Film Picks: 18th German Film Festival, Microphone, Interstellar and more

A still from Diplomacy, a film about pivotal negotiations in 1944 which saved Paris from Nazi destruction. -- PHOTO: JEROME-PREBOIS-GAUMONT
A still from Diplomacy, a film about pivotal negotiations in 1944 which saved Paris from Nazi destruction. -- PHOTO: JEROME-PREBOIS-GAUMONT

BOON CHAN AND JOHN LUI RECOMMEND

18TH GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL

The German Film Festival is all grown-up and marks its milestone edition with various other anniversaries.

It is the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II and the by-invitation-only opening film Diplomacy is about pivotal negotiations in 1944 which saved Paris from Nazi destruction. The Franco-German production is directed by Volker Schlondorff, who won an Oscar as well as the Palme d'Or for the surrealist black comedy The Tin Drum (1979). Also, acclaimed film-maker Wim Wenders turns 70 next year. To celebrate, the festival is offering a free special showcase, On The Road: The Documentaries Of Wim Wenders, from Nov 14 to 16 at the National Museum.

Where:Cathay cineplexes, National Museum of Singapore, Alliance Francaise Theatre MRT: Various When: Till Nov 16, various times. Admission: $12 a screening from cathay.com.sg, $11 for members of the Goethe-Institut, students, senior citizens and national servicemen. Info: www.goethe.de/singapore

Boon Chan


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MICROPHONE (PG13)

122 minutes

*** 1/2

Film-maker Ahmad Abdalla shows that just because you love something does not mean you cannot have a laugh at it. This 2010 portrait (right) of the artsy crowd in the Egyptian seaside city of Alexandria, selected for festivals in Toronto, London and Cairo, is made with obvious affection, but is also funny.

Cairo-born Abdalla, 35, is the film-maker in focus at the reborn Singapore International Film Festival, from Dec 4 to 14, which will screen four of his films, including Microphone. He will appear at the screenings to answers questions.

Where:The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane MRT: City Hall/Raffles Place When: Dec 7, 7.15pm Admission: Tickets for film festival: $25 for opening and closing films, $15 for special presentation films, all others $12 Info: Call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg

John Lui


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INTERSTELLAR (PG13)

169 minutes

*** 1/2

The future is here and it is a dismal one. Massive dust storms threaten food production and hope is running out. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey, right) is recruited as a pilot for a last-ditch space mission to find a planet suitable for human habitation. The crew includes scientist Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway, far right) and robot Tars (Bill Irwin).

Expectations are high because Christopher Nolan is one of the most interesting storytellers in cinema today. But with Interstellar, wormholes and black holes suddenly feel like too-convenient plot devices to propel the story in a certain direction. And the relativity effect of visiting a particular planet keeps being repeated, that one hour equals seven years. One might have thought this was a detail that would have been taken into consideration from the start.

More than once, the audience is asked to take a huge leap of faith with where the film is headed. Good thing it is McConaughey who is asking us to make that leap. Is it the intensity of his deep-set gaze, that mesmerising drawl or the sharpness of his cheekbones - or a combination of all that - that makes him one of the most compelling actors to watch?

Boon Chan


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JACK AND THE CUCKOO-CLOCK HEART (PG)

92 minutes

*** 1/2

Once in a while, Singapore moviegoers get to watch something from Europe which reminds them there is more to animation than just Pixar's fully realised computer-generated world, Studio Ghibli's hand-drawn loveliness and the flatter look found on television series.

On a day so cold that birds fall out of the sky, Jack (Mathias Malzieu) is born with a frozen heart. He is saved by a midwife-cum-witch who replaces it with a cuckoo clock . Later, he travels across Europe to seek the girl of his dreams, Miss Acacia (Olivia Ruiz). It is a mission overshadowed by tragedy as Jack has been warned never to fall in love - doing so would mess with his cogs and gears and kill him.

Peopled with other unusual characters, such as a man with a xylophone on his back and an excitable Georges Melies (based on the real-life pioneering film-maker who straddled the 19th and 20th centuries), this is a film that is not too concerned with linear logic. But it works, with everything coming together to make an intriguing package.

Boon Chan