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….

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

MINARI – FILM REVIEW

Two months into the new year and we may very well have another Parasite on our hands. Minari is Lee Isaac Chung’s feathery opus, chronicling an immigrant family trying to take root in a new motherland while earning their own particular version of success. It’s a gentle story held aloft by deceptively easy story-telling, yet…

SUPERNOVA (FILM REVIEW)

When the film begins quietly in the motorhome of Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), one almost instantly feels intrusive – such is the simmering tenderness coming from the on-screen lovers. As Supernova unfurls, the story of this middle-aged couple facing obstacles from a medical predicament is teased out in similar fashion. Tucci displays…

STIGMATIZED PROPERTIES (FILM REVIEW)

Would you stay in a stigmatized property? Just the thought of it might make some skins crawl. Stigmatized properties are residential places for rent or purchase, but with one big twist – someone’s passed away in them before. Sometimes this is a little more peaceful, where the occupants die during their sleep. Other times it’s…

THE CON-HEARTIST (FILM REVIEW)

Besides sinful Mookatas, fiery Tom Yum soups and delicious Phad Thai, it’s safe to say that the Thai have cornered the market on wacky humour on-screen. It’s not just in movies, but you’ll likely have seen one of those twist-ending ads that drops a curveball of an ending after an emotional wringer. But a victim…

SAMJIN COMPANY ENGLISH CLASS – A REVIEW

The title seems to suggest a language-centric comedy, but Samjin Company English Class holds a lot more sass in class than playing up botched English deliveries. There’s a great deal of messaging here, from hierarchical ceilings to gender discrimination, but most of all, that doing the right thing might be tough, but always worth it…

THE SILENT FOREST – A REVIEW

All too often, there are some topics in life we tiptoe around. We either gloss over them, avoid them, or deny them altogether, and even more so when it presents uncomfortable or unfamiliar truths. So imagine when two of those themes come together. The Silent Forest is a bold and disturbing look into the effects…

THE SWORDSMAN – A REVIEW

To me, modern action has nothing on period pugilistic pieces. Guns, lasers, cars and bombs rarely need skill, and filmmakers often depend on bigger explosions to one-up excitement. The clash of fists and swords in comparison, feels more elegant, and often results in a more satisfying payout. They are called martial arts for a reason….

COFFEE OR TEA? 一点就到家 – A REVIEW

Like the double-yolked egg or the extra piece of McNugget, life can be full of pleasant surprises. Coffee or Tea turned out to be one of them. What seemed like a predictable fish-out-of-water story of three unlikely business partners, turned up with some really good dramatic moments within moving themes on home, family, and friendship….

JIANG ZI YA: LEGEND OF DIEFICATION – A REVIEW

If the opening credits are anything to go by, this project took a LOT of work. Studio after studio flashed their vanity intros across the screen, but the most significant contributor is clearly Coloroom Pictures. Initially bought over by Beijing Enlight Pictures to establish themselves as a Chinese animation powerhouse on par with Disney’s Pixar…

THE TUNNEL (TUNNELEN) – A REVIEW

Norway has more than 1,100 road tunnels, with only a few of them designed with emergency rooms or escape routes. Some would call this a recipe for disaster or a ticking time bomb but it’s the reality for Norwegians. Since 2011, eight big fires – including one in 2015 involving a tanker truck with 16,500…

I WEIRDO – A REVIEW

Living with a younger brother with autism, I have a front-row seat to how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects one’s life. The term is used loosely these days for people who fuss over small discrepancies, say a slightly tilted photo frame or their colour-coordinated stationery, but for people like my brother, it is less a…

LOVE YOU FOREVER (FILM REVIEW)

China’s movie-making efforts have largely fallen either towards epic fantasy and dramatic action flicks, or the overt comedy that basically doubles as a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s only the odd while you’ll get a romantic piece. Love You Forever is one of these rare attempts, and true to form, features a sprinkling of fantasy…

BOMBSHELL (FILM REVIEW)

Playing out one of the most important chapters – the prologue if you will – of the #MeToo movement, Bombshell drops us into the frenetic offices of Fox News to witness the buildup to the sexual harassment allegations levelled at media mogul Roger Ailes. Director Jay Roach and writer Charles Randolph doesn’t go full The…

TOOTSIES & THE FAKE (FILM REVIEW)

For the uninitiated, tootsie is a affectionate term used in Thailand for a campy gay guy. And celebrating this without restraint, Line TV created a series based on the online accounts of Thachpacha Setthachai, a proud tootsie who does a Carrie Bradshaw and recalls the many humourous episodes he has with his three best friends…

JOJO RABBIT (FILM REVIEW)

In today’s era of instant media and trigger-happy sensibilities, presenting a film about Nazis and their famed chancellor is like a game of dice… with razor blades. Fortunately under Taika Waititi’s treatment, Jojo Rabbit doesn’t draw blood, but instead, a mixture of laughs, shock, or indignance. How you enjoy this film might be an indicator…