“Rumor Has It, They Don’t Grow   Religion in Their Land” by Tini Ngatini

When I first came to the Bồ Đề Pagoda to see this fish release ritual in person, to observe each religious gesture and object involved in it, to listen to the invocation of the divine name, to hear them telling me the story of the ritual and reasons behind it, I already knew what it was. I had studied it back then in graduate school. Yet, I was still taken aback. Not so much by the ritual itself, but more by the fact that it occurred in Viet Nam, a country which I imagine closely followed Marx’s warnings about the … Continue reading “Rumor Has It, They Don’t Grow   Religion in Their Land” by Tini Ngatini

Tet @ the Coffee Shop by Tini Ngatini

Viet Nam has changed my relationship with coffee shops. They used to be a space where I worked and entertained my friends. Then, recently, they became a sort of anthropological space where I encountered a religious event which brought me to another level of appreciation and respect for local culture. That local culture is called Tet. The Coffee shop where I encountered is called ABC. The ABC coffee shop in Ha Noi, Viet Nam is a fusion of Asian and Western atmosphere. It has some Western characteristics like those found in Starbucks and some that might only be found in … Continue reading Tet @ the Coffee Shop by Tini Ngatini

The Price of Peace: A Review of Nguyen Phan Quang Binh’s ‘The Floating Lives’ by Tini Ngatini

I recently came across a Vietnamese film, The Floating Lives (Canh Dong Bat Tan), which was released in 2010 by Nguyen Phan Quang Binh. Although this film is a few years old, the issues that the director addresses still feel fresh and progressive from my perspective as an Indonesian woman who teaches courses on women, gender, sexuality and religion. The plot follows the life of man referred to as Mr. Vo, a severely broken-hearted man whose wife has left him for reasons the film does not reveal. Fate has left him a single parent and a duck farmer. By the … Continue reading The Price of Peace: A Review of Nguyen Phan Quang Binh’s ‘The Floating Lives’ by Tini Ngatini

Frank is Not a Man: A Reading of the Sam Mendes Film ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Tini Ngatini

Have you seen Sam Mendes’ 2008 film ‘Revolutionary Road’? What does “Revolutionary Road” actually mean? And what happens if you do decide on going down that road? Where will it lead you?   Revolutionary Road explores these questions through following the journey of a young couple, April and Frank Wheeler. The “Revolutionary Road” is simply a road to being a “Man” which supposedly leads to a meaningful and happy life.  In the film, being that Man means living up to an anthropocentric view of mankind defined as “…the most valuable and wonderful thing in the world….[a being] who is somehow … Continue reading Frank is Not a Man: A Reading of the Sam Mendes Film ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Tini Ngatini

The Archaic and “Masculine” Beauty: A Review of the Film ‘White Silk Dress’ (Áo lụa Hà Đông) by Tini Ngatini

“My mother said a white silk dress is a symbol of Vietnamese women’s immense suffering as well as their generosity. Through traumatic hardship, through horrific destruction caused by countless wars, the Vietnamese white silk dress still maintains its beauty. The beauty of a Vietnamese woman cannot be characterized by white skin, rosy cheeks and red lips; but by the elegant laps of a white silk dress.”   Embedded in the above closing statement from the film White Silk Dress  (Áo lụa Hà Đông) is an illustration of how sacrifice, which Keenan said in the Question of Sacrifice, is understood in our … Continue reading The Archaic and “Masculine” Beauty: A Review of the Film ‘White Silk Dress’ (Áo lụa Hà Đông) by Tini Ngatini

The Origin of Madness : A Philosophical Review of the Film ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ by Tini Ngatini

Do you ever wonder how people go from completely sane to wholly mad? Or, think about how each of us is equally exposed to the possibility of catching insanity every time we open ourselves to the outside world? One of these answers can be found in the film In Mouth of Madness (1995) directed by John Carpenter. The film understands madness as “that thing [which is] messing with the church [values]”; “that thing that offers pain and suffering beyond human understanding.” Madness is an abstract being that “wasn’t here [in this material world] before l wrote it”, says the character … Continue reading The Origin of Madness : A Philosophical Review of the Film ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ by Tini Ngatini