John Lui & Boon Chan recommend

Film picks: Marvel's Ant-Man, The Little Death and more


Marvel's Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd (right) and Michael Douglas (left). PHOTOS: WALT DISNEY, JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL 2015, THE PROJECTOR, SHAW ORGANISATION

MARVEL'S ANT-MAN (PG)

117 minutes/Now showing/****

Pacey, confident and as funny as anything you will see this summer season, this sci-fi flick about a crumb-sized human punches far above its weight in cast performances, characters and story.

Cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), after serving time in jail, finds it hard to make ends meet, especially as he has child support payments. Close friend Luis (Michael Pena) tells him of a safe in a house owned by an old man, Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Lang decides to raid the home, using his skills in electronics and wall-climbing.

Driven by solid performances and strong writing, this is a welcome return to storytelling first principles, at a time when superhero flicks sell on convoluted lore and computer-generated battles.

John Lui


JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL 2015

This year's schedule includes a food track, featuring both fiction and documentary works.

Little Forest: Winter/Spring (PG, 120 minutes, left) is one of two films (the other being Little Forest: Summer/Autumn) that weaves a drama around Ichiko, a young woman who takes flight from the city to return to her rural town in north- eastern Japan to reconnect with natural cycles of life. There, she learns to cook the traditional foods of the region.

WHERE: Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore, & The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower MRT: Dhoby Ghaut/Nicoll Highway WHEN: Till Aug 8, various timings ADMISSION: Free for the Okamoto Kihachi retrospective. Limited to two tickets a person on a first-come, first-served basis, available 45 minutes before the screening session or 60 minutes before the start of the first film of the day INFO: For full schedule, go to jpfilmfestival.com

John Lui


THE LITTLE DEATH (M18)

96 minutes/***1/2

Five couples (including Josh Lawson and Bojana Novakovic, both left) on the surface appear to have perfect suburban lives, but under the sheets, dissatisfaction rules.

This gentle farce about the modern quest for sexual wellness and its absurd consequences trips lightly from start to finish. It makes the audience forget about the "sex" part of "sex comedy" and stands in contrast to Hollywood, which sees sex humour from the point of view of a middle-schooler.

In this leafy Sydney neighbourhood, the cure for the absence of the "little death" (taken from the French euphemism for orgasm) is a fetish of some kind.

Middle-aged office drone Phil (Alan Dukes) is aroused by watching partner Maureen (Lisa McCune) sleep, while Rowena (Kate Box) gets in the mood only when husband Richard (Patrick Brammall) is crying, for example.

WHERE: The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Various timings ADMISSION: $13 from theprojector.sg

John Lui


HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES (NC16)

115 minutes/****

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 over the telephone, the straight-laced Xiaoming (Huang Xiaoming, left) 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, right) on a tour led by the resourceful Wei Wei (Vicki Zhao Wei).

Something is not quite right, though, 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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe