Film picks: John Lui recommends the 11th Singapore Short Cuts, Pasolini Revisited, and more

Cinema still: Corners. -- PHOTO: NHB
Cinema still: Corners. -- PHOTO: NHB

11TH SINGAPORE SHORT CUTS

This mainstay of the local short films calendar returns with a collection of works, some of which have been screened previously and some premiering. It takes place over this weekend and the next.

Tomorrow's 64-minute block of shorts deals with the nature of reality and includes Corners (Edward Khoo and Kwok Li Chen, 2014, 4 minutes), about two hotel security guards playing chess at night, and Stranger By Night (Clare Chong, 2014, 7 minutes), also about the odd things that happen when the rest of Singapore is asleep.

Sunday's 64-minute block features love and romance. Ben (Paddy Jonathan Ong, 2014, 18 minutes) is about robotics nerd Ben and his affections for new girl Danielle.

Where: Gallery Theatre, basement, National Museum of Singapore MRT: Dhoby Ghaut When: Tomorrow, Sun, Sept 20 & 21, 2 pm Admission: Free with registration, tickets to be collected at the museum's Stamford Visitor Services counter Info: www.nationalmuseum.sg


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SINGAPORE HERITAGE SHORT FILM COMPETITION

This first heritage short film competition, organised by the Singapore Film Society with the support of the National Heritage Board and the Lee Foundation, asked film-makers to submit works dealing with an aspect of Singapore’s heritage. The third screening of the films, part of a series as it makes its way around the island, will be held at the Gillman Barracks arts hub.

Works include the documentary A Father’s Passion, about a taiji instructor who has spent more than 60 years perfecting his art, and Chinese Opera Dreaming, about four opera troupes and how they are keeping the tradition alive.

Where: Post Popup at CCA Studio, 38 Malan Road MRT: Labrador Park When: Today Admission: Free with registration at shsfc3.peatix.com Info: www.sfs.org.sg


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PASOLINI REVISITED: POET, WRITER, FILM-MAKER

Seventeen films and a dramatised poetry reading are the highlight of this event presented by The Arts House and the Italian Cultural Institute.

“A brilliant, tragic and at time controversial artist” is how Veronica Manson, director of the institute, describes the late Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who died in 1975. This retrospective shines a light on Pasolini the poet and there will be a reading by Italian actor Nestor Saied and Singaporean actor Benjamin Chow.Both will present excerpts from Gramsci’s Ashes and The Religion Of My Time.

There will be a talk by Barth David Schwartz, an American biographer and author of Pasolini Requiem. He will discuss the artist’s moral and political obsessions and how they fed into his work.

Among the films is Pasolini’s debut feature Accattone (The Scrounger, 1961, 117 minutes), about a pimp and how his affections for a prostitute get the better of him.

Where: Screening Room, The Arts House MRT: City Hall When: Sept 27 - Oct 1, various timings Admission: Free with registration Info: www.theartshouse.com.sg


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THE MAZE RUNNER (PG)

113 minutes

*** 1/2

In this movie based on the best-selling series of young-adult novels, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien, left) wakes up in the Glade with no idea of who he is or how he ended up there. The Glade is a plot of grassland and forest contained by high concrete walls with a resident population of young men, who arrived one by one with memories erased.

Putting a first-time director in charge of a big-budget can’t-miss franchise movie, working with a cast of unknown actors, is usually a sign of tight studio control but, in this case, that strategy has paid off.

The story structure here is tailor-made for exposition, a bonus to those who have not read the book series. As Thomas is new to the Glade and has no memories, the audience learns how the culture works at the same time he does, a gift to director Wes Ball, and one he does not waste.

The result is an old-fashioned boys’ own science-fiction adventure, influenced by classic survival tales such as Robinson Crusoe and stories of children’s societies formed after adults are gone. The film, and presumably the novels on which it is based, steals from the best.