Film Picks: The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, Oldboy, A Hero

A still from the film The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent starring Nicolas Cage (left) and Pedro Pascal. PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (NC16)

107 minutes, now showing, 4 stars

Who else but Nicolas Cage could star in a movie about an actor called Nicolas Cage whose life and career bear a strong resemblance to the real Nicolas Cage?

On one level, this project functions as an action-comedy about a Hollywood star grasping at money and relevance. As movie premises go, it is not exactly groundbreaking. But when the self-referencing happens, a giddying hall-of-mirrors effect takes over.

It is deliciously bewildering to watch Cage - in character as himself - talk about the Cage who was in the comedy Guarding Tess (1994), or the Cage who squared off against John Travolta's character in the thriller Face/Off (1997).

Cage, playing an anxiety-ridden and broke version of himself, is pitched an idea by his agent Richard (Neil Patrick Harris). Tycoon Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) is a superfan who will pay a million dollars for Cage to show up at his birthday party in Spain. Cage agrees reluctantly.

Things take a dangerous turn for the fan and the actor when American secret agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) enter the picture.

Oldboy (R21)

A still from the film Oldboy starring Choi Min-sik. PHOTO: MM2 ENTERTAINMENT

120 minutes, now showing in cinemas

Returning to the big screen is the 4K restored version of this groundbreaking 2003 South Korean thriller - a film that encompasses operatic drama, mystery, horror, black comedy, a legendary corridor battle shot in a single take, and a seafood dinner that is in the ultimate in freshness.

This winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival opens with Oh (Choi Min-sik), a man whom an unknown villain has imprisoned for 15 years in a private cell. Released suddenly, Oh burns for vengeance.

A Hero (PG)

A Hero starring Amir Jadidi. PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR

127 minutes, showing exclusively at The Projector, 4 stars

Celebrated Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi, a double Oscar winner, builds his story around a man sent to debtors' prison.

While out on furlough, Rahim (Amir Jadidi) meets with an incident that puts him at a moral crossroads: Should he do the right thing and remain locked up or profit from someone else's misfortune?

If you enjoy Farhadi's social dramas, you should be familiar with - and most likely love - his cinema of moral anxiety. Characters commit indiscretions, often in the name of love - a white lie about a friend's marital status (About Elly, 2009), a shove to eject an unwelcome person from the home (Oscar winner A Separation, 2011) - and horrifying consequences result.

In A Hero, winner of the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Rahim's moral act attracts the wrong kind of attention from the authorities.

Like many Farhadi protagonists, Rahim's suffering is intense. It is done to elicit sympathy, but it never feels manipulative. This is a story without villains, just citizens trying to survive in a society where everyone is judged by sometimes harsh religious norms, but which is also capable of great compassion.

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