127 minutes, opens Nov 19 exclusively at The Projector, 3 stars
It is around 20 minutes too long and contains too many characters, but you have to admit that this ripped-from-the-headlines drama about young Taiwanese afflicted with affluenza, Internet-fuelled porn kinks and abandonment issues is ambitious.
Its director and co-writer, Malaysia-born, Taiwan-based Ho Wi Ding (drama Cities Of Last Things, 2018, available on Netflix; comedy drama Pinoy Sunday, 2009) starts the story in the middle, when a man attacks couple Yu Fang and Xiao Zhang (Moon Lee and J.C. Lin respectively) with a sword.
Each character's arc unfolds in chapters, his or her inter-relationships kept vague until the film's finale. Along the way, the damage done to male and female sexuality in the age of adult chatrooms, anime "Lolita" porn and video games is explored.
This film, selected to open this year's Golden Horse Film Festival, is not as lurid as it sounds - even the most wayward of its characters is treated sympathetically.
Billed as Asia's top independent animation festival, Cartoons Underground marks its 10th season with a programme of film screenings, panel discussions, workshops and the Golden Durian awards for excellence in animation.
To mark the 10th anniversary of its release, there will be in-person screening of Tatsumi (M18, 138 minutes, screens on Nov 27, 1pm at *Scape Gallery, $11), Eric Khoo's 2011 animated biography of manga master Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It charts his life from his start as a comics creator in post-war Japan to his role in founding the gekiga genre, a format with mature themes aimed at an adult readership.
There will be an online panel discussion with Khoo, Tatsumi sound director Kazz Sato, animation director Phil Mitchell, music composer Christine Sham and others (Nov 27, 3pm, All-Access Pass required)
Where: Cartoons Underground's website
When: Nov 20 to 27
Admission: $10 for a film screening, $15 for an All-Access pass, with concessions for students
Opens Nov 18, 4 stars
It is not often that a work of horror becomes a country's entry to the Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category, but Iceland did just that with this work, director Valdimar Johansson's debut feature.
The set-up, like the dialogue and rural location, is stripped-down. Maria (Swedish actress Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) are a sheep-farming couple nursing a private grief. Miraculously, they find a newborn on their farm. They decide to raise the baby as their own and the child rejuvenates their marriage.
There is, however, something grotesquely wrong with this picture of domestic bliss. The film makes the reason known from the start, but turns the screws by letting the consequences play out in all their strangeness without resorting to jump scares or gore.
Buoyed by great performances from Rapace and Gudnason, this work will leave child-free couples feeling a little more smug by opening new vistas of anxiety about the act of giving birth to and raising children.