Weekend Roundup: Final weekend of MSPIFF 2016 + Review of Indonesian drama ‘A Copy of My Mind’

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Time really does fly when you’re having fun! The three-week MSPIFF festivities has concluded yesterday. I didn’t see any movie on its last day, but I did attend a film panel titled Cinematic Voices with two documentary filmmakers…

Nandita Ahmed, Producer A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers
Jack Pettibone Riccobono, Director The Seventh Fire

They discussed their work from a global perspective, talk about the filmmaking process, and share their thoughts on the future of the film industry.

What I love about MSPIFF is that even though the film fest has ended, there are still opportunities to watch some of them you may have missed!


The last film I saw on the big screen at MSPIFF was an absolute delight! I’ll review it next week but let’s just say it’s three-for-three for John Carney! [hey that rhymes] His third music-themed film of his I saw, after Begin Again and Once respectively, is yet another hit and one I certainly don’t mind watching Sing Street again.

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Well, here’s my mini review of one of the films I saw at MSPIFF this past week:

A Copy of My Mind

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I have to admit I’m not well-versed in Indonesian cinema. Even when I was still living in Jakarta up until I left for college here in the States, I only watched some Indo comedy films. But when I saw that MSPIFF is playing one Indo film set in my hometown, I just had to check it out. So yes, it’s the first Indonesian drama film I saw on the big screen in the US!

The film takes place in the gritty streets of Jakarta and explores the unglamorous side of the overpopulated (and over-polluted) Indonesian capital. We first meet Sari (Tara Braso), a girl who works at a lower-class salon and spends her nights watching pirated movies. It’s uncommon to buy pirated dvds in Indo, in fact I think most people get their movies this way even if people could afford buying the original. The movie she bought turns out to be poorly-subtitled, and so when she returns to the dvd market hoping for an exchange, she ends up serendipitously meeting Alek (Chicco Jerikho), the man who actually provides subtitles for illegal dvds for a living.

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You could say it’s a meet cute, and both are smitten almost immediately. I applaud director Joko Anwar for creating a genuine sense of intimacy. The way Sari and Alek meets and falls in love feels natural – it’s always refreshing when romance is done right and you truly feels for the couple you are watching. I guess Indo films now are much more progressive than I thought, which is surprising in a good way. The sex scene was done well and again, there’s genuine intimacy between the two actors that doesn’t feel rushed or contrived. I must say that there is a very sexually graphic scene I never even seen in American/European movie that appeared briefly in this movie that I wish I could un-see. I’m not going to say what it is but let’s just say it has something to do with Alek’s subtitles job. I have no idea how that scene alone would pass through the strict Indonesian censorship!

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The romance takes place in the backdrop of an always-unpredictable Indonesian election. So the film is also a social commentary of the political corruption and all the instability that takes place during that time. When Sari lands a job at an elite spa catering to wealthy clients, one bad decision ends up costing them dearly. There are some torture scenes as well that’s pretty tough to watch, but glad that Anwar didn’t dwell on it too much. The ending of the movie is a frustrating one because the film wasn’t tied up neatly with a big red bow. I always wonder that when filmmakers end their movie in an open-ended way, is it because they want us to interpret things however we want or that they simply don’t know how to end it. I don’t know the answer to that, but I still think this movie is intriguing and thought-provoking enough for me to recommend it. It’s a treat to see my hometown [and the realistic depiction of the crazy Jakarta traffic] on the big screen and Joko Anwar is certainly a bold and talented filmmaker whose work I intend to see more of.

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Apart from MSPIFF stuff, I also watched Look Who’s Back, a German comedy/ mockumentary about the return of Adolf Hitler that’s recently added on Netflix. It’s hilarious but deeply unsettling for obvious reasons, but definitely worth a watch. I’ll blog about it in a separate post sometime in the future.

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So that’s my weekend recap folks. What did you see this weekend, anything good?