John Lui Film Correspondent and Boon Chan Media Correspondent recommend

Film Picks: Arrival, Master, The Wasted Times and more



116 minutes/ 4 stars

This has been saddled with the unfortunate "brainy science fiction" tag, but do not be put off: It has much more to offer than a workout for the mind.

Like all good science fiction, Arrival is about one big idea, taken to a satisfying conclusion.

Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called in by the military when a dozen seedpod-shaped ships appear at different places on Earth. With physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), she has to work out what the foreigners want.

John Lui


143 minutes/ 3.5 stars

The detail that elevates this otherwise standard twisty thriller fare is its references to the politics and culture of South Korea.

Millionaire businessman Jin (Lee Byung Hun, left) is elevated to idol status by adoring crowds who swallow his promises of wealth, even as he warns them to guard against unbelievers who consider him a charlatan.

Sounds familiar?

Financial crimes cop Kim (Gang Dong Won) thinks that if he breaks Jin's playboy IT manager Jang Gun (Kim Woo Bin, above right), he can bring Jin down, and thus begins an unlikely partnership between the straight-laced policeman and the devious, possibly double- and triple-crossing criminal.

John Lui


123 minutes/ 3.5 stars

Lu (Ge You) is an influential and ruthless mobster in 1930s Shanghai on the eve of the Japanese invasion. His Japanese brother-in-law Watabe (Tadanobu Asano, above) has lived in the city for years and is practically Shanghainese. The wife of Lu's boss is Xiaoliu (Zhang Ziyi), a woman prone to indiscreet affairs. Their lives intersect time and again as war upends the city.

Chinese writer-director Cheng Er is clearly a fan of American film-maker Quentin Tarantino's style - this thriller moves back and forth in time, changing viewers' understanding of characters and situations each time it does so.

Boon Chan


In this instalment of film and photography centre Objectifs' annual series, eight telemovies from the 1990s to the 2010s will be seen on the big screen for the first time.

They include Time Tomorrow (1993), Singapore's first original English telemovie starring Chin Han, now a jobbing Hollywood actor; Cupid Love (1995), starring local actor Chen Hanwei and Hong Kong's Athena Chu (both above); and The Playground (2015), an adaptation of Arthur Yap's poem, 2 Mothers In A HDB Playground.

The latter is directed by K. Rajagopal, who also helmed A Yellow Bird, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year. WHERE: Chapel Gallery, Objectifs, 155 Middle Road MRT: Bras Basah WHEN: Feb 7 to 11 ADMISSION: Entry by donation, register at Peatix INFO: watch-local-2017/

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe