CITY DREAM (PG)
103 minutes/Available on Kinolounge
The Chinese city of Wuhan, before it became famed for something else, is also known for its street vendor market in Lumo Street.
This documentary by Chen Weijun records the clashes between the hawkers and the city authorities, who seek to evict the stallholders so as to build a swanky new retail district.
But they have to reckon with the bellicose and frequently shirtless seller of fruit and clothing, 70-year-old Wang Tiancheng, who will not give up without a fight.
Everyone in Wang’s family, including himself, is disabled. Only his granddaughter, whom he dotes on, does not have a disability.
Chen’s camera shows both sides – the government trying to develop the city while alleviating the poverty of the vendors, and the fight put up by the hawkers trying to preserve their dignity and livelihoods.
There will be an online question-and-answer session with Chen on Sunday at 7.30pm. Details will be released on the movie’s page on Kinolounge.
WHERE: Shaw Kinolounge (kinolounge.shaw.sg) ADMISSION: $9.99 for a 48-hour viewing period
PADDINGTON 2 (PG)
95 minutes/Available on Kinolounge
The first Paddington movie (2014) broke new ground in all-ages entertainment. It was sincere yet hilarious – a comedy for children without double entendres for grown-ups, nods to pop culture or caffeinated zaniness.
This follow-up, released in 2017, has since grown in stature as a film that is as good, if not better, than the first.
Following the events of the first movie, the cub Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is now a member of the Brown family. With his Aunt Lucy’s birthday approaching, he yearns to buy her an expensive pop-up book. Meanwhile, the Browns, Henry (Hugh Bonneville), Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children Judy and Jonathan (Madeline Harris and Samuel Joslin), are each caught up in his or her own problems.
Hugh Grant appears as the villainous Phoenix Buchanan. He gives a lighter-than-air performance as a greedy, self-absorbed actor – a feat he achieves, amazingly, without winking at the audience.
The suspense-thriller plot involving a frame-up is a throwaway for anyone older than 12, but there is so much going on – the Wes Anderson-meets-Studio Ghibli visuals, the skits, Grant’s over-the-top work – to keep older ones happy.
WHERE: Shaw Kinolounge (kinolounge.shaw.sg) ADMISSION: $4.99 for a 48-hour viewing period
A PRIVATE WAR (M18)
110 minutes/Now showing at Projector Plus
This 2018 biopic about journalist Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) finds her in Homs, Syria, in 2012, reporting from a shelled building on the attacks by government forces on rebels.
The story flashes back to earlier in her life, to an incident in the Sri Lankan civil war that cost her an eye. Her editor at The Sunday Times in London, Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander), is troubled by her lack of concern for her safety. She meets freelance photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) during the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 and they become friends who risk their lives in conflict zones across the world.
Director Matthew Heinemann does not strive for realism driven by cinema-verite camera moves or action-movie arcs. He opts for psychological insight, achieved through episodic flashbacks illustrating key moments in Colvin’s life.
For Colvin, the intensity of the war experience, as films like The Hurt Locker (2008) show, alters body chemistry in ways that make civilian life feel trite and meaningless, which fosters the desire for risk, creating a vicious circle.
WHERE: Projector Plus (theprojector.sg) ADMISSION: $10 for a 48-hour viewing period