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Staff & contributors

Air Mata di Ujung Sajadah tugs at the heartstrings because it recognizes the pain of losing one’s child, whether that be to elopement, death, or to their biological parent. This, with a stirring score, and the tears of Titi Kamal and Citra Kirana, makes Aqilla and Yumna easy to root for, as they try to settle who would best be Baskara’s mother. It’s not an easy decision, and the film thankfully refrains from turning either woman to be an antagonist. However, all the sorrow, pain, and suffering hinges on Halimah’s decision, that, in the first place, shouldn’t have been possible. As the film plays out into its inevitable conclusion, the journey there is heartwarming, maybe even tearjerking, but it doesn’t feel as satisfying as it could have been if Halimah dealt with the consequences of her actions.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Citra Kirana, Dendy Subangil, Fedi Nuril, Jenny Rachman, Krisjiana Baharudin, Mbok Tun, Muhammad Faqih Alaydrus, Titi Kamal, Tutie Kirana

Director: Key Mangunsong

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In a world when women are sexualized and objectified, but also judged and excluded under the guise of religious righteousness, Adire seeks a middle ground. It dares to explore how women’s beauty can be a force for good, rather than a source of shame, even within the religion that traditionally excludes women from its leadership. That being said, Adire focuses on this to the detriment of all other ideas loosely stitched to the narrative, such as the cultural heritage in using the adire fabric for modern lingerie, sex and desire as an impetus for art, and the need for intimacy, not just sex, in relationships. Adire has the ideas, but not the execution, especially when it loses its way in the second half of the film.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Femi Branch, Funlola Aofiyebi, Kehinde Bankole, Mike Afolarin, Yvonne Jegede

Director: Adeoluwa Owu

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With a boring wedding, attended by a guarded woman and a spontaneous man, starting a series of shared recollections of past heartbreak, Which Brings Me to You has all the elements needed for an early aughts romcom, releasing at a time when Y2K is trending. The original novel’s epistolary format is interestingly translated into flashbacks told in one whole day, with Will and Jane visually popping within the sequences as the two get to know each other through their past heartbreaks. It’s a unique idea, but the execution feels lackluster, with the dialogue and direction that can’t be saved through Lucy Hale’s or Nat Wolff’s efforts. There’s certainly something here about romance being a possible avenue to open up, but Which Brings Me to You doesn’t build the chemistry to get there.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alexander Hodge, Avery Cole, Britne Oldford, Chase Liefeld, Genevieve Angelson, Jamie McRae, John Gallagher Jr., Laura Kai Chen, Lucy Hale, Marceline Hugot, Michael Mulheren, Mitzi Akaha, Nat Wolff, Reilly Walters, Ward Horton

Director: Peter Hutchings

Rating: PG-13

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There have been plenty of excellent films that tackle plenty of themes all at once, but Saindhav feels like a bunch of unrelated ideas strung together as an excuse for cool action set pieces. We’re first presented with the idea that violent video games are being used to recruit children for terrorist groups, but in response to this is a pretty violent protagonist that does over-the-top killings complete with explosions. His justification is that he’s doing it for money for his sick daughter, whose treatment is exorbitantly expensive. Both of these ideas should be discussed, and the cast tries to make the best of it, but Saindhav just combines these ideas to justify the glorified violence they’re supposedly critiquing.

Genre: Action, Crime

Actor: Andrea Jeremiah, Arya, Baby Sara, Getup Srinu, Jayaprakash, Jisshu Sengupta, Mukesh Rishi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ramajogayya Sastry, Ravi Varma, Ruhani Sharma, Sailesh Kolanu, Shraddha Srinath, Venkatesh

Director: Sailesh Kolanu

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Being based on the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie, we weren’t expecting much from the new Road House on Amazon Prime. Like the original, it has fun fight sequences, shot in a way that brings us to the bar itself, and it’s amusing to see actual MMA fighter Conor McGregor acting as an antagonist. However, this adaptation rewrites the main character to be a former UFC fighter, turning the story into something more akin to an outsider cowboy Western rather than a bouncer action drama. It’s not outright terrible, but it just feels uneven, and the cast performances can’t make up for the thinly written characters. It also just doesn’t feel like Road House.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Actor: Arturo Castro, B.K. Cannon, Beau Knapp, Billy Magnussen, Bruce Buffer, Candy Santana, Catfish Jean, Chad Guerrero, Conor McGregor, Craig Ng, Daniela Melchior, Darren Barnet, Dominique Columbus, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Hannah Love Lanier, J. D. Pardo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jay Hieron, Jessica Williams, Joaquim de Almeida, Jonathan Kowalsky, Kevin Carroll, Lukas Gage, Post Malone, Ruairi Rhodes, Travis Van Winkle

Director: Doug Liman

Rating: R

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There’s something frightening about being consistently spurned due to circumstances out of your control. This is the main concern of Pulimada’s Vincent, since he’s not marriage material due to his family’s history of mental illness. The twisty plot is reminiscent of old gothic mysteries, complete with a tiger metaphor, but the execution is off, especially since it takes more than two thirds of the film before there’s anything to fear. It’s clear that Pulimada has an engaging, though dated concept, and Joju George’s transformation for Vincent could have definitely gotten there. But entering this tiger’s den feels like a letdown when there’s no risk, no style, no intrigue in the film’s approach.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Abu Salim, Aishwarya Rajesh, Balachandra Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Dileesh Nair, Jaffer Idukki, Jeo Baby, Johny Antony, Joju George, Krishna Prabha, Lijomol Jose

Director: A K Sajan

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Known best for his horror films, writer-director Christopher Smith’s latest stint in the genre has dropped on Hulu. Consecration is one of many supernatural horror films set in convents and churches, as the Catholic Church’s notorious silence is easy fodder for potential fears. There’s some of that here, as Grace, portrayed by the excellent Jena Malone, tries to uncover the truth, not just for her brother’s murder but for her own past. However, there’s no secrecy in this murder mystery with the dialogue holding no subtlety at all. Even as the cast makes the most of it, Consecration drags down any possible tension or intrigue with its painfully straightforward dialogue and incoherent timeline shifts.

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Actor: Alexandra Lewis, Angela White, Charlotte Palmer, Danny Huston, David Boyle, Eilidh Fisher, Emma Hixson, Ian Pirie, Janet Suzman, Jena Malone, Jolade Obasola, Kit Rakusen, Marilyn O'Brien, Steffan Cennydd, Thoren Ferguson, Will Keen

Director: Christopher Smith

Rating: R

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It’s surreal to watch Congrats My Ex, because the Thai production feels inspired by Indian romance films, with its musical numbers, elaborate dance sequences, and maximalist sets and costumes. With both India and Thailand culturally linked for centuries, it’s interesting to see how this film celebrates their commonalities. That being said, this film isn’t too focused on this, on the difficulties of having an intercultural, long distance relationship– it knows that it wants to be an over-the-top wedding rom com. It does overly rely on the standard rom-com tropes, with a dash of slapstick shenanigans, over-the-top wedding dramatics, and one too many reckless driving accidents. It’s still a fun watch for fans of Bella and Bright though, but it’s nothing new.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Anahita Bhooshan, Anjana Ghogar, Darina Boonchu, Mahir Pandhi, Passakorn Ponlaboon, Ranee Campen, Thongchai Thongkanthom, Vachirawit Chivaaree

Director: Prueksa Amaruji

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With stunning art, an exciting heist, and a steamy romance between a good girl detective and bad boy billionaire, Art of Love could have leaned into the sleek and campy tension of the original 2005 Mr. & Mrs. Smith. There’s some of it here, with the investigation bringing up her previous, sensual memories of the romance that was, and Esra Bilgiç and Birkan Sokullu looking so, so gorgeous dressed in the most stylish outfits. But the film mostly plays out in generic Netflix fashion, with the characters replaying dated clichés, and not actually dealing with the emotional betrayal that should have marked Güney’s abandonment. Art of Love is at least beautiful to look at.

Genre: Action, Drama, Romance

Actor: Birkan Sokullu, Esra Bilgiç, Fırat Tanış, Hakan Ummak, Nil Keser, Osman Alkaş, Ushan Cakir

Director: Recai Karagöz

Rating: PG-13

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