John Lui film correspondent recommends

Film picks

Ben Kingsley (right), with Neel Sethi as the boy Mowgli (left).
Ben Kingsley (right), with Neel Sethi as the boy Mowgli (left).PHOTO: WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

The Jungle Book (PG)

106 minutes/4.5/5 stars

This mostly animated feature sets a benchmark in realism - it is so good it is hard not to be mesmerised anew each time an animal character appears. The rippling hair, supple bodies and, most of all, the spot-on facial expressions, mark the crossing of a new technological barrier.

Look into the eyes of the snake Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), the bear Baloo (Bill Murray) or the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley, with Neel Sethi as the boy Mowgli) and a soul can be glimpsed. You might argue that when graphics are noticed, it is because the story has failed to hold your attention.  But what is happening here is that the art and the story are so intertwined it would be wrong to sing the virtues of one without praising the other.


MEE POK MAN: 20 YEARS

Independent cinema The Projector and the Asian Film Archive look at Eric Khoo’s horror work, based on a short story by writer Damien Sin.

When the feature debuted in 1995, nothing like it had been seen before, and nothing like it has come along since. It showed Singapore to be a wasteland of conformity, greed and alienation, captured in the lives of a hawker and a prostitute (played by Joe Ng and Michelle Goh, both above).

The event is marked by a series of screenings, a talk about the restoration of the print and a panel discussion about the film’s legacy.

WHERE: The Projector, Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower WHEN: April 17 to 23, various times ADMISSION: $13 a ticket, talks are by donation INFO: theprojector.sg


EYE IN THE SKY (PG13)

102 minutes/5/5 stars

Movies about drone strikes tend to fizzle at the box office because the public hates fingers wagged in their faces about the rights and wrongs of execution by remote control.

Let’s hope this taut, emotion-driven work gets the run it deserves.

British intelligence officer Colonel Kathleen Powell (Helen Mirren) has her eye on a terrorist cell in Kenya. The hawkish Powell is blocked by higher-ups such as Lieutenant-General Frank Benson (the late Alan Rickman, in one of his last roles, above) when she presses for the liquidation of the cell by a drone missile strike. This movie does what few political and military thrillers do: They make you care about the characters, so much so that the burden of caring becomes almost unbearable when the inevitable happens.

Powerful performances from Mirren, Rickman and Aaron Paul as an American drone pilot with a conflicted conscience make this the gold standard for thrillers about what waging war is like when one side has God-like powers of life and death.



PHOTOS: SHAW ORGANISATION, ZHAO WEI FILMS, SONY AND PARK CIRCUS

SHAKESPEARE LIVES IN FILM

As part of a programme marking the 400th death anniversary of the Bard, The Arts House and The British Council have organised screenings of films based on or inspired by his plays.

The list includes the famed 1971 adaptation of Macbeth (above) by director Roman Polanski and the 1995 sex-and-violence-updated version of Othello, starring Laurence Fishburne as the Moorish general and Kenneth Branagh as the devious Iago.

A bonus – all the films are in high-resolution DCP format.

WHERE: The Screening Room, 1 Old Parliament Lane, The Arts House WHEN: April 21 to 24, various times ADMISSION: $10 INFO: www.theartshouse.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Films picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe