John Lui Film Correspondent recommends

Mustang, Goodnight Mommy and more

PHOTOS: ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, SCUM CINEMA, UIP

FRANCOPHONIE FESTIVAL 2016

Opening film Mustang (PG13, 97 minutes) tells the story of five girls in a remote Turkish village who have to cope with social disapproval following a scandal. The film, based on the personal experience of Turkish-French writer-director Deniz Gamze Erguven, was lauded at Cannes and the Toronto Film Festival. Shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars this year, it is one of seven films in this event celebrating the best in the French spirit in cinema and art.

WHERE: 1 Sarkies Road, Alliance Francaise de Singapour MRT: Newton WHEN: Till March 22, various timings. Mustang screens tomorrow at 8pm ADMISSION: $11 INFO: www.alliancefrancaise.org.sg


SINGAPORE CULT & UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 2016

In a picturesque Alpine resort home, two sons have to work out if the woman under the bandages is their mother or an imposter. The chilling drama Goodnight Mommy (NC16, 96 minutes was Austria’s entry to the Oscars this year in the Best Foreign Language Film category, a rare honour for a work of horror. The film is one of four works from around the world in this festival, the second edition held by the Scum cinema collective, who are fans of weird, obscure and forgotten works.

WHERE: 6001 Beach Road, Golden Mile Tower, The Projector MRT: Lavender WHEN: March 24 - 27, various timings. Goodnight Mommy screens on March 25 at 8.30pm ADMISSION: $13 INFO: scumcinema.com/events/scuff2016


HAIL CAESAR! (PG)

106 minutes

4.5 stars

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin, photo) is a mid-level trouble-shooter at a movie studio, coping with a string of disasters; matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) vanishes during a shoot of the bible spectacular Hail Caesar!; DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), star of synchronised swim extravaganzas, has a crisis of reputation; among other crises.

This is the Coen brothers’ feature-length tribute to Tinseltown’s golden age and it is also their best work in years. Writer-directors Ethan and Joel Coen vacuum up every scrap of film culture they love about the 1950s – autocratic studios, singing cowboys, dancing sailors, bible epics, the Red Scare – and stuff it into one package.


ALSO LIKE LIFE: THE FILMS OF HOU HSIAO-HSIEN

Ask any Singapore film-maker who they admire and this Taiwanese icon is likely to be in the top five.

The 68-year-old is not as well known as his compatriot Lee Ang, but his influence here runs deep – his use of non-actors, long takes, meticulous staging, sparse dialogue and unspoken emotions is widely copied.

The Assassin (PG, 105 minutes), starring his muse Shu Qi as the titular character tasked to kill a man she once loved, is his latest work, a take on the period sword-fighting genre.

Hou’s interest lies in timelessness, nature’s rhythms and compositional elegance.

Winner of the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for Hou and nominated for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest award, it contains an austere beauty, made by a cineaste for cineastes.

WHERE: 93 Stamford Road, National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre, Basement MRT: Bras Basah WHEN: Till March 20, various timings. The Assassin screens on March 20 at 2pm ADMISSION: $11 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555) INFO: nationalmuseum.sg
 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'Films Picks: Francophonie Festival 2016'. Print Edition | Subscribe