If you watch a Robert Pattinson film at the cinema, you have to be willing to tolerate the helpless gasping that is guaranteed to afflict at least a handful of audience members.
So I was fully prepared as I settled down to watch Remember Me, a romantic drama that the Twilight hottie seemed to have made just for his swooning fans, a conclusion I came to based on posters and movie stills. Dishevelled hair? Check. Angsty glances? Check. A sullen co-star? Check.
What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the respectful silence that followed the film’s conclusion, the hushed murmuring as people filed out, and my own profound melancholy for hours afterwards.
It may have been five years in the making, but Imogen Heap, who dazzled the crowds at the Jakarta’s Kartika Expo Center, Balai Kartini, on Wednesday, March 31, proved she was worth waiting for.
The British multiple Grammy nominee took to the stage for two hours, with seemingly limitless energy, wit and stage presence, and an 18-song set that spanned her three solo albums.
“Until about two months ago, I didn’t know you were all into my music,” said Heap, who included Jakarta as the penultimate stop on the world tour for her latest album, Ellipse, following floods of Twitter messages from Indonesian fans.
The ongoing battle between 3D animation studios has two main contenders: Pixar and Dreamworks. Both can astound with cutting edge graphics and triumph at the box office, but so far, Pixar is ahead, emotionally and artistically.
You can rely on Pixar to turn ideas that are generous on whimsy and thin on plot into entertaining treatises on the human condition. Dreamworks tends to go the plot- and joke-heavy route, adding up to raucous laughs, without matching the former’s timeless magic or insight.
But with How to Train Your Dragon, loosely based on Cressida Cowell’s children’s series, Dreamworks has stepped up its game and delivered a winning family fantasy that, despite its many clichés, has that certain something. That something that elevates it above disposable entertainment and means you’ll be able to watch it again and again.
Chris Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor, a teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a Guardian columnist. Now the 36-year-old is an acclaimed novelist, as well as a proud husband and father-of-three. Incendiary, his debut novel, won several prestigious awards and was adapted into a film starring Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams. His second and most recent novel Little Bee is the current #1 The New York Times fiction bestseller for the third week running, as of the time of writing.
What led you to write Little Bee?
I wanted to put a human face to the world’s refugee crisis. There is so much conflict in the world now, and the media tends to focus on the noisy, violent episodes, rather than the quieter and more emotionally-challenging lives of the people who are displaced by those episodes. But I believe that those human stories are the real story of our world right now, so it was something I felt urgently drawn to write about. And I think that’s something one can do in fiction: to tell a story that is entertaining, enlightening and emotionally true, about events in our real world. On a personal level, I became involved with refugees for the first time in my early 20s, when I worked for a few days in the kitchen of an Immigration Detention Centre in the UK. It opened my eyes to a hidden world.
In this information age, we are all aware of the world’s horrors. Villages razed to the ground, in the name of oil. Starving, swollen-bellied children too frail to brush away the flies that feast on them.
We’ve read these stories in newspapers, watched these images on television. Maybe even seen or experienced them firsthand. Unfortunately this deluge of poignant sights and sounds tends to have a desensitizing effect. It’s hard to think of the sea of sadness as consisting of individuals.
Chris Cleaves’ Little Bee, the follow-up to his best-selling debut Incendiary, turns up the volume of one of the voices among these masses – that of a Nigerian 16-year-old girl who seeks asylum in the UK. He pairs her with her superficially polar opposite – an upper-middle-class Englishwoman – and builds around the two women an affecting, often humorous tale that never sinks under the weight of the heavy matters it addresses.
Think of women writers, and the phrase sastra wangi (fragrant literature or “chick-lit”) is likely to come to mind.
Authors like Mona Sylviana aim to dispel such dismissive and sweeping stereotypes, and their non-chick-lit writings will be showcased in a new short story collection that reflects what editor and publisher John H. McGlynn describes as a post-New Order willingness to confront “societal problems head on”.
“In my opinion, some examples of Indonesian women’s literature are referred to as [chick-lit] out of prejudice. And prejudice comes from discrimination,” Mona says.
Reviewing a film that has just received the highest cinematic accolade is challenging. Then again, those good folks at the Oscars don’t always get it right, and often reward dreary, self-important “Oscar-bait” that we mere popcorn-munching mortals would secretly consider to be like boiled carrots at dinner-time. Good for you but no fun at all.
But, in this case, The Hurt Locker simultaneously defies expectation and earns its sky-high hype – if you’ve been living under a rock, Kathryn Bigelow’s “little movie” seemingly came out of nowhere to sweep the Oscars, claiming six little gold men and triumphing over the showier Avatar, a David vs. Goliath story made even more memorable as James Cameron is Bigelow’s ex-husband.