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Whether you’re a wannabe cowboy, a kung fu fan, or simply an animated-movie lover, you gonna love these two movies. So, read out! By the way, this is the first part of my notes on this year’s Sydney Film Festival, which was officially ended last weekend.

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>>Lucky Luke

Here’s a huge picture on a building’s wall in Belgium that is dedicated to Lucky Luke (taken from this website).

It’s been a very long time for me since the last time I enjoyed this cowboy’s story. And yes, it’s one of those movies from comic books, so I’ve only known Lucky Luke previously from some of the printed animated-stories.

This movie is officially titled Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure, or Tous à l’Ouest: Une aventure de Lucky Luke (as the movie is in French). It is said that this is just one of a few official animation widescreen movies from the Lucky Luke comic series, while the last one was released many years ago.

Of course (at least for me), the movie is really interesting and very enjoyable. There are almost all the main characters of the story in this movie, including Lucky Luke, the charming cool cowboy who’s (who shoots) “quicker than his own shadow”, the smart horse Jolly Jumper, the dumb dog Rantanplan, and the eternal “enemies” of Lucky Luke, the Dalton brothers (Joe, Jack, William, and Averell).

This time, the story is about Lucky Luke’s journey to the West side of the USA, with a group of promised-new-land owners. And because it’s involving some other people, there are a lot of other characters of course in the story. For example, there’s this bad guy, the land seller Mr Crook with his assistant, the group’s old-guy who believes in “think positive”, a young female school teacher with her students, a big guy with bad language, a funeral company man, a couple of Chinese cook-men, entertainer girls, and so on.

Rather than just a peaceful journey, it’s a “colourful” one since the Daltons are there too, “stuck” in the group, while Mr Crook is also following and constantly trying to “sabotage” the trip. There are a few more scenes outside of the trip, which is when Lucky Luke and the Daltons still having their “usual business” in the modern New York, the starting point of the trip on the East part of America, and a bit further scenes when they arrived on the dream land in the “old and empty” California on the West.

>>Kung Fu Panda

An alternate poster of Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda.

As one of the most anticipated animation movies this year, Kung Fu Panda is truly interesting and funny. But of course it’s funny, considering Jack Black who plays Po, the panda character. And for me, this is also just another East-meet-West movie.

The Chinese martial arts, kung fu, and the panda character – along with the other characters – are obviously in an Eastern world setting, while the maker of this movie (Dreamworks) is definitely one of the Western icons. Or, it isn’t? Well, I’d consider another thing then: the name of Master Shifu, which if referring to the term of a martial arts’ master is supposed to be written as “shefu”, but can be pronounced easier in English as “shi-fu” (?).

Anyway, hey, cut it out – and don’t get too serious! What I should just say is that this is the first movie I saw in Sydney’s cinemas that was in full capacity – and with a lot of laughs. Firstly screened during the first week of Sydney’s Film Festival, the wannabe-kung fu-hero noodle-maker-panda movie had already listed “fully-booked” several days before. So yes, I didn’t get the chance to watch it at the first time. Not even when they added another screening session for it during the festival. But then I was still lucky, as a member of Greater Union’s Cinebuzz club, when within days later there was another special screening.

Nothing much to say more about the movie itself, as there are already heaps of review everywhere, but I especially like the panda character and of course some others who appear with him. And at least, there are two famous Asian actors play as major characters: Lucy Liu (as Viper the snake warrior) and Jackie Chan (as Monkey). There are also this Po’s father character, Mr Ping, played by James Hong, and of course Grand Master Oogway (by Randall Duk Kim), a wise old tortoise (turtle) who has quotes such as “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present”; and believes in expressions like “nothing is impossible” and “there’s nothing such as accident”.

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Now, in general, the festival itself of course didn’t only have these two movies in the animation category, but there were more. There were few strands that had it, including Kids’ Films, Short Cuts and others. An interesting black-and-white animation movie, Persepolis, was even became the main menu of the closing night gala. Then there’s this Yoram Gross Animation Award in the Australian short films’ Dendy Awards section, and also a three-part Machinima Festival Showcase program.

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Sydney is one of the cities that so-well-known for being the host of lots of festival. At least it’s from my own knowledge. Get rid of music festivals, and there are still several major events that quite interesting – for the residents or especially outsiders. These are two of them, and they’re coming our way, in the nearly upcoming weeks!

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>> Sydney Writers’ Festival

This one is interesting, not only for the writers or people who like to read a lot of writings e.g. books, feature stories, etc., but of course also for ‘common people’. It will be held here in Sydney – but not just in the city since the venues are very spread out even to Wollongong – from next Monday, May 19 to 25 (official dates).

There are several different kinds of activity that can be enjoyed by people, starting from exhibitions, author talks, conversations, lectures, readings, panel seminars, filming, etc. And if people don’t like to pay to feel the atmosphere, there are still heaps of events which are free. Yes, free of charge!

This event has a lot of major sponsors. But besides those sponsors, you know what, our guys in UTS Journalism will also participate in one important role which is to produce Festival News, the SWF daily publication (but well, I’m not involved actually).

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

>>Sydney Film Festival

This year the festival that [I think] really spoiling movie lovers will be in its 55th year. And it will be here for almost three weeks, from June 4 to 22. So, in case June is already filled with other plans in your agenda, at least there’s still any chance for one or two movies, right?

A series of strands will be showcased, involving heaps of movies, starting from kids films, animation, Australian, short cuts, hot docs, art films, world views, some other special foreign movies (high quality ones of course), etc. The venues include the State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Greater Union George Street, Metro Theatre and so on. No need to say more, I guess, as anybody who really loves movies should already have this event on their agenda.

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

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Just for your [extra] information, I’ll probably be there in both festivals, and surely will try to take notes to be written here. So, just stay tuned. But better yet, if I may suggest, while any of you have the chance, why don’t stop by and enjoy them your self.

Finally, have anything to say? Well, just put your comments here then..! 😉

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Sure. It’s one of my main interests, remember? Or… sorry, maybe some of you didn’t know that one yet. Anyway, who doesn’t love them, right?

To show how I really love this kind of art products, let me say something: at least since December 2007 until now, I’ve seen no less than 48 movies, old and new. All are the first for me, and I enjoyed them, bad or good. So far, only two of them are Indonesian movies.

Here’s the complete list (I forget two titles though): The Last King of Scotland, This is England, Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, Spiderman 3, Transformers, Resident Evil: Extinction, Ayat-ayat Cinta, Accepted, Night at The Museum, The Seeker, Mendadak Dangdut, The Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, The Devil Wears Prada, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Alpha Dog, Step Up, Borat, Four Brothers, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Ghost World, Barbershop, Dr Zhivago, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Darjeeling Ltd, P.S. I Love You, American Gangster, Cloverfield, Juno, 27 Dresses, 3:10 to Yuma, Charlie Wilson’s War, Jane Austen Book Club, The Mist, Jumper, Rendition, There Will Be Blood, Meet the Spartans, 10,000 BC, Step Up 2 The Street, St Trinian’s, Vantage Point, The Other Boleyn Girl … (and the list is still growing).

As half of that list is seen in cinema, of course many people would know and still remember them. Anyway, besides in cinema, I also had the pleasure of watching them in digital files (including from YouTube), and on DVD (by renting them).

So, below are my reviews on some of those movies (eight of them), either their good or bad. I just pick samples that I like to review here. Of course, it’s only based on my limited knowledge and what I feel, and so it’s simply my own opinion. Have your own opinion? Why don’t share it here then.;)

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National Treasure 2

I think this one is clearly a typical Disney’s movie. Not that it’s limited for kids, but the story, the plot, and characters are obvious. There are hero, the villain, the hero’s friends, plus the family. The hero and his friends and family are obviously win at the end, while the villain is lost even if he finally turns good just before the ending. However, this second adventure of Benjamin Gates is a good entertaining movie, involving not only (in the movie) the president of the United States, but also part of history from around the world. Another version of “younger” Indiana Jones if I may say so. >> My rate >> 7/10

The Golden Compass

As many people have talked about, the special effect, specifically the animated graphic in this movie is stunning. Unconsciously, you will be emotionally attached to the animals in the movie, following each of their action along with (other) human characters, while in fact their just animations. Moreover, as it is always amazing to watch little kids acting in a movie, some people believe that this movie – which will be followed by part-2, part-3 and so on – will be as successful as Harry Potter, or Lord of the Ring, or if I could suggest another title to compare: Pirates of the Carribean. >> My rate >> 8/10

I Am Legend

Will Smith plays as central focus on his lonely role in this adaptation of 1954’s horror story, and before the release, people once doubted that he will be success. Well, for me, it seems he’s alright. Overall, the movie is OK as well, thanks to the suspense and the special effects for the zombies though. The tragic ending is what bothers me more, and apparently bothers a few other people too. Is the term “legend” must comes from death? >> My rate >> 7/10

Cloverfield

Been triggered some controversy by its early promotion without any detail (not even the title), this movie then I guess becomes one of the most discussed movies recently. However, when the release date is closing in, more people seemed to talk negative over it. And yes, in about 2 days after its release, nobody probably likes to talk about it anymore. But for me, this movie is good enough (to be watched in the cinema), even though the Godzilla-like scenes and its unclear story have brought some bitter critics worldwide. >> My rate >> 7/10

Juno

Well, yes, Ellen Page rules! I wouldn’t argue that. Moreover, the story is unique and not-typical even though it can be categorized as teen-movie. And nobody needs to say anything more when the Oscar has spoken. It’s a cool teen-movie, but interesting enough for adults and useful for parents as well, if I may say so. >> My rate >> 8/10

Ayat-ayat Cinta

One of the best Indonesian movies in the last few decades, that’s what people said. If I’m not mistaken, one of the producers even said that this movie will probably ‘un-replaceable’ in terms of the story and cinematography within the next 10 years. Is it that good? Well, try to ask millions of Indonesian that have watched it. Don’t ask me, as I spent half of the night enjoying the movie and ended up with ‘bad health’ for a couple of days later… lol. >> My rate >> 8/10

Meet The Spartans

This movie is suck, and I can’t say no more. The only reason I give it 3 points are because the makers really had the guts to produce it, with too many parodies, then for promoting it with such big budget (I saw the ad many times on TV); and in the name of respect for some people who actually love it. >> My rate >> 3/10

St Trinian’s

It’s a teen movie, alright. And it’s an old British story with some modern twists. However, besides the fresh young actresses involved, this movie I think can entertain the audiences without the feeling of ‘ashamed for enjoying teen’s stuff’. Or maybe, it’s just my subjective opinion as I used to work with teens? Don’t think so, ‘coz a lot of people in the cinema were laughing out loud that night. >> My rate >> 7/10

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Who is he? He’s a bit of a famous guy, huh?

Those were not my question and my comment. Some cool blokes said so, while a very crowded group of people were in excitement waiting for The Matrix superstar. It was kinda cold outside George St’s Greater Union that Tuesday, and the night was still young. Yet, those faces were warm with smiles and enthusiasm.

Then, just a few minutes before 7 pm, he finally arrived. Keanu, the star of Street Kings, landed his feet on the red carpet as the premiere screening of his latest movie was about to begin. And the crowds were screaming; camera lights were automatically flashing.

I’m not gonna talk about how cute the 43-year-old actor was, or how cool Keanu’s appearance was that night. The Canadian Beirut-born actor had moustache and beard, that’s for sure, and that was the only one I noticed.

What I’m trying to reflect here is the atmosphere that I felt back on that night, compare to the feeling when an almost-similar event was happening back there in Indonesia. To tell the truth, they’re kinda similar actually. It’s the same pop culture’s effect: people like and always eager to meet a star. Even when they have to wait hours until the popular person appear.

The difference probably is: while people in Indonesia still have to prove their discipline and obedience of rules, we hardly find the problem here – this is generally our people’s problem in any other aspects of life. No one crossed the line of the red carpet that day, and no one ‘caught’ Keanu too long to take pictures. It was this simple: come, wait, be patient, prepare the camera or things to be signed, take picture when he appears, get a signature, and it’s done when he disappears.

Another difference, I think, is the kind of ‘star-worship’ they have. There was a clear view that night, which made me able to differentiate which one was the real fan and which people was not a fan at all. Although there also a group of people across the street that were just looking from the distance, they’re clearly not fans. People who walked by with ignorance were surely not the fans. People who came to GU that night to simply enjoy their movie were obviously not fans of Keanu as well. On the other hand, crowds in each side of the red carpet were surely fans of the Speed-guy.

Is that all?

Well, actually, that night while trying to take my own amateur picture with my low-resolution compact digital camera, I was thinking of something else. I was a bit ‘jealous’ with the best spots the photographers and journalists had that night; it made me remember my own experiences when I was still on duty in Indonesia. And it just make me sure again: how I always love to be closely involved in the world of entertainment and showbiz by that role.

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