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Friyay!: What to watch

Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) and Dr Lily Houghton (left).
Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) and Dr Lily Houghton (left).PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Youri (Alseni Bathily).
Youri (Alseni Bathily).PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR



(rating to be announced)

40 minutes, premieres on HBO Go on Sunday

Not reviewed

For viewers with the emotional resources to handle reminders of what early 2020 was like, this documentary short film by American film-maker Hannah Olson looks behind the headlines of an event that encapsulates the confusion, mixed messages and political blame-shifting that were rampant during the early days of the pandemic.

Sailing from Yokohama, Japan, in January last year with more than 3,700 passengers and crew, the Diamond Princess cruise ship recorded a Covid-19 outbreak, triggering a month-long quarantine.

Using footage from passengers and crew, Olson pieces together a record of what it felt like to be trapped in cabins while being served by those who had to carry on working, despite bearing the same risks as the passengers.



127 minutes, now showing; available from today on Premier Access on Disney+ for a one-time fee of $38.98

4 stars

While this adventure-comedy based on a Walt Disney theme park ride clings on to formula for dear life, there is just enough weirdness here to save it from disposability and perhaps earn it a second or third instalment.

British actress Emily Blunt is the headstrong and too plain-spoken Dr Lily Houghton. In a bid to save lives in the war-torn trenches of France and vindicate family honour, she heads to the Amazonian rainforest in search of a plant believed to be a panacea.

With her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) - a man who loves his creature comforts - in tow, she meets Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), a boatman as unreliable as the clapped-out vessel he operates.

Spanish-American director Jaume Collet-Serra came up through horror (House Of Wax, 2005) and lower-budget thrillers (the tense, minimalist woman-versus-shark drama The Shallows, 2016).

In between the weightless, low-stakes but large-scale action sequences, Collet-Serra flies his horror flag by inserting cleverly staged creature scares, boosting a ride that would otherwise be a quiet commute.



97 minutes, showing at The Projector

3 stars

Decades ago, apartment blocks sprang up in France as the government's forward-looking answer to the problem of lower-income housing.

One project located in the suburbs of Paris, Cite Gagarine, is the focus of this drama set in the present day, when such blocks, now in a run-down state, have evolved into homes for immigrants and the unemployed.

Gagarine is idealistically named after the first human in space, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who stood as a symbol of futurism and progress.

Living in the project is the dreamer Youri (Alseni Bathily, below), who is trying to stop the relocation of residents. He recruits the spirited, mechanically adept Diana (Lyna Khoudri), who lives in the same project.

To expand on the film's ideas of how the built environment affects feelings of home and belonging and vice versa, there will be a Facebook Live discussion about community displacement and conservation at 8pm on Wednesday ( .

Joining the talk will be the film's directors, Fanny Liatard and Jeremy Trouilh, architect Jonathan Poh (who led a campaign to conserve the Dakota Crescent estate), documentary film-maker Jeremy Ho (producer of Between Two Homes, which documents life at Dakota Crescent) and film-maker Tan Bee Thiam (director of social satire Tiong Bahru Social Club, 2020).

It will be moderated by Karen Tan, founder of The Projector and Pocket Projects, a consultancy focused on the reuse of old, overlooked buildings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2021, with the headline 'Friyay!: What to watch'. Subscribe