John Lui Film Correspondent recommends

Film Picks: Three Husbands (R21)

Chinese actress Chloe Maayan, and Chan Charm-man, above, third from right.
Chinese actress Chloe Maayan, and Chan Charm-man, above, third from right.PHOTOS: NETFLIX, SINGAPORE SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY
American Factory.
American Factory.PHOTOS: NETFLIX, SINGAPORE SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY
Seema Biswas (above left) and Zerifa Wahid (above right).
Seema Biswas (above left) and Zerifa Wahid (above right).PHOTOS: NETFLIX, SINGAPORE SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY

THREE HUSBANDS (R21)

101 minutes/3.5 stars

This Hong Kong film blends lowbrow sex comedy, Chinese fables of mermen and mermaids and socio-political commentary into a strange, overlong but oddly compelling brew.

Making stories about people on the bottom of the social ladder is director and co-writer Fruit Chan's forte.

But here, he takes a leaf from the book of his idol, Japanese film-maker Nagisa Oshima (In The Realm Of The Senses, 1976) by including longish, almost clinical scenes of mentally disabled sex worker Mui (Chinese actress Chloe Maayan) taking care of business in a tiny, bobbing boat operated by her gambling-addict father.

Enter besotted client Four Eyes (Chan Charm-man), who wants to rescue her through marriage. To his surprise, she is less than grateful. The repetitive bawdiness is overdone, but in the light of the current protests in Hong Kong, the sour, sarcastic spirit of the film is timely.

WHERE: Filmgarde Cineplexes, Level 5 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street MRT: Bugis WHEN: Two screenings today and tomorrow ADMISSION: $13.50, $12 (Singapore Film Society members) INFO: singaporefilmsociety.com/event/cac-3husbands


AMERICAN FACTORY

110 minutes/now streaming on Netflix/4 stars

In the midst of an American trade war with China comes this documentary about what happened when a Chinese automotive glass-maker Fuyao opened a plant in the unemployment-ravaged city of Dayton, Ohio.

It is distributed by Higher Ground Productions, founded by former United States president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

The human side of the story is covered with humour and insight - one American worker wants his Chinese friends to have the most American experience at his house party, so he lets them play with his gun collection.

But better yet, film-makers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert have access to boardroom meetings. It is there that the real drama unfolds, with as much acrimony as any popular reality show.


SINGAPORE SOUTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The third edition of the festival will feature more than 40 films, not just from countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also Bhutan, Iran and Singapore.

In the Assamese drama Bhoga Khirikee (Broken Window), starring Seema Biswas and Zerifa Wahid, a young woman marries a militant fleeing detection by government forces and has to face the consequences of her decision.

WHERE: Golden Village Suntec City, 03-373 Suntec City Mall (East Wing), 3 Temasek Boulevard; and 1 Harbourfront Walk, VivoCity MRT: Promenade/ HarbourFront WHEN: Today to Sept 7 ADMISSION: $10 a screening. Festival passes are available INFO: sgsaiff.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2019, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe