John Lui Film Correspondent & Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend

Denis Villeneuve, Singapore Cult & Underground Film Festival 2016 and more

Hugh Jackman (right) with Jake Gyllenhaal (left).
Hugh Jackman (right) with Jake Gyllenhaal (left).PHOTO: CATHAY-KERIS FILMS

THE FILMS OF DENIS VILLENEUVE

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve makes thrillers that get under the skin. On the surface, the narco procedural Sicario (NC16, 121 minutes) has the slickness of a Hollywood action flick. But underneath is a layer of nausea, born of a drug war with no good guys and no limits on violence.

In Prisoners (NC16, 153 minutes), a father (Hugh Jackman, with Jake Gyllenhaal ) goes vigilante when the police cannot find his kidnapped daughter. Villeneuve puts the focus on the torment of a parent asked to keep hope alive when all is lost.

Villeneuve's works kick off the first of The Projector's Encore series of retrospectives.

WHERE: 6001 Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower 05-00, The Projector WHEN: Prisoners screens tomorrow and Sicario screens on Sunday, 7.30pm ADMISSION: $13, book at theprojector.sg

John Lui


THE SONGS WE SANG (PG)

128 minutes/4.5/5 stars

Film-maker Eva Tang (above, left) - co-director of feature documentaries Old Places (2010) and Old Romances (2012), about disappearing spaces in Singapore - puts together an ambitious account of xinyao, featuring interviews with singers, songwriters, producers, media reports, radio segments and video footage of TV and stage performances. Tang also recreates the heyday of xinyao by staging a one-off concert at a nostalgic venue, Bras Basah Complex.

Boon Chan


SINGAPORE CULT & UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 2016

Remake, Remix, Ripoff: About Copy Culture & Turkish Pop Cinema (R21, 96 minutes) is a documentary about the wild and wonderful industry that flourished in Istanbul from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Film-makers lifted stories and characters from James Bond films, Star Wars, Rocky, Jaws and many other films to create something uniquely Turkish.

The film is one of four works from around the world in this festival, the second by the fans of weird, obscure and forgotten works, the Scum cinema collective.

WHERE: 6001 Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower 05-00, The Projector WHEN: Till Sunday, various timings ADMISSION: $13 INFORMATION: Schedule and bookings at scumcinema.com/events/scuff2016

John Lui


HAIL CAESAR! (PG)


PHOTOS: UIP, THE SONGS WE SANG

106 minutes/4.5/5 stars

Remember when it was compulsory to have at least one musical salute to Hollywood? The Coen brothers do. This is their feature-length tribute to Tinseltown's golden age, and it is also their best work in years.

Writer-directors Ethan and Joel Coen vacuum up every scrap of film culture they love about the 1950s - autocratic studios, singing cowboys, dancing sailors, Bible epics, the Red Scare - and stuff it into one package. Matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, above) vanishes during a shoot of the Bible spectacular Hail Caesar!. DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), star of synchronised swim extravaganzas, has a crisis of reputation; among other crises. This is a warm, funny and uncomplicated blend of satire and tribute, bursting with affection for a medium at the height of its influence, while gently sending up the craziness behind the scenes.

John Lui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Films Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe