Friday, 26 February 2016

[Movie Review] Deadpool (2016)

WARNING: It does not contain spoilers (hopefully), but it is an honest review, so I hope I don't offend anyone. I try to be very kind here (: It has long intro, and I bet it's different than normal reviews you're used to. So unless you really care about what I think personally, don't complain to me after reading this. And if you really care, read and feel free to share your opinions with me, but remember, we both have freedom to speak, so I'm not bounded in anyway to express my opinions. Enjoy!

I never knew about Deadpool before because I’m not a comic reader. I didn’t even know it’s the eighth instalment of X-Men film series, cos I’m not familiar to X-Men either. Although I’m starting to get into superhero movies especially Marvel’s, I need a really good one to be in my list. When my boyfriend mentioned it, that was the first time I heard of Deadpool, and ever since, I became more aware of it. People were talking about it more as the release date was getting closer, and when I saw the trailer, I decided I wanted to watch it because Deadpool looks like a funny with cool actions movie, a different one too. And yes, Ryan Reynolds is pretty cool, but he wasn’t the main reason.
With Marvel’s movies, I’ve become a bit sceptical because sometimes they’re over-rated, but since I’ve seen the trailer myself, I wanted to watch Deadpool not because of the ratings, but because of my own judgment. I became more excited than my boyfriend who was a fan in the first place. So silly. Then, someone rated Deadpool 100% at Rotten Tomatoes and I became a bit concerned that the movie’s also overrated, so I tried not to put high expectations.
Then, there was John Piper’s seven questions that made me think more than twice before watching the movie. It even almost made me lose interest. The movie is rated R, due to“strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity". I’m usually careful with that kind of movie, cos I’ve been stuck in the worst movies before just because I never checked this rating kinda stuff.
Here are the seven questions (taken from Desiring God)

1. When Will I Tear Out My Eye, If Not Now?

Jesus said everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:28–29). Seeing naked women on the screen — or naked men — causes a man, or woman, to sin with their minds and their desires, and often with their bodies. If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say, “Don’t watch it!”

2. Am I Longing to See God?

I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.

3. Do I Care About the Souls of the Nudes?

God calls women to adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9). When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls. They disobey 1 Timothy 2:9, and if we watch, we say that’s okay.

4. Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role?

Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand, they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand, they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.

5. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?

Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.

6. Am I Assuming Nudity Is Necessary for Good Art?

There is no great film or television series that needs nudity to add to its greatness. No. There isn’t. There are creative ways to be true to reality without turning sex into a spectator’s sport and without putting actors and actresses in morally compromised situations on the set.

It is not artistic integrity that is driving nudity on the screen. Underneath all of this is male sexual appetite driving this business, and following from that is peer pressure in the industry and the desire for ratings that sell. It is not art that puts nudity in film; it’s the appeal of prurience. It sells.

7. Am I Free from Doubt?

There is one biblical guideline that makes life very simple: “Whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:32). My paraphrase: If you doubt, don’t. That would alter the viewing habits of millions, and oh how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience.

So I say it again: Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence, and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand.

Just a quick explanation to make things clear, I, as a Christian, believe that every human rejected the good and loving God the Creator and fell into slavery of sin and darkness. So now, we are all (no exception) naturally evil. We don’t need anyone to teach us how to lie, and we abuse things around us, such as sex and nudity (and so many other things).
God created sex as part of marriage, as a good thing just like other creations. But since we are sinners, we abuse it by separating it from marriage, and make it an entertainment to watch or show in public, while it’s actually a private thing for husband and wife.
Now, why is it better for us Christians not to see sex scenes or nudity? When everyone is a sinner and rebel and deserves punishment which is death and judgment from God, God loves us so much He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on behalf of us cos Jesus is the only one who can pay for our sin and rebellion. He’s risen and ascended to God’s right hand to reserve a place for those who believe in him. So when we accept Jesus as our Lord and King, we receive eternal life in him, no longer our life, but his cos he pays for it. By living for him the King, we follow what he wants us to do, not what we want to do. We are washed, so don’t go back to mud.
But Jesus’ work is not fully finished yet. We are washed, but we still live in our old selves, so we still have sinful nature with us. That’s why he sent Holy Spirit to help us battle with this old self, to be transformed into a new self like Christ, while waiting for Jesus’ return when we’ll be raised in a new body, no more sin.
We never know when Jesus will return, but we know it’s soon, so we have to always be ready, guarding our hearts to be holy and pure. Knowing our sinful nature and so many temptations, therefore we have to be wise in what we do, think, say, see. We are naturally lustful, and Jesus says it’s already adultery by just seeing and thinking it. So even though we don’t sleep around and have sex with people who aren’t our husbands/wives, by just looking at it, it automatically made us think of it, and that’s not helpful for our mind.
That’s why we shouldn’t watch the sex scenes and nudity that will only bring us more to temptations and sin. Sex and nudity are not bad if they’re in context which is marriage, but we are bad. So we better watch out of what we see. Make sure we avoid things that we know won’t be helpful.
People would easily argue, “That means we can’t watch anything cos most movies now would have sex scenes and nudity.” Although I agree, it’s not fully true cos there are still (thankfully) clean movies around, but of course, it’s not many so not easy to find, and not easy to know too. The scenes can be anywhere and catch us off guard. Although we can avoid some, there will be times we’ll be caught off guard.
And I know it’s hard to not watch a good movie just because of those unhelpful scenes. Let me share how I handle this. I close my eyes and ears whenever I notice some scenes are leading to sex and/or nudity. Sometimes it just suddenly pops up, but thankfully, I’ve been trained to have reflex to look away or close my eyes and ears. You can do this too, and pray God would help you to always look away.
Although it’s not fully helpful cos being sinners as we are, we still automatically know what’s happening and think of it, but I try hard not to think much about it. I even train myself to hate sex and nudity outside marriage especially when it’s shown in public. I think it’s gross. Again, they’re not bad, until they’re being abused out of context.
But what got me more to think is point 3 (from Piper’s questions), that by watching it, I indirectly support nudity and sex in movies, which I definitely don’t want to support. Although when I go watch a movie, I’m supporting and appreciating the filmmakers, and not necessarily the unhelpful scenes, it does help the movies get popular and people would think it’s because of the sex and nudity scenes, so people would make more of it, thinking that’s what people want. Which is true, we sinful people love that.
So I don’t want to support it that way. But then, thinking deeper, no matter what I do, filmmakers would still include sex and nudity, cos it’s already part of their culture. Majority of people like it, the filmmakers like it, so not much I can do. It’s sad to think that they’re so uncreative and don’t have anything to put into a movie that they have to put in sex and nudity scenes. It’s not an art at all.
I can only write this to let people know my opinion about the stupid sex and nudity scenes. This has become an opportunity to talk about the gospel, so God is cool, using bad things for His good purposes.
Why do I talk more about sex and nudity, not the heavy violence? Like what John Piper says, we can easily think violence is make-believe, made up, not real. Although it can provoke people, it’s not as strong as sex and nudity cos they’re not make believe. The actors and actresses really do it in front of camera, in front of so many audience. And it attacks our mind like a bug, straight away.
 In the end, I went to watch it, not to support sex and nudity scenes, but to appreciate filmmakers and storytellers, cos it’s my field, and to see for myself and then tell and warn people based on what I know, so it’s more convincing. Of course, I’ve promised myself and God to close my eyes and ears during the inappropriate unhelpful scenes (both sex nudity and violence).
I understand why people warn me, because the rating is right. It is full of heavy violence and strong nudity scenes. I closed my eyes on all sex and nudity scenes, and it’s annoying cos I had to close my ears and think of something else for quite some time. Some can be easily detected, so I closed my eyes and ears before it even started, but some caught me off guard and pissed me off. Weirdly enough, the violence didn’t disturb me. Maybe because I was fully aware that it was made up (not that the editing and effects weren’t good that it looked fake. It looked real, but my mindset already knew it wasn’t, so it was okay for me), but I did look away for some parts.
Ultimately, it’s not as bad as I thought. Maybe because I was already preparing for the worst. So, I think it’s okay to watch, as long as you close your eyes and ears on the scenes you don’t think would be helpful. In the end, it’s up to you and your own wisdom and judgment of what to do and not to do. I can only warn you of what you’re looking into, advising and encouraging you to close your eyes and ears during unhelpful scenes, remind you of the gospel, and pray God would give you the wisdom you need.
Now, as a film and writing student, I can’t help but comment on the other things. Good that I lost interest for a little bit, so I wasn’t expecting much and not disappointed. Yes, because it wasn’t as good as I thought at first. It was overrated, sadly to sad. I might not enjoy it that much because I wasn’t a fan and a comic reader, but as an outsider spectator, I don’t think the plot is as brilliant as some other (superhero) movies.
I liked the actions and the characters – they’ve done a great character development in 2 hours movie – even the side characters are unique, strong, and like/hateable. But back to plot, I didn’t get it. It’s a common idea of revenge, and I don’t see strong enough reasons for the characters to do some of the things they do in the movie (I won’t give examples so I won’t spoil anything). Plus, there’s not much twist in it, so it doesn’t feel unique and special enough aside from the characters. So when it ends, I sort of didn’t feel that satisfied. It does build up to climax, but then it’s just not that intense. Didn’t involve me into so many up and down feelings.
It’s funny, but some jokes aren’t that funny – it’s inappropriate, sometimes mean, and sometimes I just don’t understand or don’t catch what they’re saying. I’m also not a fan of dirty inappropriate jokes, so… yeah.
The way they tell the story is pretty cool, though. Deadpool speaking to the audience, telling his story, forward and backward with flashbacks. It’s engaging. And I think the opening credit is creative and funny. The editing and effects are great and believable for me. Casting’s well done. The actors and actresses acted their roles and played the characters well. And one more thing that I just have to say out loud, I love Deadpool suit! I’m a big fan of full masks, that’s why I love Spiderman too. Haha!
Thanks to cool actions and characters and some funny jokes, I rated this movie 6 out of 10. Hey, it’s not that bad. It’s still above 5/half (: (I've watched and rated worse movies).
Once more, in the end, it's up to you whether you wanna watch it or not. I pray God would give you wisdom to decide, and act in the manner worthy of the gospel.

P.S. Although I hope I haven't offended anyone, I do pray for conviction of Holy Spirit and that God is glorified! Amen. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

[Flash Fiction] Nineteen

(Inspired by Eleven by Sandra Cisneros)


Nineteen. Last year of teenage, they say. What should you do? Prepare yourself to be twenty, or have fun while you're young like you're eighteen? 

When you're nineteen, you're also eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one. When you wake up and expect to feel nineteen, you don't always do. When you think it's all just yesterday, and today is today, you don't feel any differences at all. 

Like when you think you're mature, but you're not, like you're still eighteen. Think you know the best but you don't, like seventeen. Stubborn like sixteen.  Be a drama queen like fifteen.  Emotional and unstable like fourteen. Do stupid mistakes like thirteen. Speak without thinking like twelve.  I might not take things seriously when I should, like I'm eleven. 

Maybe one day when I'm grown up, I will still be selfish like I'm ten, full of ego like I'm nine, expect people to do things for me like I'm eight, pout when I don't get what I want like I'm seven, say stupid things that hurt people's feelings like I'm six, try hard not to cry but cry in the end like I'm five. You'd wish you'd grow up soon like you're four, or wish that you'd never grow up like you're three. You'd be helpless like two, depend on everyone on everything like you're one.

But you can also take a next step. Wish you're 30 and be one. Like you've experienced almost everything, you can give advises to people like you know it all. Be mature. Be 20. Be 21. Be 22. Be 102. Wise old woman who learns from mistakes. Who is thankful for her past 101 years before this one. Who knows what to do. Who cherishes everything. Who is loving and caring. Who serves people even only with a warm smile.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

[Flash Fiction] Everything Has A Price


Terkadang, ia mengingatkan kita pada masa lalu. Sebagian orang menyukainya – suasana sejuk dan tentram yang tercipta oleh suara gemericik air dan bau tanah. Sedangkan bagiku, yang ada hanyalah rasa amarah dan dendam, suara rintihan, dan bau karat. Aku termasuk sebagian orang lainnya. 

Oh, tidak. Aku tidak hanya membenci hujan. 

Aku ingin membunuhnya. 

Tinggal di kota yang selalu diguyur hujan pun menjadi penderitaan tersendiri bagiku, apalagi saat sedang terjebak hujan seperti saat ini. Seakan dipenjarakan bersama musuh bebuyutanmu.

"Wah, hujan, lagi," komentar seseorang yang juga terperangkap di penjara siksaan ini. 

Aku meliriknya sekilas, tetap mempertahankan ekspresi datarku. Pria berjaket abu-abu itu membalas lirikanku, dan ekspresinya berubah, sangat kontras dengan ekspresiku. 

"Max?" sapanya tak percaya.

Aku hanya menganggukkan kepalaku sekali, tidak begitu menghiraukannya. 

Pria itu menatapku lekat-lekat, membuatku merasa risih seketika. "Wow! Long time no see! Apa kabar? Kau terlihat sangat berbeda."

Aku mendengus dalam hati. Tentu saja aku berubah. Dan siapa yang bertanggung jawab akan hal itu? Seharusnya tidak ada, karena segala hal dalam hidup ini tidak luput dari perubahan. Tapi, yang satu ini berbeda. Someone was responsible. 

"Seperti yang kau lihat, aku baik-baik saja," sahutku datar. Seperti biasa, aku selalu berpura-pura semuanya baik-baik saja. Itu yang dilakukan semua orang, bukan? Hidup ini seperti sandiwara, dan manusia adalah aktornya. 

Well, aku tidak selalu begini. Ada alasan di balik setiap hal yang terjadi dalam hidup ini – baik yang menyenangkan maupun menyakitkan, dan aku adalah salah satu korban dari alasan yang menyakitkan tersebut. 

Pria itu melangkah pelan ke arahku, membuat tanganku otomatis mencengkeram saku jaket. "Are you sure you're okay?" tanyanya. Sekelibat rasa cemas terpancar dari kedua bola matanya, membuatku memutar bola mata. Perlukah kuulang kalau hidup ini hanyalah sandiwara? 

Pria itu mendesah. "Look, I know it's been long time, but I never got a chance to tell you that I'm really sorry. I never meant to–"

And there he goes. Momen yang tidak pernah kunantikan. Penjelasan yang tidak perlu kudengar. Pria itu terus mengoceh, dan kini suaranya mulai terdengar seperti dengungan lebah yang membuat telingaku sakit. 

Aku pun memutuskan untuk membungkamnya. "Aku tidak perlu penjelasan," selaku mantap. 

Ocehan pria itu pun tergantikan oleh suara rintihan yang familiar, yang selalu datang diantar hujan. Tatapan hangat pria itu membeku, bukan karena dinginnya udara hari ini. Bau karat pun ikut menguar bersamanya. Dan sedetik kemudian, pria itu berlutut di hadapanku. 

Aku tersenyum bengis. "Yang kuperlukan hanyalah pelampiasan," lanjutku sambil menarik benda silver yang sudah berpindah tempat dari sakuku ke saku pria itu. 

Aku pun mulai kehilangan kendali. Aku terus mengulang apa yang baru saja kulakukan sambil mengoceh panjang lebar – menuangkan semua isi kepalaku.

"That's for leaving us to suffer alone." 

"That's for being coward." 

"That's for letting Jim go."  

"That's for ruining my life."

Suara rintihan itu terdengar semakin lemah, dan bau karat tercium semakin pekat. Tetapi, apa yang kurasakan bertolak belakang. Dendam telah terbalaskan. Amarah telah terlampiaskan. Akhirnya, ia merasakan apa yang kami rasakan – sakit dan ketidakberdayaan, seperti saat ia meninggalkan Jim yang terluka parah dan aku yang berusaha menyelamatkan Jim. 

Aku mencabut benda silver itu dari saku kemejanya – yang telah berubah warna menjadi merah marun, dan kembali menancapkannya untuk yang terakhir kali. 

Six stabs in the heart to pay what he had done. 

"Max–" panggilnya dengan susah payah, dan aku mendorongnya sampai jatuh tersungkur, lalu mengibaskan rambut panjangku. 

"Namaku Maxine," ralatku. "Hanya Jim yang boleh memanggilku Max."

[Flash Fiction] Thank You for Visiting, Come Again!

(Inspired by a dream)


It’s been a while since the last time I saw him. He seemed well just now. I still can’t believe my sight, but I’m pretty sure it was him. He still looked the same, not much changes, I guess. 

I can’t remember it clearly what happened just now. I tried recalling it by closing my eyes, and I saw I was on the bus with my family, and when we got off, I remembered my sister called out his name. I turned to the bus, and there he was, getting off the same bus with a flat face. I recalled my sister commenting on his expression which didn’t seem too happy. I wondered what was wrong with him, but above it all, he looked fine.

After that, I can’t remember anything else. Well, I kind of remembered I was with him before we got into the bus. We ordered taco or whatever it was. But it was all blur, until the very last part, before I woke up. Dreams are always like that – strange and blur, but this is my first time being very sure it was him, with the face and all that. Not the best picture, I can barely remember it now, but I’m glad I have this dream – one of the dreams that I can actually remember for a longer time.

It’s been almost five years now, but I can’t say I’m fully healed. The truth is, they lied. Time doesn’t heal. Pain doesn’t goes away. What really happens is, that we get used to the pain, so it doesn’t hurt as it did. But it’s still there, and sometimes, we can still feel it. Like every time I remembered that day, when Mom received a call from Dad’s friend, telling us that God finally called him home and released him from all sufferings in this world.

I can’t be more thankful to God for freeing him, and I learned to let him go since I know it is for his own good. I was hurt, but it means nothing when I remember how happy he will be. I’m always grateful to have such a great father, even just for thirteen years. I hope – I mean, I know you’re doing okay there, Dad. Thanks for visiting my dreamland. We really appreciate your visit. Come again next time! We sure miss you.

[Short Story] I'll Tell Her If You Don't

(Inspired by CSI NY Season 5 Episode 7)


"Recognize this picture?"

The man in gray suit puts a piece of photograph on the desk in front of me. I just need to glance at it for a second to identify the mid-40 white man in the picture. I snort as I glare at the man in who is now pulling a chair and sitting on the other side of the table. I bet he knows what my answer will be, so why bother asking?

The man leans on the table between us to stare at me in the eyes. "We found this picture in the victim's pocket, and a similar one in his computer. It was sent from a username ‘Tom1101’ to ‘CaseyXOX’ via an online messenger.  Care to explain, Cassandra? Or should I call you ‘Casey’?"

“Sandra,” I correct him. I glance back at the smiling man in the picture, with white hand-writing written across his face.

I'll tell her if you don't.

I look up to stare straight ahead through the detective at the glass wall behind him.

"You don't want to tell the story? Let me tell it for you, then," the man says in a firm tone. "So, you met this man online and had an affair with him. You didn't know who he was until he sent his picture. Once you found out, you stopped everything right away and sent this photograph to threaten him," he adds a pause. "But since he ignored it, you decided to–"

"If you already knew the whole story," I interrupt him. "Why am I still here? I don't want to waste my time to listen to you boasting about how great you are for solving the case. Just show me where my cell is." I stand up, but the detective stops me from moving any further.

“Sit down, I haven’t finished,” he commands.

I follow his order since I have no other choices. There are two other policemen guarding by the door, ready to stop me whenever.

"Do you know what’s strange about this case?" he asks, and I ignore him, so he continues. "We got everything. Evidences – we got your prints all over the baseball bat, then the MO."

I cross my arms in front of my chest. "So, why am I here? For the statement? Confession?"

The detective flips the paper he's holding. "He wasn't just shot." He puts another picture on the desk, and I look away. "We found bruises all over his body, and they're all post-mortem." I can hear his fingers tapping on the picture – a picture of a beaten dead body with a shotgun wound on his chest. "I understand that you're mad at him, but why beat him up, after shooting him?"

I snort. "To make sure he's dead? You're the detective. It's your job to figure it out."

"You were angry because he was cheating on your mom, but it wasn't strong enough for you to kill him." It was a statement, not a question, so I remain silent. "There's another reason, isn't it?"

The detective searches for my eyes, but I avoid it. "I was just trying to protect my mom. She doesn't deserve being treated like this."

"By killing your own father?"

I glare at him. "He's not my dad. My dad died four years ago," I argue. I make a knuckle and slam it quietly to my chair. "I knew it from the beginning – letting my mom marry that guy was a mistake. Huge mistake. I had tried everything to make her realize it, but she just didn't want to listen."

I glance at the dark glass window. I can’t see anything or anyone, but I know someone is standing there. I just know. So I keep talking with both eyes darted at the glass. "She ignored all my warnings. She said I was making that up because I wasn't ready to replace my dad. This junk-head had criminal records, for crying out loud! But my mom just didn't want to listen. And now, look at her!" I stand up as I point angrily to the glass window. "And what’s more ironic is, even after being beaten up for the whole year, she still didn't do anything about it.”

"So, you decided to take action."

I smile as I sit back on my chair. "He took the bait easily. I bet he was cheating with a lot of women before me."

"You thought if you caught him cheating on your mom, she would ask for divorce." The detective stares at me right in the eyes. "But he caught you first, didn't he?"

My eyes wide-open when I see a man walks into the room angrily with a piece of paper in his hand. He walks towards the girl who’s sitting in front of the computer and forces her to stand up.

“What do you think you’re doing, huh?” The man grasps the girl’s arm tightly and holds up the paper right in front of her eyes. “You’re framing me? You think I’m that stupid?”

The girl doesn’t answer. Out of the sudden, she knocks the man’s head with hers, and pulls a gun out of her drawer as fast as the lightning. “I know you’ve been cheating on her this whole time. You never loved her.” She shakily aims the gun towards the man.

The man smirks as he raises both of his hands. “I love her. Her money.” He laughs sarcastically. “I wonder why she isn’t as smart as her daughter. I guess she’s blinded by love.”


The man falls on his knees with blood streaming out from his chest.

My smile appears thinly. "It wasn't a mistake. I don't regret killing him. It's for my mom’s sake after all." I blink my eyes a few time to get back to reality. My memories flashed before my eyes just like it happened right in front of me.

The detective raises his eyebrows. “So, you're telling me that you're trying to protect your mom, by taking her husband away? And now we have to take her daughter too, leaving her all alone. Is that what you called protecting?"

I remain silent, so the detective nods to one of the cops who’s been standing next to the door the whole time, and he asks me to stand up and put my hands behind my back.

I follow all the instructions quietly as the cop handcuffs my hands.

“Isn’t it better?”

The detective, who’s approaching the door, stops his steps and turns to me.

“Now, she’s safe from a lunatic criminal husband and a psycho daughter,” I continue.

The detective shakes his head and leaves. The cop is instructing me to do the same, but before leaving the room, I turn to the glass wall and smile. “Take care, Mom. You’re free now.”