John Lui Film Correspondent & Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend

Film Picks: Chongqing Hotpot, The Jungle Book, Shakespeare Lives In Film, Italian Film Festival

Chongqing Hotpot stars Qin Hao (above left) and Chen Kun as two good friends.
Chongqing Hotpot stars Qin Hao (above left) and Chen Kun as two good friends.PHOTOS: SONY AND PARK CIRCUS, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, GOLDEN VILLAGE, UMBERTO MONTIROLI

CHONGQING HOTPOT

99 minutes/3.5 stars

This crime thriller that jumps back and forth in chronology, is spiced up with liberal doses of tension, dashes of comedy and unexpectedly tender notes of friendship and romance. Old friends Liu Bo (Chen Kun), Xu Dong (Qin Hao) and "Specky" (Yu Entai) run a hotpot restaurant located in a cave in the city of Chongqing. They embark on an unlicensed cave-expansion scheme and end up inside the vault of a nearby bank.

This is a movie with a strong sense of place. It is set in Chongqing rather than the overexposed Beijing or Shanghai, offering audiences a fresh urban vista, as well as the unfamiliar sounds of the Chengdu-Chongqing dialect.

Boon Chan


THE JUNGLE BOOK (PG)

106 minutes/ 4.5 stars

This mostly animated feature sets a benchmark in realism. The rippling hair, supple bodies and, most of all, the spot-on facial expressions of the animal characters mark the crossing of a new technological barrier.

Look into the eyes of the snake Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) or the bear Baloo (Bill Murray, above) and a soul can be glimpsed. The art and the story are so intertwined, it would be wrong to sing the virtues of one without praising the other.

Jon Favreau directs this remake of the Disney classic about the adventure of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves.

John Lui


SHAKESPEARE LIVES IN FILM

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

A bonus: The films are in high-resolution DCP format. The list includes 1971’s King Lear, starring the legendary Paul Scofield (above) as the doomed regent, and directed by Peter Brook. The film will be introduced by Associate Professor Yong Li Lan of the National University Of Singapore’s Department of English Language and Literature.

WHERE: The Screening Room, 1 Old Parliament Lane, The Arts House MRT: City Hall WHEN: April 21 to 24, various timings ADMISSION: Tickets $10, go to theartshouse.sg for full schedule

John Lui


ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL

Highlights this year include Wondrous Boccaccio (above), from the Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio, the makers of 2012’s winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Caesar Must Die.

Based on stories taken from Boccaccio’s collection of novellas, The Decameron, the film follows a group of wealthy people who take refuge in a country home, where they amuse one another with storytelling.

The 14th edition of the festival in Singapore features a slate of new films, as well as classics of Italian cinema.

WHERE: GV Plaza, National Museum of Singapore and The Projector MRT: Dhoby Ghaut, City Hall, Nicoll Highway WHERE: April 21 - 30, various timings INFO: Go to www.iicsingapore.esteri.it for full schedule

John Lui

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