Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 10-16, 2011

Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams is an Academy Award nominee for best actress for her performance in Blue Valentine, which charts the relationship of a man and woman by toggling back and forth between their whirlwind courtship and the break up of their marriage years later.

Ryan Gosling, a Golden Globe nominee along with Williams, plays the guy in this doomed marriage. He's a troubled blue-collar dude, and probably not the kind of man Williams' character was looking for in an ideal husband. But circumstances cause them to rush into matrimony.

Derek Cianfrance directs this indie romantic drama. Some of the dialogue is improvised. Differing kinds of film stock were used, with Super 16mm for the pre-marriage scenes and Red One for the post-marriage action. The score is by the indie rock band Grizzly Bear.

Controversially, Blue Valentine at first was given the NC-17 rating, the most restrictive classification under the U.S. motion-picture ratings system. This was because of a scene depicting cunnilingus. Typically, the MPAA ratings board frowns on any scenes that depict characters, especially women, having any enjoyment during sex. However, producer Harvey Weinstein appealed the decision and was able to secure a less-restrictive Rated R certificate.

Critical reception is mostly positive, with the consensus being that the "emotionally gripping examination of a marriage on the rocks isn't always easy to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give performances of unusual depth and power."

It's at Apex Siam Square, House on RCA and CentralWorld. Rated 15+ (no cuts).

Also opening

No Strings Attached – Somehow, while filming the Oscar-nominated ballet thriller Black Swan and getting pregnant with her ballet-dancer boyfriend Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman managed to make this romantic comedy with Ashton Kutcher and veteran comedy director Ivan Reitman. She and Ashton portray lifelong best friends who suddenly one morning have sex. It's so great that they then agree to embark on a "no-strings-attached" physical relationship with the promise that they won't fall in love or succumb to the usual trappings of coupledom. Critical reception is mixed, with the consensus being that "it benefits from the presence of Natalie Portman and director Ivan Reitman's steady hand, but ... doesn't have the courage or conviction to follow through on its ribald premise." Rated 15+.

The Rite – Anthony Hopkins portrays a Catholic priest in this story of a skeptical young seminary student (Colin O'Donoghue) who's sent to Italy to study under Father Superior, a master exorcist. Now, you just know that with Hannibal Lecter involved, things can't end well. Mikael Håfström (1408, Shanghai) directs. Alice Braga also stars. Released in the U.S. last week, critical reception is generally negative, with the consensus being that "Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he's no match for The Rite's dawdling pace and lack of chills – or Colin O'Donoghue's tentative performance in the leading role." Rated 15+.

Patiala House – Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma star in this drama about a second-generation Sikh in London who's given up on his dream to save his father's reputation. But then he meets a woman who gives him the strength to stand up for what he believes. It's in Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Rama III on Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4, at SFX the Emporium on Sunday at 8 and at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Monday at 8. Visit or call (089) 488 2620.

Also showing

This Prison Where I Live – There's a reason the Burmese junta wants the comedian Zarganar in prison – the people like him too much. And in a country that desperately needs someone the people can look up to, Zarganar poses a grave threat. A sharp-witted satirist who can effectively communicate across all media, be it stand-up and sketch comedy, film, television, theater or poetry, Zarganar always made fun of the military government, which got him jailed repeatedly. British director Rex Bloomstein visited Zarganar in Rangoon in 2007. At the time the comic was banned from performing, giving interviews to foreign media or even having his name uttered. Bloomstein kept the footage under wraps until months later, Zarganar was sentenced to 35 years in prison for criticizing the junta's handling of the 2008 Cyclone Nargis disaster. So Bloomstein, after a chance call from German stand-up comic Michael Mittermeier, decided to join the German comedian and travel back to Burma and get as close as they could to visiting Zarganar. The paranoia is palpable. Burmese society is described as a Matrix-like place, where everyone is a potential spy. This Prison Where I Live screens at 5.30 today in the fifth-floor auditorium at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The screening follows a panel discussion at 2pm. There will also be a performance by Burmese comedians.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival 2011 – The annual DVD-screening series of highly acclaimed award-winning foreign films concludes tomorrow with I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton in the story of a wealthy Italian family undergoing sweeping changes. 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

Cinema Picnic by Moonlight – Monday is Valentine's Day, and to celebrate the day of amour, La Fete, the annual French cultural festival, will show two romance films in an outdoor screening at the Museum Siam. Up first is Amélie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's fanciful comedy about a young woman (Audrey Tautou) who concocts bizarre and elaborate schemes to fix other people's troubles and get her father to notice her. She also chases after a mysterious young man. That's followed by Monrak Transistor, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's sprawling 2001 musical comedy-drama about a young man who marries his sweetheart but then hits a run of bad luck when he's drafted into the army, runs away to pursue a singing career and becomes a fugitive. As darkly comic as it all is, it's also pretty tragic. But then so is love, no? It's a warm-up to the annual French Film Festival, from March 18 to 24 at CentralWorld. Both films are screening with their original soundtracks with English subtitles. The show time is at 7.30 at the Museum Siam, near Wat Pho on Sanam Chai Road in Phra Nakhon district.

The Registrar (Die Standesbeamtin, a.k.a. Will You Marry Us?) – Part of the annual open-air film series at the Goethe-Institut Bangkok until February 22, next Tuesday's show is a Swiss romantic comedy by Micha Lewinsky about a civil servant who registers marriages but ironically her own is falling apart. The show time is at 7.30. Call (02) 287 0942-4 or check the Goethe-Institut website.

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