SMILE (MOVIE REVIEW)

Subverting a place, object, role or symbol is always a good way to surprise and terrify. With Smile, director Parker Finn takes on the universal action of smiling into a more sinister realm with his feature debut. Sosie Bacon is Dr. Rose Cotter, a workaholic therapist that can’t seem to pry herself away from helping her…

NOPE (FILM REVIEW)

“They don’t make them like they used to” is something often said about things manufactured in the new millenia. Appliances, furniture, or even food would sometimes be candidates for this critique. With a calendar full of formulaic or franchise fodder, one might say the same about cinema today. Jordan Peele though, is different. He approaches…

ELVIS (FILM REVIEW)

When it comes to biopics, authenticity appears to be the yardstick most would measure it by. For flamboyant filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, that would be both stifling and obvious.  It’s been almost a decade since his last feature (The Great Gatsby, 2013) and two for Moulin Rouge! (2001), but the Australian director commits to his inimitable…

URBAN MYTHS (FILM REVIEW)

There’s no getting away from folklore even in a contemporary setting. No matter which continent we might be on, each urban environment – crowded with people and traffic – will always birth stories that people whisper about or discover online. Given how pervasive urban myths are, it’s funny how they are not recognised as a…

SEAMS: THE FIRST TAROT DECK BRINGING SOUTHEAST ASIAN LORE TO LIFE

Tarot decks have mainly seen iterations through the lens of Western lore and interest. From themes such as Arthurian lore to French art nouveau designs, these influences have found easy integration with the stories and meaning within the 78-card deck. But what of Southeast Asian literature? That was the question Rowen Ong, founder of the…

PEE NAK 3 (FILM REVIEW)

Not to be confused with Pee Mak – the other Thai horror-comedy about a lovelorn female spirit – Pee Nak is about a curse, a Naga and some very unfortunate monks. This third chapter continues with returning cast members and an overstretched plot (or lack thereof), and by the looks of it, should likely be…

CYRANO (FILM REVIEW)

It’s reasonable to say that Peter Dinklage single-handedly changed the perception of dwarf actors in his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. In a highly refreshing and memorable performance, his characterisation exuded a devilish mix of expressive charm and sardonic wit that quickly adhered him to the audience. This level of magnetism naturally…

CRANE PUTS THE CONSCIOUS INTO CO-WORKING

Their new outlet opening on Arab Street will soon be joined by another in Joo Chiat. I have to admit, I was not familiar with Crane before I visited their opening at Arab Street, though the name feels vaguely familiar. So when I went online to their website, I was thoroughly impressed by the offerings…

“MIDNIGHT MASS” – WHEN FAITH AND HYSTERIA COLLIDE (TV SHOW REVIEW)

If the adage holds—that one shouldn’t talk to friends about politics, religion or money—then Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass would be a very lonely person. Which, as it turns out, is very much a core subject in the Netflix series. But more on that later. Sifting through themes of grief, guilt, and death, the American filmmaker presents Midnight Mass with two very…

RESPECT (FILM REVIEW)

When it comes to singing, folks usually find praise in technique and tone, but singing as an artform can also find greatness in authentic expression. While every genre of music has its fans, soul music has an incomparable effect to move any audience – and you can’t talk about soul music without mentioning the Queen…

THE YEAR OF THE EVERLASTING STORM – FILM REVIEW

What a year it’s been. Covid-19 brought the world to its knees, showing up faultlines and shifting paradigms in a way no other historical event has laid claim to. We’ve all had to adapt to these changes – some more inconvenient than others. From face masks and beeping apps, to isolation and strained relationships, the…

GUIMOON: THE LIGHTLESS DOOR (FILM REVIEW)

For all the modernity that surrounds Singapore, there’s always something about Asian rituals and ghosts that unnerve even the most disbelieving of us. In the case of Guimoon: The Lightless Door, director Shim Duck-geun leads us down a rabbit hole of hereditary spiritual work, trapped souls and superstitious lore, filled with a core of vengeance….

DUNE (FILM REVIEW)

In the media world, Frank Herbert’s Dune is well-regarded as the sci-fi equivalent of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – unfilmable. Peter Jackson surprised everyone with his production, even as it took almost an entire country’s worth of talent to realise the vision of the latter. Hoping to capture the other corner is Denis Villeneuve….

THE MEDIUM (FILM REVIEW)

The promise of a collaboration between Shutter-famous Banjong Pisanthanakun, directing a new horror title produced by The Wailing Na Hong-jin, is enough to make any pundit in the genre sit up and take notice. The two veterans are strong in their compelling narratives – both enjoy layering their characters with the burden of a strained…

OLD (FILM REVIEW)

Perhaps one of the most intriguing trailers to come out of 2021 is M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. It begins with a couple and their children visiting the Hollywood definition of a luxury resort – tropical palms, overly decorated drinks and too much linen – and quickly goes for WTF when they start rapidly aging after…

GHOST MANSION (FILM REVIEW)

Webtoons are having their day in the sun in Korea’s entertainment industry, as seen by their popularity in titles such as Itaewon Class and Sweet Home. Though it isn’t an adaptation, Ghost Mansion does tap into this cultural phenomena by pitching the protagonist as a webtoon artist who digs a little too far into the…

WAITING FOR RAIN (FILM REVIEW)

When the script led its lead actor Kang Ha-neul to tears during his reading, you know a it makes for a bonafide tearjerker. However, Waiting for Rain isn’t your regular ballad of a saga, milking languorous musical slow-mos and fall-in-your-arms tropes for romance. In fact, the female protagonist even insists they never meet – but…

IN THE HEIGHTS (FILM REVIEW)

Hungry for projects, studios are riffling through the past for a quick way to make content, and adaptations have been one of the treasuries they’ve been drawing from. With the Broadway breakout Hamilton under his belt, Lin-Manuel Miranda portfolio became Warner Bros’s target, given how his material not only brought relevant messaging on diversity and…

HOW TO BUY BITCOIN (AND OTHER COINS) IF YOU’RE A BEGINNER IN SINGAPORE

You know Bitcoin. Maybe heard about Ethereum. And if you’re not under a rock, Dogecoin and perhaps Shiba Inu too. Cryptocurrency has exploded on the market in a big way, led mostly by stories of millionaires made in seconds, as well as spectacular losses. Arguably the godfather of crypto coins, Elon Musk certainly keeps crypto…

SPIRAL (FILM REVIEW)

The collection of Saw films has shuttled along its timeline, but one fact remains – Jigsaw, the vigilante serial killer, is well and truly at rest. So what would it possibly take for a new episode to arise? It seems, a chance meeting between franchise fan Chris Rock and Lionsgate vice chairman, Michael Burns. CEO…

H24: THE HERMES MAN CLAIMS MODERNITY WITH A BOTANICAL PRESENCE

The widely-anticipated men’s perfume is the house’s latest after 15 years. One moment, we’re trying to start the year right with pandemic vaccination. The next, we’re treated to snippets of a young man Inception-walking in an illusory city made up of smoke and mirrors. “H24: A fragrance beyond the lines,” the ad promised. If one…

CLIFF WALKERS (FILM REVIEW)

A Zhang Yimou film is always an event. As one of this generation’s most iconic Asian directors, Zhang has been able to transition from more independent efforts to commercial titles with great success, receiving critical acclaim for his earlier works Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern, and popular appeal with Hero, House of Flying…

THE HYPNOSIS (FILM REVIEW)

When it comes to hypnosis, you usually belong in one of the two camps: Those that believe and wish to try, and those that don’t but would also like to try. Suffice to say, The Hypnosis is eager to tap into this fascination for this fledgling science, though practitioners might not appreciate the dramatic slant…

SEOBOK (FILM REVIEW)

Mention of this film locally has quickly drawn reference to crispy pork belly (even from my editor), given how similar the two are when spelled out. But this is a film review and not a food review so all jokes aside… On the name, director Lee Yong Zoo explained, “Emperor Qin of China was a…

NEW ZEALAND: THE PERFECT BALM FOR THE SPACE -STARVED SINGAPOREAN

Singapore comes up tops in many things except for one – space. And with COVID-19 restrictions keeping us grounded, we quickly envied those large countries with regions and states which allowed their citizens some consolation with domestic travel. The good news is, Singapore’s been making good progress in the viral spread, and is one of…

CAN GREAT FILMS CHANGE THE WORLD?

SK-II thinks so, with the creation of SK-II STUDIO. As a film student, I learnt to look past the entertainment facet of the medium, and into the art of its expression. Hirokazu Koreeda became known to me through the film Shoplifters, and the watching left me haunted for days to come. His gift of translating…

POSSESSOR (FILM REVIEW)

Cronenberg. The surname itself signals that Possessor is going to be deeply provocative. Son of David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg, is fully realising every bit of his family’s legacy with Possessor. The sci-fi horror checks all the heritage hallmarks – body horror, unflinching gore, ethical conundrums and brutal delivery – all somehow still wrapped in a…

THE BOX (FILM REVIEW)

With some members beginning their enlistment, SM Entertainment has officially announced that EXO’s future will be moving towards more solo projects. It is a timely balm then for fans of the 9-member boy band, that The Box stars one of the two prominent rappers in the group – Chanyeol. While the band was known for…

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (FILM REVIEW)

In this biographical depiction of revolutionary Fred Hampton, director Shaka King condenses the events of his influential years as a chairman in the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, that inevitably led with his assassination in 1969. He was 21.   But the focus here is less on his incredible charisma that realised a “rainbow…