Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 27-February 2, 2011

The Fighter

Directed by David O. Russell, The Fighter is one of the top nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards, pulling down seven nods, including best picture, director, supporting actor for Christian Bale and supporting actress for Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The movie already won two Golden Globes for Bale and Leo.

It's a fact-based biographical drama, with Mark Wahlberg in the lead as "Irish" Micky Ward, a boxer who rose out of working-class Lowell, Massachusetts, to become a world champion welterweight. But his success in the ring comes at the price of overshadowing his half-brother and sparring partner, played by Bale. He's a great boxer in his own right, but struggles with drugs and crime.

The Boston-born Wahlberg trained for years in preparation for his role, getting help from the likes of Manny Pacquiao. Adams portrays his character's love interest, while Leo is the domineering mother of the Ward brothers.

Critical reception is mostly positive, with the consensus being that it's a "solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre". Rated 15+.

Also opening

Solitary Man – Recently declaring himself cancer-free, Michael Douglas was among the Oscar hopefuls who went overlooked this year. He's a flawed protagonist here, a car dealer whose personal and professional life has hit the skids because of bad business deals and romantic indiscretions. Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg and Olivia Thirlby also star. Critical reception is mostly positive, with the consensus being that Douglas delivers "a flawless central performance". At Paragon and CentralWorld. Rated 18+.

Shaolin – One of the big Chinese New Year releases, Shaolin revisits the ancient Buddhist temple that's been the setting for dozens of martial-arts dramas over the years. But this is only the second one to be officially authorized by the 1,500-year-old temple. It's an update of 1982's The Shaolin Temple, which was the debut for Jet Li. For this new movie, set during the early 20th-century warlord period, Andy Lau shaved his head to play the starring role, an arrogant general who takes refuge at the temple and learns peace of mind from a wise kung-fu-fighting monk (Jackie Chan). Nicholas Tse, Jackie Wu and Fan Bingbing also star. Benny Chan directs with martial-arts choreography by Corey Yuen. Thai-dubbed soundtrack only. Rated 15+.

Little Fockers – Along with Oscar nominees, there's also a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Awards, which recognizes the worst movies from Hollywood. This third installment in the high-grossing comedy franchise is nominated for three Razzies – worst screenplay and worst supporting actress for Jessica Alba and Barbra Streisand. Robert DeNiro returns as the stern and overbearing father-in-law of Ben Stiller. The ex-CIA-agent family patriarch believes his health is failing and is seeking to name a successor, but he doesn't feel Ben's Greg Focker is up to the task because he thinks that Focker is having an affair. Which is where Jessica Alba fits in. Teri Polo, Blythe Danner and Owen Wilson also star. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative, with the consensus being it's "heartbreakingly lazy" and takes the Meet the Parents franchise to "embarrassing new lows." Rated 13+.

Permanent Residence – This Hong Kong gay romantic drama is directed by a man named Scud, the stage moniker of filmmaker Danny Cheng Wan-Cheung, who gained acclaim for 2008's City Without Baseball. Permanent Residence is said to be based on Scud's life story. Sean Li stars as a handsome IT worker who befriends a straight guy (Osman Hung) and attempts to romance him. There's a review at Love HK Film. In Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at House.

Bang Khon Care ... Care Bang Khon (บางคนแคร์ แคร์บางคน) – "Woonsen" Wirithipha Phakdeeprasong is a young woman is searching for a guy (Kelly Thanaphat) she fell in love with at first sight. She's got a younger colleague (Howard Wong) helping her. He's in love with her. When she finally catches up to her lost love, she wonders if he's really Mr. Right. The usual comedians add comic relief in this Thai romance. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Mo & Me - This 2006 BBC documentary will screen at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand tonight a 8. It's the story of renowned photojournalist Mohamed "Mo" Amin, born to an immigrant family in a poor neighborhood in Nairobi, he founded the Camerapix agency and covered political and tribal conflicts across Africa, including the first shocking pictures of the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s that spurred rock stars into action with the Live Aid concerts. Admission for non-members is 150 baht.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival 2011 – The annual DVD-screening series of highly acclaimed award-winning foreign films continues on Friday with Women Without Men, a drama set during Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état. "The destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship." On Monday it's the Argentine thriller The Secret in the Their Eyes, in which a retired legal counselor is hoping for closure of one of his unresolved homicide cases. And next Wednesday has the Chilean drama The Maid, in which a woman who's worked for a family for years tries to hold on to her position. The show times are at 5 in the Mahachakrisirindhorn Building, ninth Floor. Admission is free. All movies are screened on DVD with English subtitles. Call (02) 218 4802 or visit

No One Killed Jessica – Raj Kumar Gupta directs this fact-based crime drama about a reporter (Rani Mukerji) teaming up with the sister (Vidya Balan) of a murdered model in order to bring the case to justice. Screens at 8pm on Saturday at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) and at 4pm on Sunday at Major Cineplex Rama III. Bollywood Thai also brings back the Punjabi comedy Yamla Pagla Deewana at 8 on Saturday and at 4 Sunday at Major Rama III (yes, two Bollywood movies at Major Rama III!) and at 7.30 on Sunday at Major Ekamai. Call (089) 488 2620.

The Woman with the 5 Elephants – Part of the annual open-air film series at the Goethe-Institut Bangkok until February 22, next Tuesday's show is a 2009 documentary, the epic tale of Svetlana Geier, a Ukrainian woman who survived the Stalinist purges and the German invasion during World War II. A renowned translator, the "5 elephants" of the title refers to the works of Dostoevsky she's translated. The film chronicles her return to Kiev together with her granddaughter. The show time is at 7.30. Call (02) 287 0942-4 or check the Goethe-Institut website.

Bamako – The troubled relationship of a bar singer and her out-of-work husband is set against the backdrop of a trial set up in the courtyard of an African village, where representatives of African society have brought a civil suit against the World Bank and the IMF, which they hold responsible for all of Africa's woes. Danny Glover and Palestinian director Elia Suleiman have interesting cameos as "cowboys". With English subtitles at 7.30 on Wednesday, February 2 at the Alliance Française.

Sneak preview

In addition to The Fighter opening this week, Biutiful, which opened last week, and The Social Network, which is still playing, many Academy Award-nominated movies will be opening in Bangkok in the coming weeks. They include The King's Speech, which opens this weekend in nightly sneak previews at around 8pm at the Lido in Siam Square. It's the lead nominee, with 12 nods including best picture, director, actor for Colin Firth and supporting actor and actress for Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter. The British royal biopic opens in a wider release on February 3.

Others tentatively scheduled include:

  • True Grit, the Coen Brothers' western with 10 nominations, including best actor for Jeff Bridges and supporting actress for star Hailee Stanfield. It was initially slated to open on February 17 but now the posters have a sticker on them saying February 24.
  • Blue Valentine, a romantic drama that went through a controversial battle with the ratings board in the U.S., is nominated for best actress for Michelle Williams. Mongkol Major is distributing and they showed a trailer for the film at the recent press preview for Lud 4 Lud. It might open on February 10.
  • Rabbit Hole, a romance thriller with a best-actress nomination for Nicole Kidman, might open on February 24.
  • Black Swan, with five nominations including best actress for Natalie Portman and best director for Darren Aronofsky, the ballet psycho-thriller might also open on February 24.
  • 127 Hours, the mountain-climbing drama starring James Franco, nominated for six awards including best picture, best actor and best adapted screenplay by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, might open on March 10.

An Oscar nominee that has surprisingly passed Bangkok by is Ben Affleck's heist thriller The Town, which scored a supporting-actor nomination for Jeremy Renner. It opened in the States in September and played in Singapore and the Philippines in October and in Hong Kong last month. Why didn't it get picked up for Thai cinemas? Perhaps it will go straight to DVD? Or, perhaps it will open. Apex Siam Square has listed as "coming soon" on their website.

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