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

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