103 minutes/4 stars
On paper, Searching, about a father's (John Cho) search for his missing teenage daughter (Michelle La), does not sound like a very promising proposition. How exciting can it be to watch an entire movie unfold on the screens of computers and mobile devices?
Is the movie gimmicky? Yes. But does it work? Absolutely.
In the first place, director and co-writer Aneesh Chaganty's story is solid, with twists and turns nicely paced out to keep one hooked.
He then elevates it with an audacious story-telling style, one that makes perfect sense for the plot.
THE NEGOTIATION (PG13)
114 minutes/4 stars
When a South Korean journalist is captured and held hostage in Bangkok, Seoul police negotiator Han Chae-yoon (Son Ye-jin) is called in to talk to kidnapper Min Tae-gu (Hyun Bin) to find out what he wants.
Given that much of the action happens within two small rooms, separated only by a video call, the amount of tension built is impressive. Right up until the end of the movie, it is difficult to tell which side will be the first to give in.
Secret Garden (2010 to 2011) heart-throb Hyun is also excellent in his first villain role.
Yip Wai Yee
With various hopes and aspirations, the lives of three single women in Singapore could not be more different - the only thing they have in common is that they all live in their own HDB flats.
That is the premise of the acclaimed documentary 03-Flats (2015), one of five works in the film programme line-up for Archifest 2018, the annual festival that celebrates all things architecture.
WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Till Oct 28, various times ADMISSION: $13.50 from theprojector.sg
Yip Wai Yee
A STAR IS BORN (M18)
136 minutes/4.5 stars
In this third remake of the 1937 film, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper, also director of the movie) is a country-rock hero. One night, after giving a concert, he drops into a bar for another night of hard drinking. Ally (Lady Gaga), a waitress, sings on stage, captivating Jackson. They meet later and find a mutual attraction.
As the director, Cooper cannily sees that without the right Ally, there is no movie. In Lady Gaga, he found a powerful blend of acting talent and vocal prowess.
She is a rock star and like Barbra Streisand in the 1976 version, one with the heart of a Broadway belter. There is an electrical jolt that strikes every time she hits the power notes, a feat that could only be possible if the real deal was behind the microphone. All singing in this movie was done live, to the camera.
The result is a richly layered, laugh-and-cry love story that understands that the audience must love the characters before they buy their love affair.