Film picks: Japanese Film Festival, German Film Festival, Respect

Still from the film Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes.
Still from the film Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes.PHOTO: JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL

Japanese Film Festival 2021

This year's edition of this film calendar staple will include online question-and-answer sessions with seven film-makers after the screenings. A hybrid event, it will feature physical and online screenings.

Science-fiction comedy Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (PG, 71 minutes, a physical screening at Shaw Lido, Oct 16, 6 pm, and online at Kinolounge) is film-maker Junta Yamaguchi's debut feature, and winner of awards at this year's Fantasia Film Festival. Cafe owner Kato (Kazunari Tosa) discovers that a security camera at his business can see two minutes into the future. When friends find out, they play with the glitch in the matrix to see what they can get away with. Of course, things go out of hand. Like another much-lauded Japanese work, the zombie comedy One Cut Of The Dead (2017), the movie is shot in one continuous take.

Presented by the Japan Creative Centre (JCC), Embassy of Japan and The Japan Foundation, in collaboration with the Singapore Film Society (SFS).

Where: Shaw Theatres Lido, Oldham Theatre and The Projector; Online screenings at Shaw KinoLounge
When: Till Oct 31, various times
Admission: Shaw Lido Theatres - $13.50 ($11.50 for members of JCC, SFS and Isetan); Shaw KinoLounge - $8 a film, $25 for all four films; Oldham Theatre - $10 ($8 for members of JCC, SFS and Asian Film Archive for PIA Film Festival Retrospective only); The Projector - $13.50 on weekdays, $15 on weekends ($2 discount for members of JCC, SFS and The Projector)
Info: Website

25th German Film Festival

Still from the film Undine. PHOTO: THE MATCH FACTORY

This year's edition will feature 12 films, with physical screenings at The Projector and online viewings at The Projector Plus.

The opening film is the romantic fantasy Undine (M18, 91 minutes, two physical screenings only, Oct 21 and Nov 6, various times). Selected to compete in the Golden Bear section at last year's Berlin International Film Festival, it tells the story of the woman of the film's title (Paula Beer), a historian who finds her life mirroring that of the mythological water nymphs from whom she took her name.

The 25th German Film Festival is presented by the Goethe-Institut Singapore jointly with The Projector and The Projector Plus.

Where: The Projector, 05-00 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road
MRT: Nicoll Highway
When: 21 Oct to 7 Nov, various times
Admission: $13.50, with discounts for Goethe-Institut, fan club, student club and other members
Info: Website

Respect (PG13)

Still from the film Respect starring Jennifer Hudson. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

145 minutes, opens Oct 14, 4 stars

The biopic opens in 1952, with Aretha, only 10 and already a musical prodigy, beloved by her family but in the grip of her domineering father, the pastor C. L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker). That relationship, at once nurturing and smothering, establishes a pattern that would repeat itself over the life of the musician, played as an adult by singer and actress Jennifer Hudson.

At over two hours in length, this is an untidy, often melodramatic movie about a long event-filled life, one that moved in sync with the upheavals of the civil rights movement. Franklin died in 2018 at 76, with this biography being one of her final projects. The film's title, taken from one of her biggest hits, serves as a convenient unifying theme, but it is too vague an idea to deliver anything with insight.

The best thing about authorised musician biopics is the performance rights. Hudson puts those rights to work in several concert scenes, all spine-tinglingly powerful. Thankfully, she does not try to copy Franklin's timbre or note choices, instead performing the standards (such as A Natural Woman, Amazing Grace and the title song) in her own electrifying style.