Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 3-9, 2011


Liam Neeson is back in action-star mode in Unknown.

It's a typical tale of a everyman caught in a web of intrigue. He's a biotechnology specialist attending a summit in Berlin with his wife when his taxi crashes off a bridge and into a freezing-cold river. He awakens from a coma to find his identity stolen, and the woman he believes is his wife (Mad Men's January Jones) denies she isn't and is with another guy (his Michael Collins co-star Aidan Quinn) who is posing as him.

So he's got to piece together what the heck has happened, and he enlists the help of the taxi driver, who is not a typical male Berliner cabbie but a fetching blonde (Diane Kruger).

Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella also star.

It's directed by Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan).

Unknown has a similar feel to Taken, the gritty Euro-action thriller that cemented Neeson into the pantheon of bad-ass action stars. Before Taken, Neeson had primarily been known as a serious dramatic actor in such historical fare as Michael Collins and Schindler's List, even though he did movies like the swashbuckler Rob Roy, played a disfigured masked vigilante in Darkman, swung a Jedi knight's lightsabre in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and kicked Christian Bale's butt in Batman Begins. But it was Taken that enabled him to take on tough-guy roles like leading The A-Team and landing a cameo in the upcoming The Hangover Part II.

Critical reception is mixed with the consensus being "Liam Neeson elevates the proceedings considerably, but Unknown is ultimately too derivative – and implausible – to take advantage of its intriguing premise." Rated 13+.


After agonizing over the title of this animated comedy-adventure, based on a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, the powers that be at Disney went with Tangled. But since that conceptual title is probably too much for most folks to wrap their heads around, for its release in many territories outside the U.S. it's simply Rapunznel.

This latest Disney princess movie has Mandy Moore as the extraordinarily tressed young woman, trapped in a tower. She lets down her hair for a wise-cracking bandit named Flynn Rider, voiced by Zachary Levi from the TV series Chuck. More comic relief comes from various animal friends, such as a laughing horse and Rapunzel's pet lizard.

Various criminals and other heavies are voiced by such character actors as Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett and Richard Kiel.

There's also Oscar-nominated music by trusty Disney tunesmith Alan Menken.

Critical reception is mostly positive, with the consensus being that while it's "far from Disney's greatest film, [Rapunzel] is a visually stunning, thoroughly entertaining addition to the studio's classic animated canon." In 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G.

Also opening

The Adjustment Bureau – Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in this Inception-like sci-fi thriller. It's based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, whose books have spawned such big-screen dystopian dramas as Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and Blade Runner. Damon is an up-and-coming politician whose chance meeting with a dancer (Blunt) changes the fate that's been pre-determined for him by a shadowy group of men in fedoras that include John Slattery (Roger Sterling from the TV series Mad Men). Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker and Terence Stamp also star. They have his whole life mapped out for him in an elaborate, maze-like flowchart that's written in a little notebook. Critical reception so far is mixed. Rated 13+.

Season of the Witch – Nicolas Cage puts another long-haired wig to play a knight in the 14th century. He and his cohort (Ron Perlman) return to their home after the Crusades and find the realm reeling from the Black Plague. A young woman (Claire Foy) is believed to be a witch and the cause of the sickness. The knights escort her to a monastery where monks investigate her purported powers and try to lift the curse. Christopher Lee also stars. Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish) directs. Critical reception has been overwhelmingly negative, with the consensus being it's "slow, cheap-looking, and dull [and] fails even as unintentional comedy". Rated 13+.

Love Julinsee Rak Man Yai Mak (เลิฟ จุลินทรีย์ รักมันใหญ่มาก) – This teenage romance by studio M-Thirtynine caused a stir a few months back when the teaser clip was banned by censors who deemed it unsuitable because it showed almost-kissing youngsters in school uniforms. The offending teaser has since been removed from M-Thirtynine's official YouTube channel, and a new clip was uploaded last month. Directed by Chainarong Tampong and Sakol Tiachareon, the ensemble romance is four stories against the backdrop of the show by costumed rock band Paradox at last year's Big Mountain Music Festival. One story has the girl Nao (Tisanat Sornsuek) and the guy Yoh (Alex Rendell) waiting for each other to say "I love you". Musician Pla (Irada Siriwut) goes to the concert to forget her playboy ex-boyfriends. Fon (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) looks back at the cute romance she had in school with an underclassman (Nuttapong Piboonthanakiet), which included sharing shredded fish snacks. Yok (Jirayu La-Ongmanee) and Eue (Monchanok Saengchaipiangpen) are lifelong best friends who've taken things to the next level of being boyfriend and girlfriend. Rated 13+.

Also showing

A Ripe Volcano (ภูเขาไฟพิโรธ) – Filmmaker and visual artist Taiki Sakpisit and sound artist Yasuhiro Morinaga collaborate on this art installation, "an allegorical revelation where Bangkok becomes a site of mental eruption and the emotionally devastated land during the heights of terrors, primal fears, trauma, and the darkness of time." Locations include the the Rattanakosin Hotel, where the military captured and tortured protesters during the Black May of 1992 and the Ratchadamnoen boxing stadium, for contrasting scenes of violence and ghostly suspense. The multi-channel video and sound installation is at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in the fourth-floor studio, until Sunday.

No comments:

Post a Comment