Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 11-17, 2010

Baan Chan ... Talok Wai Gon (Por Son Wai)

Directed by Fan Chan alumnus Witthaya Thongyooyong, who last offered the time-traveling rock band tale The Possible (Kao ... Kao), Baan Chan ... Talok Wai Gon (Por Son Wai) (บ้าน ฉัน ..ตลก ไว้ ก่อน ( พ่อ สอน ไว้ ), The Little Comedian) is about a family comedy troupe with a black sheep -- a son who isn't funny. It's based on a short film Witthaya did when he was a student. The kid (Chawin Likitjareonpong) is constantly upstaged by his filthy-mouthed younger sister, who's considered the family prodigy. Yeah, it's something to see a little girl in pigtails explain to the doctor why her older brother has pimples.

But the doctor isn't laughing at the girl's jokes, she's laughing at the little boy.

And, she's played by smile queen Paula Taylor. The boy, just coming into puberty, is in love. It's Rushmore with sweet Thai cuteness replacing the Wes Anderson quirk.

Comedian Jaturong Mokjok also stars as the family patriarch. Check out the English-subtitled trailer. Rated 13+.

Also opening

Food, Inc. -- Directed by Robert Kenner, this is one of the nominees for the Academy Award for documentary feature. It's a stomach-churning look at the sometimes deadly world of industrial food production and it's not an appetizing picture. There are exposes of chicken and cattle pens, where animal waste finds its way into the food stream (as depicted in Fast Food Nation). Kenner also talks to families who opt for fast food because they have no time to cook and farmers who are feeling the pinch of their corporate overlords. The movie is also said to offer tips on how you can make a difference with each baht you spend on food. At House.

Green Zone -- With the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker currently playing in a handful of Bangkok theaters, here comes another gritty, real-feeling look at the Iraq War. Based on journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Matt Damon portrays US Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, whose Mobile Exploitation Team was charged with finding the weapons of mass destruction during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the action-packed tale, Miller gets help from a veteran CIA field agent played by Brendan Gleeson, but Miller runs into obstructions placed by a satellite-phone-toting Pentagon official portrayed by the effectively oily Greg Kinnear. "You don't know who you're dealing with," Gleeson helpfully warns Kinnear. Directed by Paul Greengrass, who worked with Damon on two Bourne movies, this is Damon in kick-ass mode, enhanced by Greengrass' kinetic following shaky-cam. Amy Ryan from The Wire also stars. Critical reception is mixed, but I think it might tip to more favorable as more critics see Green Zone. Rated 18+.

Tooth Fairy -- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson continues his run of family-friend comedies. He's a minor-league hockey star who hasn't been able to advance to the NHL because of his rough play and habit of knocking out other players' teeth. In an ironic quirk of fate, he's sentenced to serve as the actual Tooth Fairy, flying around and putting money under children's pillows after they lose their baby teeth. Julie Andrews stars as the head of the fairy empire. Ashley Judd plays a love interest for the Rock. Critical reception is negative. Rated G.

Take note

This weekend the pro-Thaksin "red shirts" are planning to rally in Bangkok with a "million man march" that aims to topple the government. For its part, the government has instituted the Internal Security Act, which it aims to use to stop the red shirts. For ordinary citizens who aren't wearing red shirts and just trying to go about their business, I'm not certain that the ISA will mean anything. Be prepared for event cancellations, traffic delays, road blocks and bag searches. Be careful out there.

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