Film Picks: Everest, Office, Perspectives Film Festival 2015, Design Film Festival

John Lui Movie Correspondent & Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend

EVEREST (PG)

122 minutes

It takes effort to empathise with affluent adventurers who hurl themselves into danger because they can afford the obscene amounts of human sweat and talent needed to keep them alive.

Based on real events, Everest (PG, 122 minutes, opens tomorrow) is remarkable in that it makes you forget that you are watching people neck-deep in troubleof their own making.

Co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy knows his way around true-life survival stories. He penned the Oscar-nominated 127 Hours (2010), based on the real-life story of a hiker, Aaron Ralston, who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder after falling into a canyon.

There are more than a dozen major players, ranging from lead guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke, along with the rest of the cast, giving strong performances) to climbers Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) and Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), and actor Jake Gyllenhaal (left). Director Baltasar Kormakur gets the balance of technical exposition and character motivation just right, and he gets it done just before the survival portion of the story, which is harrowing, edge-of-the-seat stuff.

John Lui


PERSPECTIVES FILM FESTIVAL 2015

This festival, now in its eighth year, continues its themes of personal and social liberation with its opening film, the Canadian drama Mommy (M18, 139 minutes, 2014, above), winner of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. In this French-language work, a single mother has her hands full when her troubled, violent son is expelled from state care.

British film-maker Martin Rosen, director of the highly acclaimed feature Watership Down (PG, 1978), will conduct an animation masterclass as well as have a question-and-answer session after the screening.

WHERE: National Museum of Singapore MRT: Dhoby Ghaut WHEN: Oct 15 - 18 ADMISSION: $12 for single screenings, $48 for a festival pass to all seven films; animation masterclass tickets, $15 INFO: perspectivefilmfestival.com

John Lui


OFFICE (PG)

119 minutes

A workplace musical is certainly something you do not see every day.The idealistic Li Xiang (Wang Ziyi) and woman of mystery Qiqi (Lang Yueting) join a major company, Jones & Sunn, as it prepares to go public.

The office is a place of conflicting interests and complicated relationships and the key players include dragon-lady chief executive officer Zhang Wei (Sylvia Chang, above right), smooth-talking executive David (Eason Chan) and dedicated worker Sophie (Tang Wei).

Meanwhile, chairman He Zhongping (Chow Yun Fat, above left) keeps a watchful eye in the background.

The script was adapted by Chang from the 2009 stage play Design For Living, which she co-wrote.

Kudos to versatile director Johnnie To and writer-actress Chang for delivering a far from workman-like Office.

Chang has streamlined the story from the original play, made some choice changes to the relationships among the characters and done away with the overly melodramatic ending. Li Xiang is still the obviously named neophyte - his moniker means "ideals" - and he is the audience's entry into this world of complex interests.

David is a cautionary tale of reckless ambition and singer Chan conveys both his slick charm and increasing desperation. When he makes use of Sophie to cover up for him, the tragedy is that he does so despite feeling something for her.

Boon Chan


DESIGN FILM FESTIVAL

This festival is now in its final week and additional screenings of the documentary The Salt Of The Earth (above) have been added due to popular demand.

It traces the 40-year-career of renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado and follows him on his travels documenting the world's hidden places. It is directed by Wim Wenders and Salgado's son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

WHERE: Shaw Theatres Lido MRT: Orchard WHEN: Sunday, 11am and 1.30pm ADMISSION: $18 from designfilmfestival.com

John Lui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'FilmPicks'. Print Edition | Subscribe