MR HOLMES (PG)
104 minutes/ 4/5 stars
It is 1947 and renowned detective Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is 93 and in decline. Besieged by dementia and regret, he shuts himself away on a Sussex farm, his only company a housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker).
Through flashbacks, the cause of his self-imposed exile comes to light. Up in his study, he races against time to write his history before illness erases his memory. Sad, gentle and often very funny, this story of a man piecing together the truth of his life, after having it stolen by the public and a failing mind, is a masterpiece of construction.
Director Bill Condon (having worked with McKellen in the 1998 Oscar-winning biopic Gods And Monsters) and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess, 2008) juxtapose at least three timelines without loss of momentum or coherence.
95 minutes/ 4/5 stars
Do you have to be insane to be a member in unpronounceable rock band Soronprfbs?
New keyboard player Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) thinks so. Child-like leader Frank (Michael Fassbender) never takes off his giant dollhead mask, theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) suffers from homicidal tendencies while the two remaining players suffer from excessive Frenchness. Even band manager Don (Scoot McNairy) appears touched.
Jon imagines that whatever it is that makes them weird makes them geniuses, and hopes that by sticking close he will be visited by the same angels.
Lenny Abrahamson from Ireland is a real actor's director, working with screenwriter Jon Ronson's (The Men Who Stare At Goats, 2009) in this funny, moving record of a man's trip through the looking glass. Abrahamson finds a wider range of emotion from Fassbender's dollhead than other directors do from an ensemble of players.
WHERE: The Projector, Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road MRT: City Hall ADMISSION: Go to theprojector.sg for tickets and schedule
THE GIFT (NC16)
100 minutes/ 3.5/5 stars
A young couple moving into a new home is a set-up seen in many other movies. Often, things go awry quickly, thanks to things that go bump in the night.
Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) return to the place where he had grown up and move into a new home. They bump into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), one of Simon's former high school mates. He starts to leave gifts for the couple on their doorstep, but Simon is less than thrilled. Wondering what had happened between the two, Robyn starts to dig into the past.
Writer-director-actor Edgerton builds tension from the familiarity of the situation, but otherwise does not follow the standard supernatural thriller script, even if it uses a few tropes.
As the movie unfolds, the dark edge to Simon's likeability is gradually revealed - the story itself keeps you guessing as to where it is headed with question marks hanging over the three main players.
JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL
Events marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the surrender of Japan, are happening during this period.
In 1967, renowned Japanese film-maker Kihachi Okamoto released The Emperor And A General (NC16, 157 minutes). Starring Toshiro Mifune as General Korechika Anami, the War Minister, the film dramatises the goings-on at the highest levels of government on Aug 15, 1945, the day of Japan’s surrender.
Opinions were divided between those who wanted to fight on even if it meant annihilation, and others who had enough of war. In a step never before taken, Emperor Hirohito, considered a divine being and never seen nor heard by the common people, was consulted.
WHERE: Gallery Theatre, National Museum of Singapore WHEN: Tomorrow, 2pm ADMISSION: Free for the Kihachi Okamoto retrospective. Limited to two tickets a person on a first-come,first-served basis, available 45 minutes before the screening session or 60 minutes before the start of the first film of the day INFO: Go to jpfilmfestival.com for the full schedule