JOHN LUI MOVIE CORRESPONDENT AND BOON CHAN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT RECOMMEND

Film Picks: Mr Holmes, Frank, My Man, The Gift

Ian McKellen.
Ian McKellen.PHOTO: CATHAY-KERIS FILMS

MR HOLMES (PG)

104 minutes/ 4/5

It is 1947 and renowned detective Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is 93 and in decline. Besieged by dementia and regret, he shuts himself away on a Sussex farm, his only company a housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney), and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker). Through flashbacks, the cause of his self-imposed exile comes to light. He races against time to write his history before illness erases his memory.

Sad, gentle and often very funny, this story of a man fighting his public image and his failing mind is a masterpiece of construction.

John Lui


FRANK (NC16)

95 minutes/ 4/5


PHOTO: YOUTUBE.COM

Do you have to be insane to be a member in unpronounceable rock band Soronprfbs? New keyboard player Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) thinks so. Child-like leader Frank (Michael Fassbender, photo) never takes off his giant dollhead mask, theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) suffers from homicidal tendencies while the two remaining players suffer from excessive Frenchness.

Jon imagines that whatever it is that makes them weird makes them geniuses, and hopes that by sticking close he will be be visited by the same angels.

Lenny Abrahamson, from Ireland, is a real actor's director, working with screenwriter Jon Ronson's (The Men Who Stare At Goats, 2009) script in this funny, moving record of a man's trip through the looking glass.

John Lui

•Frank is showing only at The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road. Go to theprojector.sg


MY MAN (R21)

129 minutes/ 3.5/5


PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR

The doll-like features of actress Fumi Nikaido are put to good use as the orphan Hana, a strangely impassive tsunami survivor placed in the care of distant relative Jungo (Tadanobu Asano).

In the deep snowdrifts that blanket their village in northern Japan, she grows close to her guardian. The pair develop a bond that goes beyond the familial (hence the R21 rating).

Based on a bestseller by novelist Kazuki Sakuraba, the story under director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri contrasts the beauty of the landscape's frozen, pristine whiteness with the suffocating interior of Jungo's home. In it live two people trapped, as much by their needs as by their secret sin.

Dialogue is sparse and emotions are kept on a low simmer; when they explode, the force is shocking.

John Lui

•My Man is showing only at The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road. Go to theprojector.sg


THE GIFT (NC16)

100 minutes/ 3.5/5


PHOTO: CATHAY-KERIS FILMS

A young couple moving into a new home is a set-up seen in many other movies. Often, things go awry quickly, thanks to things that go bump in the night.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall, photo) return to the place where he had grown up and move into a new home.

They bump into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), one of Simon's former high school mates. He starts to leave gifts for the couple on their doorstep, but Simon is less than thrilled.

Wondering what had happened between the two, Robyn starts to dig into the past.

Writer-director-actor Edgerton builds tension from the familiarity of the situation but otherwise does not follow the standard supernatural thriller script.

As it unfolds, the dark edge to Simon's likeability is gradually revealed - the story itself keeps you guessing as to where it is headed with question marks hanging over the three main players.

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'Film Picks: Mr Holmes (PG)'. Print Edition | Subscribe