Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 14-20, 2010

Kru Bannok

Surasee Patham's 1978 social drama Kru Bannok (The Rural Teacher) is considered a classic of its era, but the veteran filmmaker was never satisfied with it.

Now able to take advantage of new cinematic techniques, Surasee has remade his film.

"I want to complete it like I intended the first time. Today, I have more experience and much better technology at hand. I want to fix the mistakes we made the first time 'round," he told The Nation a couple of weeks ago.

Kru Bannok Ban Nonghi Yai, ครูบ้านนอก บ้านหนองฮีใหญ่, literally the "the country teacher of Ban Nonghi Yai" is the same story as the 1978 film. An idealistic new teacher comes to an impoverished rural schoolhouse in 1970s Isaan. There, he runs afoul of the local powers-that-be for being so daring as to try and educate the country kids.

The new movie stars Pichet Kongkarn as the teacher. Bringing star power to the project is popular comedian Petthai Wongkumlao, aka Mum Jokmok, who portrays the school's headmaster. Stunt guru Panna Rittikrai has an appearance as the village's hermit. It's opening on Thursday.

Produced by Sahamongkol Film International, the English title is To Sir, With Love, reflecting Surasee's ambitions for his film -- giving it the same name as the classic Sidney Poitier schoolteacher drama about social and racial issues at an inner-city school. Rated 13+.

Yak Dai Yin Wah Rak Kan (Best Supporting Actor)

A second-generation star makes his debut in Yak Dai Yin Wah Rak Kan (อยากได้ยินว่ารักกัน or literally "I want to hear that you love me"). The English title is Best Supporting Actor.

It's the first film for young "Guy" Nawapon Lampoon, the son of a former celebrity couple, singer-actress Marsha Wattanapanich and singer-actor "Nui" Ampol Lampoon.

The romantic comedy-drama is about two childhood friends, Song (Thongpoom Siriphiphat), who was always in the shadow of his better-looking, more-popular friend Gao (Guy). Song eventually breaks away and tries doing his own thing, but is going nowhere. His life brightens with he meets a young woman (Rujihas Korkiat), who's heartbroken over her old boyfriend. Can you guess who that was?

Also making his film debut is Tul Waitoonkiat, the witty singer and songwriter of the popular Bangkok alternative rock band Apartmentkhunpa. He plays the film's comic relief as the owner of a record shop.

It's the second feature by "Book" Alongod Uabhaibool. He directed a fantasy in 2003 called Koo Tae Patihan, The Whistle.

It's a joint effort of M Pictures, the Major Cineplex-affiliated distribution company that is breaking into production, graphics firm Doctor Head -- famous for movie posters around Thailand -- and production company NGR. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Mulan -- Vicky Zhao takes on the role of the cross-dressing heroine in a tale out of ancient China that has been depicted in many films. Its probably most widely known rendition is the 1998 Disney animated musical comedy. It's the story of a young woman who takes her father's place in the Emperor's army, proves her bravery and rises to an important position in the military. Jingle Ma directs this new version, which takes on the proportions of similar historical costumed battle epics that have come out of China in recent years. It also stars Chen Kun, Hu Jun and Jaycee Chan. In Chinese with English and Thai subtitles at the Siam, Paragon and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 13+.

Love Happens -- Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckart are paired in this romantic comedy-drama. He's a self-help guru who has best-selling books and leads seminars about getting over grief. A widower, he thinks he's got a handle on his emotions, until he meets a florist at one of his talks. The supporting cast include Frances Conroy, Martin Sheen, Judy Greer and Dan Fogler. Critical reception has been generally negative. At Paragon, Esplanade and Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. Rated G.

Also showing

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival -- The annual series of acclaimed foreign films continues on Friday with Everlasting Moments, a drama set in early 1900s Sweden, where a woman in an abusive relationship gains new confidence when she takes up photography. Monday's show is Still Walking, a 2008 drama by acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. It's about a gathering of siblings at the home of their elderly parents to commemorate the death of a brother who drowned 15 years before. The show time is 5pm in the Boromrajakumari Building, Room 503 (seating capacity: 320). Free parking next to Chulalongkorn University Auditorium, off Henri Dunant Road. All films are with English subtitles, and there's a panel discussion by Thai film critics afterward. Admission is free. Check out the full lineup at the festival website.

3 Idiots -- Bollywood's biggest box-office hit yet does not disappoint. It's a sprawling, emotion-filled story of three young men who become best friends in engineering school, where they are put under tremendous pressure by a beastly professor. Ten years after graduation, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi are two of the "idiots" looking for their ringleader Rancho (Aamir Khan), who was the most brilliant student anyone had ever seen. Part school-days drama, part road movie, they travel across India, get threatened at gunpoint and race to snatch a bride and find their missing friend while recalling their student days. And of course there's at least a couple of rously colorful musical numbers, with wet saris in the rain and everything. Back for one more weekend, it's showing at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Friday at 8 and at Major Cineplex Central Rama III on Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4. Visit or call (02) 225 7500 or (089) 488 2620.

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