Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 10-15, 2011

127 Hours

James Franco stars in 127 Hours, a fact-based drama about a mountain climber who is trapped in a suspenseful situation for five days in the Utah desert.

Because it's based on real life, everyone probably already knows the story, but I won't spoil it here.

The movie was up for best picture at this year's Academy Awards and Franco scored an Oscar nomination. Danny Boyle directs and the Slumdog Millionaire helmer again collaborates with Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman for the Oscar-nominated soundtrack.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive, the consensus being that it's "as gut-wrenching as it is inspirational ... one of Danny Boyle's most beautifully exuberant directorial efforts with a terrific performance from James Franco."

It's only at Major Cineplex (including Paragon, Paradise, Esplanade). Rated 13+.


Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski enlists his Jack Sparrow buddy Johnny Depp for Rango, a spaghetti western that's disguised as an animated feature.

Depp voices the chameleon who has the identity crises that are endemic to his species. But he puts on a badge and becomes sheriff in a small desert town called Dirt that is threatened with have its water supply cut off by bad guys.

Verbinski has said
he aimed to get Depp's past movie characters into the portrayal of Rango, with bits of Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorshands and Ed Wood turning up. I think there's a bit of Hunter S. Thompson as well.

Other voices are by Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty as the tortoise mayor, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone, Stephen Root and Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jake.

Critical reception is mostly positive. The consensus: "It may not be as charming as it thinks it is – and it certainly isn't for kids – but Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment." Rated G.

Also opening

Red Riding HoodTwilight director Catherine Hardwicke and Orphan screenwriter David Leslie Johnson take on the old folktale. Here, Red isn't so little, but she has big eyes and she has a name, Valerie. As played by Amanda Seyfried, she's a poor young woman in medieval times who's heading toward an arranged marriage with a wealthy man but plans to elope with her lover (Shiloh Fernandez). The big, bad wolf in this case is a werewolf, and the Witchfinder General, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), clues the villagers in to the fact that the werewolf only changes form at night and the rest of the time is human, and could be any one of them. Critical reception is too early too tell, but the buzz on this so far is mostly positive. Rated G.

Hak Na Sarakham (ฮักนะ 'สารคาม) – Indie filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, director of the banned social drama Insects in the Backyard, goes strictly commercial with her latest effort, which is produced by Sahamongkol Film International. It's a sunny comedy about the love lives of youngsters in Maha Sarakham, a rural province in the culturally distinct Isaan region of Thailand's northeast. Impish comedienne "Tukky" Sudarat Butrprom stars, playing the upperclassman mentor to some of the schoolkids. Check the trailer. Rated 15+.

Dek Phee Du 2002 Sop (เด็กผีดุ 2002 ศพ, 2002: The Unborn Child – Opportunistic showman Poj Arnon seizes upon last November's aborted fetuses scandal for his latest ripped-from-the-headlines movie. Somchai Kemklad stars. He plays a crime reporter, married to a high-school teacher, portrayed by "May" Pitchanart Sakakorn. The happy couple have a young daughter, and the little girl starts seeing ghostly playmates, which are apparently tied to an abortion had by one of the teacher's students. They make their lives a living hell. See what it's all about in the trailer. Rated 15+.

Namtan Daeng (น้ำตาลแดง, a.k.a. Brown Sugar) – The full version of last year's anthology of erotic short films gets a limited run this week at House cinema on Bangkok's Royal City Avenue. This "uncut" version runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes. House RCA's Facebook page says Brown Sugar will run for just one week, until next Wednesday. There were six segments of Brown Sugar by indie directors Panumat Deesatta, Zart Tancharoen, Kittiyaporn Klangsurin, Prachya Lampongchat, Surawat Chuphol, Anurak Janlongsilp and produced by Prachya Pinkaew and Bandit Thongdee. For the commercial release by Sahamongkol Film International, they were split in half, with the first three in cinemas last September, and the second helping in November. The first batch had the much-talked-about masturbation scene by Lakkana Wattanawongsiri, playing a massage girl who has the hots for a tattoo artist. She later goes to get a tattoo on her pelvic region. The original theatrical releases were rated 18+. Thai soundtrack only, no English subtitles.

Also showing

Living with the Tiger – Directed by Mike Thomas, this documentary about children living with HIV focuses on two youngsters as they take an emotional journey back to the families that had once left them to die at a hospice. The story is framed by the children's performance in a specially written opera, composed by Bruce Gaston, and performed to audiences in Bangkok and the countryside. The screening will be at 8pm on Monday, March 14, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. The British director Thomas and Anthony Pramualratana from the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS will take part in a post-screen discussion.

Sneak preview

Just Go With It – Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston team up for this romantic comedy, directed by Sandler's regular Happy Madison helmer Dennis Dugan. Sandler is a plastic surgeon, divorced for 20 years but lies about being in an unhappy marriage in order to gain sympathy other women. While on vacation in Hawaii he's meets a younger woman (Brooklyn Decker) who he really likes. He convinces his long-suffering assistant Aniston to play the part of his soon-to-be-ex wife and ropes her children into the lie as well. Critical reception is mostly negative, with the consensus being it's "slightly better than some entries in the recently dire rom-com genre, but that's far from a recommendation." Just Go With It was originally scheduled to open in a wide release but instead is only showing in sneak previews this week, with nightly screenings at most multiplexes from around 8. Rated 13+.

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