Boiling Point (M18)
95 minutes, now showing, 4 stars
This workplace drama, filmed in one continuous take, covers one hectic night at an upscale London restaurant. Head chef and part-owner Andy (Stephen Graham) has a lot on his hands dealing with demanding customers, a hygiene inspector and no-shows in his kitchen crew, but is pushed bear the edge when a restaurant critic walks in, accompanied by his former boss Alastair (Jason Flemyng), with whom he shares a complicated history.
Director Philip Barantini paces this like a thriller. His camera floats from the dining room to the kitchen and the alleys behind it, immersing the viewer in the stream of incoming orders, hot grills and even hotter tempers.
There is a cliche about swearing chefs and rank abuse in the kitchen, but the screenplay asks: How much of the chaos can be blamed on dysfunctional restaurant culture, and how much of it is Andy's fault? - John Lui
Operation Mincemeat (M18)
128 minutes, now showing, 4 stars
The year is 1943. The challenge at hand: breaking the Nazi's grip on occupied Europe. Two British intelligence officers, played by Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen, cook up a scheme so the Germans are sent down the wrong path should they try to stop the coming Allied invasion of mainland Europe.
Minimal film-making flair is required when a non-fiction story is this intriguing, with ingenious details. Too often, history forgets that battles are won not only by frontline action, but also thanks to cool heads plotting impossible stratagems in basement headquarters. This is a rousing tribute to all such patriots. - Whang Yee Ling
125 minutes, Netflix 4 stars
This is a visually stunning, comedy-driven interpretation of the 1815 Jane Austen novel.
Director Autumn de Wilde, in this knockout of a feature debut first released in 2020, makes the two leading characters - the moralistic and scolding Knightley (musician and actor Johnny Flynn) and spoilt, thoughtless Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) - relatable to modern audiences, a feat she accomplishes without sacrificing the story's period trappings, such as social class.
Class insecurity - manifested in the keeping up of appearances and the pursuit of higher rungs - drive the comedy and as this delightful story makes clear, things have not changed much from the early 19th century.