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Review: The Act of Killing


The Act of Killing is a documentary filmed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Werner Herzog. It follows the sunset years of Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry, who started as young gangsters sponsored by the Suharto regime to hunt down, torture, and kill communists from the Sukarno rule. The same regime holds strong in Indonesia today.

In their sunset years, the two shoot a movie about their youth as gang members. We learn that the Indonesian word for "gangster" is derivative of the English "free man." That movie's plot moves from gritty black and white reenactments of the killings to surreal scenes in which the gangsters wear sequined gowns and have dead communists thank them for sending them to heaven. This film should be viewed for the added perspective on discussions on impunity, which we see some incidents of in the Philippines today. I believe the film is insightful because of these key points:

1. Oppenheimer gives as holistic and fair a portrayal of the gangsters as he can. Anwar is honest and not at all remorseful. Adi gets nightmares about his victims. Herman Koto, Adi's younger right-hand man, is actually a charismatic, funny and compassionate guy who obviously has a place in show business. That's when you don't see him harassing Chinese businessmen or talking with other gangsters about raping and torturing young communists.

Child of Klang

2. I strongly feel for the Chinese businessmen and for people of Chinese descent in Indonesia today. You will see them getting harassed for "donations" and having to pay for "protection." You'll see that the gangsters actually like them but openly say they won't hesitate to hurt them.

The Guardian

3. Anwar lets out the bitter truth that their military regime is in power and it allows them to do those inhumane things. And that indeed, other non-military governments─democratic, parliamentary and even communist─commit atrocities to masses of people. I believe this last point is important in keeping our emotions in check. Much like power, emotions can blind us from things like points the other side agrees with us on, or new solutions that are better for the country than what we've been pushing for to replace what we've been stuck with for decades.

The Guardian

This gets a 9/10 for me. I hope you find the time to watch and talk about it.

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This is just an observation, but mumblingmaya really likes watching serious movies. Hahaha.

Not really. I just talk about the serious ones because not many people do. :P

In terms of fun movies, have you seen The Jerk? Or Ginger and Rosa?

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