Film & TV Picks

PHOTOS: SHAW ORGANISATION, TVN MOVIES, HBO

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (PG)

120 minutes/5 stars

This infectiously cheerful adaptation of one of Charles Dickens' most beloved works offers a rare combination of factors: It has beautiful dialogue spoken by good actors, editing that makes the two-hour film feel like 60 minutes and a storytelling style that feels modern and meta while staying true to - and sincerely in love with - its source material.

When its director, British film-maker Armando Iannucci, is not making parodies of politics (BBC series The Thick Of It, 2005 to 2012; HBO series Veep, 2012 to 2015), he is also a Dickensophile, having written and presented a documentary on the English writer in 2012, Armando's Tale Of Charles Dickens.

The story begins with the title character as a child (Jairaj Varsani) and, in a series of vignettes, follows the older David (Dev Patel, photo) as he grows from neglected child to an abused one, to his meeting with his saviour, rich aunt Betsey Trotwood (Tilda Swinton), her eccentric lodger Mr Dick (Hugh Laurie), her lawyer Mr Wickfield (Benedict Wong) and the penurious but peppy Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi).

Ben Whishaw as the unctuous Uriah Heep delivers a masterful performance.

John Lui


DELIVER US FROM EVIL (NC16)

108 minutes/3.5 stars

This is the latest in a series of tense, violent crime thrillers from South Korea, which in recent times has delivered quality stories featuring dead-eyed killers and charismatic losers.

If this story emits a Western vibe, it is because it features a showdown in a city that has become Asian cinema's stand-in for Mexico: Bangkok. It is where triads, the yakuza (Japanese organised crime), gun-runners and drug dealers of all nations come to do battle - at least in films.

Hired gun In-Nam (Hwang Jung-min, above) heads to the Thai capital to fix a vexing family problem. Hot on his heels and seeking revenge is Ray (Lee Jung-Jae), a South Korean mob boss with a penchant for torture. The stage is set for a stylish, savage match-up - one that has surprisingly tender family moments.

It is showing in cinemas and will be available on Singtel and StarHub Video On Demand from Oct 1.

John Lui


RAISED BY WOLVES

HBO Go

The series is a science-fiction take on the Adam and Eve tale - except the couple in question are two androids named Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim, both above).

Put on a spaceship with a dozen human embryos and sent to a dusty planet, they have to somehow raise a group of children there - a task they carry out with utmost diligence and care.

But the first wrinkle is that the planet is barely liveable; the second is that they are eventually joined by another band of colonists fleeing Earth, which has been engulfed by a war between a group of atheists - the ones who sent their children away with Mother and Father - and a religious faction known as the Mithraics.

But what distinguishes the series is its thoughtful look at using beliefs and fairy tales as the building blocks of society - something the atheists end up doing as much as the Mithraics, with even Mother and Father spinning fables to keep the children in line.

Alison de Souza

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2020, with the headline 'Film & TV Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe