Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 1-5, 2010

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Chinese director Zhang Yimou, known for his acclaimed and lushly costumed historical arthouse dramas (Raise the Red Lantern) and martial-arts epics (Hero), shifts gears in a major way to slapstick black comedy with A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.

It's a remake of Blood Simple, the 1985 debut film by Joel and Ethan Coen.

This is not an April Fool's joke! It's real!

The Coens' setting of a bar in a small modern-day Texas town is shifted to long-ago China, to a noodle shop in the desert. The kernel of the plot remains the same -- the shop's abusive owner (Ni Dahong) hires a policeman (Sun Hunglei) to murder his cheating wife (Yan Ni) and her lover (Xiao Shenyang), but the introduction of a gun causes plans to turn disastrously and hilariously wrong.

Released in China last year as San qiang pai an jing qi (The Stunning Case of the Three Gun Shots), it hit the international circuit in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. It's also been called Amazing Tales: Three Guns, The First Gun and A Simple Noodle Story.

Critical reception is very positive so far, perhaps even more laudatory than it was initially for Blood Simple. It's at the Lido cinemas in Siam Square with the original soundtrack and English and Thai subtitles.

Saranae Siblor

Saranae Siblor (สาระแนสิบล้อ) is the sophomore feature-film effort by the team from the Saranae TV series. This time out, instead of adapting the reality-TV prank skits to the big screen as they did in last year's Saranae Hao Peng, the comedy team of "Ple" Nakorn Silachai, "Sena Hoi" Kiattisak Udomnak and Ruengrit "Willy" McIntosh, have crafted a fictional road-trip comedy adventure.

Along for the ride is Love of Siam heartthrob Mario Maurer. He plays a young man whose father suspects he's gay. He's sent packing on a road trip to learn how to become a man.

He gets a ride from his uncle (Ple), the Che Guevara-styled driver of an old 10-wheel truck (the siblor of the title). Sena Hoi and Kotee Aramboy (sufficiently recovered from being pranked in last year's movie) are Tweedledum-and-Tweedledee slapstick goofballs. Along the way they meet a prosthetic-legged woman who's trapped in a brothel ("Chompoo" Araya A. Hartgett) and are chased by her pimp (Willy). Patheera Sarutipongpokim also stars.

The trailer is at YouTube. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Clash of the Titans -- Avatar's Sam Worthington stars as Perseus, the mortal son of the god Zeus, who embarks on a perilous adventure to stop the gods of the underworld from destroying mankind. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Unleashed), it's remake of the 1981 fantasy feature that had stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. Here, CGI takes the place of the stop-motion creatures, though a bit of the cartoonishly fantastic Harryhausen spirit and designs have been carried over. The cast includes Ralph Fiennes as Hades, God of the Underworld, Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, Izabella Miko as Athena, Mads Mikkelsen as Draco, leader of the Praetorian Guard, Jason Flemyng as Acrisius, Gemma Arterton as Io, Danny Huston as Poseidon and Pete Postlethwaite as Spyros. The trailer, for all its epicness, belongs to Liam Neeson as Zeus, who had his moment. "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" Critical reception so far is mixed, leaning to negative. It's in 3D in some cinemas, but keep in mind this is a movie shot in 2D and "converted" to cash in on the gimmick. It's a subpar 3D experience, not like seeing Avatar (or perhaps How to Train Your Dragon), which was actually shot in 3D. If you see it, it's suggested you skip the higher-priced 3D shows and just see it in 2D. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Tokyo! Tokyo! Tokyo! -- A slacker illustrator (Joe Odagiri) in Tokyo watches over his cancer-ridden mother's hospital bed as his childhood is recalled in the 2007 melodrama Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad, which is playing at House as the second in the cinema's three-part Tokyo! Tokyo! Tokyo! weekend screening series. Kiki Kirin won a Japanese Academy Award for her portrayal of the mother in later years. Kirin's daughter Yayako Uchida plays the mother in her younger days, when she moved with her boy away from her alcoholic husband to a small mining town. Next weekend, April 10-11, it's the tension-filled family drama Tokyo Sonata. For showtimes, check the House website.

Reality Filmmaker Season #1 -- A project by award-winning Mundane History director Anocha Suwichakornpong and Electric Eel Films, Reality Season #1 put together 12 young filmmakers and got them to make a movie under the mentorship of various figures in Thailand's independent film scene, including Wonderful Town director "Juke" Aditya Assarat, Man and Gravity and Unreal Forest director "Geng" Jakwaral Nilthamrong, Final Score director Soraya Nakasuwan and award-winning film editor Lee Chatametikool (Karaoke, Syndromes and a Century). The result is Dear Father (ฉันกับพ่อ, Chan Gap Por), which will premiere on Saturday afternoon in a screening at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Events start at 2pm, with Anocha and Chalida Uabumrungjit of the Thai Film Foundation giving a talk about the project and then the introduction of the filmmakers. Dear Father will be shown at 3 followed by a look Behind the Scenes of Reality Filmmaker and then Q&A. There are no English subtitles on the film.

Take note

Tuesday, April 6, is Chakri Day, a national holiday and day off for many employees. Cinema chains hope to lure idled workers with new movies on Tuesday, including the teen breakdancing comedy Big Boy and Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island.

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