Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 25-March 3, 2010

Who Are You?

The psychological condition of hikikomori is the major plot point in the thriller Who Are You? (ใคร ... ในห้อง, Krai … Nai Hong, also ฮู อาร์ ยู, Who R U?). For a Thai film, it has the rare distinction of being advertised for its screenwriter: Eakasit Thairatana, a comic-book author who previously penned the screenplays to 13 Game Sayong and Body #19. The director is Pakphum Wonjinda (VDO Clip, Scared) and it's based on a story that Prachya Pinkaew came up with.

Veteran actress Sinjai Plengpanich stars as a woman who runs a pornographic DVD stall. She's a mother whose son has withdrawn from social life and locked himself away in his room for the past five years. Is he still in the room? Who's in there, really?

Pongpit Preechaborisutkhun, Starbucks from last year's Saranair Haao Peng, also stars, along with Kanya Rattapetch.

Watch trailer at YouTube. I'm digging Sinjai's look, the color palette and the suspenseful feel. Rated 18+.

The Hurt Locker

This has been the toast of the awards season, winning some 80 honors from film festivals and various awards bodies, recently picking up six prizes at the British Academy Film Awards. It's tied with Avatar for most Oscar nominations.

An action drama about a US Army bomb squad in Iraq, Jeremy Renner stars as an adrenaline-junkie. He's the new leader of a bomb squad, and the risks he takes put all their lives in jeopardy. He's up for best actor.

The Hurt Locker is also nominated for original screenplay, original score, editing, cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing and director for Kathryn Bigelow, who, coincidentally, was once married to Avatar director James Cameron.

Just watch the trailer and see if it doesn't make you want to see it. I know I do. Critical response is nearly universal in approval. At House, Paragon and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Up in the Air -- The Oscars' best-actor hopeful George Clooney is an executive who is obsessed with racking up frequent-flier miles. And he's got a great job for that -- he's a corporate hatchet man, flying around telling workers they are fired. He's satisfied with his empty life of living out of a suitcase, but is soon confronted by an existential crisis. It has two supporting actress nominees, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, and is up for adapted screenplay and director for Jason Reitman. Critical response is overwhelmingly positive. Rated 13+.

The Book of Eli -- Denzel Washington stars in this post-apocalyptic thriller. He's a lone drifter who carries a Bible in one hand and smacks down his enemies with the other. He arrives in a small settlement looking for water and comes into conflict with the town’s owner (Gary Oldman). Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis also star. It's directed by the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents). Critical response is mixed. Rated 18+.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel -- The shrill-voiced singing rodents are back for a second big-screen adventure. Alvin, Theodore and Simon are packed off to live with a cousin (Zachary Levi from Chuck). They join a battle of the bands in hopes of saving a high school's music program. Critical response is generally unfavorable. Perhaps let the kids go see this while you check out The Hurt Locker. Rated G.

Kongphan Kruekkruen Tor Tahan Kuekkuk (The Jolly Rangers) -- Four very different young men draw the red slip in the draft and are packed off to army training camp. Note Chern-yim directs this slapstick farce and teen-oriented romance. Rated 15+.

Also showing

My Name Is Khan -- This is revenge for all the ham-fisted portrayals of foreign cultures by Hollywood. Director Karan Johar invades America with this sweeping, over-generalized tale of a Muslim Indian man suffering from Asperger Syndrome who is wrongfully accused of being a terrorist. Shah Rukh Khan emulates Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump as the socially awkward protagonist. He somehow captivates the heart of a beautiful San Francisco hairdresser (Kajol). They soon move to a small town, where after 9/11, hate crimes lead to tragedy. Khan is compelled to wander the U.S. in hopes of convincing the president that "my name is Khan and I am not a terrorist". At one point, the miracle-working handicapped man finds spiritual salvation in a community of church-going African-American minstrels who live in the squalor of wooden shacks like it's still the 1850s in the southern US. Their tiny village outside Atlanta looks suspiciously like it's set in the Himalayan foothills, complete with scrawy cows. BollywoodThai brings My Name Is Khan back for another screening at EGV Metropolis in the Big C Rajdarmi on Sunday at 4. Visit or call (02) 225 7500 or (089) 488 2620.

Sneak preview

A Serious Man
–- The Coen Brothers latest effort is set in the 1960s and based on the their experience in growing in a Jewish suburb of Minneapolis. The comedy is about a physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) who is in the midst of a mid-life spiritual crisis. The Coens sure do know how the throw a curve ball. This is nothing like their previous Oscar winner No Country for Old Men. It's more akin to the existential screwball comedies like Barton Fink or maybe The Hudsucker Proxy. It's also nominated for original screenplay. Critical response is overwhelmingly positive. It's in sneak previews this week, with showtimes at around 8 nightly and then opens for more showtimes next Thursday at Apex in Siam Square and SF World Cinema. Rated 18+.

Take note

was scheduled to open this week. There were posters for it. It was on the various schedules on the various websites and was in the final draft of this week's post here, but today's opening day, and ... where is it? Why does Thailand's major cinema chain frequently do that -- advertise a movie and then never show it?

Be careful out there in the coming days as the Thaksin verdict is read. Security will be tightened. Travel light. And watch your back.

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