Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 6-12, 2011

Mindfulness and Murder (Sop Mai Ngeap)

A monk works to solve a mystery in the edgy thriller Mindfulness and Murder, which looks to blend film-noir suspense with Buddhism in much the same way as last year's controversial, critically acclaimed Nak Prok (Shadow of the Naga).

Directed by Tom Waller, it's adapted from one of the "Father Ananda Mystery" novels by Thailand-based expat writer Nick Wilgus.

The Thai title is Sop Mai Ngeap (ศพไม่เงียบ ), literally "the corpse is not quiet".

Vithaya Pansringarm stars as Father Ananda, a former policeman. And when there's a murder of a homeless boy in the temple and the cops are too busy to do anything about it, Ananda is compelled by the abbot to take on the case .

Thaitanium rapper Way Prinya is a junior monk and veteran actor Jaran "See Tao" Petcharoen is the temple's abbot. "Kaew" Charina Sirisinga of the pop group ZaZa plays a reporter. Late actor "Muek" Abhijati Jusakul, who died last September, portrays the weary cop Inspector Somchai. And former Miss Universe Natalie Glebova (recently split from her ex-tennis-star husband Paradorn Srichapan) makes a cameo as a good samaritan.

Mindfulness and Murder has previously won awards on the festival circuit.

Waller's De Warrenne Pictures secured a release through M Pictures, the distribution arm of Thailand's biggest theatre company, Major Cineplex, which will show it exclusively in the chain's 21 digital "Silver Screen" halls. The indie thriller is positioned as alternative programming to a certain mega-budget Thai movie that's been unspooling on virtually all the screens in all the multiplexes over the past week.

There's a Facebook page as well as a trailer. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Source Code – Jake Gyllenhaal is a soldier who finds himself taking part in a government experiment in which he inhabits another man's body and repeatedly travels back in time to a recent incident in which a bomb aboard a passenger train killed millions of people in downtown Chicago. He has to figure out a way to foil the attack. Michelle Monaghan is his love interest while Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright are Jake's government handlers. David Bowie's son Duncan Jones directs, graduating to a major-studio, big-budget project on the strength of his critically acclaimed indie sci-fi drama Moon. Critical reception is mostly favorable, the consensus being that Jones has found "the human story amidst the action ... [to] craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller." Rated 15+.

Mars Needs Moms – A 9-year-old boy ends up on Mars after his mother is abducted. Turns out there's a shortage of mothers on the Red Planet and the Martians are stealing them from Earth. With the help of a tech-savvy fat guy named Gribble (voiced Dan Fogler) and a weird rebel Martian girl the kid looks for ways to rescue his mother. Released by Disney and produced by Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital studio, this is a motion-capture animation that's similar to Zemeckis' previous efforts with that technique, The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol, in which the movements of live-action actors wearing special suits and helmets are captured in a virtual environment. Seth Green and Joan Cusack also star. Simon Wells (The Time Machine) directs. It's based on a graphic novel by former Bloom County cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. Released in the U.S. last month, Mars Needs Moms was a major flop at the box office, a bomb that prompted Disney to torpedo Zemeckis' planned motion-capture remake of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Critical reception is mixed, the consensus that "the cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart." In 3D at IMAX.

Wind Blast (Xi Feng Lie) – Four police detectives are assigned to track down a murder suspect and his pregnant girlfriend who've fled into the desert. The tables are then turned when the hunters become the hunted as they are targeted by professional assassins. Chinese director Gao Qunshu directs this contemporary western, which stars Francis Ng, Xia Yu, Charlie Yeung, Duan Yihong, Wu Jing, Ni Dahong and Zhang Li. It's in Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at Apex in Siam Square.

Ha Zard (ฮาศาสตร์) – Cover your eyes if you don't want to be blinded by the latest hyper-colorful comedic fantasy by Bangkok Loco director Pornchai Hongrattanaporn, better known as Mr. Pink. Produced by Five Star Production, Ha Zard has Fan Chan star Charlie Trairat and Boonchu boy Thanachart Tulyachat teaming up to clown around at a comedy school that's in danger of being shut down. Pimchanok Ponlaboon, Kirk Schiller, Jaturong Mokjok and Kom Chuanchuen also star. In the trailer, I think I also spotted a cameo by the pantomime trio Baby Mime. Rated 15+

Take note

Movies are opening a day earlier than usual this week because of the Chakri Memorial Day holiday today. That will also be the case next week, for the start of the Songkran (Thai New Year) holiday on Wednesday, April 13, with movies opening that day.

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