Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 30-October 6, 2010

Phuket/Boy Genius/The Sigh

Extra Virgin's Director's Screen Project has a change of program and a change of venue this week.

A collection of three shorts by Wonderful Town director Aditya Assarat, Phuket, Boy Genius and The Sigh, closes the current leg of the screening series, which moves to the just-reopened SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

Initiated at SFW CentralWorld in 2008, the Director's Screen Project was relaunched this past August, with Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History and Uruphong Raksasad's Agrarian Utopia each having one-month theatrical runs at SFX the Emporium.

Now the Director's Screen moves back to CentralWorld. The shopping center has been closed since the April and May "red-shirt" anti-government protests at the Rajprasong intersection. The protests ended on May 19 with a flurry of arson attacks in retaliation for the government's use of military force to stop the protests. Part of CentralWorld was destroyed by fire, and it's taken months to get the mall ready for its reopening.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and tourism concerns, Phuket stars South Korean actress Lim Su-jeong as a famous Korean actress named Jin who is trying to take a vacation in Phuket, but is harried by phone calls and fans. She finds solace in a friendship with her hotel limo driver, played National Artist actor Sorapong Chatree, who shows her the traditional side of the resort island's culture.

Phuket premiered at last year's Pusan International Film Festival and was in competition at the Clermont-Ferrand festival earlier this year. It was the opening film of last month's 14th Thai Short Film & Video Festival, and is also playing in this week's Vancouver International Film Festival.

It's playing with two other shorts by Aditya, Boy Genius and The Sigh. From 2004, Boy Genius is about a young filmmaker trying to make a movie but his girlfriend keeps getting in the way. It's the first part of a trilogy that's followed by 2005's The Sigh, in which a soundman making a recording in an abandoned building discovers a mysterious woman’s sigh on the tape. He then tries to find the woman.

Meanwhile, more Aditya is on the way, with his new feature Hi-So premiering at the Pusan International Film Festival alongside Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak), a New Currents-competition drama from young director Sivaroj Kongsakul and produced by Aditya's Pop Pictures.

Saturday Killer (Meu Peun Sao Pra Sao

Back in June, director Yuthlert Sippapak premiered a rough cut of his Friday Killer (Meu Puen Dao Pra Sook, มือปืน ดาวพระศุกร์) as the closing film of the Phuket Film Festival.

The hitman thriller featuring a solidly dramatic performance by comedian Thep Po-ngam with actresses Ploy Jindachote and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk was intended as the first in a trilogy of hitman tales, the Meu Puen 3 Pak (มือปืนตรัยภาค). The series marks a return to the hitman genre by Yuthlert, who made his debut with 1999's Killer Tattoo.

Friday Killer even won the Phuket festival's top prize, the International Break-Out Award, with the prediction that the prolific genre-hopping director will have "great success with his trilogy of hitman films but will go on to break-out of directing domestic Thai films and pick-up a wider regional and international audience."

But Yuthlert's producers at Phranakorn Film balked at the serious tone of Friday Killer and went for the second entry, Saturday Killer as the first release, and it's Saturday Killer (Meu Puen Dao Pra Sao มือปืน /ดาว /พระ /เสาร์, literally "Saturn killer") that's in Thai cinemas on Thursday.

All the Killer films team up well-known comedians with hot actresses.

Starring Choosak "Nong Cha Cha Cha" Iamsuk and Bangkok Traffic Love Story leading lady Cris Horwang, Saturday Killer is a rifle-toting romantic comedy. Nong portrays a gunman named Tee Rifle, who takes hitman jobs in order to earn cash to cure his impotence. He falls the high-flying gunwoman Chris Styler. She's going to break his heart and perhaps do more damage.

Both have worked with Yuthlert before, with Nong playing the dramatic lead in what's probably my favorite Yuthlert film, Pattaya Maniac (Sai Lor Fah), and Cris had a supporting role in the "Nose" Udom Taepanich comedy E-Tim Tay Nai.

Like Friday Killer, Saturday Killer also looks to comment on Thai politics, which is a sensitive topic. But there's also plenty of cheeky humor, mainly at Nong's character's expense.

Characters from the forthcoming second entry in the Killer trilogy, Sunday Killer, also appear, with Kohtee Aramboy and "May" Pichanart Sakakorn getting in on the shoot-'em-up action.

There's a trailer at YouTube as well as a music video.

There's still hope that Friday Killer will be released sometime next year. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – Tsui Hark directs this lavish fantasy supernatural thriller that mixes historical Chinese martial arts with Sherlock Holmes-type sleuthing. Andy Lau is the titular detective – a real-life Tang Dynasty official. He's been imprisoned for eight years for opposing the soon-to-be-empress Wu (Carina Lau). But she lets him out so he can investigate the deaths of two high-ranking officials who mysteriously burst into flame. Based on an actual official who lived during the Tang Dynasty, Detective Dee or Judge Dee and is a popular character in Chinese literature. Detective Dee premiered at the Venice film festival, where Hark presented fellow Hong Kong industry titan John Woo with a lifetime achievement award. It's since opened in China, where it's expected to be a box-office smash. The movie is being hailed as a return to form by Tsui Hark, with positive reviews from Todd Brown of Twitch and from long-time fan Grady Hendrix. Oh, by the way, look closely at the Thai poster, which is garble of fake text that has Tsui Hark's name stated as Bzxchgk Svdof. It's in Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at the Scala, elsewhere it's Thai dubbed. Rated G.

Devil – M Night Shyamalan produces this claustrophobic thriller about five people trapped in an elevator. One of them is not who they appear to be. Directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine), it's the first in a series of horror thrillers produced by Shyamalan called The Night Chronicles. Rated 13+.

The Switch – Jennifer Aniston is an unmarried 40-year-old woman who turns to a turkey baster to become pregnant. Her goofball best friend, played by Jason Bateman, skews the results by secretly replacing her preferred sperm sample with a donation of his own. Seven years later, the results of his meddling become clear. At Paragon Cineplex and Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. Rated 13+.

Also showing

FCCT-NETPAC Asian Film Festival – Corporate bumbling, reality television and Malaysia’s multi-cultural society collide in $ELL OU7!, a musical satire that closes the FCCT-Netpac Asian Film Festival tonight (Thursday, September 30). “My film speaks English, Malay and Cantonese, because that’s what is crazy and fascinating about Malaysia,” says director Yeo Joon Han, a former lawyer who turned from court cases to the camera and has won awards for his movies. He’ll be present for tonight's screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, along with Indian film critic Aruna Vasudev, the founder and president of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. The song-filled comedy has struggling television presenter Rafflesia Pong (Jerrica Lai) stumbling on an idea for a reality-TV show that records people’s dying words. Meanwhile, Eric Tan (Peter Davis), an idealistic young English-Malaysian inventor at the Fony Corporation, has developed an amazing eight-in-one bean-curd machine that is turned down by the bosses because it has too many useful functions and is too durable. The movie won the Netpac Award at the 2008 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival “for the consummate artistry with which the director satirises business and media glitz, and his successful attempt at the presentation of the Malaysian context to an international audience, thus generating much optimism for a wider acceptance of Malaysian indie films”. It also won the Alternative Vision Award at the Venice International Film Festival and has screened at more than 20 festivals worldwide, including the 2008 World Film Festival of Bangkok. The show time is at 8pm. The screening is courtesy of Amok Films and NETPAC. Archa Cafe & Wine Bar (formerly Kopitiam) will serve Malaysian food. Admission is Bt150 for non-members and dinner is Bt100. Call (02) 652 0580-1 or visit

Remembering Mitr Chaibancha: 40 Years Later – This is the year of The Red Eagle. Wisit Sasanatieng's new version of the Thai action franchise of the 1950s and '60s will be released in Thai cinemas next Thursday, October 7. That's one day before the 40th anniversary of the death of the original Insee Daeng, superstar actor Mitr Chaibancha, who died on October 8, 1970, in an accident while filming Golden Eagle (Insee Tong, อินทรีทอง). Each year around this time, the Thai Film Archive remembers Mitr with film screenings and other activities at the Sri Salaya Theater and Thai Film Museum in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, and this year is a bit more special because of the 40th anniversary and because of the new Red Eagle. The activities start on Friday, October 1, with a screening of Golden Eagle, which closes with Mitr's fatal helicopter stunt, filmed near Jomtien Beach, Pattaya. Other Mitr movies screening are 1967's Jet Phra Karn (7 พระกาฬ), directed by Charlie Intaravichet and also starring Adul Dulyarat and Ruj Ronapop; Atsawin Daap Gaaiyasit (อัศวินดาบกายสิทธิ์), a 1970 martial-arts fantasy that was a Hong Kong co-production; 1966's Diamond Cuts Diamond (Pet Dtat Pet, เพชรตัดเพชร); 1970's Jom Joh Rom Hay (จ้าวอินทรี); and 1968's Jao Insee (จ้าวอินทรี ). On October 8, the archive will screen last year's award-winning romance October Sonata (Ruk Tee Ror Koi, รักที่รอคอย) a period drama that has lovers fatefully meeting in Pattaya on October 8, 1970 – at the funeral of Mitr Chaibancha. And on Saturday, October 9, there will be a talk and exhibition about Mitr at the Sri Salaya Theatre. The rest of October, the Film Archive's screenings and activities consist of other recent Thai films that are set during the politically turbulent Octobers of the 1970s. These include October Sonata, Blue Sky of Love (Fah Sai Huajai Chuenbaab, ฟ้าใสใจชื่นบาน), Haunted Universities (Maha'lai Sayong Kwan, มหา’ลัย สยองขวัญ), Meat Grinder (Cheuat Gon Chim, เชือด ก่อน ชิม) and Bhandit Rittikol's The Moonhunter (14 tula, songkram prachachon, 14 ตุลา สงครามประชาชน, literally "14 October: war of the people"), as well as other social-message movies, such as MC Chatrichalerm Yukol's Hotel Angel, Sunset at Chao Phraya 2 and the banned 1977 docu-drama Tongpan (ทองปาน). Showtimes are at 5.30 on weekdays (except Wednesdays) and 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. Please see the Film Archive website for the schedule. English subtitles aren't typically available, but if it matters to you, call ahead before visiting to verify.

Dabangg – Salman Khan stars in this over-the-top, action-packed story of a police officer in Uttar Pradesh who clashes with his crooked half brother. Fresh-faced Sonakshi Sinha makes her debut as the leading lady. The plot attempts to address corruption, but kind of gets lost amid the numerous song-and-dance numbers and jokes. One scene has the cop distracted from beating up bad guys when he hears a crook's ringtone and starts dancing. And during a song-and-dance number, a key falls out of the police chief's pocket, enabling his thief brother to break into the office safe and steal stacks of cash. Check the Nutshell Review. It's showing at Major Cinplex Sukhumvit (Ekkamai) on Saturday at 8 and and at Major Cineplex Rama III on Sunday at 4. Call 089 488 2620 or visit

Cabaret Balkan: Rarely Seen Films from the Balkans – The film series continues on Sunday with two old Greek films. First up is 1957;s A Matter of Dignity, directed by Mihalis Kakogiannis. It's about the love triangle that develops around a bankrupt Greek socialite who is courted by a wealthy Greek-American and a masculine local man. Her parents favor the wealthy man, but don't want their troubled finances to be disclosed to him as "a matter of dignity". From 1978, The Idlers of the Fertile Valley is directed by Nikos Panayotopoulos. It examines the decadence that befalls a family of middle-aged widower and his three grown sons who inherit a country house and settle into a routine of huge wine-filled lunches, afternoon naps, teatime in the garden, more naps, dinners and sex with the housekeeper Sofia. Note that last Sunday there was a change in the program, with Don't Mess With Us, short films from Film Virus and Friends being shown instead of the two Bulgarian films, The Peach Thief and The Goat Horn. The Bulgarian films will instead be shown on October 10. 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.

Lola – Hailed as one of the defining films of the French New Wave, Jacques Demy's 1961 debut is set in the port city of Nantes (Demy's hometown). It's the story is of a golden-hearted cabaret dancer (Anouk Aimée) and the people who cross her path. Among the men are Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), a slacker who's letting life pass him by until he see Lola, realizes he knew her when he was a teenager and falls in love. Lola, meanwhile, is preoccupied with a former lover who abandoned her and left her with a son seven years before. Also vying for Lola's heart is an American sailor (Alan Scott). There's also a teenage girl whose life mirrors that of Lola's. It's showing on Wednesday, October 6, at 7:30pm at the Alliance Française, with English subtitles. Admission is free.

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