Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 30-November 5, 2014

So Be It

Two very different boys – a poor hilltribe youngster and a half-Thai reality-TV star – ordain as novice Buddhist monks in So Be It (A-Wang, เอวัง), a documentary by acclaimed Thai writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee.

The half-Thai, half-farang kid William was featured on the TrueVisions’ reality series Plook Panya Dharma Novice, which followed the daily lives of novice monks. After his stint on the series, he returns to the temple on his own to continue his studies into the Buddhist faith.

Meanwhile, there's Bundit, a Karen boy whose family is too poor to afford schooling. So he's sent to the Buddhist boarding school, but is uncomfortable and tries to leave.

The third indie-film effort by Kongdej, So Be It premiered at the recent Busan International Film Festival, which had supported the project through the Asian Cinema Fund. Variety gave it a good review. The Nation has more about it today.

It's at House on RCA. Rated G

Also opening

The Eyes Diary (คนเห็นผี, Kon Hen Pee) – Director Chukiat Sakveerakul is best known for his sprawling family and friendship dramas like The Love of Siam and last year's Krian Fictions, but he got his start with thrillers, such as his 2004 horror Pisaj and the twisting 2006 thriller 13 Game Sayong, which was recently remade by Hollywood as 13 Sins. With The Eyes Diary (not to be confused with the Pang brothers' Eye franchise), Chookiat gathers young talent for this story of a young man (Parama Im-anothai) whose girlfriend (Focus Jeerakul) died in a motorbike wreck after they had a fight. He’s desperate to communicate with her “on the other side” and seeks help from a young woman (Chonnikarn Natejui) who's had a similar experience. Rated 15+

The Couple (รัก ลวง หลอน, Rak Luang Lon) – A newlywed bride is possessed by the evil spirit of her sister-in-law in this thriller from the new film company Talent 1. Sucha Manaying, Pitchaya Nithipisarnkul and Mali Coates star. This is the second feature from Talent 1, which made its bow last year with the well-received thriller Last Summer. It's run by producer Ladawan Ratanadilokchai, who takes a different approach to her films. She had a hand in the script with help from Thai indie filmmaking talents Kongdej Jaturanrasmee (who also has So Be It opening at House this week), Pimpaka Towira and Sivaroj Kongsakul. Rated 15+

Whiplash – The top award winner at Sundance, this acclaimed indie drama follows a young drummer (Miles Teller) as he joins an elite music conservatory's jazz orchestra and comes under the cruel tutelage of the tyrannical conductor (J.K. Simmons), who pushes the young man to the brink in his obsessive drive for perfection. Damien Chazelle, a young filmmaker making his sophomore feature effort, directs. Also a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival, critical reception is wildly positive. In sneak previews for the past couple weeks, Whiplash finally moves to a wide release. Rated G

The Equalizer – Denzel Washington is a former black-ops agent who atones for his dark past by volunteering his services as a private eye to those in need. His latest case involves a teenage prostitute (Chloë Grace Moretz) and leads him into a conflict with Russian mobsters. This is big-screen reboot of a 1980s American TV drama that starred British actor Edward Woodward and had an iconic theme by Police drummer Stewart Copeland. Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen) directs this new version, reuniting with his Training Day leading man. Critical reception is mixed, with eyebrows raised over the extreme level of violence. Rated 18+

Also showing

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Tonight, the Czech Republic presents the documentary The Power of Good: The Nicholas Winton Story, about a British businessman who saved 669 Czech children from the Nazi death camps in World War II. The show is at 7pm. Entry is free.

The Friese-Greene Club – A disillusioned killer takes one last job in Wong Kar-wai's stylish drama Fallen Angels, screening tonight. Tomorrow's cult classic is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it's fully booked. So find someplace else to toss your toast. Keep an eye on the club's Facebook page for further offerings in November. 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.

Alliance Française – November's line-up starts with La France, a 2007 drama that's set during World War I. Young Camille receives a break-up letter from her soldier husband. So she goes in search, disguising herself as a man and signing up for the fight. She falls in with a group of soldiers who do not suspect her real identity. Sylvie Testud, Guillaume Depardieu, Guillaume Verdier star and Serge Bozon directs. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, November 5.

Sneak preview

The romantic comedy Love, Rosie continues its sneak preview run, screening from around 8 nightly at most cinemas. It opens wider next Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 23-29, 2014

Gone Girl

One of the those buzzworthy films you wish everyone would just quit talking about already, Gone Girl is the latest acclaimed thriller from director David Fincher, and is winning raves for its performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Affleck is Nick Dunne, a husband who reports his wife's disappearance on their fifth wedding anniversary. Under pressure from the police and the frenzied media, his portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble.

Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Kim Dickens also star. The story is based on an acclaimed best-selling 2012 crime novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay.

Since its premiere at the New York Film Festival, critical reception is positively glowing, and it's likely nobody is going to shut up about Gone Girl until it has won a few Oscars. This opened for a sneak preview run last week and now moves to a wide release. Rated 18+

Also opening

John Wick – Keanu Reeves is earning some of the best reviews of his career for this gritty hitman thriller. He's a gunman who comes out of retirement to settle the score with the gangsters who took everything from him. Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters and Ian McShane also star. It's based on a first-person-shooter video game, and is the directorial by a pair of stunt specialists, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski (Reeves' stunt double on The Matrix). Since its U.S. premiere a couple weeks ago, critical reception has been crazily positive. Rated 18+

Fury – Yet another highly acclaimed, star-studded vehicle in the hunt for awards, Fury is a World War II yarn starring Brad Pitt as the aptly named Sergeant Wardaddy. It's 1945, and the Allies are making their final push into Berlin. Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and a four-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal also star. David Ayer (End of Watch, Training Day) directs. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+

Phee Overtime (โอ.ที. ผี Overtime, a.k.a. O.T.) – A segment from Five Star Production's 2012 horror omnibus 3 A.M. is expanded upon for this thriller the follows the exploits of horrible bosses Karan (Shahkrit Yamnarm) and Ti (Ray MacDonald), whose pranks on their late-night office staff turn fatal. That forces their business partner Bordin (Ananda Everingham) to give up his peaceful life and return to work. Rated 18+

Happy New Year – Six losers plan a massive diamond heist, using a dance competition as their cover. Shahrukh Khan stars and famed choreographer Farah Khan directs, marking the third collaboration for the pair after Main Hoon Na (2004) and Om Shanti Om (2007). Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah and Jackie Shroff also star. It's at Paragon, Embassy Diplomat Screens and Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

12th World Film Festival of Bangkok – There's still plenty to see as the fest heads into its final weekend. Among the highlights is the complete version of Metropolis, the 1927 sci-fi silent epic. It screens at 7.30 tonight and 9pm on Saturday. Tomorrow, catch the festival's opener, the Thai documentary Somboon, a gentle portrait of a man's devotion to his chronically ailing wife. Also worth a look are the Shortwave Programmes, with program two at 3.20 on Friday, and program one at 3.30 on Saturday. Program one includes Behind the Screen, a moving portrait of a Burmese director's parents' broken marriage. His folks were famous actors in Myanmar back in the 1960s. The fest wraps up on Sunday with the invitation-only closing film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a new animation from Japan's Studio Ghibli. The festival is at SF World at CentralWorld. Tickets are 120 baht. For the full schedule, check the festival website.

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Wong Kar-wai loosely follows up his In the Mood for Love with another moody romance, 2046. Jeff Bridges ties everything together in tomorrow's cult classic, The Big Lebowski, the stoner bowling-and-crime comedy by the Coen brothers. Saturday's Friedkin flick is his 2006 indie comeback, the thriller Bug. And Sunday's Hitchcock highlight is one of Hitch's best, North by Northwest. Next Wednesday captures the late Richard Attenborough in one of his most rascally roles, bringing dinosaurs back to life in 1993's blockbuster Jurassic Park. 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 – There are two films next week, Young Goethe in Love on Monday and the documentary The Power of Good: The Nicholas Winton Story, about a man who saved 669 Czech children from the Nazi death camps in World War II, at 7pm next Thursday. The screening, courtesy of the Czech Republic embassy, is free. Goethe!, screening at 7 on Monday, is part of the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series. Directed by Philip Stolzl, the 2010 romantic drama follows the young writer after he flunks out of law school and is sent to a small town to work as a clerk. There, he falls in love with Lotte, a spirited young woman who is promised to marry someone else. The screening is courtesy of  the Goethe Institut, the German embassy and Ambassador Rolf Schulze. Entry for non-members is 150 baht plus 100 baht for anybody wanting to sample the German beer, wine and pretzels.

Alliance Française – Classic French films are on offer in October with the theme of "eternal thrillers", and the month closes out with 1974's Stavisky, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo as politically connnected financier and embezzler Serge Alexandre Stavisky. Alain Resnais directs and François Périer, Charles Boyer and Anny Duperey also star. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, October 29.

Sneak previews

Love, Rosie – Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are childhood best friends who are secretly in love with each other. The young Brits take a big chance and go the the U.S. together to attend university. Critical reception is mixed. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly before opening wide on November 6. Also, the Sundance winning drama Whiplash continues its sneak-preview run this week. The story of a young jazz drummer terrorized by his band director, it opens in a wide release next Thursday.

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.