Film Picks: It Follows, Hollywood Adventures, Ex Machina and more


PHOTOS: SCUM CINEMA, JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL 2015, SHAW ORGANISATION, THE PROJECTOR

IT FOLLOWS (M18)

100 minutes/****1/2

The American breakout horror hit has a few things going for it.

Key reasons: It ditches the found-footage trope, minimises cheap jump scares and sustains a mood of almost unbearable creepiness for its entire running time. Teenager Jay (Maika Monroe, right) is an average suburban girl but things take a turn for the horrific when she discovers that her first sexual experience has given her more than just a memory.

She inherits a wraith, slow-moving but relentless, shuffling towards her at all hours of the day and night, with her murder as its purpose.

The curse comes with a set of rules that places her and her friends in a terrible moral conundrum.

WHERE: The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: July 17, 9.30pm (one screening only) ADMISSION: $13 INFO: itfollows/peatix.com

John Lui


JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL 2015

The first half of the event, now in its 23rd edition, is a free retrospective of the works of Okamoto Kihachi, a post-war film-maker whose popular works spanned a range of genres, including war, gangster and samurai.

Twenty-seven of his works will be screened, including the anti-war satire, Nikudan: Human Bullet (1968, NC16, 116 minutes), showing the director's personal take on how a man deemed useless by society suddenly becomes god-like when he is picked to be a human bullet - a pilot on a kamikaze suicide airplane. The second half of the festival, featuring contemporary films, will be announced later.

WHERE: Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore MRT: Dhoby Ghaut WHEN: Till Aug 8, various timings ADMISSION: Free for the Okamoto Kihachi retrospective. Limited to two tickets a person, available 45 minutes before the screening or an hour before the start of the first film of the day INFO: Go to jpfilmfestival.com/ for the full schedule

John Lui


HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES (NC16)

115 minutes/****1/2

American director Timothy Kendall in his energetic debut feature winks at cliched Chinese perceptions of Los Angeles and American pop culture, while gleefully playing into the idea that anything can happen in Hollywood. After getting dumped, the straight-laced Xiaoming (Huang Xiaoming, centre) sets off for Los Angeles to win back his ex-girlfriend. He ends up on a Hollywood Adventures honeymoon package, together with the insistently chatty Dawei (Tong Dawei, left) on a tour led by the resourceful Wei Wei (Vicki Zhao Wei, right). Something is not quite right and Xiaoming is soon in the thick of his own adventures involving weaselly criminal Manny (Sung Kang), Hollywood star Gary Buesheimer (Rhys Coiro) and the trafficking of rhino horn powder. Throw in car stunts, a superhero segue and a fabulous pink party, and you wind up with a madcap adventure that is quite a ride.

Boon Chan


EX MACHINA (M18)

108 minutes/*****

There are a dozen reasons to watch this little sci-fi chamber piece about two men and a babe-bot, but the top reason would be for the seamless intertwining of topicality and story. In Ex Machina, socially inept software designer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson, above) wins a trip to the remote homestead of his company's chief executive, the reclusive Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a legend in tech circles and a general misanthrope. Caleb is told that he is there to interview Ava (Alicia Vikander), an android of Nathan's manufacture, to see if she passes for a human. As the days pass, Caleb finds that there is more to the tests - and to Ava and Nathan - than he has been told.

Novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland (The Beach, 1996; 28 Days Later, 2002; Never Let Me Go, 2010) makes his directing debut in this small-budget, low-key thriller, which he also wrote. He invests his energy in character. Locked in the Nathan ranch, the three circle one another warily, probing weaknesses, exploiting friendships, banking on the hope that the other is who he appears to be and will do as he promises.

John Lui

  • Ex Machina is screening only at The Projector.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe