Along with the resprouting of beer gardens in Bangkok, the end of the monsoon rains and the return of cool evening air also signifies the start of the annual German Open Air Cinema season at the Goethe-Institut Thailand.
Running on Tuesday nights from December 1 to 15 and January 5 to February 16, the series will screen 10 recent critically acclaimed German films, including many award winners.
Opening night, which starts at 6.30pm, has Patong Girl, a family drama and romance that was filmed in Thailand. It follows a German family on vacation in Phuket, where the teenage son falls for a young Thai woman and runs off. The mother goes off on in search and ends up finding herself. It was directed by Susanna Salonen, and she and members of the cast will be present for a talk after the screening.
Tuesday night's opener will be accompanied by a 2013 German short film, Elite, directed by Piet Baumgartner. It's about a management consultant who closes a complicated deal and as a surprise has an escort hired for him by the client.
Other entries include the period romance The Beloved Sisters on December 8 and the sci-fi comedy Art Girls on December 15.
After a break for Christmas and New Year's, the series resumes on January 5 with Jack, a childhood drama about a 10-year-old boy and his younger brother searching for their mother.
Others are the ex-convict drama I Am the Keeper on January 12; the computer-hacker thriller WhoAmI on January 26; the historical drama We Are Young. We Are Strong., about neo-Nazi riots in 1992; and the 1950s-set transgender romance The Circle on February 9.
The series wraps up on February 16 with Suck Me Shakespeer, a comedy in which an ex-convict takes a job as a schoolteacher so he can search for stolen loot he hid on the school grounds. A hit in Germany, it spawned a sequel that was released this year.
Shows are at 7.30pm on the grounds of the Goethe-Institut, off Sathorn Soi 1. For more details, check the Goethe website. And for opening night, check the Facebook events page.
The Good Dinosaur – Talking reptilians and humanoids co-exist this new Disney-Pixar animated comedy-drama about the adventure of a lost young apatosaurus named Arlo and his new pal, a feral caveboy named Spot. The voice cast includes Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, Steve Zahn, Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright. With The Good Dinosaur following Inside Out a few months back, this is the first time Disney-Pixar has released two films in one year, but then there was nothing from Pixar in 2014, so they are making up for lost time. Long in the works, The Good Dinosaur has been in development for many, many years, going through a rigorous process of fine tuning until the Pixar-powers-that-be deemed the story was just right. Critical reception is mixed, with the consensus seeming to place The Good Dinosaur in the pantheon of "minor" Pixar works, somewhere around the likes of Monsters Inc. but above Cars. As with all Disney-Pixar movies, The Good Dinosaur has a preceding cartoon short, in this case Sanjay’s Super-Team, in which a meditating Indian boy dreams his Hindu gods are superheroes. Rated G
Gayby Baby – Four children who are being raised by gay and lesbian parents are profiled in this Australian picture, which is the latest release by the Documentary Club. It won the second-place audience award at the Sydney Film Festival and is a nominee for the Australian Film Institute awards. Critical reception is generally positive. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld as well as at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For further details, check the Documentary Club's Facebook page or SF cinemas' booking site. Rated G
Stung – Party-goers and catering staff at a fancy outdoor gathering come under attack by giant, mutated wasps. An indie horror-comedy, it's directed by Benni Diez, a visual-effects artist making his directorial debut. Clifton Collins Jr., Jessica Cook, Matt O’Leary and Lance Henrikson are among the stars. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
Kill Your Friends – At the height of the 1990s Britpop boom, a young record-company executive (Nicholas Hoult) will stop at nothing as he looks for his next hit. An indie British comedy, it's adapted from a best-selling novel by John Niven. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+
Knock Knock – Whoa. Poor Keanu Reeves. He's a family man who is left at home alone one weekend and comes under attack from two strange young women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) who show up at his door asking for help. Directed by Quentin Tarantino's pal Eli Roth (Hostel, The Green Inferno), the erotic thriller is a remake of the 1970s exploitation film Death Game, which starred Seymour Cassel, Sondra Locke and Colleen Camp. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
Momentum – A thief (Olga Kurylenko) with a secret past accidentally reveals her identity during what should have been a routine jewel heist. She is then pursued by a master assassin (James Purefoy) and his team of killers. It's helmed by Stephen S. Campanelli, a veteran camera operator on many movies who makes his feature debut as a director. Critical reception is generally negative. Rated 18+
By the Sea – Angelina Jolie Pitt writes, directs and co-stars in this romantic drama with her husband Brad Pitt. It's her third feature as a director, following the Bosnian war drama Land of Blood and Honey and the World War II epic Unbroken. Set in 1970s France, By the Sea is a portrait of a couple who growing apart as they linger at a tranquil, picturesque seaside resort. The celebrity couple actually made this while they were on their honeymoon. Perhaps feeling grossed out, as if they caught their parents in the bedroom, critics have just rolled their eyes. Rated 18+
Tamasha – A young man and a young woman meet during a vacation on the island of Corsica. Sharing a love for storytelling, they explore the island together and form a troupe to stage dramatic plays, all while not disclosing their real names. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone star in this epic globetrotting musical comedy-drama, which features music by A.R. Rahman. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III, Pattaya, Paragon and EGV Mae Sot.
EVAWG Film Festival – Serious issues are the focus of the first Bangkok edition of an international film festival for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG), which has screenings until Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Tonight's invite-only opener is Dukhtar (Daughter), the feature debut of writer-director Afia Nathaniel, which is Pakistan’s official submission to this year’s Academy Awards. Here is the rest of the line-up:
- Ilo Ilo – Singaporean director Anthony Chen's semi-autobiographical drama follows a young Filipina as she goes to work for a middle-class Singaporean family in the midst of the 1997 financial crisis. While dealing with the demanding pregnant mother, she bonds with the family's five-year-old son and keeps a secret of the dad. Ilo Ilo was the first Singaporean feature to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the Camera d'Or honors. Screens at 5.30pm tomorrow.
- Te doy mis ojos (Take My Eyes) – This award-winning 2003 Spanish drama is about the roller-coaster relationship of a young mother and her abusive husband. Screens at 8.30 tomorrow.
- When We Leave – This 2010 Turkish-German drama has a young German-Turkish woman fleeing an abusive marriage in Istanbul and seeking safety with her family in Berlin. Screens at 2.30pm on Saturday.
- Girl Rising – Uplifting stories about girls from nine countries are told in this star-studded documentary. Each girl’s story written by well-known writers from each country and voiced by big-name actors. For example, a Cambodian girl’s story is written by noted Cambodian author Loung Ung. Celebrities lending their voices include Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett and Selena Gomez. Screens at 5pm on Saturday.
- Girlhood – A shy, abused African-French teenage girl moves into a new neighborhood and comes out of her shell when she's accepted into a gang of girls. A 2014 drama, it's directed by Céline Sciamma, who previously did the coming-of-age romance Tomboy. Screens at 8pm on Saturday.
- Refugiado (Refugee) – A pregnant woman and her eight-year-old son are forced to flee the boy’s abusive father in this award-winning 2014 Argentine drama. Screens at 3pm on Sunday.
- Private Violence – “Why didn’t she just leave?” It's a difficult-to-answer question that vexes victim advocates. This 2014 documentary examines the tough answers to that question and aims to have folks asking different questions. Screens at 5pm on Sunday.
- Brave Miss World – Israeli model and actress Linor Abargil – crowned Miss World in 1998 – turns her shocking story of tragedy into a forum for global activism against rape. Screens at 7.30pm on Sunday.
The Friese-Greene Club – November has one more documentary-style comedy from Christopher Guest, who dislikes the "mockumentary" term that's been applied his films. Tonight's entry is For Your Consideration, in which Guest and company skewer the annual idiocy that is Hollywood's "awards season". Tomorrow's "thoroughly modern China" movie is Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin, which reflects on four recent episodes in contemporary Chinese history. And Sunday has Todd Solondz' Happiness, which is just the thing you need to watch in the midst of this festive season. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Although the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series has closed its books on 2015, they are still showing films at the club. Next week, it's the documentary Frame by Frame, which tracks four photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape in Afghanistan. Admission for non-members is 150 baht. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, December 2, at the FCCT.
Alliance Française – A schoolteacher tries to inspire curiosity among a multi-cultural roster of teen students in Les héritiers (Once in a Lifetime), a fact-based drama from last year. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, December 2, at the Alliance.
Following a limited run at SF cinemas and an appearance at the World Film Festival of Bangkok, the existential-crisis art-house drama Vanishing Point by artist-filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong is back. It's now screening at House on RCA. So check it out.