Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 8-14, 2010

The Runaways

In the male-dominated world of hard rock in the 1970s, The Runaways were a runaway success during their four short years together. Not your average girl group, the Runaways stripped away the glamor and went for a tougher look and sound, pumping out such hits as "Cherry Bomb".

Among the members was Joan Jett, who went on to bigger success in her solo career, heading up Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and having huge hits with "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and "Crimson and Clover".

Adapted from the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by the band's lead singer Cherie Currie, this movie focuses on the band's formation and the relationship between Jett and Currie.

They are portrayed by two cast members from The Twilight Saga, with Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Currie. They made The Runaways while on a break between New Moon and Eclipse.

The cast is rounded out with Stella Maeve as drummer Sandy West, Scout Taylor-Compton as lead guitarist Lita Ford and Alia Shawkat (from Arrested Development) as Robin, the band's bassist (the actual bassist Jackie Fox is not depicted). Michael Shannon portrays the colorful record producer and impresario Kim Fowley.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to favorable, with the consensus being that the movie is disappointing as an in-depth coming-of-age biopic but is electrified by the music and strong performances from Shannon, Fanning and Stewart.

It's in limited release, at Paragon, Esplanade and House. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Kao Rak Thee Korea (เการัก ที่เกาหลี, Sorry Saranghaeyo) – Director Poj Arnon's comical-romantic-drama look at the Thai love of all things Korean has a Thai family going to South Korea to visit the locations of their favorite TV dramas and movies. One sister Kana (Haru Yamagushi) hopes to glimpse her favorite pop star, Ajoo (Noh Ah-joo). She's in for heartbreak while her guy pal Chai ("Guy" Ratchanon Sukprakob) is there to comfort her but secretly loves her. Meanwhile Kana's sister Mara (Tanya Ratnamalakun) wants to indulge in another favorite activity of Thai hi-so's: She wants cosmetic surgery. See why in the trailer at YouTube. Rated 13+.

Predators – Robert Rodriguez produces this relaunch the Predator franchise and make Adrien Brody an action star with this sci-fi drama. Brody is among a group of elite warriors who are kidnapped and transported to an alien world where they soon discover that they are the prey for a fierce species of fearsome hunters. Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne and Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo also star. The franchise started in 1987 with an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, had a 1990 sequel starring Danny Glover and then a few movies that merged with another 20th Century Fox movie franchise and had the Predators battling the Aliens. Rodriguez has stated the reboot is a direct sequel to the original. “Maybe people will forget all the bad sequels and only think this one and the original exist.” Nimrod Antal (Vacancy, Armored) directs. Critical reception is unbelievably positive. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Balibo – This film about the deaths of five Australian journalists in the 1975 invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, has been banned in Indonesia. The wife of one of the slain journalists, Shirley Shackleton, is in Jakarta this week, testifying on a petition against the ban. Directed by Robert Connolly, the movie stars Anthony LaPaglia, playing Roger East, an Australian journalist who investigated the deaths of the Balibo Five. With the permission of Connolly and distributor Contentfilm International, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand presents Balibo at 8 tonight (Thursday). The club is in the penthouse of the Maneeya Center at BTS Chitlom. Admission for non-members is 150 baht. Visit for more details.

Thai Short Film Marathon – Around 500 shorts are being shown in the selection round for next month's 14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival. I think this is probably the only film festival in the world that opens screenings like this to the public. The idea is, students and independent filmmakers have made these films, and they need to watched by somebody, so why not everybody? Showtimes are 5 to 8.30 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 8.30 on Saturday and Sunday, until August 1. There are no screenings on Mondays or from July 13 to 18. The screening space is the fourth-floor meeting room in the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Tropical Perspectives - Outside In / Inside Out – The Jim Thompson Art Center will show short films that examine encounters between Eastern and Western cultures. The screening program has four sections. First is I Am From Siam, a compilation of clips from the Thai Film Archive, mainly comprised of footage from the 1930s by the Topical Film Service of the Royal State Railway. Next is The Phi Ta Khon Project by Alex Kher. It was made in Dansai, a small town in the northern Thailand province of Loei, during the annual Phi Ta Khon ghost festival. Next is Old Hearts, a 9-minute video diary of a woman, directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong (Mundane History). And finally there's Burmese Man Dancing by Nok Paksanavin, the guest artist for this session. His 6-minute experimental documentary looks at the paranoia over Burmese laborers in Thailand, and is drawn from Thai people’s short written responses to a questionnaire, and put appear in a coded, unreadable language. The screenings start at 6 on Friday at the Jim Thompson Art Center, a short walk to the end of Kasemsan Soi 1, opposite the National Stadium.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – Audiences are still packing in the for the limited screening of this year's Golden Palm winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film is the strange tale of a dying man, living out his last days in the countryside, surrounded by his loved ones, including the ghost of his late wife and the monkey spirit of his long-lost son. See it! It's a trip. Showtimes are nightly at 7.20 with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 until July 25 at SFX the Emporium.

I Hate Luv Storys – Karan Johar produces this romantic comedy starring Imran Khan as a guy who, well, he hates love stories, and Sonam Kapoor as a young woman who's in love with the idea of love itself. In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Saturday at 8 and at Major Cineplex Central Rama III on Sunday at 4. Call (089) 488 2620 or visit

Sneak preview

Inception – The Batman Begins and The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan returns to his Memento-style thriller roots with this mind-bender about a mercenary (Leonardo Di Caprio) who uses dream technology to obtain valuable secrets, with characters chasing and shooting across fantastic landscapes that are all in people's heads. It's one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The cast also features Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Pete Postlethwaite, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine. The Krungsri IMAX has a sneak preview scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday July 14, a day before the wide opening next Thursday.

Take note

EGV Metropolis to stay closed – Downtown Bangkok is losing another cinema space. According to a posting on, Major Cineplex Group will not reopen the EGV Metropolis multiplex at the Big C Rajdamri, which was shuttered during the red-shirt protests.

Plans are to turn the cinema into office space.

The 10-screen multiplex opened in 2003 with two Gold Class theaters and a 740-seat Super Stadium Cinema, but it has struggled in recent years to draw audiences away from the competing SF World Cinema at CentralWorld across the street, as well as Major Cineplex's Paragon Cineplex.

SF World was damaged in the May 19 arson attacks that ensued in the government-ordered crackdown of the red-shirt protests. It will reopen around October or November.

Also lost in the arson attacks was the Apex chain's single-screen Siam Theatre in Siam Square. It looks like that space will become another shopping center.

The closing of the Metropolis is another loss to the EGV chain, which opened Thailand's first multiplex, EGV Seacon in 1994. EGV merged with Major Cineplex in 2004.

The six-screen Grand EGV Siam Discovery was shuttered earlier this year, with plans to convert the space into a Madame Tussaud's wax museum.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be too broken up by the loss of another shopping-mall multiplex. Arguably, there was a glut of screens in that particular neighborhood.

But as a movie-goer, I think it would be nice to see screens in that part of the city be turned into something special, perhaps devoted to repertory programming or cinematheque activities, rather than done away with entirely or converted into something not-so-special.

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