Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 25-31, 2010

Bang Rajan 2

Director Thanit Jitnukul returns to the ancient village of his 2000 historical battle epic where a new crop of warriors rise up to defend Ayutthaya against the Burmese hordes.

Bang Rajan 2 (บางระจัน ๒), appears to be just as blood-soaked, violent and full of sword-clanging rage as the first film.

Similar to the Alamo of Texas, the story is based on a legend of a tiny farming village that fought the Burmese invaders, despite overwhelming odds. They beat their plowshares into swords, melted their rakes and shovels into new implements of destruction. Lacking horses, the town drunk mounted his water buffalo and rode into battle, swinging axes. Even the womenfolk got in on the two-fisted sword action, lopping off heads. In their brave sacrifice, the plucky fighters kept the enemies engaged long enough for the capital at Ayutthaya to put up a proper defense and save itself. It is a tale of heroic bloodshed and sacrifice.

Bang Rajan was one of the first to "go inter" during those heady years in the late '90s and early 2000s when Thai films were becoming known to wider international audiences. Stars included Winai Kraibutr from Nang Nak, with actress Bongkote Kongmalai making her debut. In the U.S., the film was "presented by Oliver Stone", who again championed Bang Rajan in a recent Bangkok appearance.

But even Stone was incredulous when he found out there was going to be a sequel, because, at the end of the first film, everyone died.

Produced by Phranakorn, stars in this new version include veteran leading man Chatchai Plengpanich, and, making his acting debut, former tennis ace Paradorn Srichaphan, who's traded in his racket for broadswords. Luk thung star Bow Wee also stars. Rated 15+.

Also opening

How to Train Your Dragon -- From Dreamworks Animation, the makers of such films as Shrek and Madagascar, comes How to Train Your Dragon. It's loosely based on a 2003 children's novel by British author Cressida Cowell. The main character is Hiccup, the meek nerd son of a big brawny Viking. Voiced by Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), he befriends an injured wild dragon. Dad is played by Gerard Butler. Other voices include Ugly Betty's America Ferrara, TV host Craig Ferguson and Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad. Critical reception so far is positive, with Screenrant going as far to say "I enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon a hell of a lot more than Avatar. It's in 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G.

It's Complicated -- Meryl Streep stars in this romantic comedy as a woman who's carrying on affair with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin), who left her to marry a younger trophy wife. Streep's character then falls in love with an architect played by Steve Martin. Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+.

Remember Me -- Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson is a brooding young man who's angry because his parents split up in the wake of his brother's suicide. He gets into fights and trouble with the law. Despite looking like he's been run over by a bus, he charms a young woman (Emilie de Ravin), who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother’s murder. Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper also star. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

With Love (Duay Rak, ด้วยรัก ) -- A circle of six friends develop crushes on each other in this romance, released on Wednesday, a day earlier than most other films, by 96 Film Co. The cast includes young idols Wanthongchai “Tol AF” Intharawat and Pheechaya Wattanamontri along with "Poy" Treechada Marnyaporn, the actress and former Miss Tiffany pageant queen who made her feature-film debut last year in the ghost comedy Ja-Ae ... Goi Laew Jaa (จ๊ะเอ๋ ... โกยแล้วจ้า). It's directed by Saijai Pimthong with a script by Saranya Noithai. There's a trailer for at YouTube.

Also showing

Tokyo! Tokyo! Tokyo! -- House cinema on RCA will show three films set in Tokyo over the next three weekends. This weekend it's Satoshi Kon's anime Tokyo Godfathers, about a disparate trio of streetpeople -- a transvestite, a young girl and a middle-aged bum -- who find an abandoned baby. Next weekend, it's the melodrama Tokyo Tower and on April 10-11 it's the tension-filled family drama Tokyo Sonata. For showtimes, check the House website.

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