Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 28-February 3, 2010

Tai Hong (Die a Violent Death)

Producer-director Poj Arnon gets in on the horror omnibus trend with Die a Violent Death (Tai Hong, ตายโหง), which weaves together four stories that are ripped from today's headlines of the Thai mass-circulation dailies -- the newspapers that generally have bleeding corpses on the front page.

Joining Poj are indie directors Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Chartchai Ketknust and Manus Worrasingha.

Produced by Phranakorn Film, Die a Violent Death follows GTH's successful Phobia anthology franchise and Sahamongkol offered Maha'lai Sayong Kwan (Haunted Universities) last year.

I'm told that Die a Violent Death will be a bit different, in that the stories will be linked somehow to form a continuous narrative, rather than taking things segment-by-segment as the others have done.

The stories involve a dead body in an apartment building's water tank, directed by Tanwarin, a ghost in prison, directed by Manus, a New Year's Eve pub fire (mirroring last year's deadly blaze at Bangkok's Santika pub), directed by Chartchai, and a ghost in a motel by Poj.

Stars include Mai Charoenpura, Akara Amarttayakul, Supaksorn Chaimongkol and Wasana Chalakorn (the crazy woman from last year's The 8th Day). Rated 18+.

Also opening

Solomon Kane -- The character originated out of a series of 1920s and '30s pulp novels by Robert E. Howard, who was also the creator of Conan the Barbarian. A former soldier in 16th century Britain, Kane fought wars in Africa and then renounced his violent ways upon returning home to England and took vows as a Puritan. However, the doings of an evil sorcerer upset his plans and he is compelled to again take up his sword and brace of pistols. James Purefoy stars as Kane with Max von Sydow, Pete Postlethwaite and Rachel Hurd-Wood also staring. British screenwriter-director Michael Bassett directs. Critical reception so far is mixed. Rated 18+.

Dorian Gray -- Oscar Wilde's classic novel about a vain young man who stays young while his magical portrait ages has been adapted into film dozens of times. This latest incarnation, covering the young Dorian's arrival in London, stars Ben Barnes from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin and Rachel Hurd-Wood also star in the British production, which is directed by Oliver Parker. Critical reception is mixed. At Apex and SF Cinemas. Rated 18+.

My Girlfriend is an Agent -- They are ex-sweethearts. She (Ha-neul Kim) was a spy when they first dated, but never told him (Ji-hwan Kang) and they broke up because he was sick of her constant lies. Now he's an agent and he's surprised to learn his old girlfriend is working as a hotel maid. Of course they are both spies, but neither knows it. They are chasing Russian mobsters who are weapons traffickers. At Major Cineplex and EGV. Rated 18+.

Also showing

3 Idiots -- Last chance, as Bollywood Thai says, to see Bollywood's biggest box-office hit yet. 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. Aamir Khan stars. There's a couple of great song-and-dance numbers. It's showing at EGV Metropolis (Big C opposite CentralWorld) on Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4. Visit or call (02) 225 7500 or (089) 488 2620.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival -- The foreign films start back up on Monday with Tulpan from Kazakhstan. Directed by Sergei Dvortsevoy, it's the story of a young man in traditional nomadic family who must find a wife. Problem is, the only eligible girl for miles around doesn't like him because his ears are too big. It was Kazakhstan's submission to the 2009 Academy Awards and winner of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival Prix Un Certain Regard, the grand prize at the Tokyo festival and the best cinematography award for Jolanta Dylewska at last year's Asian Film Awards. Remaining films in the series are Revanche from Austria on February 5 and Mid-August Lunch from Italy on Febuary 8. 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.

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