Film Picks: Japanese Film Festival, Unsane, Nightcrawler

A still from Unsane starring Claire Foy. PHOTO: 20TH CENTURY FOX

Japanese Film Festival 2021

A still from the film A Road starring Daichi Sugimoto. PHOTO: JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL

This year's edition of this film calendar staple includes online Q&As with seven film-makers after the screenings. The hybrid eventfeatures physical and online screenings.

Film-maker Daichi Sugimoto directs and stars in the bittersweet drama A Road (2015, PG, 85 minutes, screening on Oct 10, 5pm at Oldham Theatre), about a film student trying to recapture his childhood through the medium of film. An online Q&A with Sugimoto will followthe screening.

The festival is presented by 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 formembers of JCC, SFS and Asian Film Archivefor 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: Japanese Film Festival's website

Nightcrawler (PG13)

117 minutes/Netflix/4 star

A still from the film Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

With the new Jake Gyllenhaal thriller The Guilty in Netflix's Top 10, it is a good time to revisit the actor's other works on the platform. They include Oscar-winning romance Brokeback Mountain (2005) and the food industry comedy Okja (2017), directed by Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho.

But Nightcrawler, a 2014 skewering of the "if it bleeds, it leads" nature of television news in Los Angeles, is a standout.

Gyllenhaal's Lou, a videographer who sells footage he shoots at accidents and murders, is a villainous main character as creepily memorable as Taxi Driver's (1976) Travis Bickle or American Psycho's (2000) Patrick Bateman.

British actor Riz Ahmed also makes an impact as Rick, a wide-eyed underling learning about what it takes to grab the shot that sells.

Unsane (NC16)

96 minutes/Netflix/4 stars

Just added to the service is this 2018 psychological thriller from celebrated director Steven Soderbergh, exploring what happens when a woman fleeing a predator seeks help from a system that sees patients as profit generators.

Successful analyst Sawyer (Claire Foy), attempting to relieve herself of past trauma, visits a mental health facility for a therapy session. To her horror, she finds herself committed against her will, with attempts at leaving viewed as proof that she requires institutionalisation.

Her horror soon turns from the psychological to something more visceral, and far bloodier.

The script might have come from writers Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, but this is very much a Soderbergh project because of the precise tonal control the director exercises. The look is naturalistic, almost spartan, and the sound design is minimalist.

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