Fri, Apr 15, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Movie releases

Compiled by Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

The Jungle Book

All right, a remake is probably warranted when it has been 49 years since the original. Director John Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens), says this new 3D live-action version is not a musical — but really, it would be a crime to do a Jungle Book movie without the classic tunes a la Trust in Me and Bear Necessities. Fortunately, Favreau delivers — with renditions by cast members Scarlett Johannson, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray and newcomer Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli. There are some pretty big shoes to fill here, as the original was the last film that Walt Disney personally worked on before his death, which was in turn based on Rudyard Kipling’s popular 1894 novel. The CGI is pretty cool, but many films who try to mix real actors with animated characters just end up feeling unnatural. Judging from the trailer, though, that will not be a problem with this film.

Criminal

Let us take a moment of silence for screenwriter Douglas Cook, who worked on this film with writing partner David Weisburg (the duo is best known for 1996’s The Rock) for eight years but died before it premiered. Reuniting on screen for the first time since 1991’s JFK are the geriatric (okay, maybe not that old yet) heroes of Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman and Kevin Costner — but their usual roles here are jumbled a bit, with Oldman playing a CIA chief who orders a neuroscientist, played by Jones, to transplant a dead CIA operative’s memories into the brain of a dangerously violent criminal — this is the weirdest part — played by Costner. The premise sounds rather weak, but Costner in a buzz cut starts out pretty convincing as a psychopathic killer who feels no human emotions — but not for long as he just has to play the good guy.

The Brand New Testament

God is an abusive jerk who tortures humans via his computer in an apartment in Brussels that he shares with his much-maligned wife and daughter (and son JC, who has inexplicably turned into a statute). In this world, he is directly responsible when buildings burn, trains crash ... and when whatever line you stand in moves the slowest. Tired of her father’s ways, the daughter releases the date of everyone’s death to the world, and chaos ensues — or does it? Belgium’s entry to this year’s Oscar’s is the brainchild of Jaco Van Dormael, who brought us the critically acclaimed Mr Nobody in 2009. This sounds like wacky, satirical goodness that is sure to piss off certain people — but who cares. A movie that dares to go this far must be awesome.

White Lies, Black Lies (失控謊言)

Finally, a Taiwanese movie that is not overtly cute or sappy — well, it is by Lou Yi-an (樓一安), who brought us the dark and absurd Losers (廢物). This film is based on a widely-publicized murder case that took place in Wanhua District (萬華) in the 1960s, where a mannequin factory owner kills his wife and apprentice and encases the bodies in the cement floor. The strangest part about the case is that the wife of one of the factory’s clients abandoned her five children and ran off with the killer — which became a main focus of the case as the media published letters from her children pleading for her to come home. The film stays roughly true to the case — with the addition of a reporter following the case and digging up more than she was looking for — but it focuses on the psychological rather than the murder itself as the three are dragged deeper into a tangled web.

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