Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 26-September 1, 2010

14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival

The 14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival gets under way at 5 today with Phuket, a short by Wonderful Town director Aditya Assarat. The drama is about a vacationing South Korean actress (Lim Su-jeong from I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK and Sorry, I Love You) who desperately needs a break from fans and phone calls.

She gets a tour of the island from her hotel limo driver, played by veteran leading man Sorapong Chatree. Phuket will be screened in October as part of the Director's Screen Project, but this is the first time it's shown in Thailand. The opening package also features the Georgian conflict film Aprilis Suskhi by Tornike Bziava and the Oscar-winning animated short Logorama from France.

At 7 tonight there's the Animation Showcase in Tribute to Payut Ngaokrachang, the pioneering Thai animator who died in May. The progam features animated shorts from Japan, the U.K., Norway, Ireland and Spain and is highlighted by Payut's 20-minute short, A New Adventure of Hanuman (หนุมานเผชิญภัย (ครั้งใหม่)). From 1957, it's an anti-communist propaganda film Payut did while working for the U.S. Information Service, which has Hanuman the white monkey god fighting the Red menace.

Friday is another Thai premiere, Jakrawal Nilthamrong's Unreal Forest, a blend of experimental documentary and magical realism that was concocted when the filmmaker was commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam to make a movie in Zambia. The movie project is also an art project, and a complementary multi-platform exhibition of Unreal Forest will take place from September 8 to 29 at the Numthong gallery's space on the fourth floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

For the rest of the Thai Short Film & Video Festival, there's a schedule and spreadsheet to help you navigate the weekend, which includes student films and documentaries in competition, Singaporean and Malaysian shorts, In the Realm of Conflict, Shorts for Kids, the best of the Clermont-Ferrand festival and a memorial tribute to film programmers Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc by Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik, Each Film ... An Island?

The fest runs until September 5 (except Monday) at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

Also opening

The Expendables – Sylvester Stallone is back in action, but instead of the lone-wolf warrior he portrayed in Rambo, he has a lot of help from some other major action stars. Joining him in this story of a team of mercenaries who are betrayed on a mission in South America are Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews and Gary Daniels. Wrestlers Randy Couture and Steve Austin add even more muscle to an aready hulking cast. Eric Roberts is their oily nemesis, and there are even cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Critical reception is somewhat negative, not that it matters, since The Expendables has been the No. 1 movie in North America for two weeks running. Rated 18+.

Piranha 3D – The water at a busy beach turns red when a tremor opens an undersea fissure that unleashes a school of hungry prehistoric flesh-eating fish. It's like Jaws, only the fish are smaller and more numerous. Directed by Alexandre Aja and written by Pete Goldfinger and
Josh Stolberg (Sorority Row), Piranha 3D is turning out to be the hit cult film of the summer, with a mostly positive critical consensus that has plenty of gore, guffaws and gratuitous nudity. A sequel is already being planned, maybe set in Thailand. In 3D. Rated 18+.

Centurion – Neil Marshall, the director of such cult films as Dog Soldiers and The Descent returns to the Scottish setting of his previous film Doomsday, and goes back to ancient times with this ultra-violent adventure tale of Rome's lost Ninth Legion. Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) stars as the leader of a small band of Roman soldiers, trapped behind enemy lines and beseiged by brutal Pict warriors in 117 AD Scotland. Their mission is to rescue a general (Dominic West), and they get help from a mute native female scout portrayed by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. Critical reception is mixed, but the movie has been a hit at genre-film festivals and should please fans of Marshall's movies. It's at the Scala! Rated 20-.

Peepli Live – Produced by Aamir Khan, this heartfelt satire about farmers' suicides and the subsequent media and political response was the first Indian film in the World Cinema Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Central Rama III on Saturday 8 and Sunday at 4 and at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Sunday at 7.30. Call (089) 488 2620 or visit

Ngao (เงา, Shadow) – Following the success of GTH's 2008 shorts-anthology Phobia (Si Phrang or "4 intersections") (and Phobia 2, (Ha Phrang, "5 intersections"), Sahamongkol Film International got in on the action with last year's Haunted Universities (Maha'lai Sayong Kwan) and Poj Arnon and Phranakorn offered Tai Hong (a.k.a. Still or more literally Die a Violent Death). Now comes 96 Film, with a set of bad-karma horror shorts in Ngao. It has four segments: Hun Suan (Partners) by Atsawin Thepkanlai is about a youthful prank gone wrong; Taeng (Abortion) by Theeratorn Chaowanayothin, about the consquences of a college romance; Dai Daeng (Red Yarn) by Eakasit Sompetch looks into the folly of disbelieving supersititions; and Mae (Mother), directed by Chanachai, is about a lingering evil spirit. Watch the trailer. Rated 18+.

Namtam Daeng (น้ำตาลแดง, Brown Sugar) – Prachya Pinkaew and Bandit Thongdee brought together six young filmmakers to make this collection of sweet "erotica" shorts. They insist it's "not pornography." Aided by the still fairly new movie-picture ratings system that replaced the censorship regime, Prachya says it's the first time a mainstream Thai movie will offer "a real erotic experience". Part 1, opening today, has three segments. Zart Tancharoen directs Raktongloon (รักต้องลุ้น) about teenage lovers. It stars Nathakhun Anumatchimpalee and Chittkhon Songchan. Panumat Deesatta directs Sopeni Bon Tiang (โสบนเตียง) about a pair of adult lovers, played by Prakasit Bosuwan and Patsawipit Son-akkarapa. And Kittiyaporn Klangsurin directs Prattana (ปรารถนา "desire"), which has a masseuse fantasizing about a guy who works in her building. It stars Warin Yarujnon and Lakkana Wattanawongsiri and includes a 10-minute masturbation scene by "Oom" Lakkana. The trailer is a YouTube. I don't know when Part 2 will be released. Rated 18+.

Also showing

FCCT-NETPAC Asian Film Festival – The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand's series of films awarded by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema continues this week with Nang Nak, winner of the NETPAC Award at the 2000 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Directed by Nonzee Nimibutr from a script by Wisit Sasanatieng, Nang Nak was among the films of the "Thai New Wave" that signaled a resurgence of the Thai film industry as it sparked a new popularity for Thai films with domestic audiences and found a legion of fans and acclaim overseas. It's a reworking of the famous ghost story "Mae Nak of Phra Nakhon", about a woman who dies in childbirth while her husband is away and when he returns he is unaware that she is a ghost. Inthira Charoenpura and Winai Kraibutr star as Nak and Mak. Nonzee will be present for the screening along with actor Winai Kraibutr. It's courtesy of Cinemasia Co Ltd & NETPAC and supported by Siam Winery, which will supply Monsoon Valley Wines. The show time is at 8 tonight (August 26) at the FCCT. Admission is 150 baht for non-members.

Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก, Jao Nok Krajok) – Playing as part of Extra Virgin's Director's Screen Project, director Anocha Suwichakornpong's family drama is 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. Mundane History has been winning lots of awards, most recently the Grand Prix at the Era New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland. It screens until Wednesday at SFX the Emporium, with nightly screenings at around 7 and additional Saturday and Sunday matinees at around 2. The showtimes are not fixed exactly, so check the SF website or Extra Virgin's calendar for the latest timings. Rated 20-.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – Friday's show is Sin Nombre (Without Name), an epic dramatic thriller from award-winning director Cary Fukunaga, about a young Honduran woman (Paulina Gaytan) who joins her father and uncle on an odyssey to cross the gauntlet of the Latin American countryside en route to the United States. Along the way she crosses paths with a teenage Mexican gang member (Edgar M. Flores). On Monday, it's Samson and Delilah, set in the central Australian desert, where a young couple turn their backs on home and embark on a journey of survival. The show time is 5pm in the Boromrajakumari Building, Room 503 (seating capacity: 320). There's free parking next to Chulalongkorn University Auditorium. The movies are on DVD, all with the original soundtracks and English subtitles. Admission is free. Stay on afterward for a talk with film critics Kittisak Suvannapokhin, Nopamat Veohong and the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee. Call (02) 218 4802 or 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.

Cabaret Balkan: Rarely Seen Films from the Balkans – The film series continues this week with a pair from Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic. First up is 1980's Special Therapy (Poseban tretman), a black comedy about a group of alcoholics forced into rehab. It was nominee for the Golden Globe and the Cannes Golden Palm and Milena Dravic won the best supporting actress award at Cannes for her role as Jelana. Next is Cabaret Balkan, set in 1920s Belgrade, where a tiny act of vandalism leads to a cycle of revenge and out-of-control violence. It won many film-festival awards, including the Fipresci Prize at the Venice film festival. The movies are at Thammasat University Tha Prachan, in the Pridi Banomyong Library's Rewat Buddhinun Room, U2 Floor. The shows start at 12.30. The movies are on DVD. Admission is free. You'll have to inform the library staff you're watching the movies and let them copy your ID. Call (02) 613 3529 or (02) 613 3530 or visit the DK Filmhouse blog for the complete lineup.

Take note

Zhang Ziyi's first romantic comedy, Sophie's Revenge, has snuck in and out of cinemas. It opened on one screen out at Major Cineplex Rangsit last week, but does not appear on the schedule today.

House on RCA has delayed its run of Millennium 3: The Girl Who Kicked a Hornets' Nest until October. For now, the first two Millennium movies, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire are playing. Both are excellent and deserve to be seen in the cinema.

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