Movie Review: Paddington 2
Michael Bond's beloved bear with the blue duffle coat and battered red hat from deepest, darkest Peru has a special place in my heart.
It was such a joy when Paddington was brought to life on the big screen in 2014, and the adventure comedy also became a hit globally.
While I was looking forward to another round of his misadventures, I was a little apprehensive as sequels can be somewhat contrived.
Thankfully, Paddington 2 does not disappoint. It retains the whimsical factor and still exudes that delightfully warm, fuzzy feeling.
Ben Whishaw again brings much innocence and depth as Paddington, who in his adorably clumsy way continues to show that the world can be a much better place if people treat each other with kindness and manners.
The story starts with Paddington and his happy life with his adoptive family, the Browns, who have also begun a new chapter.
Everything is rosy until Paddington is thrown into jail for stealing a pop-up book. He is framed by neighbour Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), who wants the book for himself as it supposedly contains a treasure map.
Much fun comes in the jail scenes, where the polite bear transforms hardboiled criminals, especially prison cook Knuckles (a hilarious Brendan Gleeson), into nice men.
Grant is such a hoot to watch as a flamboyant, egoistic and washed-up actor. He plays it with such ease and flair, you would think he is actually "playing himself", as the star has said in interviews.
Action and laughs are aplenty, but it is the film's overall tenderness and charm that will keep you smiling throughout the 104 minutes.
MOVIE: Paddington 2
STARRING: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson
DIRECTOR: Paul King
THE SKINNY: Paddington (voiced by Whishaw) has settled in with the Browns and is now a well-loved fixture in the neighbourhood. While hunting for the perfect birthday present for his Aunty Lucy, Paddington unwittingly becomes a criminal when the book he wants to buy is stolen.
A TAXI DRIVER (PG13)
RATING: 5 Stars
Contrary to its mundane title, this award-winning action drama is heartfelt, even as it takes you on a riveting rollercoaster ride.
Set in the throes of South Korea's Gwangju Uprising in 1980, this true story explores how an unnamed taxi driver (Song Kang Ho) helps German journalist Jurgen Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) expose the atrocities of the country's then military dictatorship.
A single father who is cynical and miserly at first, the cabby emerges as a delightful and layered protagonist after an impressive character arc, thanks to director Jang Hoon's superb storytelling. By keeping things brief, the film allows foreign viewers to grasp its political narrative quickly.
The portrayal of the famous massacre is both brutal and tragic, creating an exciting sense of urgency towards the end.
A Taxi Driver is one of Korea's top 10 box office champs and South Korea's entry for Best Foreign Film at next year's Oscars. - SAMFREY TAN
RATING: 3 Stars
What is happiness? What is love? What is life? This comedy attempts to address these deep questions but doesn't hit the mark in some areas.
Well-heeled American couple Anne (Toni Collette) and Bob (Harvey Keitel) move to a Paris chateau in a bid to rekindle their lost fire. Anne yearns to be the perfect socialite, hosting fabulous dinners for the upper crust.
At one such occasion, the spotlight falls on her housekeeper Maria (Rossy de Palma) when the latter is asked to pretend to be a guest.
Bob's wealthy friend David (Michael Smiley) is instantly besotted with spunky Maria, and soon a Cinderella-like romance blossoms, much to jealous Anne's displeasure.
Though uneven in parts, this English-language debut of French writer-turned-film-maker Amanda Sthers is breezy and light. While Collette and Keitel deliver credible performances, the real star is veteran Spanish actress de Palma, who is Madame's heart and soul. - JOANNE SOH
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