Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 5-11, 2010

Mundane History

The opener of Extra Virgin's Director's Screen 2010, Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก, Jao Nok Krajok) is a family drama that's loaded with symbolism as it comments on Thai society as well as life, the universe, and, well, everything.

The story is about a young man who's been paralyzed in an accident. He's the scion of a well-to-do Bangkok family. The dad is cold and distant, too busy with his work to care much. He hires a male nurse for his son. The two are ill at ease – the rich kid because he's bitter about having to waited on hand and foot, and the nurse because he comes from upcountry and is ill-equipped to deal with the way his new patient looks down on him.

The film is made unique by a non-linear structure, which gives it a jagged, jazz-like feel that's enhanced further by an alternative-rock soundtrack by the bands Furniture and the Photo Sticker Machine.

Since premiering at last year's Pusan International Film Festival and opening the World Film Festival of Bangkok, director Anocha Suwichakornpong's film has been on a tear through the festival circuit, winning the VPRO Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Transilvania Trophy at the Transilvania International Film Festival and most recently the Grand Prix at the Era New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland.

The movie has gained notoriety as the first Thai film to be given the restrictive 20- rating, which bars viewers under 20 years of age and requires an ID check if you look young. The rating is presumably for a much-talked-about bathtub scene involving the main character. Mundane History received the 20- rating so it could be shown at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok. Since then, another movie, Sin Sisters 2, gained notoriety as the first commercially released Thai film to get the 20- mark.

Mundane History will play as part of the Director's Screen Project until September 1 at SFX the Emporium, with nightly screenings at around 7 and additional Saturday and Sunday matinees at around 2. The daily showtimes are not fixed exactly, so check the SF website or Extra Virgin's calendar for the latest timings. Every Saturday, there's special activities, with a director's Q&A after the evening show. This Saturday, Anocha will be around for both the afternoon and evening show, so if you have questions, ask away. Rated 20-.

Boonchu 10

If you're not looking too closely at the poster, you might be led to believe the latest installment in Five Star Production's long-running Boonchu teen-comedy series has joined the 3D trend, which might be a historic first for Thai cinema.

But it's all just another marketing gimmick, with the 3D action actually presented in 2D.

What do you expect from the franchise that is on its eighth installment but is called Boonchu 10? The series skipped from Boonchu 2 to Boonchu 5 in a similar display of good-natured showbiz hucksterism.

Kiat Kitjareon, a Boonchu cast member from when the series started back in the 1980s, takes over as director for Bhandit Rittakol, the veteran helmer who died last year when this movie was in the early stages of production.

From what I can tell in the trailer, it has the same flavor, with loads of wholesomeness and nostalgia.

The original series starred Santisuk Promsiri as a country boy who gets up to adventures after he goes to university in Bangkok, where he meets his lifelong love Mo, played by Jintara Sukapat.

When the series was rebooted in 2008 with Boonchu 9, the action shifted to a new generation, with Boonchu's son Boonchoke leaving the monkhood to go to the city to study.

Thanachat Tulayachat reprises his role in Boonchu 10 (บุญชู จะอยู่ในใจเสมอ, Boonchu 10 Ja Yoo Nai Jai Samer) as the earnest Boonchoke. He's now studying at at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai but is still adjusting to life outside the temple and struggling to keep his racing hormones from running off the road.

Meanwhile, parents Boonchu, Mo and their friends come to campus for a visit only find that the boy has gone to the jungle with his friends. They follow and so does adventure.

The shenanigans involve high-kicking hilltribe girl, played by Natthaveeranuch Thongme. The Shutter leading lady is doing her best Jeeja impression as she mows down a pack of villains with a flying double knee drop. Nice.

It's said to be the final entry in the series. But maybe that's just another gimmick? Rated 13+.

Also opening

Salt – Angelina Jolie stars in this globetrotting action thriller as a CIA agent who goes on the run to clear her name and find out her true identity after she is accused of being a Russian double agent. Directed by Phillip Noyce (Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American), the script is by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Ultra-Violet). Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor also star. Jolie has said she performed her own stunts. The movie has been long in production, with Tom Cruise at one point attached to play an agent named Edwin Salt. He bowed out, and Edwin became Evelyn when Jolie got involved. Critical reception is mixed, with the consensus being that it's a fine performance by Jolie, but is a typically predictable and ludicrous action flick. Rated 13+.

Baarìa – Giuseppe Tornatore directs this epic autobiographical comedy-drama that covers three generations in the Sicilian village where he was born. In Italian with English and Thai subtitles at the Lido. Rated 13+.

Step Up 3 – Check out the poster. It makes a point of saying "shot in 3D", to distinguish it from those shoddy pretenders that are filmed in 2D and then converted. Apart from that, it's the usual story of these dance movies. A New York street-dance crew tangles with a team of polished dancers from the university, and then they join to take on rivals in a make-it-or-break-it breakdancing contest. No critical reception yet. In 3D in some cinemas. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – Though it was scheduled to end its Bangkok run on July 25, continued interest has kept Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Golden Palm winner on the Bangkok big screen, and it moves this week over to SF Cinema City MBK before heading to the SF branch in Apichatpong's hometown of Khon Kaen on August 11. It's 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. Check SF Cinemas for the showtimes. Rated 15+.

FCCT-NETPAC Asian Film Festival – The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand's series of films accoladed by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema continues this week with Eliana, Eliana. Indonesian director Riri Riza's 2002 drama won the NETPAC Award at the Singapore International Film Festival as well as a Dragons and Tigers special citation at the Vancouver festival. Eliana (Rachel Sayidina) arrives home at the end of a day in which she lost her job and kicked a man in the groin to find her mother (veteran actress Jajang C. Noer), whom she has not seen in five months. Her roommate, Heni (Henidar Amroe), is missing. So the mother and daughter go searching while they work out some of their own issues. It screens at 8 tonight. Admission is 150 baht for non-members.

Bangkok IndieFest – Organized by Camerado Southeast Asia, the inaugural Bangkok IndieFest promises “a cross-cultural cinematic showcase of compelling non-mainstream independent films and videos from Thailand and the rest of the world”. The line-up has around 80 features and shorts, and includes documentaries, animation, comedy, cult films and music movies. The shows start at 1 on Friday with short documentaries in the main room and features on the sidebar screen. There's also room for the Short Film Jam, in which directors can bring just about anything they like, as long as its under 10 minutes and isn't porn or a commercial.
Bangkok IndieFest runs from Friday to Sunday at HOF Art on Ratchadapisek Road, about a three-minute walk from the Ratchadapisek subway station. Visit

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.

Cinema Feminine – Film Virus and Toot Yung Gallery have organized a program of short films by female directors. The rough lineup includes shorts by Agnes Varda, Naomi Kawase, Lucrecia Martel, Marina De Van, Margaret Tait, Helke Sanders, Su Friedrich, Christelle Lhereux and Sara Driver. Toot Yung Gallery is at 19 Prachatipatai Road, in Pra Nakhon District, Bangkok, between Wat Tri Thosathep and Saphan Wanchaat. The show's on Sunday, starting at 2.

Eldorado – Bouli Lanners directs this 2008 comedy drama about a fortysomething car dealer bonding with a would-be auto thief on a road trip in an old Chevrolet. In French with English subtitles on Wednesday, August 11 at 7:30pm at the Alliance Francaise, which regularly shows French films on Wednesday nights. Admission is free.

Aisha – It's Bollywood teen romance in the Delhi upper-class world with its own set of social rules. Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) navigates her world, matchmaking for all her friends. It's based on Jane Austen's "Emma". In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Wednesday at 8 and at Major Cineplex Central Rama III on August 12 at 4, August 14 at 8 and August 15 at 4. Call (089) 488 2620 or visit

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