JOHN LUI FILM CORRESPONDENT RECOMMENDS

Film Picks: 7 Letters, Frank, Mr Holmes and more

Jack Neo's That Girl (above, starring Yan Li Xuan and Josmen Lum) is an achingly bittersweet depiction of a childhood crush, featuring a kampung setting and a cast with a large number of speaking parts.
Jack Neo's That Girl (above, starring Yan Li Xuan and Josmen Lum) is an achingly bittersweet depiction of a childhood crush, featuring a kampung setting and a cast with a large number of speaking parts.PHOTO: 7 LETTERS/JACK NEO

7 LETTERS (PG)

116 minutes/4.5/5

After sold-out charity screenings at the Capitol Theatre and the National Museum, the acclaimed anthology marking Singapore's 50th birthday is in Golden Village cinemas by popular demand.  

Jack Neo's That Girl (starring Yan Li Xuan and Josmen Lum) is an achingly bittersweet depiction of a childhood crush, featuring a kampung setting and a cast with a large number of speaking parts. The theme is pure Neo and also very Singaporean: It is good to know where the path of virtue lies, but smart people know when to step off.

Like Neo, Royston Tan's sweetly charming Bunga Sayang has a child in the forefront (Ray Tan). As with Neo, the use of period detail is both understated and evocative. There is one quick shot, lasting about 20 seconds, of a row of schoolchildren squatting, brushing their teeth over a drain. Its humanity and humour speaks volumes about Tan's eye for visual storytelling.

Kelvin Tong's dramedy Grandma Positioning System (GPS), like Tan's Bunga Sayang, has at its heart the relationship between an ignored child and a wise, warm grandparent figure, both turning to each other in the face of friction among the parents.

•Now showing only at selected Golden Village cinemas.


ALFRED HITCHCOCK RETROSPECTIVE


Kim Novak and James Stewart in Vertigo. PHOTO: PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORP

Psycho (NC17, 109 minutes), Rear Window (PG, 112 minutes), Vertigo (PG, 128 minutes, starring Kim Novak and James Stewart) and North By Northwest (PG, 136 minutes) are screened in a celebration of the British director, who took horror and suspense movies into the modern psychological age.

WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road

WHEN: Go to theprojector.sg for schedule ADMISSION: By donation at the door


FRANK (NC16)

95 minutes/4/5


Michael Fassbender in Frank. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Do you have to be insane to be a member of the unpronounceable rock band Soronprfbs? New keyboard player Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) thinks so. Childlike leader Frank (Michael Fassbender) never takes off his giant dollhead mask, theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) suffers from homicidal tendencies and the two remaining players suffer from excessive Frenchness.

Jon imagines that whatever it is that makes them weird makes them geniuses and hopes that by sticking close, he will be visited by the same angels.

Lenny Abrahamson, from Ireland, is a real actor's director, working with screenwriter Jon Ronson's (The Men Who Stare At Goats, 2009) script in this funny, moving record of a man's trip through the looking glass. Abrahamson finds a wider range of emotion from Fassbender's dollhead than other directors do from an ensemble of players.

WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road WHEN: Go to theprojector.sg for schedule ADMISSION: By donation at the door


MR HOLMES (PG)

104 minutes/4/5


Ian McKellen in Mr Holmes. PHOTO: SHAW

It is 1947 and renowned detective Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is 93 and in decline. Besieged by dementia and regret, he shuts himself away on a Sussex farm, his only company a housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney), and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker).

Through flashbacks, the cause of his self-imposed exile comes to light. Up in his study, he races against time to write his history before illness erases his memory.

Sad, gentle and often very funny, this story of a man fighting his public image and failing mind is a masterpiece of construction.

Director Bill Condon (having worked with McKellen in the 1998 Oscar-winning biopic Gods And Monsters) and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess, 2008) juxtapose at least three timelines without loss of momentum or coherence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe