NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS (NC16)
102 minutes/now showing at The Projector/4.5 stars
This abortion drama asks just one thing of the viewer: Be with Autumn (Sidney Flanigan in a remarkable debut) over several of the most difficult days of her young life - and just feel.
Writer-director Eliza Hittman's screenplay is sparse with information. Autumn is tight-lipped, even to best friend and cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder). When she chooses to have an abortion, the audience is not privy as to why.
Any American movie that has abortion as its triggering event is by definition, a political movie - whether its makers want to dive into those waters or not. Hittman adopts a documentary-like mode of quiet observation: Sidney and Skylar, making their way from their conservative state to the more abortion-friendly New York, are forced to grow up before their time.
Hittman never pulls the camera away, letting the facts of the teen's plight accumulate, making the point that Autumn's ordeal is tragic, yet horrifyingly commonplace.
FOR THE RECORD
The Asian Film Archive's Oldham Theatre, along with cinemas in Singapore, closed its doors in March as part of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
It marked its reopening with For The Record, a documentary programme that puts a spotlight on musicians in Asia blending traditional sounds with Western styles, often meeting with resistance from gatekeepers.
In Sonita (PG13, 2015, 91 minutes, screens Aug 15, 8pm), the young woman who gives the film its title is an Afghan refugee in Iran. Iranian documentary maker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami shows her attempting to break from tradition - not just by refusing an early arranged marriage but also trying to become a rap artist.
Ghaemmaghami does not just watch: She becomes involved in helping Sonita.
WHERE: Oldham Theatre, 1 Canning Rise.
WHEN: Till Aug 23
iQiyi, Viu, StarHub Hub Drama First Channel 860 (on demand)/3.5 stars
Graceful Friends is touted to be another potential blockbuster drama from South Korean broadcaster JTBC, and a cross between World Of The Married (2020) and Sky Castle (2018 to 2019).
The murder mystery follows a group of middle-aged buddies who were members of a drama society in university.
When a young man is found dead in the shower, one of the friends - the department head of a fried chicken franchise played by Yoo Joon-sang - becomes a suspect.
His pals - a henpecked film director (Kim Sung-oh), a divorced surgeon who is hard to read (Bae Soo-bin) and a salesman (Jung Suk-yong) with a much younger wife - wonder how their friend is linked to the dead man.
All the buddies have problems of their own, including Jung's salesman character, who has to bear with the indignities of erectile dysfunction and being mistaken for his daughter's grandfather.
Middle age, as depicted here, has never seemed less graceful.