Film picks: Love & Mercy, The Act Of Killing and more

Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano (second from left).
Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano (second from left).PHOTO: CATHAY-KERIS FILMS
The Act Of Killing.
The Act Of Killing.
Monsieur Lazhar, starring Mohamed Fellag.
Monsieur Lazhar, starring Mohamed Fellag.PHOTO: FESTIVE FILMS


120 minutes


This biopic follows the legendary Brian Wilson, singer-songwriter of The Beach Boys, whose creative genius and success came at great personal cost.

Paul Dano plays the younger Wilson in the 1960s when he is beginning to show signs of being manic-depressive with schizo-affective disorder. John Cusack plays the older Wilson in the 1980s, whose life is taken over by the controlling therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

This biopic casts two different actors to play the same person, never mind that stars Paul Dano and John Cusack look nothing alike. So it is commendable that despite the film's constant back-and-forth between two disparate stories set in two time periods - one in the 1960s at Wilson's creative peak and the other in the 1980s when the now semi-recluse is heavily sedated by meds - all of it comes together to form a coherent and compelling story about an extraordinary man.

Yip Wai Yee

The Singapore International Festival Of The Arts O.P.E.N.

Joshua Openheimer's Oscar-nominated documentary The Act Of Killing (2012) keeps a focus on old Indonesian men who were in death squads during the mid-1960s.

In a frenzy of violence that began after a military coup and which lasted about a year, about half a million communists and those accused of sympathising with them, such as ethnic Chinese, were put to death.

In the film, the killers are asked to portray their methods of slaughter in the style of their favourite type of movie - gangster, western or musical. It is all "a flamboyant fever dream", says Oppenheimer.

But in the second documentary to come from the same footage, shot between 2003 and 2005, the American director turns the camera on the survivors and, in particular, an optician named Adi Rukun. The quiet man goes to the homes of former death squad members to fit them for new glasses. As he tests their eyes, he tells them that his brother was killed in the purge, hoping to see a flicker of remorse for a death that still haunts him and his ageing parents.

When: Till July 4 Where: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower MRT: Nicoll Highway Admission: $45 for an O.P.E.N. pass, for access to all films, from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to Info: Full schedule at

John Lui


SWF POP is an ongoing series of events to build buzz for the annual Singapore Writers Festival.

The latest is a screening of Philippe Falardeau's critically acclaimed drama Monsieur Lazhar (2011), which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

The titular character Bashir Lazhar (an excellent Mohamed Fellag), who is from Algeria, tries to help the children cope with the suicide of a teacher in an elementary school in Montreal.

It is both a compelling character study and a clear-eyed film touching on broader themes of immigration, school culture and human connection. The screening will be followed by a 30-minute discussion with a panel that includes two-time Singapore Literature Prize winner Yong Shu Hoong.

When: Today, 7pm registration and 7.30pm screening Where: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower MRT: Nicoll Highway Admission: Pay as you wish.

All proceeds go to The Projector.

Boon Chan