John Lui Film Correspondent recommends

Film Picks: Captain Fantastic, The Purge Election Year, The Handmaiden and more

Captain Fantastic
Captain FantasticPHOTOS: SHAW ORGANISATION, UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, SAM@8Q

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (M18)
119 minutes/ 4.5 stars

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his brood have set up home in the leafy splendour of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. No phones, computers or screens of any kind distract the kids from hunting-gathering, meditation, strenuous exercise and readings from the classics of the American Left. Ben's goal is to raise a generation of philosopher-kings.

After a decade of isolation, an emergency forces them to leave their refuge . The group smacks headfirst into junk culture, high-fructose-corn- syrup America.

Matt Ross won the directing prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes film festival for this work, filled with memorable characters and winning performances, especially from the children.


THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR (NC16)
​109 minutes/ 3.5 stars

By standard movie reckoning, the third movie in the Purge series should be a lazy rehashing of old ideas. While it's still a long way from being original, writer-director James DeMonaco has the good sense and integrity to not repeat himself.

Based on the idea that a future America will fix its crime problem by making one night of the year free of police intervention and legal consequences, the latest instalment is a political thriller with a high body count, with Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970) doomsday cult overtones.

DeMonaco loves 1970s B-movies, and this work packs in over-the-top performances and idiots throwing themselves in front of bullets and chainsaws while dressed in Halloween clothes. Some people just prefer to combine cosplay with gunplay.


THE HANDMAIDEN (R21)
140 minutes/ 4 stars

One part Gothic fantasy, one part softcore thriller, this period drama blurs the line between highbrow and sexploitation.

Not that it matters. Celebrated Korean film-maker Park Chan Wook (Oldboy, 2003; Lady Vengeance, 2005) fills the frames with images so lush, there is little time to ask if one form of titillation is more correct than another.

Set in 1930s Korea, then under Japanese occupation, pickpocket Sook Hee (ingenue Kim Tae Ri, left) fakes her identity to become a maid in the aristocratic family of Lady Hideko (Kim Min Hee, right). Sook Hee's real job is to push Hideko into the arms of the gold-digger Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung Woo).


FUNDAMENTALLY HAPPY (NC16)
80 minutes

Film-makers Tan Bee Thiam and Lei Yuan Bin take on the award-winning play of the same name, working with celebrated cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In The Mood For Love, 2000; 2046, 2004).

Eric (Joshua Lim) visits old neighbour Adibah (Habiba Salim, both above), but their happy reminiscing takes a darker turn when a painful secret is revealed.

This film, based on the theatre piece by Haresh Sharma and Alvin Tan (The Necessary Stage), has screened at festivals here to acclaim and The Projector is bringing it back as part of a celebration of the work of the 13 Little Pictures collective.

WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road, 05-00 MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Tomorrow, 2.30pm ADMISSION: $13 INFO: Bookings at theprojector.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe