IsmayaLive would be pre-selling tickets to the Two Door Cinema Club concert for February 2011. From IsmayaLive's twitter account, it was said that the gate would be opened from 5 p.m. and I got there at 6. I figured as it was with this kind of concert, of course there will be some kind of delay so I would still make it if I was late one hour. Turned out, they were even more late. The gate wasn't even opened when I showed up. Finally about 6.30, I got into the lounge.

The entriway into the lounge

As always with any IsmayaLive event, the lounge was set very classy with chic seatings, bar, food stalls, DJ booth, and a projection of Twitter TV (a live feed of all tweets with @IsmayaLive tag). It was very comfortable to spend time in while waiting for the gate to the concert hall to be opened. On a slightly negative note, the Toilet was located by the concert hall and patrons weren't allowed entry until the gate to the hall was opened and the foods were overpriced (as always).

 Food vendors from Sushi Groove and Pizza e Birra

The queuing alongside the DJ booth
Twitter TV

When the gate was opened at 7, people just rushed in. I managed to get a really nice spot in the front and center. However, the opening act by Efek Rumah Kaca and DJ James Yuill (whom I didn't really care for), took almost two hours and by then I already got so bored and restless that I decided to abandon post and just hang out at the lounge until the main act start. I managed to bump into some friends and spot a few celebs like DJ Winky and wife and other socialites like etc, etc. Then we heard news that the band will not even show up until 11. The Twitter TV was already up in flames with insults and negative comments about the long delay. One of the running joke of the evening was that one of the band member is Indonesian, so of course they would be late. I spotted several people leaving the premises because they can't handle the long wait, but since I actually paid for the tickets to the show I decided to stick it out.

By the time the band finally showed up on stage, it was already 11. You can feel the resentment and  the restlessness in the atmosphere. People actually "boo-ed" at the band. But then, the lights came on and the music started. You can feel the energy started to change around you. People started screaming out the band's name and dancing. The performance had a few climaxes with Sweet Disposition, Soldier On, and the drum song where all the lights went off and spotlight were shining only on Dougy as he beat the drum that he splashed with water previously. With the contrast created by the dark background and the spotlight, you could clearly see the water jumping around and  dancing to the beat and erupting like a geyser.

After all is said and done, the band played with vigor. They gave off a great performance, would have been perfect if not for the long wait. The lighting arrangement was out of this world. But still, there is something very traumatic about the whole being made to wait for 5 hours. Even though people danced and screamed during the performance, I got the feeling that the ambiance could have been more energized had we not been made to wait that long. Personally, no matter how a great show is, if you have to wait 5 hours for a one-hour-show, the pay off is way to little. And instead of a sweet disposition, I was left with a bittersweet disposition.
The crowd clapping for an encore.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TOSCANA: A Taste Trip Through Italy

One evening, I and my friend were driving to Kemang. We were planning to pick up the tickets to Joko Anwar's musical play "Onrop", but that didn't work out because the tickets to the seats we wanted were already sold out. Not wanting to go back with empty hands and empty stomachs, we decided to grab a bite around the area. And then we stumbled upon an Italian restaurant incidentally. I have been craving Italian foods for the past few weeks ever since I watched "Eat, Pray, Love" so I suggested that we go in.

At the first glance, Toscana didn't look like much from the outside. However, the minute you entered to restaurant, you will immediately feel like you were being transported to a charming eatery in a secluded valley somewhere in Italy. We were greeted by a butler who showed us to our table and we noticed that most of the clienteles were expatriates. Smoking area is available which is always a plus. The overall look of the place felt very authentic. The dimly-lit cabin-like interior gave off very warm and romantic vibe. With no annoying music blaring from speakers, the tranquil ambience is sure to keep the conversation going with you and your date.

With Italian foods, my mind instantaneously thought of a few items. Pizza, pasta, gelato, and wine. And those were exactly what we ordered. 

 The complementary bread basket. A staple in any Italian restaurant. Served with cream cheese and olive oil.

They say that to know how good a cook really is, you just need to order the simplest item on the menu. So, for our first course we decided to go with the simple Margherita Pizze. The tomato and mozzarella pizza, cooked in an Italian wood burning oven, was not the best Mergherita pizza I've ever tasted, but it was still better than some generic restaurant chains' pizza and the portion was quite large for just 4 slices. 38k.

The second course was Pasta. A Canneloni Bolognese. A new item on the menu, the rolled fresh egg pasta filled with bolognese meat sauce and bechamel cream topping and cheese was clearly the star of the evening. As you cut through the layers of cheese, cream, pasta, and meat, and scooped it into your mouth, it literally melted on your tongue. 48k.

For the dessert, we had a scoop of Kiwi gelato. I was expecting more acidity to the gelato, so I was a little bit surprised when the flavor was actually quite tame. Not too sweet and not too tangy.  The perfect balance. It was refreshing and a nice palate cleanser. 20k.

Finally for the wine, we ordered 1/2 litre caraf of red wine (house pour) to compliment our meals. It was quite nice for a house pour and it was not absurdly overpriced like in some mall-fine-dining-resto. So it made me very happy. The wine had a hint of peppery flavor and a nice fruity finish. 95k.

With a five-star service, great foods, and wide price range, Toscana is the kind of place that I would definitely come back to again for another appointment and perhaps with a company with little more of a romantic liaison in nature ^_~*

Jl. Kemang Raya No. 120
Ph. 021-7181216/17
Blackberry PIN No. 25512DF3

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