Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 17-23, 2011


Indie filmmaker Chayanop Boonprakob made at least a couple of SuckSeed shorts about struggling young rock bands that were shown at the Thai Short Film & Video Festival in recent years. He subsequently took steady job as a flight attendant for Thai Airways International, but returned to filmmaking when GTH producer Jira Maligool came calling.

The result is a slick new teen romantic comedy, SuckSeed Huay Khan Thep (SuckSeed ห่วยขั้นเทพ). It's the story of schoolboys who form a band to impress girls, but things get complicated when a girl joins up.

The three buddies are portrayed by Jirayu La-ongmanee (Phobia 2, Love Julinsee), Patchara Jirathiwat and Thawat Pornrattanaprasert. And they all play their own instruments.

The girl guitarist who joins the band is Natcha Nualjam. She's the daughter of veteran Thai rock guitarist Laem Morrison, so axe-shredding comes naturally for her.

Thanks to the showbiz clout of the GMM Grammy company, well-known Thai musicians make cameos. They include singer Pod from Moderndog, Pui Blackhead, Dak from Big Ass and the band Bodyslam as well as members of Paradox and So Cool.

You can read more about the movie at The Nation. There's also a trailer at YouTube and the official website. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Mary and Max – An Australian clay-animated feature, directed by Adam Elliot, is about the odd lifelong pen-pal relationship that develops between a shy 8-year-old girl in Melbourne (voiced by Bethany Whitmore and later by Toni Collette) and a misanthropic 44-year-old man in New York (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Barry Humphries narrates and Eric Bana lends his voice as Mary's boyfriend. Dealing with dark themes that include loneliness, alcoholism, obesity and mental disorders, this is most assuredly not a cartoon for the kiddies. Mary and Max has been a hit at film festivals. Awards include the Annecy Cristal from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Best Animated Feature at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2009. Critical reception is mostly favorable, the consensus being that it's "a lovingly crafted, startlingly inventive piece of animation whose technical craft is equaled by its emotional resonance." At House on RCA. Rated G.

The Stool Pigeon – Dante Lam directs this Hong Kong crime thriller about a detective (Nick Cheung) who recruits an informant, a street racer named Ghost (Nicholas Tse), to infiltrate the gang of the thief Barbarian (Lu Yi). Guey Lun-mei also stars as the girlfriend of one of the gangsters. Critical reception has been favorable, with a car chase set to the song "White Christmas" noted as a highlight. It's in Cantonese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square. Rated 15+.

Gantz – Two teenagers who died while trying to rescue a man from the subway tracks find themselves brought back to life and forced to participate in a game where they hunt down and kill aliens. This ambitious sci-fi thriller, the first of two parts, is based on a best-selling manga and popular anime TV series. Critical reception is mixed. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon and CentralWorld, elsewhere Thai dubbed. Rated 15+.

Beastly – An obnoxiously rich, good-looking and popular teenager (Alex Pettyfer) is taught a lesson in humility by a witch (Mary-Kate Olsen) when he's transformed into a hideously body-modded monster, a form he'll stay in unless he can find true love in two years. Vanessa Hudgens is his romantic interest. And Neil Patrick Harris plays his blind tutor. A contemporary twist on Beauty and the Beast, the movie is based on the fantasy romance novel by Alex Flinn. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated G.

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 with women. While on vacation in Hawaii he meets a younger woman (Brooklyn Decker) who he really likes. He decides to get "divorced" so he can be with her. So 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." Rated 13+.

Last Night – A married New York City couple (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington) spend a night apart. He takes a business trip with an attractive colleague (Eva Mendes). She meets up with an old flame (Guillaume Canet). This 2010 indie romance is directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Massy Tadjedin. It hasn't had a wide release yet in the U.S., so critical reception is a bit thin. It's at Apex Siam Square and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 15+.

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. There was a story about the project in The Nation on Monday. It screens at 8 tonight at Patravadi Theatre as part of the Fringe Festival. Former Miss Thailand and filmmaker Pop Areeya will give an introduction and director Thomas will be onhand afterward for a Q&A. Visit the film's website for details about tickets.

French Film Festival – Part of the annual La Fête culture and arts festival, the seventh edition of Bangkok's French Film Festival opens at 8 on Friday night with Gainsbourg, a biographical comedy-drama on the colorful romantic life of singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. Saturday has the gay fatherhood comedy Baby Love starring Lambert Wilson, the sweeping historical romance What Love May Bring, the teen-and-grandfather drama Restless and the teen suspense thriller Lights Out. On Sunday, there's the nostalgic Memory Lane, François Ozon's drama The Refuge, the mother-daughter comedy LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and the Kurdish migrant's comedy Welcome. The romance Mademoiselle Chambon screens on Monday, Baby Love again on Tuesday and Memory Lane on Wednesday night. Screenings are at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Check the festival website for more details.

Third Class Cinema 024: Kong Pahurak Retrospective – The indie-film activist group Third Class Citizen offers a retrospective on director Kong Pahurak, a film student at Japan's Waseda University. He's made a series of well-crafted shorts that are mostly low-budget sci-fi. His films include The Ladybird's Tears, the Orwellian thriller Censored and the wry dark comedy Shinda Gaijin. The screening is at 4pm on Sunday at Eat@W at SF World Cinemas at CentralWorld. That's the restaurant on the eighth floor at the cinema. Admission is free. Check the Facebook event page for more details.

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