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24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A Breakthrough of Indonesian Movies!

9/10
Author: pries_nd@yahoo.com from jakarta
26 April 2007

When I first heard about the movie being made, I don't believe any Indonesian filmmakers will be able to do it. Once upon a time, in a city where Apocalypse is drawing near (quite similar with Jakarta situation at present), five men was burned to death near a market. The story then leads us to the investigation by local Detective, Eros, and a narcoleptic reporter, Janus, who will soon realize that they're involved in big government conspiracy and some mystical Javanese myths about the rise of Queen of Justice. Wow! It's like JFK meets The Mummy.

Joko Anwar took the risk and made it. The result : HE DID IT! Simple as that! The city looks genuine and well-polished, the camera work is astounding (Noir style), the characters are strong and believable, and the story...OH MY GOD! How he combined several genres into a movie is an absolute perfection. I cannot stop watching! And Joko gives an unusual twist at the ending, a genre twist! There are indeed several drawbacks, but all is technical because of the budget. But still, it is a magnificent movie.

Joko Anwar worked very hard to create a new standard for Indonesian Movie and he accomplished that. Now, I only pity him because in his next movie, he has to work even harder. Otherwise, I'll be very disappointed.

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24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Nevermind the Fellowship of the Ring, here comes The Deadtime Possee!!!

10/10
Author: frereloupe9 from Brooklyn, home of the rebels
12 September 2007

Well not really , I am after all a huge self admitting LOTR fan :D but this long review will be a testament of how much KALA gives me to think "hey there's hope after all !"

so here we go;

Watching an Indonesian Film in the Cinema, is like playing Russian Roulette with a cheap Potato gun; it doesn't hurt that much, let alone kill, but it keeps hitting on that same darned spot & it'll definitely leave a traumatic albeit small-but-plenty bruise marks.

While movie production has been going steadily if not rapidly in the country, Its no secret that quick-to-be-rich scheming producers has been churning out films that will make Deep space Nine seems like Fellini's 8 1/2 by comparison. Capitalizing on cheap shot-with-video production filled with hopeful yet untrained Soapie stars that barely grow breasts, shooting it faster than you could say "Roger Corman" and then slap the finished products with misleading titles and posters that looks like its been photoshoped by the producer's clueless but hopeful secretary, you know the types; little small town Betsy with the "Can Do" attitude.

OK, that was a brief history of Indonesia's current Industry's situation, sad but almost true, hence its no surprise that the arrival of natural born rebel filmmaker like Joko Anwar into the whithering local industry feels like a much needed dope injection of fresh cinematic foray. One thing that cannot be denied; the man definitely masters and inhabits an extremely eclectic artistic prowess; after the highly entertaining Joni's Promise, Joko took a drastic turn with his sophomore piece, and needless to say, it does not disappoint.

KALA starts with what seems to be an allegory to Indonesia's current condition, chaotic, bleak, and ticking like a time bomb, the fictional country governed by faceless powers that created a nation filled with zombified residents.

After a series of trepidation for things to come, we are introduced to the two main protagonist of the film; (playing Greek-Gods allegory here with the two names) Eros the jaded beefy cop,not without his unshaken sense of justice. And then there's Janus; the scruffy, doe-eyed journalist. Janus is riddled with marriage and career problems, what's a guy to do? He's suffers from chronic Narcolepsy. These two will carry the bulk of the story like a tasty blend of Dashiel Hammet's characters.

Though the two didn't know each other, the story soon unravels its wheels of happenstance that would connect the two and the role they soon play.

Through a series of unexplained deaths and freak occurrences, begins a surreal journey that would reveal that Janus and Eros's destiny might hold a bigger part in the country's future, the key to the mystery they are trying to solve lies within the existence of a beautiful mysterious bar croon-stress Ranti, adding creep factor to the plot is a pale ghostly rastafarian like figure in adult diaper, and the fact that whenever rasta man appears, head starts to roll.

KALA is such of a film where aside from the two main protagonists, everyone else seems to have their own hidden agenda, after all the main plot device is really about the legendary "Treasure" hidden by the first president. This again, really effectively reflects the harsh reality of Indonesia's heated "grey area" circumstances, intended or not. This is only Joko Anwar's second film but already he choose to take a drastic direction, visual or narrative wise, compared to the high energy, lush with urbane colors that filled Joni's promise, KALA is painted bleak and moody, asserting moldy and broken down exteriors of a city that has seen better days, suppressed color palettes that spells doom and hopelessness, the dialogue within the film keeps to the minimal level, reminiscing of Noir classics, uttered by tough rain coated jaded men and cynical femme fatales under thick layers of smoke and shadows. Just witnessing above, I personally can hardly wait what approach does Joko have in store for his next project.

The acting here ranges from great to decent, Fachri Albar is especially good as the narcoleptic bumbler, never fully comprehending the mysterious happenings around him, Albar's nervous twitch and hunched awkward demeanor really makes a convincing delivery. Then we have Eros, played by the vigorous Ario Bayu, channeling a much younger Morgan Freeman in SE7EN, his youthful look smolders with ravaged confliction and wise beyond age vibe. Towering Model Fahrani plays Ranti, the smoky voiced bar singer pleasant to look at even from her first appearance and by the time KALA's revelation reveals who she really is, you'll be cheering her entrance in the final scene, man is she hot.

Other memorable performances includes pop star Shanty as Janus's wife with flexible loyalty, Arswendi Nasution plays an effective greasy corrupt official complete with a villainy pony tail, and lets not forget August Melasz & Frans Tumbuan; two senior actors playing two types of lawmen, the good and the bad respectively.

The music in KALA is another thing worth noting, a crazy cryptic combination of Indie progeny Zeke Khaselli's trippy vocal and Aghy Narottama brash composition evokes melodies from a fairy tale-ish town that we thought only to be heard in tale-telling songs, only here, the music supports the town that inhabits KALA.

Tethered to the bone with criticism towards the powers that be, KALA never borders to overly political, as a film itself, it holds firmly in its main goal; to entertain. Although some would argue that its theme and pace might be an acquired taste, however for those who have the patience, the wait is worth the trip; like a juiced up mixture of Fritz Lang head butting Shaymalan and Jeunnet, KALA turns out to be one sparkly cocktail that does not leave a hangover.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Something new

7/10
Author: savatose from Indonesia
9 August 2007

The story is about an odd murders in the "never never land" city. A narcoleptic reporter stuck in the middle of it, and a super cop try to solve it.

When I've heard about Kala, I was looking forward to seeing it. No high hope, no nothing, so I will enjoy the movie as it is.

It was good, but not that good. It's something new for indonesia movie, but I see lots of Korean n Japan movies like this. It was good execution, good character, good Cinematographic, good color, I still recommend people to watch it.

Technical problem?...well it's still OK..I think it's only a budgeting issue. Plot holes is more of my concern.

As for "noir" like people said..well, it felt like noir at the beginning but horror in the middle and ... in the end.

Overall, this is still a must see Indonesian movie. It's a breath of fresh air for Indonesian movie that full on teenage romantic comedy and horror..

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant if uneven: Dead is in!

8/10
Author: p-stepien from United Kingdom
17 July 2009

Joko Anwar is a former film critic turned director by freakish fate. I have had the honour to see most of Joko Anwar's projects (be it as writer or director) and it must be said that he is one name to be remembered. As potentially one of the great director's of his generation. Even more so that with each movie he seems to break his own limits and go one step beyond... irrespective of budget restrictions.

Dead Time: Kala is a weird movie full of Tarantino type homages, but at the same time distinctly different and inventive. The film is essentially neonoir with a touch of horror and a sprinkle of... (as not to spoil anything I'll keep my mouth shut). Very nicely shot with a lot of class and some memorable scenes gives this movie a clear voice with which Anwar has attacked the unsuspected audiences at home, but also at international festivals. Acting is suitable, albeit there are some glitches here and there with no actor really raising the bar.

What's the movie about? A mystery story set in an alternate Indonesian reality. A tale of murder, violence and corruption with unnatural creepy crawlies hiding in the shadows. An honest policeman and a narcoleptic journalist find themselves entangled into a case of a bizarre murder of five people.

Special effects is definitely the weak point of the movie with some of them very iffy and unconvincing (especially the CGI). Some of the story-telling could use a bit of fine-tuning, but all in all Joko Anwar is someone who has a vision and more importantly knows how to mold it into a movie. However you can still see that the director is on a learning curve, but his newest movie "The Forbidden Door" shows how quickly he is learning his trade and very soon this will be the breakthrough director of Indonesia, widely renowned and highly regarded internationally with the likes of Chan-wook Park and Takashi Miike.

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8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic, and then Terrible Film

6/10
Author: Matt Musselman from Vancouver, Canada
9 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw "Kala: Dead Time" at the Vancouver International Film Festival this weekend, and was really conflicted on how to give it a single rating. How do you average an 8 with a 3? The first 75% or so of the film was really great: eerie, atmospheric, mysterious, and downright scary at moments. I was having so much fun I could easily forgive some of the poor effects because the storytelling was still so great (in the same way that the very obvious cutover to a cow's eye in Dali/Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou" doesn't prevent it from being one of the most horrifying scenes in film history).

The interesting characters stumbling about in such an understated film noir environment trying to make sense of the deaths of so many people, and the startling ghost scenes. . . . Terrific film-making.

And then . . . well . . . all I can speculate is that the filmmakers either got bored, or just felt they had painted themselves into a corner. Or maybe (oh God) they thought that they were doing a good thing by trying to tie the story up into a neat little bundle.

My senses started to prickle a little when the senior police officer begins reading the "prophecy" out of the book in the library. "Hmm, I get the impression they're telling me too much," I thought. Little did I know.

Only a few minutes later, the film was racing headlong at this spiralling mutation into some kind of messianic superhero kung-fu *something* sort of mess, with Vertigo-style revelations of one of the character's secret second life, running around wielding an impossibly ridiculous Japanese manga looking sword, with some senseless gore scenes that far far far exceeded the production's special effects capabilities, just making them look comical at best. . . . And don't even get me started on the "Queen of Justice" revelation. I felt like someone had just poured a bottle of cheap ketchup all over a steak I was rather enjoying up until then.

Why? I can only ask.

The film is still young, and there's a distant possibility the director will opt to recut the movie to end bleakly with everyone's death on the road to the secret destination. Still a little flawed, but at least the mood and tension of the film as a whole would be preserved, and future filmgoers would be allowed to walk out of the theatre still prickling with goosebumps, rather than laughing in derision.

If and when this movie comes out on DVD eventually, I'd recommend that friends watch it up to the bus scene, and then pause the film for a good long hour or so to really soak in what this film could have been. Then, if the curiosity about the ending gets the best of you, sure, go ahead and see the ending, but don't blame me if it ruins everything for you, too.

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6 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

mixed of the killing, kill bill, and crouching tiger hidden dragon...

5/10
Author: faithfullmarx from Jakarta
30 April 2007

At first i was expecting something 'out of the box' from Kala, when i previewed the website and especially from rumors i heard from people who went to the theater to witness the birth of the new Indonesian movie genre, a neo noir kinda movie. well.....This movie directed by Joko Anwar was actually went 'out of the world'. To be honest it wasn't totally awful, i like the art direction, i love the idea of the story, i really appreciate the gud of those people who brought this noir idea into silver screen, salute guys... but when it comes to plotting and story telling, oops.......sorry it wasn't good enough. The haunted ghost scenes with logical explanation attempt at the end, just doesn't work out man!. The grading quality is so poor also. Though i understand that technically it's quiet difficult to shoot the night scenes with wide angle (it's clearly seen the day light reflection on talents face as well as from the see-trough cloth wore by Fahrani). but if Joko Anwar paying more attention on details especially during the post production, i'm sure this movie would be even better. one more thing....the Kungfu lady was just too much...

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6 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Capital A.

1/10
Author: mondaymoviemania from Indonesia
17 October 2007

Kala is big in hype, and the first 15 minutes managed to live up to it. I was easily impressed by the production value, setting, acting, art direction, and so forth. The well-structured first act also promised a lot.

However, everything went static to the next 30 minutes. The movie, dressed in noir style, started to tell a story that was neither horror, neither fantasy, or adventure. There was no whodunnit plot, there was no clear track of where the movie was going. I thought, then, the film makers perhaps wanted to offer me something new, and I had to really think out of the box. I went out of the theater because clearly I was not prepared.

I tried watching it again the next day, and this time with a new mindset, and getting ready for "something new".

However, I was not prepared for "something rotten".

As I was coping up till one hour, I started to realize that this was merely one of the most pretentious movies ever made in human history. Setting is out of this world, characterization is seemingly strong, but actually lacking of development. Fachri Albar delivered good acting skill, but the script brought him nowhere, so he ended up being a tiring person to watch. Shanty's talent was completely wasted by the pretentious characterization. Fahrani's body was exploited. The scene of her singing in a bar was clearly made only to make Kala seemed to be a real noir movie. It is not! Noir is a whodunnit plot, whereas Kala is whatthehellitis plot.

Somehow, the film managed to get worse, especially when the Reservoir-Dogs-alike scene was forcedly inserted to no particular reason. The conclusion of the "story" was foolish. I am not against homosexuality, but if Kala is made merely as a pro-Gay movement by making a statement that a gay guy is Indonesia's next big leader, then it is purely silly, unreasonable, and rather masturbatory. There was no strong reason why the leading actor should be gay, except that's just simply what the director wants. It is a very unfair treatment of a story.

Awful with capital A.

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