|Compiled by Martin Williams|
Charlize Theron stars in and co-produces this intense American drama about fractured relationships and long-term psychological damage. Theron effectively abandons her pre-teen daughter, leaving her semi-functional brother (Nick Stahl, from Terminator 3) with the job of looking after her. The two bond against all expectations before the film climaxes with their arrival at the old family ranch, whose patriarch (Dennis Hopper) has a horrible family history. Critics in the US blanched at the downbeat tone and script but were largely impressed with the stars, who also include Woody Harrelson and Deborra-Lee Furness.
The World in Two Round Trips
An unusual documentary, this. The rather more functional Schurmann family from Brazil, including director David, sail the world in an epic recreation of a Portuguese admiral’s achievement five centuries ago. Ten years in the making and shot over a period of more than two years, the film features several stops along the way where local people and customs are placed in the spotlight. Also known as The World Twice Around.
The Glorious Team Batista
Here’s a Japanese hospital melodrama that revolves around a famed team of surgeons and support staff specializing in the dangerous Batista procedure. After months of consecutive successes three patients die, leading to the arrival of an investigator and a government headkicker, the latter electing to play hardball with the medicos. It’s directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura, who wrote the screenplay for the highly regarded Dark Water, although the diagnosis for this Team is such that you might need a second opinion before entering the theater.
There’s more than a whiff of The Wicker Man in this Japanese shocker about two girlfriends who end up staying at a resort from hell, which offers not so much bad food and service as pagan villagers, ritual slaughter and amputation. And yes, there’s even some chainsaw action as the heroine kicks into survivalist mode. Directed by Kenta Fukasaku (Battle Royale II), the son of the late veteran director Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale).
|The Spiritual World|
The latest Thai horror entry has a young woman with the reluctant power to see ghosts taking up an offer from a doctor and childhood friend to find the truth behind his father’s “suicide.” Bad move, as any sensible person might think. The result: an onslaught of horrible apparitions and poltergeist peril as the mystery unravels. Judging from the trailer, this effort might deliver some effective scares.
Two Faces of My Girlfriend
Next up in the Baixue Theater’s unofficial festival of South Korean product is a romantic comedy from last year. A 30-year-old virginal man with few prospects falls in love with a woman with a Jekyll and Hyde-style multiple personality disorder (but nowhere near as violent). Comic hijinks ensue, but there’s a kick in the tail as the woman comes to terms with her condition, and heartbreaking choices must be made. Positive reviews just about make this flick worth the trip to Ximending.
|Legend of the Sea|
From the makers of Zodiac: The Race Begins..., Singapore’s first — if undistinguished — 3D animated film, comes this, Singapore’s second 3D animated film. Strictly kids’ stuff as a dragon prince sets off to rescue his father from the clutches of a sinister octopus with sidekick crustaceans in tow. Sounds like submarine stereotypes to us, but at least there’s a starfish with martial arts prowess. Starts tomorrow.