JOHN LUI FILM CORRESPONDENT RECOMMENDS

Film Picks: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Amy and more

PHOTOS: WARNER BROS, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, HENRIK NORDSTROM, SHAW ORGANISATION

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (PG13)

117 minutes/3.5 stars

Long on frothiness and light on plot, this is the swinging 1960s as imagined by people who see it as non-stop fun, punctuated by the threat of nuclear war.

Based on the cult television series of the same name, this origin story introduces secret agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and his frenemy Russian counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer).

Director Guy Ritchie drives the action scenes with unexpected and wonderful R&B and jazz selections.

While not quite up there with Steven Soderbergh at his Ocean's Eleven (2001) best at packaging exposition as entertainment - the narration lacks the wryness - Ritchie at least never lets the characters talk narrative when he can show it.


ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (PG13)

105 minutes/4 stars

This year's Sundance sensation combines sweetness and gallows humour in almost perfect amounts.

Earl won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, the same two wins Whiplash (2014) earned before it went on to nab an Oscar for supporting actor J.K. Simmons.

Like Whiplash, Earl is a coming-of-age story, seen from the point of view of teen aspiring film-maker Greg (Thomas Mann), forced by his mother ("The LeBron James of nagging," he narrates) to spend time with family friend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who is dying of cancer.

The illness provides plenty of drama and the jokes are feather-light, coming mostly from the variety of high-school and parental oddballs that beset the put-upon Greg, whom Mann plays with a wonderfully mopey physicality, his rounded shoulders looking as if they would snap from the weight of his woes.


AMY (NC16)

128 minutes/4.5 stars

Amy covers the chain of of bad decisions leading to the death of singer Amy Winehouse (left) by alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27.

Director Asif Kapadia, who made Senna (2010), the Bafta-winning biopic of late Brazilian race driver Ayrton Senna, had the sort of access every journalist dreams about - videos and pictures from childhood friends as well as interviews with close relatives and colleagues.

He used them to paint a picture of a troubled person for whom success failed to fill a hole in herself and who, just before her death, became a punchline for comedians.


I AM ELEVEN (TBC)

94 minutes/4 stars

Australian film-maker Genevieve Bailey took six years to make this documentary about children on the cusp of teenhood.

When she was 11, says Bailey, she was the happiest she had been in her life. She wondered what the experience was like for children of that age in other parts of the world.

She begins with one child in Japan and, after glimpsing the lives of more than 20 children (above), ends with the story of an Aboriginal girl in her home city of Melbourne.

From an orphanage in Kerala, India, to an elephant farm in Thailand, to the suburbs of America, Bailey proves that talking to the right 11-year-old can be the most educational and uplifting thing an adult can do.

WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway ADMISSION: $13, schedule and bookings at theprojector.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe