Film Picks: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and more

PHOTOS: GOLDEN VILLAGE, SHAW ORGANISATION, THE PROJECTOR, WARNER BROS

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (PG)

133 minutes/ 4 stars

This chapter is the first of five planned films and it is guaranteed to be a worldwide hit - not because it is part of the Potterverse, but because it is tremendous fun to watch.

The source book, published in 2001 as a textbook on "magizoology" in the world of the boy wizard Harry Potter, lends itself beautifully to the visual medium of cinema.

Less talk, less background detail, more antics from the bestiary contained in the briefcase of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, above).

Redmayne gives a terrific performance as a wizard in the mould of Doctor Who - a classic British batty genius.

DENIAL (PG13)

110 minutes/4 stars

Writer David Irving (Timothy Spall) brings lawsuits against those who accuse him of being a Holocaust denier.

When he launches a legal attack on fierce critic Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz, above), an American professor of history, rather than settle - the usual route because of how expensive a court defence can be - she and publisher Penguin Books hire the best lawyers in London and gird for battle.

Emmy-winning director Mick Jackson and Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Hare (The Hours, 2002; The Reader, 2008) work with Lipstadt's own book to tell a compelling story about right-wing attacks on truth and fact in history, aided by wonderful performances from Spall, Weisz and Tom Wilkinson playing the barrister Richard Rampton.

APPRENTICE (M18)

96 minutes/3.5 stars

Singaporean film-maker Boo Junfeng is interested in the shockwaves caused by historical trauma as they ripple through the present-day.

His latest work deals with a missing father and the private shame of a family caused by the father's public downfall.

In the case of young prison officer Aiman (Singapore actor Fir Rahman, above), that shame breeds silence and, with it, an obsession with finding the truth. When Aiman finds that a new posting puts him close to hangman Rahim (Malaysian film and television veteran Wan Hanafi Su), that itch drives him to take risks. The same hunger - or is it ghoulish curiosity? - drives a wedge between him and his closest relative, sister Suhaila (Suria regular Mastura Ahmad). 

WHERE: The Projector MRT: Nicoll Highway ADMISSION: $13.50 INFO: Limited run. For bookings and schedule, go to theprojector.sg

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (PG13)

101 minutes/4 stars

In this comedy-drama from New Zealand, Hec (Sam Neill) and foster child Ricky (Julian Dennison, both above) are thrown together by Hec's partner, the warm and loving farmer Bella (Rima Te Wiata). Ricky is a soft city kid forced to live in a rural backwater.

Neill once again plays the taciturn introvert who becomes the father figure against his will (see Jurassic Park, 1993).

After Bella dies, a series of mishaps causes the two males to flee into the bush, with the authorities in pursuit. Director and co-writer Taika Waititi gives the relationship plenty of space to breathe and grow.

By the end, viewers just want the pair - who have dubbed themselves the Wilderpeople - to go on the run forever.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway ADMISSION: $13.50 INFO: For bookings and schedule, go to theprojector.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe