Film picks: A Private War, Capernaum, Have A Nice Day

A Private War opens with Colvin (Rosamund Pike) in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building.
A Private War opens with Colvin (Rosamund Pike) in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

A Private War (M18)

110 minutes / 3.5 stars

This biopic of the American journalist Marie Colvin, as befits a story about a writer who lived to expose the effects of war on civilians, is a portrait that does not seek to flatter its subject.

Colvin emerges as a person shaped by her damage as much as her ambition.

The story opens with Colvin (Rosamund Pike) in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building. The story flashes back to earlier in her life, to the incident in the Sri Lankan civil war that cost her her left eye. Her editor at The Sunday Times in London, Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander), is troubled by her lack of concern for her safety.

She meets freelance photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) during the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 and they become friends who risk their lives in conflict zones across the world.

Capernaum (NC16)

123 minutes / 3.5 stars

The film, nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language category, opens in court. Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), a street kid in a Lebanese slum, is suing his parents for the act of giving birth to him, thus introducing him to a life of misery. In flashback, he is shown to labour from morning till dusk, delivering gas bottles and hawking drinks. He is denied school because his parents have sold him into slavery in exchange for rent and food for his many siblings. Zain snaps, causing him to run away into an underworld of oddballs, human traffickers, Syrian refugees and overstayers like the Ethiopian cleaning woman, Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw).

Lebanese film-maker Nadine Labaki has a knack for communicating the misery of life at the bottom without falling into the usual artistic traps of romanticisation (also known as "poverty porn") or its opposite, shock-value gruesomeness.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road

WHEN: Opens Saturday(Feb 2)

ADMISSION: $13.50

INFO: theprojector.sg

Have A Nice Day (PG13)

75 minutes / 4 stars

A bag containing one million yuan (S$204,000) is at the centre of a web involving a wannabe gangster, his boss, a pork seller-turned-assassin, and a motley crew of small-time business people with big dreams.

In this blackly comic social satire, winner of the Best Animation prize at last year's Golden Horse Awards, Nanjing-based animator and director Liu Jian depicts a city without pity, shown not just in the things the characters do and say, but also in how it looks: The backdrop is a wasteland, a dystopia reeking of neglect, a place left behind by China's economic miracle.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road

WHEN: Opens Saturday (Feb 2)

ADMISSION: $13.50

INFO: theprojector.sg