azrax: melawan sindikat good-taste nazis

how do you deal with something as magnificently post-colonially hybrid as #azrax? on the one hand it laid waste to all conventions of genre filmmaking (is it a tragedy or a comedy or a tragicomedy or… a parody?) on the other hand it follows so scrupulously all the tenets of traditional indonesian film laga down to a’a azrax’s joko sembung ektensyen mullet (the end result is a mashup between the raid x inem pelayan sexy). on the one hand it brings you scenes of unimaginable cruelty rarely seen in other indonesian movies and undoubtedly important to our understanding of the struggle of women in this country (have you ever seen or imagined how an indonesian mami in a hongkong rumah bordil abuses her girls? this movie, against all odds (ie all the trivializing negative buzz against it), offers you a version which is more than anyone has ever done) but on the other hand it treats such scenes with brazen, shocking lightness of touch and comic timing that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry (see the “cilukba” and “indonesian chicken” scene). then on the one hand the whole movie is an a’a gatot vehicle but on the other hand it also pokes fun at the ridiculous, laughable figure of a pastoral pasundan kyai and his hordes of pretty virginal sycophants (ie the real life a’a gatot himself!). i had the best time watching this movie in any case, i laughed at it, i laughed with it, i cried, i was repulsed by it, i cringed, i loved it, i was flummoxed by it, i was intrigued, it got me thinking about the politics of this country, its whirlwind descent into capitalistic sauve qui peut, its soi disant righteousness, but it also told me to stop thinking and just enjoy myself it’s just a movie (as a’a ajrak said in the movie (in the midst of a fight scene!), “easy, man”). it brought back that joy of film-going (not just film-watching or worse film-nitpicking) that i thought had gone forever from my life.

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