Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Good Saturday in Jakarta

A Good Saturday in Jakarta

It is strange how I only get to watch movies when I'm out of Malaysia: Today I managed to catch Martin Scorsese's The Aviator at the Block M Plaza cineplex. It wasn't planned though; I had lunch at the Surabaya Cafe in Plaza Blok M and then decided to have a peek at what's showing at the cineplex on the top floor: The Aviator was about to start in 5 minutes and I thought why not?

Scorsese as usual did not disappoint. What magnificent movies this guy makes: Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York, just to mention a few. All of them are priceless cinematic treasures, a kaleidoscopic canon of works to be studied by students of the cinema for many generations to come. They are also interesting peeks into the many facets of the American psyche through different historical periods and geography.

The Aviator continues this grand Scorsese tradition--its subject is the enigmatic American industrialist, Howard Hughes, played with great sensitivity by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie captivated me from beginning to end. There were unmistakable shades of Citizen Kane in there with Howard Hughes portrayed as an eccentric man driven by an obsessive passion for aviation and a burning desire to achieve his dreams at all cost. Having deprived myself of a good movie for such a long time, I rediscovered what a joy and a great source of inspiration there are. I think I'll have to think of a way to ensure that I watch a least a movie every two weeks perhaps.

Of course, Jakartans consume pirate DVDs by the dozens every week. So they are usually in touch with all the latest movies (not to mention every episode of Sex and the City and Friends ever made). What a great change of lifestyle these pirated DVDs have brought us--watching them has become the de facto choice of pastime for most people on weekends, to the point that some actually run out of movies to watch. Our appetite for mental junk food is insatiable indeed. I wonder what we used to do before the home video was invented. Were we so entertainment-deprived then or have we simply acquired the bad habit of over-indulging in our craving for ever more intense stimulus?

Well, weekends are no time to philosophize about such things. Let us all enjoy them with our own personal choice of entertainment. I am grateful for another quiet Saturday in Jakarta--an appointment with Mbak Nani at Pasar Mayestik in the morning, a slow soto sulung lunch at Surabaya Cafe, a wonderful movie at the Plaza Blok M cineplex and a great Liverpool win (with Morientes and Baros scoring) at night on ESPN. I couldn't have asked for a better Saturday.

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