Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 21-27, 2011

Winter's Bone

Jennifer Lawrence gives an Oscar-nominated performance in Winter's Bone as a plucky 17-year-old Ozark Mountain girl who's in charge of caring for her family – a 6-year-old sister, 12-year-old brother and a mentally ill mother.

Her no-good, meth-cooking daddy has run off and is due in court. The family's rural homestead has been put up as collateral for bail, and the sheriff (Garret Dillahunt) comes by, saying if the father doesn't turn up for his trial, the family will be evicted.

With no other place to go, and desperate to keep her family together, the girl takes it upon herself to track down her dad. It's a harrowing, life-threatening adventure that takes her into the dark, grisly methamphetamines underworld of the rugged and impoverished Ozarks region of middle America.

Directed by Debra Granik, Winter's Bone is a small-budget independent production. It had a limited release in the U.S. last year. It's won many awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to the best-actress nomination at this year's Academy Awards, it was also up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes as the girl's Uncle Teardrop.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. "Bleak, haunting, and yet still somehow hopeful, Winter's Bone is writer-director Debra Granik's best work yet – and it boasts an incredible, star-making performance from Jennifer Lawrence," says the consensus. It's only at the Lido in Siam Square.

Also opening

LimitlessThe Hangover star Bradley Cooper heads up this thriller that is marketed on the premise "what if a pill could make you rich and powerful?" He's an author who overcomes writer's block with the help of a secret new drug that boosts his brain power. He's soon addicted and uses his new superhuman abilities to play the stock market and get rich. He catches the eye of a mega-mogul (Robert De Niro) but also attracts the unwanted attention of criminals who'll do anything to get their hands on his drug stash. Neil Burger directs, and Abbie Cornish also stars. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive, with critics saying the script is uneven but it has "plenty of visual panache, and Bradley Cooper makes for a charismatic star". It's only at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at SFX The Emporium. Rated 15+.

Ironclad – Paul Giamatti has played hot-tempered characters before, like in Sideways and Shoot 'Em Up, and he blusters as he chews up the scenery in this historical action drama, playing the tyrannical King John. Having been forced to sign the Magna Carta granting men their basic freedoms, he's going back on his deal and has hired Danish mercenaries to help him take back his power. The key is Rochester Castle, where a member of the Knights Templar (James Purefoy) leads a small ragtag band of rebels, among them Brian Cox and Jason Flemyng. They have to hold the castle at all costs against an overwhelming force. Kate Mara also stars in this British production, filmed in Wales, and directed by Jonathan English. Because Ironclad hasn't yet had a major release in the U.S., critical reception is too early to gauge. But the movie was screened at the recent ActionFest in the U.S., where it won praise for its wildly bloody and violent castle-siege scenes. Rated 18+.

Ramayana: The Epic – Made in India, this computer-animated feature cartoon depicts the epic tale of Lord Rama from his birth until his battle with Ravan at Sri Lanka and the liberation of Sita. It's a well-known tale, with the Ramayana adapted into Thai folklore as the Ramakien. Five years went into the production of this animated feature, with more than 400 crewmembers involved. Critical reception is mixed. Confusingly, this film's promotional materials advertise it as 3D, and indeed the type of animation is 3D computer animation, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a 3D film that you need special glasses for. Rated G.

Scream 4 – Ten years have passed and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now a self-help book author, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. She reconnects with her friends Sheriff Dewey and his wife Gale (David Arquette and Courtney Cox). It's also the 15th anniversary of the first Woodsboro Murders and unfortunately Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of the masked serial killer Ghostface. Wes Craven is back as director with series creator Kevin Williamson writing the script. In addition to original trilogy stars Campbell, Arquette and Cox, new faces Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere also star. Critical reception is mixed, the consensus being that it's "undeniably an improvement over its predecessor, with just enough meta humor and clever kills." After a sneak-preview run last week, Scream 4 is now on general release. Rated 18+.

Also showing

Cyrano de Bergerac – Gérard Depardieu stars in this 1990 adaptation of an 1897 stage production that was in turn loosely based on an actual historical figure. Depardieu won the best actor award at Cannes in 1990 (as well as an Academy Award and tons of other prizes) for his portrayal as the storied swashbuckling romantic poet with a big nose. Jean-Paul Rappeneau directs. Anne Brochet and Vincent Perez also star. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. It screens on Wednesday, April 27, as part of the "Special Festival de Cannes" at the Alliance Francais Bangkok every Wednesday until May 25.

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