Film Picks: Dune, They Call Her...Cleopatra Wong, Your Name

Dune is an adaptation of the 1965 Frank Herbert novel about feuding space clans.
Dune is an adaptation of the 1965 Frank Herbert novel about feuding space clans.PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Dune (PG13)

156 minutes, now showing, 4 stars

For this adaptation of the 1965 Frank Herbert novel about feuding space clans, French-Canadian director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve gets the crucial job of world-building done without resorting to excessive voice-over or text crawls or getting bogged down in self-indulgent minutiae.

Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), is visited by strange dreams. His clan, on the emperor's orders, is about to take over stewardship of Arrakis - the only source of spice, the stuff that prolongs life and makes faster-than-light travel possible. House Harkonnen, the former stewards, are unwilling to take their hands off the money faucet that is spice.

Villeneuve, known for "big ideas" science fiction - he directed 2016's alien-contact movie Arrival and 2017's android-Pinocchio story Blade Runner 2049 - adapts Herbert's sand-and-spaceships fantasy with his trademark minimalist approach.

Another director might delight in spaceships zipping across starfields and pew-pew laser battles, Villeneuve prefers that his ships move at a stately parade speed or not at all.

Paul's Chosen One coming-of-age journey is the dullest section, largely because it is today impossible to find a new way to flog this dead horse of a young-adult genre story thread.

Villeneuve, to his credit, deals with it by being brisk - what might have been a tedious arc about a young man accepting his saviour status has been skimmed.

Restored: They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong

Singapore Interpol agent Cleopatra Wong takes on a multinational money-counterfeiting ring in the film. PHOTO: ASIAN FILM ARCHIVE

Released in 1978 to tap into the craze for martial arts and super-spy flicks featuring glamorous women with deadly fists, this Singapore-Filipino co-production finds Singapore Interpol agent Cleopatra Wong (Singapore's Doris Young, using the stage name Marrie Lee) taking on a multinational money-counterfeiting ring.

The screenings, organised by the Asian Film Archive, mark the Asian premiere of the 4K restored version of this exploitation cinema classic. The restoration took more than a year and made use of film elements loaned from several European film archives.

Where: Oldham Theatre, Level 3National Archives of Singapore building, 1 Canning Rise
MRT: City Hall, Bras Basah
When: Till Oct 6, various times
Admission: $9 (concession), $10 (general)
Info: Asian Film Archive's website

Your Name (PG, 2016)

Available on Netflix, 4 stars

Your Name is a romantic fantasy about a magical body swop between Tokyo boy Taki and small-town girl Mitsuha. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

This romantic fantasy, one of the most celebrated works of anime and 2016's highest-grossing Japanese movie, was recently added to Netflix.

It joins less well-known works by acclaimed writer-director Makoto Shinkai on the streaming platform, including the romance 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007), drama The Garden Of Words (2013), adventure film Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011) and Shinkai's first feature, the alternate-history fantasy The Place Promised In Our Early Days (2004).

Shinkai's most recent feature was the popular romantic fantasy Weathering With You (2019), which is not on Netflix.

Your Name opens briskly, with a magical body swop happening between Tokyo boy Taki (voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki) and small-town girl Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi). The pair must race against time to discover the reason for the switch.