Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 30, 2009-January 6, 2010

32 Thunwa

Singer Dan Worrawech continues building on his acting career with a new romantic comedy, 32 Thunwa. He's reteaming with director Rerkchai Paungpetch, who directed Dan's hit 2006 comedy Noodle Boxer (Sab Sanit Sit Sai Nar.

Opened today, it's the first production from M39 Pictures, a new company formed by former crew from RS Film's Avant marque, which has undergone restructuring.

Dan, formerly a singer with the boyband trio D2B and then the duo Dan+Beam, is continuing his solo singing career but is also acting in more films. He appeared in the segment Ward in Phobia 2 earlier this year. He made his film debut in 2003's Pang Bros.-produced Omen (Sung horn) with D2B bandmates "Beam" Kavee Tanjararak and "Big" Panrawat Kittikorncharoen (who died in 2007 after four years in a coma caused by a car wreck).

In 32 Thunwa (32 ธันวา, 32 December Love Error), Dan has amnesia and has forgotten which of his three girlfriends he truly loves. He gets help in figuring things out from a fellow clinic patient, played by "Nong" Choosak Eamsuk. Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Ramida Mahapreukpong and "Pai" Sitang Punnapob also star. It's rated 15+.

There's a trailer at YouTube and it's embedded below.

Also opening

Did You Hear About the Morgans? -- Hugh Grant returns after a couple-years absence with yet another romantic comedy. He's teamed up with Sex in the City's Sarah Jessica Parker for a story about a Manhattan couple on the verge of divorce because of his infidelity, but they are forced to stay together after they witness a murder. Put into the federal witness-protection program, the Morgans are shipped to a small town in Wyoming, where cattle and horses outnumber the people and rodeos are more a way of life than Broadway shows and shopping. The local sheriff is played by Sam Elliot and his gun-obsessed, Sarah Palin-like wife is portrayed by Mary Steenburgen. Wilford Brimley also stars. Critical reception has been overwhelmingly negative. Rated 13+.

The Treasure Hunter -- Taiwanese singer-actor Jay Chou gets a chance to do some of his own stunts in this desert adventure that looks like a cross between Road Warrior, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Mummy. He's the hero who rescues a damsel (Lin Chiling) and in the process loses a map to a sacred treasure. He then must recover the map from the outlaws and protect the cache of ancient artifacts. Eric Tsang also stars. Unfortunately, only the Thai-dubbed version is playing. Rated 13+.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 23-30, 2009

October Sonata

October Sonata, which opened on Wednesday this week, is a weepy romantic drama that is set in the 1970s.

The star is "Koy" Ratchawin Wongviriya, the short-haired actress who gained notice from 2008's love-triangle drama Rak/Sam/Sao (The Last Moment), in which she co-starred with "Pe" Arak Amornsupasiri. The two became an item, but have hit a rocky patch of late, and last week while promoting October Sonata, Koy broke down in tears in front of the press when she was questioned about the relationship.

Lyn's Lakorns has more about the "break", which seems to be due to the busy schedules kept by both stars.

Pe, a guitarist with the alternative rock band Slur, starred in two movies this year -- Yongyoot Thongkongtoon's romantic dramedy The Best Times and Kongkiat Komesiri's harrowing crime thriller Slice. He's also a pitchman for Mazda cars. And there was the gaffe a few months ago when Pe was set to star in the Laotian-Thai co-production of Sabaidee Luang Prabang 2 until he made a disaparging remark about the physical attractiveness of Laotian women.

Koy has kept busy too, starring in Bhandit Rittakol's A-Nueng Kidthueng Pen Yang Ying.

October Sonata (รักที่รอคอย, Rak Nee Thee Rorkoy) is directed by veteran screenwriter Somkiet Vithuranitch and is set in the 1970s, with a couple meeting at the October 8, 1970, funeral of actor Mitr Chaibancha. They set a date to meet again three years later, but tumultuous historical events and a love triangle intercede. Thanawat Wattanaphuti and Phisanu Nimsakul also star. It's rated G at most cinemas (Major Cineplex), but there's a 13+ version list on the SF cinemas site.

Also opening

The Storm Warriors -- Danny and Oxide Pang direct this sequel to The Storm Riders, a 1998 flying-swordsmen fantasy that re-energized the Hong Kong movie industry. The first film was directed by Andrew Lau, who later went on to make the hit thriller Infernal Affairs. Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok return as the mystical warriors Wind and Cloud for The Storm Riders II, also called The Storm Warriors. This time they face Lord Godless. Played by Simon Yam, he's a ruthless Japanese warlord bent on invading China. Meanwhile, Wind has a battle of his own, as he allows dark forces to take over his soul so he can gain more power. The Pang Brothers, twin-brother directors best known for their Thailand-based The Eye films and Bangkok Dangerous (both the 1999 original and the recent remake with Nicolas Cage), filmed Storm Warriors in a Bangkok riverfront warehouse and have spent about a year or so adding the virtual backdrops and computer-graphic special effects. Charlene Choi, Nicholas Tse, Tang Yan and Lam Suet also star. Rated 13+.

Sherlock Holmes -- Director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) makes his first period film, going back to 19th century London for this action-comedy romp with Robert Downey Jr. portraying Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth. Here, the deductive detective is also known for his brawn, as well as his brains. Jude Law is Holmes' sidekick Dr. Watson. Their adversary is Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a Satanic cult leader who comes back from the dead. Rachel McAdams also stars. Critical response has been mixed, but Downey is already up for a Golden Globe for his performance. Rated 13+.

I Give My First Love to You -- A girl and boy meet in the hospital. She is the daughter of a doctor and he is a patient with a terminal illness. He won't live past 20. They make a promise for an uncertain future. At House and the Lido.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 17-22, 2009


James Cameron has been wanting to do Avatar since before he did Titanic. Finally, technology progressed to a point to where his vision could be realized.

This special-effects-driven hybrid animation and live action epic is set in the future on a far-away moon called Pandora. There, a valuable and rare mineral called unobtainium is being mined to solve Earth's energy woes. The biggest deposit of the rock is right under a village populated by a fearsome race of nine-foot-tall blue-skinned warriors called the Na'vi -- hunter-gatherers who live in harmony with nature, much like the Native Americans.

Into the mix comes Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), a Marine veteran who's lost the use of his legs. He gets the chance to fight again by putting his brain to work in an avatar -- a lab-grown body of a Na'vi warrior. Sent to infiltrate the tribe, he of course falls in love with the tribe's princess, played by Zoe Saldana.

Sigourney Weaver, Cameron's Aliens star, plays a scientist who heads up the avatar research. Stephen Lang, who's previously played American Civil War generals Pickett and Stonewall Jackson in Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, is a colonel here, intent on wiping out the Na'vi. The cast also includes Giovanni Ribisi as the head of the mining corporation, plus Michelle Rodriguez and Joel Moore.

As much as $400 million is said to have been spent on making this movie and marketing it. Will 20th Century Fox make back that money? They are hoping for a Titanic-like miracle.

Critical reception has so far been mostly positive, though there have been grumblings that while the effects are wow-worthy, the story isn't all that great. It's playing in 3D in some cinemas, including the Krungsri Imax. Rated G.

Also opening

Paa -- The roles are reversed. Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan portrays a 13-year-old boy with a genetic disorder that causes him to age rapidly. His father is played by Big B's son, Abishek Bachchan. In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Central Rama III at 8 on Saturday and 4.30 on Sunday and at SFX the Emporium on Monday at 8. Also, the colorful comedy Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, starring the likable Ranbir Kapoor, is showing on Sunday at 4 at Grand EGV Siam Discovery. Call (089)488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or visit

Also showing

House on RCA is playing the Icelandic teen drama Noi Albinoi at 5.30 daily until December 23. It's the story of a weird outcast young man who makes various clumsy attempts to break free of life in a tiny snowbound Icelandic fishing village. Admission is 80 baht.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Thailand's official ratings symbols

The official symbols for Thailand's motion picture ratings system enacted this year are starting to come into use. They are being used on movie posters, ads, cinema websites and are flashed on a title card before the start of the main feature.

The symbols are as follows:
  • Category 1 – Promote (Rated P): For educational films that the government encourages everyone to see. Symbolized by a smiley face.
  • Category 2 – General (Rated G): Appropriate for viewers of any age. Symbolized by a house.
  • Category 3 – 13+: Suggested for viewers aged 13 and older.
  • Category 4 – 15+: Suggested for viewers aged 15 and older.
  • Category 5 – 18+: Suggested for viewers aged 18 and older.
  • Category 6 – 20-: Restricted to viewers aged 20 and older, with ID checks mandatory.
There is also the hidden seventh category, for films that are banned. No symbol has been created for those films because under the law they will never be seen – at least to the knowledge of the authorities. Maybe there should be a symbol for that one – a winking smiley face.

The new symbols replace ones that were earlier drafted but were sent back to the drawing board.

Since the ratings came into effect in August, I've noticed that Thai films tend to be rated more harshly than Hollywood films. Most Thai films have been rated 15+ and higher, while Hollywood films are tending to be more liberally rated than they are in the US. In particular, Thailand's G rating offers more leniency than Hollywood's.

For example, in the U.S., The Road is rated R, restricted to viewers 17 and over "for some violence, disturbing images and language". In Thailand, John Hillcoat's cannibalism-laced adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak post-apocalyptic novel is rated 13+. Disney's A Christmas Carol is rated PG (parental guidance) in the U.S. for "for scary sequences and images", but in Thailand Robert Zemeckis' creepily unsettling hybrid animation of Charles Dickens' novel was passed as rated G. The Rebound, a Catherine Zeta-Jones romantic comedy Rated R "for language, some sexual content and brief drug use" was also passed as Rated G.

Exceptions to this trend include Couples Retreat, rated PG-13 in the States and rated 13+ in Thailand. Ninja Assassin, rated R in the U.S. "for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language", which was rated 18+ in Thailand. Under the old censorship system, those sprays of blood would surely have been pixellated or cut altogether.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 10-16, 2009

The Road

John Hillcoat, director of the bleak Outback western The Proposition, gets even more depressing with The Road, which is adapted from Cormac McCarthey's novel about life in a post-apocalyptic United States.

Viggo Mortensen stars, playing a father who with his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is walking the starkly abandoned highways and byways of America, looking for civilization among the ruins, which are mainly populated by nomadic bands of cannibals.

To play the role, Viggo whittled down his already lean frame by starving himself during production, confining himself to a diet of dark chocolate and a little red meat.

Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron also star. I'll be looking out for Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) and Garret Dillahunt (Cromartie from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) in supporting roles.

Like The Proposition, music is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Critical reception, despite the film's punishing nature, is mostly positive. At SF cinemas. Rated 13+.

Pai in Love

Thai filmmakers have taken Paris, je t'aime and New York, I Love You to heart it seems. Now there's Pai in Love (ปาย อิน เลิฟ) -- six short films set in Pai, a tiny town in the mountains of northern Thailand that is a draw for foreign backpackers and Thai hipsters.

From what I understand, the six segments have been edited to form an ensemble romance story, similar to Love Actually. Here's a rundown of the six pieces:

  • Ong-Bak and Chocolate director Prachya Pinkaew's is Rak Ter Tee Soon, starring Leo Putt and Kanya Rattapetch.
  • Bang Rajan helmer Thanit Jitnukul directs Pai Postcard with "Guitar" Chayanun Ardpru and Suttírak Putsoonrot.
  • Actress Tak Bongkot Kongmalai makes her directorial debut with 3 Days of Hers, 3 Days of His, 3 Days for Us (3 วัน ของเธอ 3 วัน ของ เขา และ 3 วัน ของ เรา) starring Ray MacDonald and "Kratae" Supaksorn Chaimongkol.
  • Bandit Thongdee (Mercury Man, 4 Romances) directs Pee Sao Khrap starring "Boy" Pakorn Chadborirak and "Noo Jaa" Achiraya Peerapatkunchaya.
  • Love Sick by Dunyasit Niyomkul stars the original Bangkok Dangerous man Pawalit Mongkolpisit and "Niew" Patìda Atyatomwittayaa.
  • Sakchai Deenan (Sabaidee Luang Prabang) directs Postcard from Pai with men's magazine model "Run" Natthamonkarn Srinikornchot.
  • And Tittipong Chaisatìdee directs Secret (Kwaam Lap Kong Kwam Rak) with Noppan Boonyai, Pongam Panatju and Chalohton Prirat.

There's a trailer at YouTube. Rated 13+.

Also opening

Whip It -- It's Juno on skates. Ellen Page, the misfit pregnant teen from Diablo Cody's indie-quirk sensation last year, stars as a rebellious teenager in a small Texas town who's forced by her square-jawed mother (Marcia Gay Harden) to enter beauty pageants. She's far too hip for that. And clumsy. But she discovers plenty of poise and confidence when she straps on roller skates and becomes Babe Ruthless, a member of the Hurl Scouts, a mini-skirted, elbow-throwing women's roller-derby team. It's the directorial debut by Drew Barrymore, who also stars along with Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell, Andrew Wilson, Daniel Stern and Jimmy Fallon. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at House, Paragon and CentralWorld. Rated 13+.

The Founding of a Republic -- Celebrating 60 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, this epic piece of propaganda charts the ascendancy of the Communist Party and Mao Zedong, who is portrayed by Tang Guoqiang, a well-known Mainland TV star. There's a star-studded cast of around 200, including Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, some in cameos so brief you'll probably miss them. Rated G.

The Warrior and the Wolf -- This fantasy epic is set in ancient times in the Gobi Desert, where a warrior (Jo Odagiri) begins an affair with a woman (Maggie Q) from a tribe has mystical connections to wolves. It's by veteran Chinese helmer Tian Zhuangzhuang, who adapted the screenplay from a novel by Inoue
Yasushi. At the Lido.

The Fourth Kind -- Milla Jovovich stars in this fact-based thriller, playing a psychologist in an Alaskan town. She comes to believe that her patients are suffering trauma because they were abucted by aliens. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. Rated G.

Rocket Singh -- Salesman of the Year -- Bollywood's biggest star of the year, Ranbir Kapoor, stars in this comedy about a freshly-graduated young man whose marks in college bar him from entering the medical or engineering fields. So he takes a job in sales. At Major Cineplex Central Rama III on Friday and Saturday 8, Sunday at 4 and 7 and Monday at 8. Call (089)488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or visit

Also showing

British Film Festival -- Two screenings remain in this year's fest -- It's a Free World at 7 tonight and Looking for Eric at 7 on Friday night. Both are directed by Ken Loach. Free World is about a young London woman who starts an employment agency of migrant workers. Eric stars soccer great Eric Cantona as himself. He coaches a postman, also named Eric, through a crisis.

House on RCA is playing the Swedish vampire drama Let the Right One In at 5.30. It's the story of a bullied boy growing up in suburban Stockholm of the 1980s who is befriended by a 200-year-old child vampire. Admission is 80 baht.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 3-9, 2009

Yam Yasothon 2

Mum Jokmok moves from reluctant lover to shotgun-toting dad in Yam Yasothon 2.

A sequel to 2005's country comedy, Yam Yasothon 2 promises more eye-scaldingly colorful outfits and a double-barrel load of down-home country humor. Janet Khiaw is back as Yam's wife Juei, with Mum's real-life daughter, Em Busarakam Wongkumlao and son Mick Phaytai joining the cast. There's also "Dim" Harin Suthamjaras from the rock group Tattoo Color as the romantic lead.

The story takes place sometime in the 1960s, same as the first film. But somehow, 20 years have passed and the prodigious brood of children sired by Yam and the amorous Juei have all left the nest, except for one daughter and one son.

Yam, now a morally upstanding village headman, is determined to protect his daughter from the roving eye of a visiting agriculture ministry official, even if it means blasting the young man with his shotgun.

There are plenty of salty jokes, colorful outfits, outlandish makeup and hairstyles as well as more than a few great tunes by a band that serenades the buffalo in the rice field. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Couples Retreat -- Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell are a couple on the verge of divorce who hope to fix their marriage at a tropical-island resort that is a Club Med for relationships. They'll get a group rate if they bring their friends along, only those three other couples don't realize that the counseling sessions are mandatory. It's a reunion of sorts for Swingers pals Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, who repectively (but not respectfully) play husbands to Malin Ackerman and Kristen Davis. Faizon Love and Kali Hawk are another couple along for the ride. Critical reception has been overwhelmingly negative, despite the talented cast. Rated 13+.

Astro Boy -- Hollywood takes on the Japanese anime TV icon, with a big-screen 3-D animated origin story that features the voice talent of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson and a litany of other big names. Reviews have been evenly mixed. Only at SF cinemas. Rated G.

Turning Point -- Shaw Brothers, a production marque from the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, makes its return with this thriller that seems informed by Infernal Affairs. Michael Tse is a young mobster who is tasked by his boss Brother One -- the always watchable Anthony Wong -- to become a mole in the police department. Eric Tsang, Francis Ng and Yuen Biao also star. In Cantonese with English and Thai subtitles at the Lido.

De Dana Dan -- Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif star in this madcap comedy caper along with Sunil Shetty, Paresh Rawal, Neha Dhupia, Rajpal Yadav and Chunky Pandey. It's in Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Central Rama III at 8 Friday and Saturday and 4 and 7 and Sunday and at Grand EGV Siam Discovery on Monday at 7.30. Call (089)488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or visit

British Film Festival

Five British films from the past year or so are showing at SFW CentralWorld from Friday until next Friday. Here's the lineup:

  • Is Anybody There? -- Michael Caine stars as a retired magician who strikes up an odd friendship with an eccentric 10-year-old boy in an old-folks home. Friday at 7 and Sunday at 3.
  • It's a Free World -- Sacked from her job, a young woman (Kierston Wareing) sets up a recruitment agency for migrant workers in London. Ken Loach directs. Saturday at 3 and Thursday at 7.
  • The Boat That Rocked -- Richard Curtis goes back to the swinging ’60s with his latest ensemble comedy, set on a ship that’s home to a pirate radio station. Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost are among the stars. It was released in the US as Pirate Radio and is already out on legal DVD here. Saturday and Monday at 7.
  • Looking for Eric -- Football great Eric Cantona stars as himself in this comedy that was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival back in May. With his famous philosophical quips, he’s helping a postman, also named Eric, through a mid-life crisis. Sunday and next Friday at 7.
  • The Age of Stupid -- Franny Armstrong directs this experimental documentary that stars Pete Postlethwait as an archivist in the future who looks back at footage of the present and wonders why we didn’t do anything to prevent climate change. Tuesday at 7.

All shows are 100 baht and are subtitled in Thai. They are all on film except for The Boat That Rocked. There's also a free program of Airplay UK music videos and Thomas and Friends shows at TK Park's mini- theatre. For more details, check the British Council website.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 26-December 2, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Director Robert Zemeckis is back with his third "performance capture" experiment with Disney's A Christmas Carol, featuring Jim Carrey as the miserly old grouch Ebenzer Scrooge. It's yet another of the dozens of adaptations of this classic novel by Charles Dickens, about how the black-hearted Scrooge learns the true meaning of compassion during a Christmas Eve visit by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.

I don't know. Give me the Muppets or Mr. Magoo or Scrooged with Bill Murray, along with a few Rankin-Bass specials, the Peanuts, and I'll consider my holiday complete.

But maybe Zemeckis is on to something. The director of the cult-hit Back to the Future series as well as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and many others, it's the third outing for his still experimental "performance capture" technique. It's a hybrid of CGI animation and live action, in which the actors' movements are recorded and then rendered in a disturbingly dead-eyed manner. He first used the technique on another Christmas movie, the rather dull Polar Express in 2004, and then improved it a bit with the often bawdy and action-filled yarn Beowulf in 2007.

Carrey not only plays Scrooge but the three ghosts as well. So there is plenty of Carrey to go around. Somehow Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn and Spy Kids' Daryl Sabara fit into this cast as well.

Reviews have been mixed.

It's playing in 3D in some cinemas, including the IMAX at Siam Paragon. Rated G.

Also opening

Ninja Assassin -- The Matrix directors Larry and Andy Wachowski are back, working as producers through their cipher, V for Vendetta director James McTeigue with this blood-soaked tale of the world's deadliest assassin. Not only is he a ninja -- already pretty bad ass (and most ninjas are assassins) -- he is also, uh, an assassin. South Korean superstar Rain takes on the role, getting a high-profile boost after his supporting effort in the Wachowskis' undeservedly ballyhooed Speed Racer. Naomie Harris from the Pirates of the Caribbean series is welcome here, playing a police officer on the trail of politically linked murders. Bond bad guy Rick Yune (Die Another Day) also stars. Reviews are mostly unfavorable. Rated 18+

Paranormal Activity -- Purportedly made for $15,000, this is the latest low-budget blockbuster. With popularity secured through a viral-marketing campaign by Paramount Pictures, it's earned more than $100 million, making movie-studio execs rub their hands together and muse whether more movies can be made like this. Similar to The Blair Witch Project, it's captured home-movie style, and is presented as a documentary, about a young couple who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. Reviews have been mostly positive. Rated 15+

Julie and Julia -- This fact-based comedy is about a writer who hatched a scheme to get rich. Having relatively little experience in the kitchen, she decided that the best way to land a book deal would be to cook all 524 of the recipes in TV chef Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and write a blog about it. The plan worked. She got the book deal and now it's a movie, directed by Nora Ephron. Amy Adams portrays the blogger, Julie Powell. Her story is told in parallel with that of Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, with episodes from Child's autobiography "My Life in France". Reviews have been mostly positive. At Paragon Cineplex.

Robsessed -- New Moon is raking it in. It earned 50 million baht in Thailand alone, and shattered The Dark Knight's opening-day record. This documentary is about the star of The Twilight Saga, heartthrob vampire Robert Pattinson. It follows the young English actor after he was ranked “Top Male Hottie” at the Teen Choice Awards. At House and Lido.

Yom-Pee-Poa (โยมผีพ่อ) -- Produced by Pacific Island Film, this comedy is about a novice Buddhist monk who is haunted by the ghost of his father (Charnnarong Khantheetao), who wants the boy to find his mother. Ghost dad grows to terrifying heights, to hilarious effect as can be seen in the trailer. So there is lots of running around and screaming from a cast of the usual comedians, including Apaporn Nakhon Sawan, "Jik" Naowarat Yuktanan and others.

Also showing

European Union Film Festival -- The festival continues through Sunday at SFW CentralWorld. Highlights in the upcoming days include Christmas Story from Finland, Crossed Tracks from France, Zozo from Sweden, Silent Wedding from Romania, The Collectress from Lithuania and Splinters from Poland. Check the schedule at the EU website.

Bollywood movies -- The fact-based terrorism thriller Kurbaan is back for two more screenings this weekend. It stars Kareena Kapoor as a wife who is shocked to find out she's been used as a pawn in her husband's (Saif Ali Khan's) terror plot. The movie caused controversy in India last week when outraged conservative protesters ripped down the movie posters, which depicted Kapoor's naked back. More artful demonstrators covered Kapoor's fleshy image with a painted-on sari. It's showing at 8 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday at Grand EGV Siam Discovery. Also back for another screening is Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, a romantic comedy with Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. It's showing at 5 on Sunday at Grand EGV Siam Discovery. For tickets, call (089)488 2620 or (02) 225 7500 or log on to

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 19-25, 2009

European Union Film Festival

Bangkok's longest-running film festival gets underway tonight with Zozo, a Swedish drama about a Lebanese emigrant boy and his epic journey.

In all, there are 23 films from 17 countries playing until November 29 at SF World Cinema at Central World.

Here's the lineup:

  • Gibellina -- The Earthquake, directed by Joerg Burger (Austria) -- This documentary looks at Sicilian village that was rebuilt after an earthquake and how its lost its charm in its new incarnation as a lifeless modern bedroom community.
  • Ben X, directed by Nic Balthazar (Belgium) -- A mildly autistic bullied boy is inspired to take revenge on his tormentors.
  • A Farewell to Hemingway, directed by Svetoslav Ovtcharov (Bulgaria) -- In his many travels, Papa Hemingway once stayed in Bulgaria. This is the story of what happened.
  • Corridor #8, directed by Boris Despodov (Bulgaria) -- Corridor #8 is a huge infrastructure project meant to link the Black and the Adriatic Seas. Along the road, this documentary captures the moods, the prejudices and the hope of the people from the three Balkan countries, who paradoxically are “far away, so close” to each other.
  • Citizen Havel, directed by Miroslav Janek and Pavel Koutecky (Czech Republic) -- Václav Havel was a key figure in the great changes that took place in central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s. This documentary film captures his work and influence both in the Czech Republic and internationally.
  • Christmas Story, directed by Juha Wuolijoki (Finland) -- This is the fantastic story of the altruistic St. Nicholas -- the man who became Santa Claus.
  • Crossed Tracks (Roman de Gare), directed by Claude Lelouch -- Judith Ralitzer, femme fatale and popular writer, is seeking characters for her next best-seller. A serial killer has just escaped from a high-security prison. Huguelle, a hairdresser in a top Paris salon, is going to change their destiny.
  • La Paloma -- Longing Worldwide, directed by Sigrid Faltin (Germany) -- This is a look at the rich history of the evocative song "La Paloma", visiting the people who sing it in Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, Romania, Germany, the Basque Country and Tanzania.
  • Adventurers, directed by Béla Paczolay (Hungary) -- A down-on-his-luck trumpeter and his borderline-hoodlum son want to bring grandpa to Budapest, to save him from the misery his life has become due to grandma’s senility.
  • Good Morning Heartache (Riprendimi), directed by Anna Negri (Italy) -- A young couple readying for the birth of their first child agree to let a team of documentary filmmakers follow them. As the pregnancy progresses, their relationship falls apart.
  • The Viceroys, directed by Roberto Faenza (Italy) -- This acclaimed historical drama is set in the mid 1800s in the last years of the reign of the House of Bourbon in Sicily. As seen through the eyes of a boy, the dynasty’s last heir, the mysteries, intrigues and complex personalities of the other family members are brought to light.
  • The Collectress, directed by Kristina Buožytė (Lithuania) -- A traumatized speech therapist no longer feels emotions.
  • Irina Palm, directed by Sam Garbarski (Luxembourg) -- Marianne Faithfull stars as a working-class fiftysomething widow who is deeply in debt. She plunges into the London prostitution scene and reinvents herself.
  • Love is All, directed by Joram Lürsen (Netherlands) -- An ensemble romantic comedy looks at various situations -- a mother falling for a teenage Don Juan, a perfectionist wife causing stress, a woman's fling with a member of the Dutch royal family and an undertaker and lifeguard who are planning to get married.
  • Hannah Hannah, directed by Annemarie van de Mond (Netherlands) -- A stubborn outsider in a large family is left with mixed feelings when her family warmly accepts her new boyfriend.
  • Splinters (Drzazgi), directed by Maciej Pieprzyca (Poland) -- The paths of three people cross during a seemingly ordinary and grey weekend. They haven't intended to meet and shouldn't have met, but the fate gave them no choice.
  • Our Beloved Month of August, directed by Miguel Gomes (Portugal) -- Summer is a time for music and celebration in Portugal, where singer Tania and guitarist Heider are young, attractive and enjoy a mutual attraction. The director and his crew try to get their project off the ground, be it a musical, a fact-based drama, or a horror film.
  • California Dreaming, directed by Cristian Nemescu (Romania) -- In his comedy-drama, a NATO arms train bound for the Kosovo war is stopped in a small Romanian village and delayed by corrupt local officials. Armand Assante is among the cast. It won the Prix un certain regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
  • Silent Wedding, directed by Horatiu Mălăele (Romania) -- In this comedy-drama, a couple's wedding is cancelled due to the death of Stalin. They plan to go ahead with the ceremony anyway.
  • Obaba, directed by Montxo Armendáriz (Spain) -- A young woman filmmaker heads to a small town in the Basque Country to make a documentary. As she digs deeper, the village becomes shrouded in magic — something to do with the mysterious green lizards which plague the townspeople -- and allegedly feed on their brains.
  • Mataharis, directed by Icíar Bollaín (Spain) -- This drama explores relationships and ethics in the daily life of working women.
  • Zozo, directed by Josef Fares (Sweden) -- Loosely based on the director's own life story, a 10-year-old boy struggles to flee Beirut amidst war.
  • The Linnaeus Experience, directed by Folke Rydén (Sweden) -- This experimental documentary is a look at how we should behave and act today in order to survive tomorrow and how can science and research contribute to a better world.
  • Sounds Like Teen Spirit, directed by Jamie Jay Johnson (UK) -- Go behind the scenes of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, in which contestants aged 10 to 15 must compose and write their own entries and sing them in their national language.

Note that out of all these, only two are on 35mm film -- Ben X from Belgium and Crossed Tracks from France. The rest are DVD. All have English subtitles or are English language. Only the Polish film Splinters and the two Dutch romantic comedies Love Is All and Hannah Hannah have English and Thai subs.

Check the schedule at the EU delegation website.

Also opening

New Moon -- The second film in The Twilight Saga has teenage girl Bella (Kristin Stewart) delving deeper into the supernatural world of vampires and werewolves. Taylor Lautner and the teenage werewolf boys do a lot of running around without their shirts on. Pale skinned teenage vampire Robert Pattinson broods. A welcome addition to the cast is Dakota Fanning. Chris Weitz directs. Rated G.

Goemon -- Kazuaki Kiriya, the visionary maker of the dystopian sci-fi fantasy Casshern, which was shot on a "digital backlot", returns with his second outing -- a history fantasy on the infamous Robin Hood-like ninja warrior and bandit of 16th century Japan. Yosuke Eguchi stars. Rated 15+.

Crossing Over -- Wayne Kramer, the indie director of The Cooler and Running Scared, directs this ensemble drama about illegal immigrants of various nationalities struggling to survive in Los Angeles. It stars Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Jim Sturgess and Cliff Curtis. At SFW CentralWorld and SFX Emporium. Rated 15+.

Kurbaan -- Rensil D'Silva directs this fact-based Indian romantic drama that is set against the backdrop of global terrorism. Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan star. It's playing Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4 and 7 at SFW CentralWorld. Call 089 488 2620, 02 2257500 or visit

The Time Travellers Wife -- This story of a woman (Rachel McAdams) who is married to librarian (Eric Bana) who involuntarily time travels is back in a limited re-release at House on RCA.

Take note

Rak Haeng Siam, Chookiat Sakweerakul’s acclaimed gay coming-of-age romantic drama is showing at House on RCA tomorrow and Sunday at 5.30. Fans can enter a drawing for a Japanese poster for Love of Siam. It’s the third entry in House’s “Queer Movie” series. Visit

There is also a Science Film Festival going on at various venues like the Goethe Institut, the Children's Discovery Museum and TK Park in CentralWorld. One of the entries that caught my eye is A Mirror of a Living Train Market (กระจกสะท้อนวิถีชีวิตชาวตลาดรถไฟ), a five-minute documentary produced by the MCOT TV station Modernine, about the market operating on the tracks of the Mae Klong Railway. It's playing several times, including at 4pm show on Saturday at TK Park. You can check the Goethe Institut website for the rest of the lineup. The schedule is all in Thai.