Film picks: Bridge Of Spies, Crimson Peak, 12th Singapore Short Cuts, Under The Skin, Women in Film

Toilet by Naoko Ogigami.
Tom Hanks (right) and Mark Rylance (left)PHOTOS: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES, 12TH SINGAPORE SHORT CUTS, NAOKO OGIGAMI

BRIDGE OF SPIES (PG13)

135 minutes/ 4/5 Stars

In this true story, James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is settled into his life as a father and rising star at his law firm when in 1957, he is called to perform his national duty to act as attorney for alleged Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, British stage actor Mark Rylance, who gives a masterclass on understatement.

A few years later, Donovan once again volunteers when asked to be a go-between for an East-West prisoner exchange - Abel, for downed American spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell).

Steven Spielberg, working with a screenplay polished by famed Hollywood philosopher-kings Joel and Ethan Coen, asks the deep questions - What makes a person decent? What does it mean to be a patriot? - without making the puzzles or the answers obvious.

John Lui



Tom Hiddleston (left) and Mia Wasikowska (right)

CRIMSON PEAK (NC16)

119 minutes/ 3.5/5 Stars

This work of gothic horror is not only set two centuries ago, but also looks as if it was made on the lot of British creepshow specialist Hammer Film Productions some time in the 1960s.

At the turn of the last century, American Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is wooed and won by handsome titled Englishman Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and taken back to the mass of brooding turrets and collapsed roofs that is his stately manse in Cumbria.

His sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) seems warm, but Edith soon discovers that Lucille's smile, like the walls of the family home, hide secrets.

Director Guillermo del Toro's enthusiasm for poetic motifs (snow, moths, blood) can be overblown; Chastain's wayward English accent is jarring, while Charlie Hunnam's earnest good guy Dr Alan McMichael is woefully undeveloped.

But what Crimson Peak does have is proper scares, thanks to performance artist Doug Jones, when he does that thing he does, reminding us how unnerving a simple arm or leg movement can be.

John Lui


12TH SINGAPORE SHORT CUTS

Singapore's most widely known short film festival returns with works such as Yeo Siew Hua's surreal Chamber Of Rock, in which a boy and his grandfather are visited by the supernatural.

It is among the seven films to be screened tomorrow, ending this year's Short Cuts series.

WHERE: Gallery Theatre, Basement, National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road MRT: Bras Basah WHEN: Tomorrow, 3pm ADMISSION: Free INFO: Tickets can be collected at the National Museum of Singapore Visitor Services Counter a week before each weekend's screenings. Limited to four tickets a person on a first-come, first-served basis. Go to www.nationalmuseum.sg

John Lui



Scarlett Johansson

UNDER THE SKIN (R21)

108 minutes/ 3.5/5 Stars

The Projector is reviving this horror-meets-sci-fi work in time for Halloween. A nameless alien assumes the form of an attractive woman (Scarlett Johansson). She drives around Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands in a van, inviting men into the vehicle. Fellow aliens riding motorcycles watch over her as she goes about her mission.

What gives Skin its heft is its stylishness. English director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, 2000), noted for his music video and advertising work, knows how to make an arresting image.

WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road WHEN: Till Nov 3, various times ADMISSION: Entry by donation INFO: theprojector.sg

John Lui



Toilet by Naoko Ogigami.

WOMEN IN FILM

In this year's Women in Film & Photography Showcase at Objectifs, the spotlight is on Asia as the works of 25 artists from the region will be featured.

The line-up for the inaugural edition of Women in Film includes works from Thailand's Pimpaka Towira, Japan's Naoko Ogigami and Sun Koh from Singapore. It runs the gamut from experimental shorts to feature documentaries.

WHERE: Objectifs Chapel Gallery, 155 Middle Road MRT: Bras Basah WHEN: Till Nov 13 ADMISSION: $5 from womeninfilm.peatix.com INFO: Go to www.objectifs.com.sg/womeninfilm2015 for screening schedule

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'FilmPicks John Lui Film Correspondent and Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend'. Print Edition | Subscribe