John Lui Film Correspondent and Alison de Souza recommend

Film & TV Picks: Wasp Network

Wasp Network
Face The Music
I May Destroy You
I May Destroy YouPHOTO: HBO


128 minutes/Netflix/3.5 stars

We have all seen movies about the United States' drug war with its neighbours in Central and South America. Most of them are thriller and action flicks involving guns, money and patriots with tainted souls doing dirty deeds for the US government.

Celebrated French director Olivier Assayas takes a new perspective: With various Latin stars, including Penelope Cruz, Ana de Armas and Edgar Ramirez, the movie looks at clandestine work carried out by the other side, namely the Cubans. Instead of gun battles, this serves up character-based drama.

Based on a true story, this study of Cuban agents infiltrating anti-Cuban networks in 1990s Florida has dull moments and is not as deep as it thinks it is, but does the job of showing how strange it was to live in a rich country, yet stay fiercely loyal to a communist regime back home.

John Lui


The Asian Film Archive has gone online with its Rewired streaming plan, giving audiences access to films as cinemas here remain closed.

Rewired kicks off with the programme Whose House Is This?: New Cinema Of Central Asia, featuring works from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, all places of growing prominence in world cinema.

One of the themes in the programme is masculinity and modernity versus tradition. In the documentary Face The Music (PG, 2018, 73 minutes), which tracks popular Kazakhstani boy band Ninety One, the group's image and choice of song language have raised hackles in a nation where the optics of K-pop still generate fierce debate.

WHEN: All films in Whose House Is It? are available till July 16 ADMISSION: All films are available for rent via Vimeo On Demand for US$3.50 (S$4.90) with a 48-hour streaming window INFO:

John Lui


HBO and HBO Go/4 stars

The series is a tour de force by British actress Michaela Coel (left), who writes, directs and plays the central character, Arabella, an up-and-coming writer whose life is derailed when someone spikes her drink at a club and rapes her.

The show starts as an interrogation of what sexual consent means in an era of dating apps, hook-up culture, sex positivity and "Netflix and chill" - all combined with generous quantities of drugs and alcohol, especially among millennials and Gen Z.

But then it sidles into a more provocative examination of exploitation: between men and women, blacks and whites, influencers and followers, colonisers and colonised.

INFO: Airs on Mondays at 10.30am on HBO Go and 11.30pm on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601 and Singtel TV Channel 420)

Alison de Souza

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2020, with the headline 'Film & TV Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe