John Lui Film Correspondent & Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend

Films Picks

PHOTOS: WALT DISNEY STUDIOS, LUNA FILMS, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, SHAW ORGANISATION

ZOOTOPIA (PG)

109 minutes/ 3.5 stars

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour (1998-2007) movies, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon (1987-1998) series, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat (2013).

To this list of famous film buddies, add a rabbit and a fox.

Zootopia is a metropolis where animals live and work together.

But when citizens go missing and return to their feral state, panic threatens to tear society apart.

Idealistic Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), the first bunny to make it as a cop, has to solve the case with some grudging help from wily fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).

Among the things that the film gives a fresh spin to is the well-worn genre of odd-couple buddy cop movie. There is plenty of inventiveness and attention to detail here, from the exuberant script to the lively voice work, and the bright and enticing animation.

Boon Chan


SON OF SAUL (M18)

107 minutes/ 5 stars

Hungarian director and co-writer Laszlo Nemes' astoundingly assured feature debut chronicles a few days in the life of one concentration camp inmate, a person whose journey peeks into the routines of a death camp - from the time prisoners walk through the gates, to the gassings, to the plundering and sorting of things found in pockets, to when their ashen remains are shovelled into a river.

Saul Auslander (Hungarian actor Geza Rohrig, above) is a Sonderkommando, a Jew selected to act as warden. His job is to herd his own kind into the death chambers. One day, he fixates on the idea that the corpse of a child is that of his own son. He hides the body, hoping to give it a good burial.

This work, winner of the Jury Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is not just an important film; it is also deeply human and deeply moving.

VENUE: 6001 Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower, 05-00 The Projector

John Lui


BROOKLYN (NC16)

112 minutes/ 4 stars

Precisely observed and frequently funny films prove that there are no sappy stories, only sappy writing and directing. The protagonist in this drama set in the 1950s is a young woman torn between two men, one in her homeland, Ireland, and another in America, her adopted country.

This adaptation of Colm Toibin's novel of the same name could have played it safe by making the movie a romance piece. But screenwriter Nick Hornby, author of novels About A Boy and High Fidelity, finds in the journey of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan, above) a larger story about what it means to belong. With this role, actress Ronan ends a leading- lady slump, after starring in Byzantium (2012), The Host (2013) and How I Live Now (2013), all dull affairs which attempted to place her in mainstream pigeonholes. She belongs to that category of actresses who are at their best with directors confident enough to let them underplay, to speak as much with face and body as with dialogue.

John Lui


TRUMBO (PG13)

124 minutes/ 4 stars

Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Roman Holiday (1953), Spartacus (1960) and Exodus (1960) and one of the

Hollywood Ten, a group of allegedly Communist-sympathising artists persecuted by the Reds-under-the-beds witch hunts of the 1950s and 1960s.

Director Jay Roach (The Austin Powers films, 1997-2002; and political works such as Game Change, 2012) imbues this biopic with the same personality as its subject - avuncular, wry and forgiving.

Perhaps too forgiving - it pins blame on safely deceased witch-hunters such as John Wayne (David James Elliot) and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (a riveting Helen Mirren, above), but still-powerful institutions, including the Hollywood studios and certain branches of government, are let off the hook.

John Lui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Films Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe