Movies

Enemy

STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon

DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve

THE SKINNY: History professor Adam (Gyllenhaal) sees his lookalike in a movie. He tracks down the actor Anthony (also Gyllenhaal) and they strike up a strange relationship. Anthony wants to get with Adam’s girlfriend (Laurent), and Adam wants to meet Anthony’s pregnant wife (Gadon). There’s also some strangeness with spiders and a sex club.

RATING: M18

THE CONSENSUS: Gyllenhaal versus Gyllenhaal may be an interesting premise but this baffling tale will have you seeing double — and not in a good way.


MARS

In this post-The Vampire Diaries world, doppelgangers have been pretty much played out.

After five seasons of Katherine and Elena - and then Stefan and Silas - there's basically no evil-twin stone left unturned.

I've seen two movies - Enemy and another one called The Face Of Love - featuring doppelgangers over the past week.

This one's a bit better, I guess.

Enemy is the sort of unwholesome mind-bender that will probably appeal to certain film geeks but few others.

In fact, with its central conceit about a guy spotting his double in a movie, it's sort of custom-made for those who spend an inordinate amount of time consuming films.

Enemy is darkly poetic with a lot of confounding spider imagery but it's not as sophisticated as it thinks it is.

"Pretentious" is a word I absolutely hate to use - it's just so mean - but Enemy is flat-out pretentious.

If you like this sort of thing, there's a director named Gregg Araki who is much better at it. He's not afraid to use bright colours, or to have a little fun (check out Kaboom).

Anyhow, Enemy is basically your typical sort of dour psychological drama.

Even the ordinarily great Gyllenhaal's performance comes across as obvious.


VENUS

You really need to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this movie.

Many critics have said this is one eerie and creepy flick.

I kind of agree with them.

The thought of slowly losing one's mind is pretty scary. You see how both men go into the deep end when their minds start playing up.

It's not like they don't have a good life to begin with.

Adam has a beautiful and supportive girlfriend, a stable job and a decent apartment.

Anthony goes home to a lovely wife and is going to be a father.

Adam's depression is his downfall, while Anthony is too self-centred to be content.

Canadian director Villeneuve knows how to bring out the best - and worst - of Gyllenhaal.

The actor was good in last year's Prisoners (which Villeneuve also helmed), and again delivers a fine performance in the dual roles.

He offers slight nuances for us to tell the difference - and similarities - between the meek, sadsack Adam and the mean, arrogant Anthony.

But the many puzzling questions that are thrown in your face throughout are a bit much after a while.

The ambiguous ending is open for debate, so much so that this movie looks set to be in some film students' thesis.

Poster poser

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

What it looks like:

A group of super-weirdos set out to save the world. There's Blue Boobs Lady, Stab Man, Purple Sparkle Hands and The Filthy Hippie. But everyone's favourite is of course wheelchair-bound Farts Fire, whose flammable farts serve as both a weapon and a means of locomotion.

What it's really about:

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to the past on a mission to change the course of history and save mutants and humans!

Movie picks

THE BEST OFFER (M18)

Geoffrey Rush stars as Virgil Oldman, master auctioneer and worldclass eccentric.

Fastidious to a fault, he avoids almost all social contact and wears gloves to avoid germs.

Rush is perfectly cast as this senior citizen virgin, who loves women but is also terrified of them.

He looks like exactly the sort of guy who would have a secret vault filled with dozens of priceless portraits of the fairer sex.

The story is about how his carefully curated world is thrown into a spin when he falls for a female client (Sylvia Hoeks) who wants him to valuate her antiques.

An agoraphobe, she stays hidden, but this only enhances his desire.

By turns classy and quirky, this picture is pure pleasure.

— Jason Johnson


THE ZERO THEOREM (M18)

There is one particular moment of breath-taking beauty in The Zero Theorem that makes the whole kooky mess worth watching.

Our bald hero Qohen (Christoph Waltz) floats around a black hole, and is joined by his lady love Bainsley (Melanie Thierry), who reaches out for him as they swirl in the vortex.

They are the last humans, doomed but still longing for love.

It is but one vision in a film filled with visions, and it is unforgettable.

In a rather zany future, Qohen is hired to basically solve the mystery of humanity's existence, and the bodacious Bainsley is both a muse and a distraction.

Director Terry Gilliam brings his usual sense of weirdo whimsy. This ramshackle sci-fi offering recalls his cult films of old, such as Brazil.

- Jason Johnson


BLACK COMEDY (NC16)

Hong Kong director Wilson Chin - famed for helming the sexy Lan Kwai Fong film series - finally moves away from his pet themes of clubbing and promiscuity to do a slapstick comedy.

His down-and-out protagonist, earnest detective Johnny To (the hilarious rubber-faced Wong Cho Lam) is an adorable loser who gets taunted by his boss over his short stature, while his sassy girlfriend bullies him all the time, leaving him severely depressed.

To's good nature attracts devil prince Vincent (Chapman To), who grants him three wishes in exchange for his soul.

Irreverent and campy, Black Comedy will put off some viewers with its crass jokes and endless fixation on armpit hair.

Nevertheless, it makes for good mindless entertainment.

- Tan Kee Yun