Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 25-October 1, 2014

Fin Sugoi

Showing her arty side on Bangkok big screens in the indie drama Concrete Clouds released last week, actress "Saipan" Apinya Sakuljaroensuk goes commercial in Fin Sugoi (ฟินสุโค่ย), heading the cast of young Thai heartthrobs in this release by Sahamongkol Film International.

In the romantic comedy, directed the popular indie helmer "Golf" Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Saipan is a groupie of a Japanese idol rocker (Makota Koshinaka), and over the objections of her jealous judo-practicing boyfriend (Tao Settapong), she keeps trying to get close to the singer, with help from her friends Moo Ham (Tina Suppanart) and Kai Tong (Guy Nawapol). Rated 15+

Also opening

God Help the Girl – Born out of an album by Stuart Murdoch of the Scottish indie-pop group Belle and Sebastian, this musical follows a girl who escapes from a mental facility and heads to Glasgow in hopes of making it big in the city's music scene. Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray and Pierre Boulanger star. A hit at Sundance this year, critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

Premature – The time-loop absurdities of Groundhog Day meets the teen-sex raunch of American Pie in this coming-of-age comedy about a high-school kid who has to relive the loss of his virginity over and over again until he gets it right. John Karna, Craig Roberts, Katie Findlay and Alan Tudyk star. Directed by Dan Beers, the indie comedy premiered at the South by Southwest Festival. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

A Walk Among the Tombstones – Liam Neeson brings his particular set of skills to an adaptation of a 1992 crime novel by Lawrence Block. The Taken and Non-Stop star is a private investigator, recovering alcoholic and former New York City cop who reluctantly takes a case from a heroin trafficker to find the man's wife's killer. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+

The Purge: Anarchy – A new batch of hapless ordinary citizens struggle to survive the annual night of mayhem and lawlessness. Frank Grillo heads the cast as a vigilante former lawman who comes to the rescue of a kidnapped waitress and her daughter. Meanwhile, a couple who survives a carjacking try to hitch a ride. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to favorable. This opened in sneak previews last week and now moves to a wide release. Rated 18+

Viy – Jason Flemying (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) stars in this Russian-made supernatural thriller, which is loosely based on a story by Nikolai Gogol. Flemyng is a cartographer mapping out the wilderness of Eastern Europe who gets lost and turns up in a Transylvanian town that is beset by demons. It's at SF cinemas. Rated 13+

Mystic Blade – Bangkok's merry band of hard-working foreigner stuntmen teamed up to make this martial-arts thriller. Don Ferguson stars as a former member of the Shadow Syndicate, a group of hitmen. Having turned his back on his old ways, fallen in love and started a family, he finds he can't escape his past. He forges a supernaturally endowed blade and sets off on a path of vengeance. Conan Stevens, Jawed El Berni, Tim Man and Julaluck Ismalone also star along with David "Mad Dog" Ismalone, who also directs. For more, check out the trailer. It's at Major Cineplex, and unfortunately, it is apparently Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, family dysfunction freezes over in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. Tomorrow, British writer-director Chris Morris skewers jihadists in Four Lions, a comedy about bumbling suicide bombers. Saturday's "so bad it's good" entry is 1959's A Bucket of Blood, which set the template for infamous low-budget producer-director Roger Corman. And Sunday's tribute is Lauren Bacall is How to Marry a Millionaire, also starring Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. 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.

Wildtype Masterclass 001: Fuck AlligatorChulayarnnon Siriphol is a perennial award winner at the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, where his films, usually satiric views on Thai society, are a highlight. They include documentaries, spoof documentaries and experimental films. This Saturday, Filmvirus and the Reading Room offer a chance to see a bunch of them all at once. The selection goes back as far as 2005 with Golden Sand House, and includes his 2008 winning student film Danger (Director's Cut), 2011's award winners Mrs. Nuan Who Can Recall Her Past Lives and A Brief History of Memory and this year's award-winner Myth of Modernity. There are two programs, at 1 and 3.30pm, followed at 6 by a masterclass and talk by Chulayarnnon. The venue is the Reading Room, a fourth-floor walk-up gallery on Silom Soi 19, opposite Silom Center.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – The Contemporary World Film Series heads to Denmark for The Hunt. The critically acclaimed drama stars Mads Mikkelsen, winner of the Cannes Best Actor Award for his portrayal of a former schoolteacher who has been forced to start over after a tough divorce and the loss of his job. Just as things start to go his way, an untruthful rumor throws his life into disarray. Thomas Vinterberg directs. Screening, at 7pm on Monday, is presented by the Embassy of Denmark, which will serve Carlsberg beer and Danish snacks. Admission for non-members is 150 baht and 100 baht for the food and drink.

Alliance Française – Classic French films are on offer in October with the theme of "eternal thrillers". The series kicks off with 1963's Les tontons flingueurs, in which a dying mobster makes a deathbed plea to former cohort (Lino Ventura) to look after his soon-to-be-married daughter. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, October 1.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 18-24, 2014

Pawang Rak (Concrete Clouds)

Finally, Concrete Clouds (ภวังค์รัก, Pawang Rak, literally "subconscious love"), the directorial-debut feature of award-winning film editor Lee Chatametikool, is making its theatrical bow in Thailand. Following a tour of the festival circuit for the past year or so, the 1990s-set drama opens this week in select cinemas.

Here's the synopsis:

In 1997, Mutt (Ananda Everingham), who works as a currency trader in New York, must suddenly return home to Bangkok when his father commits suicide. After the funeral, he decides to track down Sai (Janesuda Parnto), his old girlfriend from high school. Meanwhile his younger brother Nic (Prawith Hansten) is in love with Poupee (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), who lives in a low-income flat behind their townhouse. While the economic crisis looms over the city, both relationships face uncertainty. As they drift between the past and the present, between dreams and reality, their only escape is in a collage of love songs, music videos and recorded memories. But can these alone hold their relationships together in the face of harsh realities?

It's a stuttering, shattered reflection on the 1997 financial crisis by Lee, who returned to Bangkok that year after being schooled overseas. Over the years since, he's gone on to be a major figure in the Thai film industry, helping to shape such films as Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cannes prize-winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History, as well as various mainstream Thai films.

Apichatpong and Anocha are now repaying him, serving as producers on his feature directorial debut, which has been in the works for the past four years or so. Other producers are veteran Thai independent film hand Soros Sukhum and Taiwanese actress-director Sylvia Chang. It's been supported along the way by various film funds and project markets, including Visions Sud East from Switzerland, the Busan film fest's Asian Cinema Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Festival appearances have included Rotterdam, Busan and Hong Kong.

To get yourself in the mood, check out the official trailer or, even better, get your pulse racing with the teaser, featuring a song by the 1990s band Pause.

Concrete Clouds is at SF cinemas and House on RCA. Rated 18+

Also opening

The Maze Runner – Yet another young-adult novel series comes to the big screen in this post-apocalyptic adventure yarn about teens trapped in a massive maze, with huge fortress-like walls that move. It's inhabited by vicious creatures called Grievers. Runners go in and never come back. Seemingly, there is no way out. James Dashner wrote the the trilogy, and the young cast includes Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter. Wes Ball, making his debut, directs. This is just coming out in the U.S. this week, so keep your eye on the reviews. Rated G

Are You Here – Matthew Weiner, creator of the acclaimed TV drama Mad Men, teams up with leading comedy lights Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler for this road comedy about longtime friends taking a trip back to their rural hometown after one of them (Galifianakis) learns of his inheritance. Unfortunately, in spite the efforts of all these fantastic talents, critical reception is negative. Rated 18+

As Above, So Below – A camera crew goes exploring the legendary catacombs below the streets of Paris and discovers a maze-like city of the dead that harbors terrifying secrets. Oh no. Yes. It's another "found footage" horror movie. John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Rak Phasa Arai (รักภาษาอะไร, Myanmar in Love in Bangkok) – Cross-cultural differences and connections are explored in this romance about a young Burmese man (Aung Nay Zoe) who gets into a relationship with a hipster Thai woman who works as a tattoo artist. At Major Cineplex. Rated 15+

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai – The 1972 Shaw Brothers martial-arts action drama The Boxer from Shantung gets the remake treatment. It's the same, old story – a young hick (Phillip Ng) travels to the big city to seek a livelihood and is taken under the wing of a young rising crime lord (Andy On). They run into conflict with the rival Axe Gang. Action-film great Sammo Hung also stars. Wong Ching-po directs. It's Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+

Daawat-e-Ishq – Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapur star in this food-infused Bollywood romance. She's a Hyderabadi shoe-sales girl disillusioned with love because of her encounters with dowry-seeking men, while he's a Lucknawi cook who can charm anybody with the aroma and flavors of his biryani and kebabs. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at the Embassy Diplomat Screens, Major Cineplex Ekkamai, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Khoobsurat – Bollywood and Disney combine for a star-crossed storybook romance. Sonam Kappoor is a hopelessly romantic physiotherapist who is bowled over by a handsome young Rajput prince (Fawad Afzal Khan), despite cultural differences and the fact that he's engaged to someone else. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday (and on September 26 in Pattaya).

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Stunning martial-arts action is on display tonight in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, yet another display of diversity by director Ang Lee. Tomorrow, funny things happen to Yanks in England in John Landis' hilariously scary American Werewolf in London – with still one of the best werewolf transformation scenes ever. This Saturday's "so bad it's good entry" is The Blue Lagoon, a film that seemed "erotic" back in 1980 but now not so much. Sunday, Lauren Bacall teams up with John Wayne to battle commies in China in 1955's Blood Alley. And next Wednesday closes out a month-long tribute to Robin Williams with the dream-like drama Awakenings, one of Penny Marshall's best-regarded directorial efforts. 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.

Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice – In the closing entry of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center's film series this year, Thai director Tanawarin Sukkhapisit will present the Japanese teen drama Himizu, directed by Sion Sono. "For me, Himizu does not just tell an anguished story of a post-tsunami Japan. Instead, when I watched it, I felt like I was literally hit by a tsunami, a force of nature that was so powerful that it dragged me to the bottom of the ocean where I could not breath and felt like I was about to die," says Tanwarin, director of a diverse range of short films and features, including Threesome, It Gets Better and Insects in the Backyard. Screening on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium, registration opens at 4.30 and the show is at 5.30, with a talk afterward. Subtitles are in Thai only – no English.

The Lives of Others – The Filmvirus series of biographical double-bills comes to a close this Sunday at Thammasat University Tha Prachan. Up first at 12.30 is My Life and Times with Antonin Artaud, a 1993 French film based on the novel by Jacques Prevel, who recounts his friendship with the mentally disturbed playwright. That's followed at 2.10 by Room and a Half, about Russian poet Josef Brodsky. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University Tha Prachan, in the Rewat Buddhinan Room, floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. For details, call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Alliance Française – "Novels on the big screen" is September's theme for the free French films. Next week's show is Du vent dans mes mollets (The Dandelions), based on Raphaële Moussafir's novel about a shy 9-year-old girl whose life changes when she gets an adventurous new friend. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, September 24.

Sneak preview

The Purge: Anarchy – Here we go again. In a dystopian near future, when, for one night a year, all law enforcement and emergency services in the U.S. are suspended and virtually all crimes are made legal, a small group of law-abiding citizens prepare for the worst. Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams and Carmen Ejogo star. James DeMonaco directs. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly at most cinemas until next Thursday's wide release. Rated 18+

Take note

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is coming up, running from October 17 to 26. But before that, on September 27, is another Filmvirus event at the Reading Room. It's a comprehensive look at the short films of Chulayarnnon Siriphol, who won a runner-up prize at the recent Thai Short Film and Video Festival for Myth of Modernity.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 11-17, 2014


Director Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul blends documentary and drama in this unflinchingly personal look at his family in Mother.

The story is set during the 1997 economic crisis, with a young man's mother attempting suicide. Left severely disabled, the mentally troubled woman is left in care of her family, a job that takes its toll on all involved.

Since premiering at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2012, Mother has made its way around the festival circuit, screeing in London and Jakarta's Chopshots, and in competition in Torino. It screened at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok, where I reviewed it.

It's now in limited release at House on RCA.

Also opening

Sex Tape – Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in this raunchy comedy about a couple who film their epic lovemaking session in hopes of spicing up their 10-year-old marriage. Trouble arises when the recording automatically uploads itself to "the cloud" and is shared with all the couple's family and friends. Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, Walk Hard) directs. Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe and Nat Faxon also star. Critics aren't turned on. Rated 18+

+1 (Plus One) – A mysterious phenomenon disrupts a big college party and makes twins of all in attendance. Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw and Natalie Hall star. Dennis Iliadis (The Last House on the Left) directs this indie horror for IFC Films. Critical reception, though somewhat thin, is mixed leaning to favorable. Rated 18+

Kite – A cult-hit 1998 direct-to-video Japanese animated feature gets the live-action remake treament from Hollywood in this story of an orphan girl trained as an assassin. She's assigned to infiltrate and dismantle a prostitution ring. India Eisley stars, along with Samuel L. Jackson and Callan McAuliffe. It's adapted from a 1998 anime by Yasuomi Umetsu (Akira, Grave of the Fireflies). Ralph Ziman (Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema) directs. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 18+

Namman Phrai (น้ำมันพราย, Spell) – Veteran director Dulyasit Niyomkul returns with this supernatural horror about a young woman (Vanida "Gybzy" Termtanaporn), who becomes possessed by the spirit of a pregnant women after her childhood friend Lek (Pramote Tianchaikerdsilp) uses a love potion made from burning a dead pregnant woman's chin. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated 18+

Sming – The hunter's killing of a tiger cub is the beginning of a quest for vengeance by the cub's mother, a supernaturally endowed tiger, and the hunter, who seeks revenge for his wife's death. Narin Visitsak directs. Rated 15+

Kru Lae Nakrian (ครูและนักเรียน, Teacher and Student) – After five years together, Ton and his boyfriend Al are on the verge of splitting up. Al tries to get the romance back on track but Ton has fallen in love his student Joe. Sarawut Intaraprom directs. At Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada and Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. No English subtitles. Rated 18+

The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom – Fan Bingbing stars in this sweeping saga of star-crossed romance and palace intrigue from the martial-arts-fantasy novel of Liang Yusheng. She is an outlaw who falls for a righteous Taoist leader (Huang Xiaoming). Jacob Cheung directs. At SF cinemas, with original soundtrack and Thai and probably English subtitles at CentralWorld, Terminal 21 and Emporium. Rated 13+

Finding Fanny – An elderly postman in Goa finds a letter he wrote 46 years ago, asking for a woman's hand in marriage, but was never delivered. So he sets off on a road trip to find his lost love, and is joined along the way by four colourful characters from the village. Naseeruddin Shah, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia star. English with Thai subtitles at Paragon and Esplanade Ratchada and in English-Hindi with Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Taboo romance develops tonight between a pair of guys working on a Wyoming sheep ranch in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. Tomorrow, Alec Guinness is a fussy bank clerk who decides he wants more of life in the classic Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob. Saturday's "so bad it's good" entry is the cult favorite bomb The Room. Sunday is Key Largo, the fourth and final film pairing of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Next Wednesday, it's Robin Williams in his Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting. 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.

The Lives of Others – The Filmvirus series of biographical double-bills continues on Sunday with a pair of autobiographies starring filmmmakers. First up is  Savage Nights (Les nuits fauves), French actor-director Cyril Collard's adaptation of his autobiography. It's the story of a bisexual director who continues his promiscuous ways even after he discovers he has Aids. The film won the Cesar prize as France's best film of 1994, just four days after Collard died. That's followed by Caro Diario, featuring three chapters of an open diary by Italian director Nanni Moretti. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University Tha Prachan, in the Rewat Buddhinan Room, floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. For details, call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Alliance Française – "Novels on the big screen" is September's theme for the free French films. Next week it's Foxfire, based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel of teen rebels in a 1950s small town. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, September 17.