Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 16-22, 2014

Dracula Untold

Luke Evans stars in Dracula Untold, a historical-epic retelling of the origins of literature's most famous vampire.

Evans is Prince Vlad, a former Turkish slave whose peaceful life is disrupted when the local sultan (Dominic Cooper) wants Transylvanian boys to fill out the ranks of his army. Not wanting to lose his son, Vlad makes a deal with the Master Vampire (Charles Dance of Game of Thrones) to gain vampire-like powers for three days. However, if he gives in to the taste of blood, he'll be a vamp forever.

Sarah Gadon also stars. Gary Shore, a first-time feature helmer, directs this latest entry in Universal studio's push to reboot all its classic monster-movie franchises.

Critical reception is mostly negative. There's probably better things to see, such as anything at the World Film Festival of Bangkok. Rated 15+

Also opening

Sbek Gong – The biggest-budget movie yet made in Cambodia, Sbek Gong is an insane blend of comedy, romance and the supernatural, as well as contemporary Cambodian society and the old traditional ways. The story involves the conflict between rival disciples of a black-magic master. Sisowath Sereiwudd, Un Sethea, Nhem Sokun and Duch Lida star. Pol Vibo directs. It's Thai-dubbed only; subtitles uncertain. Rated 18+

The Best of Me – Yet another tear-jerking Nicholas Sparks romance novel is adapted for the big screen, telling the mushy story of former high-school sweethearts who are reunited after 20 years when they return to their small town for the funeral of a friend. Although romance is reignited, they find that the forces that drove them apart 20 years ago still exist. James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan star as the lovers with their younger counterparts portrayed by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. Michael Hoffman (Gambit, The Last Station) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

3 Antarai (3 อันตราย, a.k.a. TV Game Net) – Thai society's cultural ills are fingered in this compilation of three stories. They involve a schoolboy who tries to rape his girlfriend after watching a TV show, a gunman coping with his autistic son’s addiction to video games and a college student who becomes involved in the online sex trade. At 6.30 nightly until Wednesday at the Lido.

Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary – In this computer-animated adaptation of the popular manga, five young armored sword-toting warriors are given the mission of protecting the reincarnation of the goddess Athena. It's SF Cinemas, Thai-dubbed, except for Terminal 21. Rated G.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Wong Kar-wai makes his English-language debut wth tonight's screening, My Blueberry Nights, starring musician Norah Jones as a young drifter woman. "I'm not even supposed to be here today." That's the plaintive uttering of the hero of Clerks, the low-budget cult film that launched the career of Kevin Smith. I assure you, it's showing at 8 tomorrow. Saturday's Friedkin film is The Birthday Party, adapted from a play by Harold Pinter. And on Sunday don't blink for the Hitchcock highlight, Rope, which is essentially just one long take. Next Wednesday's Richard Attenborough tribute is his biopic Chaplin, with a bravura performance by Robert Downey Jr. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

12th World Film Festival of Bangkok – Opening tomorrow night with the Thai documentary Somboon, there are many highlights. Saturday's entries include Ice Poison, the latest drama by Myanmar director Midi Z. There's also The Blue Room from France, as well as Truffaut's classic The Last Metro, which also runs on Sunday. And there's a whole bunch of French animation, including the French-Israeli production The Congress, a sci-fi fantasy about an actress (Robin Wright) who sells off the rights to her digital image. The festival is at SF World at CentralWorld. Tickets are 120 baht. For the full schedule, check the festival website.

Alliance Française – Classic French films are on offer in October with the theme of "eternal thrillers". Next week it's L’assassin habite au 21 (The Assassin Lives at No 21), a 1942 thriller by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Pierre Fresnay stars as a police inspector who goes undercover in a boarding house in a bid to catch a serial killer. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, October 22.

Sneak previews

Gone Girl – The onslaught of autumn Oscar hopefuls continues with this thriller from David Fincher, starring Ben Affleck as a husband who comes under intense media scrutiny and suspicion when his wife disappears. Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Kim Dickens also star. Critical reception is great. It's screening from around 8 nightly at most multiplexes before opening wide next week. Rated 18+

Whiplash – The big winner at Sundance this year and a hit at Cannes and Toronto, this indie drama stars Miles Teller as a drummer who joins his music conservatory's jazz band, and comes under the cruel tutelage of the tyrannical band director (J.K. Simmons). Yet another film already attracting Oscar buzz, critical reception is fantastic. It's screening at 8.20pm on Saturday as part of the World Film Festival of Bangkok then begins a sneak preview run on Monday, before opening wide on November 30.

Take note

No movies at House RCA this week. They are closed until October 24 for auditions for The Voice Kids Thailand.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: World Film Festival of Bangkok, October 17-26

The 12th World Film Festival of Bangkok opens this Friday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld with Somboon, a documentary by young Thai director Krisda Tipchaimeta that follows the lives of Grandpa Somboon and Granny Miad, a couple married for 45 years. With Miad suffering from acute kidney disease, Somboon stays by her side, providing constant care.

Among the highlights of the festival are entries from this year's Cannes Film Festival, including Jean Luc-Godard's latest, Goodbye to Language, an experimental 3D drama, and Mommy, by French-Canadian badboy Xavier Dolan. Both films were jury prize winners at Cannes. Also from Cannes is The Blue Room, a fresh adaptation of the Georges Simenon crime novel by Mathieu Almaric, about childhood friends reunited as adulterous lovers.

Two French classics will unspool, Godard's 1965 comedy, Pierrot le Fou and from 1980, Francois Truffaut's World War II drama The Last Metro. The fest will also screen the newly restored version of Metropolis, with footage rediscovered a few years ago.

There's a block of French animation in a festival sidebar, the French-Thai Animation Rendezvous, which offers five recent French animated features in various styles – A Cat in ParisThe Congress, the 3D Minuscule, Valley of the Lost AntsErnest and Celestine and Tales of the Night.

Another festival sidebar groups together Israel films, going back as far as 1988's Aviya's Summer up to 2013's Cupcakes. Others are The Band's VisitA Matter of SizeNoodle and Footnote.

There's the Cine Latino and Cinema Beat programs, which feature entries from across Latin America, the US, Canada and beyond. The selection includes the Sundance winner Whiplash, which will also get a general release in Thai cinemas.

Other festival sections include Doc Feast, Asian Contemporary and Short Wave.

The fest closes on October 26 with The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a new anime feature from Japan's Studio Ghibli.

Tickets cost Bt120. There are 500 special packages offering five movies for Bt500.

This year, for the first time, the World Film Festival of Bangkok will have many films with both Thai and English subtitles, which will travel to the provinces, taking a selection of movies on Blu-ray to SF cinemas in Khon Kaen from November 7 to 9, Pattaya from November 14 to 16 and Chiang Mai from November 20 to 23.

Find out more at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 9-14, 2014

The Babadook

A widowed mother struggles to raise her six-year-old who has constant nightmares about The Babadook, a creature coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook mysteriously turns up, the boy is convinced that the book's main character is the killer creature. Eventually, the mother begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her. Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall and Tiffany Lyndall-Knight star.

Actress Jennifer Kent (Babe: Pig in the City) makes her directorial debut with this indie Australian horror.

Winner of prizes at several genre film fests,  critical reception is crazily positive, with the consensus being it's "real horror rather than cheap jump scares – and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot." Rated 15+

Also opening

Autómata – It's I, Robot with a Spanish accent in this sci-fi thriller produced by and starring Antonio Banderas as an insurance investigator for a robotics company. It's a time when Earth's ecosystem has collapsed and humans are totally dependent on robots. Similar to Asimov's I, Robot, the 'bots are governed by two rules – they shalt not harm a human nor shall they modify themselves or other robots. Evidence emerges that they are breaking those protocols. So Banderas' Jacq Vaucan is on the case, and what he discovers has profound consequences for the future of humanity. Brigitte Sorensen, Dylan McDermott, Robert Foster and Tim McInnerny also star along with Banderas' ex-wife Melanie Griffith as a tinkerer who makes sex robots that look and sound like her. Spanish visual-effects specialist Gabe Ibáñez directs and is a co-writer of the script. Autómata screened in competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Wai Peng Nakleng Kha San (วัยเป้งง นักเลงขาสั้น, Dangerous Boys) – Director Poj Arnon, always looking for a buzzworthy topic to hang a movie on, uses Bangkok's often bloody street wars between gangs of trade-school students as a backdrop for this coming-of-age drama about "frenemies" Peng and Ting, who fight whenever they meet. Rated 15+

The Prince – A retired assassin (Jason Patric) is drawn back into his old life when his daughter is kidnapped by a gangster named The Pharmacy (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson). To rescue her, he must confront an old rival (Bruce Willis). John Cusack, looking particularly weary, also stars. Brian A. Miller (The Outsider) directs. Critical reception is very poor. Rated 18+

Roaring Currents – Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) portrays wily Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who with only 12 ships in his fleet, defeated more then 300 Japanese vessels in 1597’s Battle of Myeongryang. I can only assume the Japanese admiral's name was Ackbar. It's Thai-dubbed in most places except for SF cinemas at CentralWorld and Terminal 21. Rated 15+

Haider – Shakespeare's Hamlet is adapted for this drama about a poet returning home to Kashmir following the death of his father. As he confronts his uncle, he finds himself dragged into the politics of the restive region. Shahid Kapoor stars along with Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan. This is the third Shakespeare adaptation by director Vishal Bhardwaj, who did Macbeth with 2003's Maqbool and Othello with 2006's Omkara. Controversial because of the contentious Kashmir setting, critical reception has been generally positive. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Maggie Cheung has a snug-fitting silk dress to match every scene. It's In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai's exquisitely haunting tale of unrequited romance in 1960s Hong Kong. Tony Leung also stars. Tomorrow's cult classic is the dark comedy about a nasty group of high-school girls, Heathers, starring Winona Ryder. On Saturday, walk the beat with tenacious New York cop Popeye Doyle and his partner Cloudy as they try to bust a train-hopping drug smuggler in The French Connection. One of the best movies ever made, it's part of a monthlong look at the tense world of director William Friedkin. Sunday is another classic Hitchcock, with James Stewart peeping at Raymond Burr in Rear Window. And next Wednesday's tribute to Sir Richard Attenborough is his Oscar-winning biopic Gandhi, starring Sir Ben Kingsley. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Filipino cinema comes into focus on Monday in the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series with Ekstra (The Bit Player). Vilma Santos, the reigning marquee queen of Pinoy cinema in the 1960s, stars as a background actress who has spent her career toiling away on soap operas, dreaming of her big break. It won several awards at last year's Cinemalaya Film Festival, including the Audience Choice and best acress for Santos. The screening is courtesy of the Embassy of the Philippines, with Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia on hand to offer snacks and drinks from her country. The show is at 7pm on Monday, October 13 at the FCCT. Admission for non-members is 150 baht plus 100 baht for the eats and San Miguel suds.

Alliance Française – Classic French films are on offer in October with the theme of "eternal thrillers". Next week's offering is 1965's Pierrot le fou by French New Wave stalwart Jean-Luc Godard. Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as a bored Paris man whose life turns exciting when he travels to the Mediterranean with a young woman (Anna Karina) and the pair end up being chased by Algerian hitmen. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, October 15. And if you miss it next week, it'll be shown as part of the big French line-up at the World Film Festival of Bangkok, running October 17 to 26 at SF World at CentralWorld.