Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 16-22, 2010

Eternity (Chuafah Din Salai)

Ananda Everingham is back. Out of action for several months last year after a motorcycle accident, the Thai film industry's top leading man has been busy putting three projects in the pipeline that will all premiere in the coming weeks.

The first is this week: Chuafah Din Salai (ชั่วฟ้าดินสลาย), a lavish historical romantic drama. He plays the young nephew of a Burmese timber baron. On a visit to his uncle's camp, he meets and falls in love with his uncle's pretty young wife, played by Ploy Cherman.

It's a classic story, adapted from a 1943 novella by Malai Choopini and first made into a movie in in 1955 by "Khru Marut" Tawee na Bangchang, which had cinematography by Ratana Pestonji. The earlier film is generally referred to as Forever Yours, but this new one has the international English title of Eternity.

It is best remembered for the iconic image of the adulterous lovers chained together for eternity as punishment by the cuckholded uncle. He's played by Teerapong Liewrakwong.

The director is ML Bhandevanob Devakul, an industry veteran who's affectionately called "Mom Noi". He's known for his lavish, literary-based romantic dramas, mostly in the 1980s and '90s. His movies launched the careers of such prominent stars as Sinjai Plengpanich and Mae Charoenpura, and even Ananda, who made his breakthough in Mom Noi's 1997 drama Anda Kab Fahsai. Eternity is Mom Noi's first film in 13 years.

Much of the buzz about Eternity has to do with scenes of Ananda and Ploy cavorting naked, like a Northern Thailand jungle version of Adam and Eve.

Ploy put an end to speculation over whether she had a stand-in for her nude scenes, which is common for Thai actresses. A recent example was "Tak" Bongkote Kongmalai, who swears she was never nude in Superstar.

But Ploy is denying she used a body double in Eternity. That's all her we'll be seeing. Dirtii Laundry has more details about that.

You can catch a glimpse of her and Ananda in the English-subtitled trailer.

Meanwhile, Ananda will be putting on a red mask and getting into action in Red Eagle (Insee Daeng), the relaunch of an action franchise from the 1950s and '60s that starred the legendary leading man Mitr Chaibancha. Wisit Sasanatieng (Fah Talai Jone, Mah Nakhon) directs this highly anticipated, wildly hyped movie, which opens on October 7.

Ananada's also in Wonderful Town director Aditya Assarat's sophomore feature, Hi-So, which will premiere at the Pusan film fest. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Oceans – French directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud explore the undersea world, filming over four years in more 50 locations and 70 expeditions, from the turquoise waters of the Tropics to the ice fields of the Arctic and Antarctic, plunging under the waves in search of little-known or unknown marine creatures. Critical reception is generally positive, with plenty of praise for the stunning images. This the original French version of the film, not the shorter Disney release. At the Scala.

Future-X Cops – Wong Jing directs this remake of a 1993 Hong Kong actioner Future Cops. It's part Robocop, part Terminator, with Andy Lau as a cop from 2080 who goes back in time to protect a solar-energy scientist whom the oil companies want dead. Fan Bingbing and Barbie Hsu also star. Reviews are mostly negative. Read the ones at Love HK Film or A Nutshell Review. It's at Major Cineplex and EGV, Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Unreal Forest – Video artist and filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong's experimental documentary was made as part of the International Film Festival Rotterdam's Forget Africa project, which took Asian filmmakers to Africa. Shot in Zambia, Jakrawal auditioned three directors to make a movie. The first part shows this process, and then the Zambian directors talking over how they want to make their movie and then finally the story of a tribal shaman treating a terminally ill boy, against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Falls and lively Zambian street music. Unreal Forest previously played in at the Singapore International Film Festival and Milan. It's now screening as a video installation at the Numthong Gallery on the fourth floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Showtimes for the 67-minute movie are every 90 minutes from shortly after 9am daily excepts Mondays until September 29 at the BACC.

Agrarian Utopia (สวรรค์บ้านนา, Sawan Baan Na) – Uruphong Raksasad directs this beautiful, highly acclaimed experimental documentary on the hardships of rice farming. The director hired two families to tend a plot of land in his native rural Chiang Rai Province, setting the stage for real-life hardships with no script. The film pulls no punches as it depicts the challenges the families face as they try to plant their crop with a stubborn buffalo, and work in all kinds of weather, from blistering heat, shivering chills and intense downpours, all captured on high-definition video camera, to brilliant, jaw-dropping effect. Part of Extra Virgin's Director's Screen Project, Agrarian Utopia is playing at SFX the Emporium until September 29 at around 7 nightly with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2. Rated 15+

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country – The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, with assistance from the Embassy of the Czech Republic, will have a special screening of this acclaimed documentary, in memory of Sam Kalayanee, an activist and co-producer of the film who died recently. Directed by Danish filmmaker Anders Ostergaard, Burma VJ is about a gutsy band of Burmese video journalists – VJs – who covered the Saffron Revolution, when thousands of monks took to the streets of Rangoon in September 2007 in a bold push for democratic reforms against the military government. With foreign news crews banned and Internet access shut down, a small number of Burmese VJs filmed the drama on the streets with small video cameras. They were led by "Joshua", a 27-year-old VJ and media activist who had been forced to flee the country but oversaw their work from a safe-house in Chiang Mai before giving the footage to the Democratic Voice of Burma in Oslo. DVB is a non-profit media group that broadcasts news via radio, satellite TV and the Internet. This film includes documentary footage – some of it gathered at great personal risk – as well as dramatic reconstructions of events with the individuals involved. This film was nominated for an Academy Award and has won a series of awards at other film festivals. The showtime is 8pm on Thursday, September 16. Admission is 150 baht for non-members.

We Are Family – Writer-producer Karan Johar offers the Bollywood remake of the 1998 Hollywood family comedy-drama Stepmom, with Kajol in the Susan Sarandon role of the devoted mother of three children. She's divorced from her husband (Ed Harris in the original, Arjun Rampal here), who has a new career-oriented girlfriend (Kareena Kapoor taking the Julia Roberts role). It's showing at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Saturday at 8pm and at Major Cineplex Rama III on Sunday at 4pm. For more details, call Bollywood Thai at 089 488 2620.

Cabaret Balkan: Rarely Seen Films from the Balkans – The film series continues on Sunday with two more classic Romanian films. First up is The Stone Wedding from 1972. It's a two-segment compilation of stories by Ion Agârbiceanu. The first part directed by Mircea Veroiudrama depicts the miserable life of a widow in turn-of-the 20th century Romania. Dan Pita directs the second part, about about a bride who runs away with the singer of the wedding band. Next is Unde la soare e frig (Where It Is Cold in the Sun) by Bogdan Dumitrescu. The 1991 drama is set along the Black Sea coast, where a woman is stranded in the remote area. She eventually seeks help from a lighthouse keeper. The movies, with English subtitles, 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.

Les Amants réguliers – Philippe Garrel's 2005 black-and-white drama is about a young couple in 1960s Paris. They meet during the 1968 student uprising and smoke opium. Louis Garrel and Clotilde Hesme star. Louis Garrel, the director's son, won a Cesar Award for most promising actor, while Philip won a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for best director and cinematographer William Lubtchansky won Venice's Golden Osella for Outstanding Technical Contribution. Reviews are mixed. It's showing on Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30pm at the Alliance Française, with English subtitles. Admission is free.

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