Review: The Act of Killing

FJ Rating: Renter

Cast: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin, Ibrahim Sinik, Yapto Soerjosoemarno

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

R, 1 hr 56 min

“The Act of Killing” tells the chilling real-life account of gangsters-turned-death squad leaders in Medan, Indonesia.  After the Indonesian government was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends went from scalping movie theatre tickets to killing Indonesia’s so-called “communists.” Through dancing and make-believe gangster scenes, ‘The Act of Killing” captures the reenactments of these death squad leaders’ memories of mass murder.

This film was incredibly powerful and eye-opening.  At the same time, watching a film about a country whose people praised death squad leaders in the killing of innocent people, it was incredibly hard to watch.  This film took me back to a feeling I experienced the first time I read a book about the Holocaust; this uneasy, surreal feeling.  Sometimes, amidst the work day and watching “reality” television on my couch at home, I forget about some of the terrible shit that happens around the world. “The Act of Killing” brought me back down to a place of actual reality, not the kind you see on Bravo or E!  I thought Joshua Oppenheimer did a great job at capturing the reality of what actually happened, through the tellings of Anwar and the rest of the death squad leaders’ haunted memories.

The reason I rated “The Act of Killing” a Renter is because I would much rather watch this film in the comfort of my own home over a theatre full of strangers, due to the subject matter of the film.  Although I think the film is a top-contender to go home with an Oscar win for Documentary Feature, there are still a few of the other documentary features I need to see.

“The Act of Killing” is available on Netflix and On Demand (check your cable service provider), but there are some other ways to watch it listed here.

-FJ

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41 days to go!

Happy Monday, FFLs!  I hope everyone had a great weekend, filled with lots of movie reviews to share.

My weekend was jam-packed with movies.  Friday night I watched the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Act of Killing,” Saturday my family and I rented “Runner Runner” (Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake), and last night I watched “Enough Said” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini) and the Oscar-nominated film, “Prisoners.”  Since “The Act of Killing” and “Prisoners” are both up for an Oscar, I will post more in-depth reviews later today.  As for “Runner Runner” and “Enough Said,” I will give you guys a little snippet of what I thought:

Runner Runner – I thought “Runner Runner” was okay.  I think it’s worth seeing once, but I probably wouldn’t care to watch it again.  The acting was fine, but I didn’t think it was great, and I found myself confused throughout parts of the film.  I just didn’t really get it.

Enough Said – I haven’t seen much of James Gandolfini’s work, but it really is a shame the industry lost him at such a young age.  From Sopranos to “Enough Said,” James Gandolfini had a wide range of talent.  His likability and softer side shined through in this film, and the chemistry between him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus was undeniable.  I loved this film; it was cute, witty, touching, and real.  It made me think about life and the changes that come with aging.  I would watch this movie again and again.

Photo credit: IMDB.com

Photo credit: IMDB.com

I’d love to hear your reviews from over the weekend, so feel free to comment below!

Stay tuned for my reviews of “The Act of Killing” and “Prisoners.”

-FJ