Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 15-21, 2010


Director Christopher Nolan returns to his Memento-style thriller roots while infusing them with grand-scale Dark Knight-style action with Inception, a high-concept mind-bender about a corporate spy (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 and Ellen Page as a pair of younger folks who work with Di Caprio's agency. The cast also includes such Nolan regulars as Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy, as well as Pete Postlethwaite, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy and Tom Berenger.

Like Dark Knight, some of the bigger action setpieces were shot with the IMAX cameras, and Inception: The IMAX Experience is playing at Krungsri IMAX.

Critical reception so far is overwhelmingly favorable. Rating 15+.

Also opening

8E88 Fan Lanla (8E88 แฟนลั้ลลา ) – Wiroj Thongsew directs this comedy about a guy name Kun (Jaturong "Mokjok" Ornnorm) who is thrown in prison for a crime he didn't commit. There, the stripe-suited inmates perform a parody of the kids-singing "Que Sera, Sera" TV commercial that surely must annoy the heck out of everyone who sees it. And somehow a gang of cross-dressing criminals fits into the story. Along with the usual comedians who act in these Thai comedies, Atthama Chiwanitxaphan also stars as Kun's suffering fiancee Busaba. Rated 15+.

Pop Star (ดวงอันตราย, Duang Antarai) – Musician Jay Montonn Jira is already in cinemas in the road-trip romance That Sounds Good. Here he makes a big stretch as a pop singer. He's struggling with family and mental problems as a young woman becomes part of his inner circle. "Tak" Bongkot Kongmalai and Nirut Sirichanya also star. Rated 18+.

Despicable MeChristopher Meledandri, the producer behind Horton Hears a Who, Robots and the Ice Age movies, moves from Fox Animation to Universal Pictures for that studio's first computer-animated feature. It's the story of mad scientist Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) who hatches a plot to become the world's greatest super-villain by stealing the moon. However, he's saddled with the care of a bunch of children. Russell Brand, Julie Andrews and Miranda Cosgrove are also featured in the voice cast. Expect to see sequels and short-film spin-offs of the supporting characters, the yellow, thumb-shaped minions who do Gru's bidding. Released in the U.S. last week, it was the No. 1 movie, beating Eclipse. Critical reception is highly favorable, with the consensus being Despicable Me is a "thoughtful, family-friendly treat with a few surprises". In 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.

Edge of DarknessOnly in Thailand would this movie be released at this time, when its star Mel Gibson, is under fire for racial slurs and death threats against his ex-girlfriend, which have become exposed in the midst of the former couple's bitter child-custody battle. Anywhere else in the world would avoid this movie like the plague, but not Thailand, where society cares not a jot for racial insensitivity, unless it's directed at Thai institutions. And perhaps there's a perverse pleasure in watching the Lethal Weapon and Mad Max star's latest movie he has another public meltdown. The blood-soaked revenge thriller has Gibson as a police detective investigating the death of his activist daughter, and he uncovers a conspiracy. The movie is adapted from 1985's much-acclaimed six-episode BBC mini-series that starred Bob Peck as a quietly methodical and determined policeman father and Joe Don Baker as the colorful CIA agent Darius Jedburgh. Ray Winstone takes over the Jedburgh role here. Critical reception is evenly mixed. Rated 15+.

Shanghai – This long-in-the-works 1940s-set spy thriller was actually filmed in Bangkok two years ago, but The Weinstein Company delayed its release until a busy calendar could be freed up to give it the exposure they wanted. Set in 1941 Shanghai in the months leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the story has John Cusack as an American investigating the death of his friend. He becomes romantically involved with a local woman, played by Gong Li, who's the wife of a triad leader (Chow Yun-fat). Ken Watanabe, David Morse, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Franka Potente and Rinko Kikuchi also star in this film-noir war thriller, directed by Mikael Håfström. Because it hasn't yet had a wide release, critical reception is still a bit mixed. Showing only at Paragon, Esplanade and some Major Cineplex branches. Rated 18+.

KaidanRingu director Hideo Nakata turned to period horror in this 2007 film, with a story set in 19th century feudal Japan about the bad karma of one generation striking down members of the next. Romance serves as the blade. In Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at House. Rated 18+.

Monga – Teenage gangsters vie for turf in 1980s Taiwan in this gritty drama about brotherhood and betrayal involving a young guy named Mosquito (Mark Chao), who is inducted into a gang alongside mobster’s son Dragon (Rhydian Vaughan) and Monk (Ethan Ruan). Ma Ru-long and Ke Jia-yan also star. In Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square. Rated 18+.

Also showing

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – There's still time to 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. Showtimes are nightly at 7.20 with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 until July 25 at SFX the Emporium.

Next Shot: Bangkok International Student Film Festival – Student films from Thailand and elsewhere, with screenings and workshops at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, until Sunday.

The Adventure of Sudsakorn – The late animator Payut Ngaokrachang's seminal animated feature is based on an episode from Phra Aphai Mani, a 30,000-line epic poem by Sunthorn Phu, and depicts the fantastic adventures of the young son of a mermaid and a minstrel prince. It's screening at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, at 11am every Sunday until October 3. Call (02) 482 2013-14, ext 111.

Thai Short Film Marathon – Around 500 shorts are being shown in the selection round for next month's 14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival. The Marathon is on hiatus during the Bangkok International Student Film Festival, but starts back up on Tuesday in the Bangkok Art and Culture Center's fourth-floor meeting room, with screenings from 5 to 8.30 Tuesday to Friday and 11 to 8.30 Saturday and Sunday, until August 1, except Mondays when the BACC is closed.

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