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Friyay!: What to watch

76 Days.
Yakov (Dave Davis, above).
Yakov (Dave Davis, above).PHOTO: MM2 ENTERTAINMENT
Tereza Tezka (above).


76 DAYS (PG)

93 minutes/Opens tomorrow

5 stars

The directing team of Wu Hao, a New York-based Chinese citizen, and two others based in Wuhan (Chen Weixi and another who has asked to stay nameless) has, in journalistic terms, landed one of the biggest scoops imaginable.

They have captured the events of Ground Zero as it was happening from January to April 2020, just as the disaster that struck Hubei province reverberated around the world.

Given free rein in four Wuhan hospitals - most times, it is unclear which hospital is being filmed - the camera crew silently records vignettes with an emphasis on emotion rather than information.

The film-makers have risked official censure, not to mention infection, to capture what it feels to be on the medical front lines of a besieged city. This is a war diary.

As a record of the times, it is hard to imagine anything more complete or profoundly moving.


90 minutes/Now showing

4 stars

Spooky movies are at their spookiest when both the haunter and the haunted are fully realised characters who make choices that fit with who they are and what they want.

On that score, this superbly crafted piece of creepy minimalism does well. It not only fits a world inside the single room of the movie, but also everything done by both the living and the dead make sense.

Yakov (Dave Davis), a New Yorker in need of cash, takes on the job of shomer, someone who guards the body of a dead person at night as part of the Jewish funeral ritual. While he is technically Jewish, he is no longer a believer and does his best to pull away from his community of Orthodox Jews.

Writer-director Keith Thomas, making his feature debut, sets the stage for dusk-to-dawn terror as Yakov is assailed by the horrors of his past - the ones that caused him to renounce his faith - and those that haunt the woman whose body he has to watch over.



100 minutes/Now showing

There are documentaries, like pandemic diary 76 Days, that quietly observe from the sidelines.

Then there are those, like this work from the Czech Republic, that force dramatic situations to happen.

The situation in this case is paedophilia. The directing team of Barbora Chalupova and Vit Klusak hired three actresses over 18 years old but who looked 12 - including Tereza Tezka - and asked them to pose as children on social media.

The result is a record of how thousands of men responded in ways which should make the hair of every parent stand on end. The experiment goes all the way to face-to-face meetings with the men, who come from every walk of life, including those whose jobs put them in contact with children.

This film comes with a warning that it deals with child abuse and sexual predation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Friyay!: What to watch'. Subscribe