This is the official blog of Winna Efendi, author of several bestselling Indonesian novels.

Sabtu, 26 Januari 2013

(movie) Liberal Arts

I don't really know what I expected when I grabbed the DVD except knowing that this is a possible love story between two characters with a large age gap, both fond of classical music and literature. What I get is a surprisingly pleasant and meaningful movie about love, friendship and youth (also coping with age and time).

I have never really seen Josh Radnor in anything, but I did watch Elizabeth Olsen in Love, Peace and Misunderstanding and loved her subtle but strong performance there. This movie centers around a 35 year old man living a mundane life and wishing he could come back to his college years, and when he goes back to Ohio to see his college professor, he meets Zibby, a 19 year old student with a love for classical music (after this class changes her life), and books. They are attracted to each other but he is hesitant because of their age gap, but slowly warms to the idea and starts exchanging handwritten letters.

The movie deals with age, and the anecdotes in the movies from different characters are accurately portraying each dilemma with grace and meaning. The old college professor retiring, Peter, makes an anecdote about thinking he never thinks he's not 19 ever since he passes that age, but everybody else stops seeing him as 19 as he grows up. Then there's Nat, a grungy character, making an observation about a caterpillar not wanting to grow up and fighting the cells trying to turn it into a butterfly, but in the end everything is going to be alright, and there is no fighting it. There's also suicidal Dean, not wanting to live, wanting to end things as soon as possible because he's unhappy. The exchange between the characters are so realistic and thought-provoking, but in the end it shows that not every two people who are right for each other can be together. Life goes on, some days suck, some days we feel lucky we're alive. It's nice to know what others feel that sentiment as well, that we're not alone.

What a powerful message in this movie. It falls in the same category of my favorite movies such as It's Kind of a Funny Story, the Art of Getting By, the Descendants, Like Crazy, and other indie movies I come across and love.

Kamis, 17 Januari 2013

(movie) Cloud Atlas

I would say that I'm honored to be one of the audiences watching this wonderful, heartwarming, fast paced movie. I love the idea of it - something in common between all 6 stories, transcends through time, actors portraying different, distinct characters and being so in character for a moment I forget they are one but the same.

I'm not usually a fan of movies with strings of stories within one movie. Take What to Expect When You're Expecting, for instance, or Valentine's Day, which I'm not so keen of, although I do love Love Actually, New Year's Eve and New York, I Love You. This one's different, as it does not follow an event or a concept, but is adapted straight from the book I tend to categorize into general fiction with slashes of fantasy (and I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet).

I'm happy to see Tom Hanks on the big screen again. Happier to see faces I haven't seen in a while - Jim Sturgess (who captivates in Upside Down), Ben Whishaw (ah, he looks familiar, turns out he's Skyfall's Q), Zhou Xun, and a string of other talented people. They even play different genders, with a multitude of faces (I applaud the make up effects team for this).

Supported with this strong cast ensemble, the movie itself does not disappoint. I feel strangely melancholy after the ending wraps, as if there's hope in the future despite a bleak past or present. The cinematography is lush, clear and beautiful, with an amazing soundtrack ranging from classical to piano instrumentals that I enjoy so much. The plot is strong and the directing spot on, without making the audience feel confused or wanting the movie to get to the point as quickly as possible. There are cute moments with comedy that make me laugh, and there are enough gory details as well as a bit of romance to keep fans of every genre happy. All in all, this is a movie about life, friendship, hope, and living, above all. One connection transcends through time. One thing leads to another - the power of consequence.

I love it. A well deserved 9 out of 10 stars.

Life is fleeting

Life is fleeting,
but love is everlasting.

Love transcends through generations,
lifetimes, built in the past, planted for the future.

Through one connection,
we collect moments.

Within those moments,
we create memories.

Memories shatter, memories break us, memories sustain us,
makes us who we are.

Therefore life is indeed short and fleeting,
but love is a different thing altogether.

*it's the first time in so many years that I've written a poem. It feels strangely good :)

Selasa, 15 Januari 2013

(movie) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Granted, I don't watch a lot of indie movies but usually they are the ones that garner the highest ratings from me. This movie looks a bit melancholic and after a tiring day all I want to do is watch this in bed curled under a blanket. It is that kind of quiet, sweet movie with not much actions and lots of wonderful philosophy about life.

The tagline: making the improbable possible, is the center of this movie. A biologist meets with a public relation officer to discuss the possibility of a sheikh's request for salmon fishing in the Yemen. He calls it fundamentally impossible, but she patiently explains that it can just be possible with the building of a new dam and enhanced technology. So begins their first reluctant collaboration that progresses into friendship and a journey against all odds.

I have always liked Ewan McGregor, but as you may know from some of my earlier reviews that I am not a big fan of Emily Blunt. I have always found her distant and aloof, if not a bit bland. However, the haughty persona has been dwindling into something more personable. I find her relatable now, and am growing to like her more after Five Year Engagement, and now this. I haven't seen her in Looper and the Adjustment Bureau yet, but am looking forward to her next movies.

It is perhaps the acting and the simple plotline with a hidden positive message that make me fall in love with this movie. Anything is possible if you just have faith.

4 out of 5 stars.

Rabu, 09 Januari 2013

(book) Slated by Teri Terry


Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?


Clearly, I wouldn't miss a dystopian YA book. From the synopsis, the cover, and the premise - I'm hooked.

I have to separate this book into two different things, as I read it in two sittings and had different experiences reading different parts of the book. The first half was exhilarating, a wonderful feeling as if I were to ride a rollercoaster for the first time ever, not knowing the twists and turns and just enjoying the ride. The second half felt like riding the rollercoaster for the second and third time, still enjoyable and losing that oomph and wow factor.

I appreciated how the author managed to peel the layers of mystery one by one, building suspense through a practically unknown world of Slateds and Naturals. I loved finding out tidbits like why one was to be slated, that is, having his or her memory erased, as well as personality. Then we found out that this was set in London in mid 2000, and that there were Lorders (Law and Order Officials) to wipe off terrorism. One mystery after another, one interesting detail after another, and it was like this hide and seek cat mouse game that made me turn page after page, couldn't get there fast enough.

The characters are interesting. I like the main character best, Kyla. I also love how twisted everybody is - they are not what they seem. The mother, the father, the sister, the boyfriend, the frenemy, everyone has a unique and distinct back story that makes us not entirely convinced whether they are good or bad.

However, I was rather turned off by the slow pace after the first half. I also couldn't get a handle on Ben - who is Ben? What made him do the things he did and what happened next? The initial reasoning was not strong enough, in my opinion, and Ben became this shadow of the person described in the first half of the book. There is nothing more disappointing than a disappointing male lead.

That being said, I still look forward to the next book: Fractured. 80 more days!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Senin, 07 Januari 2013

(series) Gossip Girl season 6

Gossip Girl, how I've missed you.

After more than three couple exchanges (Blair + Dan, Blair + Nate, Serena + Nate, Serena + Dan, Nate + Vanessa, Nate + Jenny, Chuck + Jenny, Dan + Vanessa, Chuck + Blair, et cetera), I was ready to get off the Gossip Girl train. However, after years of Gossip Girl's season 3, I kind of miss them a little. It's nice to watch a little series with just 10 episodes, no commitment, seeing all the characters I'm familiar with plus a dose of high fashion.

It's fun, definitely. A bit kooky, very high drama, and sometimes laughable. I still love the dialogue, but it's not as sharp and witty as before. The characters seem to have changed a little, while still retaining their flaws - Serena and her flightiness, Blair and her scheming ways, Nate and his naivette and inability to choose in a dilemma, Chuck and his whispering antics, minus Jenny whom I don't really care about.

The conflict this time lies in Bart Bass and for some reasons Blair and Chuck can't be together before they overcome 'this obstacle'. Nate is going out with Sage, the daughter of someone Serena's dating, and (spoiler), someone who had a one night stand with Serena's mother Lily. Wow. That kind of surprise keeps springing up on the viewer, but it's a jolly fun ride despite the craziness of the show.

I love the ending, knowing everyone's motive and who and how they end up. I won't say it's the best series ever, but it's great while it lasted, and I've enjoyed the series so much more than the book.

(K-drama) 49 Days

Sebenarnya dengar drama ini sudah lama, tapi baru bisa nonton pas Natal tahun lalu. Ceritanya agak unik, tentang seorang wanita yang kecelakaan dan harus melewati 49 hari (seperti tradisi Korea) untuk mengumpulkan 3 air mata dari orang di luar keluarga yang benar-benar menyayanginya. Layaknya tradisi, 49 hari adalah jumlah hari yang diperlukan untuk jiwa melintasi dunianya ke alam baka. Dimulailah perjalanan yang penuh melodrama, air mata, dan tawa. Penuh tentang kisah kehidupan, cinta, dan persahabatan sejati.

Karakter-karakternya menarik, masing-masing dengan link yang menimbulkan intrik dan rahasia-rahasia kelam tersendiri. Sisi komedinya sama menyenangkan dengan dramanya yang melankolis dan kadang bikin berlinang air mata, ditemani dengan soundtrack berupa balad-balad yang enak didengar. Tentu saja, karakter saya adalah Han Kang - yang menurut saya adalah karakter pria terbaik dalam sejarah K-drama versi saya :p

49 Days mungkin bukan drama terbaik, bukan yang paling lucu atau paling sedih. Tapi kisahnya bermakna dan menyentuh, dan penuh dengan lika-liku kehidupan (yang walau agak dramatis, tetap ada poin yang bisa ditarik dan dipelajari). Puas juga dengan semua aktor dan aktrisnya yang tampil maksimal, menurut saya.

(book) How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr


Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.


This is my first Zarr book, and one of the only few with a premise that caught my attention. I'm not disappointed at all, I might even read the rest of the author's books :)

The author has expertly woven a world - real, complex, with equally real and layered characters. It took time for me to warm up to Jill and Mandy, but their story was one I was willing to stick to and finish till the end. I love their bonding, how they each had flaws but how they overcame their personal troubles, wounded but finally free. I was a bit surprised when Jill finally sympathized with Mandy, but overall I like the pacing and the alternating point of view.

My favorite characters are Ravi and Robin - both strong, unique characters. Perhaps the topic is ordinary, but the characters are so strong and realistically portrayed that it makes the reading experience so worthwhile.

So, much love for this book. I kept thinking of it at work and couldn't be at peace till I finally finished it. 4 out of 5 stars.

Selasa, 01 Januari 2013

(book) Beatrix Potter: the Complete Tales


A perfect gift to introduce children to the world of Beatrix Potter, The Complete Tales is a timeless and classic essential for any nursery shelf. This complete and unabridged collection contains all 23 of Beatrix Potter's tales in one deluxe volume with all their original illustrations. The tales are arranged in the order in which they were first published and a section at the end of the book contains four additional works by Beatrix Potter that were not published in her own lifetime.

The stories inside are: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tailor of Gloucester, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, The Tale of The Pie and The Patty-Pan, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit, The Story of Miss Moppet, The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies, The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes, The Tale of Mr. Tod, The Tale of Pigling Bland, Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes, The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse , Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes, The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, Three Little Mice, The Sly Old Cat, The Fox and the Stork and The Rabbit's Christmas Party


This was the first book I finished in 2013. I got the handsome volume from Bookdepository's 24 hour deals and was surprised at how beautiful the book is, at such a bargain (USD 20, I saw it being marketed at USD 70 in retail bookstores). The hardcover book has a lavish matte cover, plus a box. It's quite big and heavy, but makes for an excellent coffee table book, or to complete your fairy tale/children's books section at your home's personal library or the nursery.

I've never read anything by Miss Potter, although I did watch half of the movie and heard about Peter Rabbit quite a lot of time. I didn't know what to expect, but as soon as I opened page one, I was sucked into a world of countryside, of the woods and their inhabitants. The mice, the fox, the pigs, the birds, the squirrels, the fish, the frog, and the rabbits, especially, are enchanting. Each has a different set of characters, mostly naive, like a young child setting foot in the outside world for the first time. I love the rabbit stories best.

The illustrations are gorgeous, especially the color ones. They are the original, so I'm really impressed at the details and quality, especially as they were dated back to the end of 1800s and beginning of 1900s.

The stories are fun to follow, mostly with a moral story or two, but I have to say I get a little bored and confused as soon as I finish half of the book. The latter half has a darker tone, with longer stories, some nursery rhymes, and rather peculiar tales. I still enjoy most of them, and I love that the book retains everything original about Beatrix Potter's works, with a little backstory behind each. I like learning about her writing and drawing process more than the story themselves, as well as what she thought of when she created that particular story, whom she dedicated it to, and what the publishers thought of them. I find them rather enchanting.

So, this one's a treasure I will surely pass down to my kids someday :) I'm glad I get to read one of the finest children's classics of all time.