Kala (Dead Time)

Kala image
Wednesday, September 25
6:30 p.m. – Korean Studies Auditorium

It’s at Bendonowongso Hill, before the seven-step temple…” Whispered words on a tape recording–from a woman who dies in a traffic accident soon after she speaks them – are the key to a supernatural mystery in Joko Anwar’s immoderately absorbing thriller. The period and setting are not specified, but the film noir atmosphere and styles of clothing and transport strongly suggest the police-state Indonesia of Suharto’s heyday; this is that rarest of genre movies, a ghost story with a political subtext–complete with police brutality, vigilante mobs, bureaucratic stonewalling, governmental corruption and an increasingly cowed and repressed general public, not to mention a series of gruesome deaths.

Actually, the film traverses genres as confidently and unpredictably as Hong Kong movies once did, here evoking Costa-Gavras, there evoking Highlander. One of its two protagonists is a relatively clean-cut, uncomplicated hero (he’s an honest cop who lives up to his name: Eros) but the other is as unconventional as they come: a harried journalist named Janus, who succumbs to narcolepsy whenever he’s stressed or frightened. Janus has just been divorced by his wife and is about to lose his job at the newspaper; just as his life is falling apart, people around him start dying strange deaths. This is Joko Anwar’s second movie as director (he previous directed a hit rom-com and co-scripted the pioneering gay comedy Arisan!), and it suggests a talent at the top of his game. Dead Time is seriously entertaining. – VIFF

Directed by Joko Anwar, the boy genius of Indonesian cinema and scriptwriter for Nia Dinata’s ARISAN and Riri Riza’s JANJI JONI.

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