Thursday, December 16, 2010

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

B.K.O.: Bangkok Knockout

With B.K.O.: Bangkok Knockout (โคตรสู้ โคตรโส, Koht Soo Koht Soh), veteran stunt guru Panna Rittikrai, the mentor of Tony Jaa, is seeking to outdo all the insanely dangerous-looking action he displayed in his 2004 directorial effort Born to Fight.

Among the notable setpieces in B.K.O. is a truck stunt that Panna has said is way more complicated than the truck stunt from Born to Fight, which was painstakingly rehearsed only to have a stuntman almost have his head crushed under a truck's wheel in the final take!

Bangkok Knockout is the story of a college "fight club" whose members are together for a reunion when one of their number is kidnapped. So they have to combine all their mad skilz – Muay Thai, kung fu, capoeira and other forms of badassery – to rescue their friend.

The cast of fighters are mainly guys who've been playing stunt doubles in movies choreographed by Panna and his crew at Prachya Pinkaew's Baa-Ram-Ewe studio. But among the names fans might recognize is Kazu Patrick Tang, the French-Vietnamese martial artist who co-starred with Jija Yanin in Raging Phoenix. Other marquee draws for Thai fans include comedian Kiatisak "Sena Hoi" Udomnak, actress "Kratae" Supaksorn Chiamongkol and veteran action star Sorapong Chatree.

In addition to the English-language trailer, there's also a Thai trailer. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Easy A – Emma Stone stars in this teen comedy, playing a brainy high schooler who fibs about losing her virginity. Soon the news is spread all over school, but instead of being ashamed, the girl embraces it, reveling in her newfound popularity and dressing provocatively. It's a mix of The Scarlet Letter and the John Hughes' teen comedies of the 1980s. Critical reception is mostly positive. At Paragon.

Yes or No, Yak Rak Kor Rak Loei (Yes or No อยากรัก ก็รักเลย) – A college girl named Pie (Sucharat Manaying) at first mistakes her new roommate for a guy and has a hissy fit. She calms down a bit when she realizes the tomboy with the Korean boyband haircut is a girl named Kim (Supanat Jittaleela). They still have their differences, dividing their room in half with a line that shall not be crossed. But they eventually become friends. And perhaps it will be more than friendship? There's a trailer at YouTube. Rated 15+.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer (Gekijouban Kidou senshi Gandamu 00) – The mobile-suit warriors of this popular anime series face a new threat – extraterrestrial living-metal shapeshifters. There's a review at In Japanese with Thai subtitles only at the Lido.

Saw VII – The seventh in the series of "torture porn" movies makes a surprise opening at the Lido this week. The Saw movies have been frowned on by Thailand's censors, and the culture watchdogs banned the previous Saw release. Saw 7 is primarily known as Saw 3D, but since the Lido doesn't yet have 3D equipment, the 2D version is showing. Critics also generally dislike the movie. Rated 20+.

Also showing

Movies at the Beach – Thai films will be screened in the classic nang klang plang (open-air) style nightly – including live dubbing – until December 26 at the Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Bangkok Hotel on Charoenkrung Road.

Filmmaker Pantham Thongsang curates the program, mixing classics with contemporary Thai movies.

The program starts on Friday with a double bill of Khoo Kam, a classic tale of star-crossed lovers during World War II. Many versions of this story have been filmed, and they'll show two of the best remembered – the 1973 version starring Nat Phoowanai and Duangnapha Attapornwisan and 1996's with Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre in the role of a Japanese officer and Apasiri Nitibhon as the Thai woman he's in love with.

Saturday's show will have dueling historical dramas, starting with 1966's Suek Bang Rajan, starring Sombat Metanee in a performance that won him a Tukata Tong (Golden Doll) award, which was handed to him personally by His Majesty the King. Phitsamai Wilaisak also stars. It's in a double-feature bill with Thanit Jitnukul’s blood-soaked battle epic Bang Rajan, which became an international cult hit after its release in 2000.

Sunday will feature the martial-arts exploits of legendary actor Mitr Chaibancha and his leading lady Petchara Chaowarat in the high-flying Hong Kong wire-fu swordfighting fantasy Atsawin Daap Gaaiyasit (อัศวินดาบกายสิทธิ์). According to Thai Worldview, another actor named Chat Chayaphum from Chayaphum province was brought in to complete the film after Mitr died.

During the week, there will be the films by Pantham and Somkiet Vituranich: the talking-dog drama Ma Mha (Mid-Road Gang) on Monday, and 2004's social drama Ai Fak (The Judgement) on Tuesday.

Nonzee Nimibutr's 1997 debut feature Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters about teenage hoodlums in the 1950s (screenplay by Wisit Sasanatieng) shows on Wednesday.

And there's the smash-hit 1970 musical Monrak Luk Thung (Magical Love in the Countryside), starring Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat.

Christmas Eve has more Mitr action in 1970's Insee Tong (Golden Eagle), which features the fateful helicopter stunt that killed Mitr on October 8, 1970. It'll be in a double bill with this year's Insee Dang (The Red Eagle), an action-packed reboot of Mitr's long-running franchise by director Wisit Sasanatieng, featuring Ananda Everingham in the lead role of the masked vigilante crimefighter.

Christmas night will offer spirituality and laughs in the Buddhist monk movies Luang Ta 3: Seeka Khang Wat from 1991 and Luang Phee Theng (The Holy Man).

The program closes with the 2001 romantic drama Khang Lang Phab (Behind the Painting), the final film by the late director Cherd Songsri, starring "Ken" Theeradej Wongpuapan and Cara Pholasit.

Tickets are Bt350 for one screening and Bt450 for two movies on Friday and Saturday. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Thai Film Foundation. Call (02) 688 1000.

Clip Kino – The Reading Room, in collaboration with Clip Kino and Thai Netizen Network, present a self-organized screening event in which each participant brings video clips they've found online with them to share and discuss. There will be a panel discussion topics related to online media – accessibility and distribution, the question of public/private nature of these media, censorship/self-censorship, etc. The event also includes curated clip programs (10-15 minutes each) on subjects relevant to the contemporary social and cultural context in Thailand. The schedule is as follows:

  • 4-5:30pm – Panel Discussion: Condition and Freedom of Online Media in Thailand w5th Prab Boonpan (Matichon Online), Mana Treerayapiwat (Communication Arts, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce) and Wanrak Suwanwattana (Liberal Arts, Thammasat University).
  • 6-7pm – Screening of short curated clip programs
  • 7-8pm – Participants share their selected online clips and discuss issues related to them.

The program is at the Reading Room at 2 Silom Soi 19.

À nos amours (To Our Loves) – Sandrine Bonnaire plays Suzanne, a 16-year-old Parisian who embarks on a sexual rampage in an effort to separate herself from her overbearing, beloved father (played by the director, Maurice Pialat, himself), ineffectual mother and brutish brother. It's a tender character study that can erupt in startling violence. It's showing with English subtitles at 7.30 on Wednesday, December 22 at the at the Alliance Française.

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