John Lui Film Correspondent recommends

Film Picks: A Private War (M18)

The story opens with Colvin (Rosamund Pike, above) in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building.
The story opens with Colvin (Rosamund Pike, above) in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building.PHOTOS: GOLDEN VILLAGE, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, ANTICIPATE PICTURES
Zain (Zain Al Rafeea, above left, with Cedra Izam, who plays Zain's sister), 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.
Zain (Zain Al Rafeea, above left, with Cedra Izam, who plays Zain's sister), 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.PHOTOS: GOLDEN VILLAGE, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, ANTICIPATE PICTURES
Have A Nice Day (PG13)
Have A Nice Day (PG13)PHOTOS: GOLDEN VILLAGE, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, ANTICIPATE PICTURES

A PRIVATE WAR (M18)

110 minutes/3.5 stars

This biopic of the American journalist Marie Colvin, befitting 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, above left, with Cedra Izam, who plays Zain's sister), 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 siblings.

Zain snaps, causing him to run away to 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 MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Opens tomorrow 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 and a place left behind by China's economic miracle.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Opens tomorrow ADMISSION: $13.50 INFO: theprojector.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2019, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe