Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 28-May 4, 2011

Certified Copy

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami directs Certified Copy , a much-acclaimed romantic comedy-drama starring French actress Juliette Binoche in a role that won her Best Actress at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

She's a gallery owner living in Tuscany who attends a lecture by a British author (English opera singer William Shimell) on authenticity and fakery in art. Afterward, she invites him on a tour of the countryside, during which he is mistaken for her husband. They keep up the pretense and continue on their afternoon out, discussing love, life and art, and increasingly behaving like a long-married couple.

Critical reception is highly favorable. "The main stars are absolutely perfect in this absorbing, existential drama that dissects human relationships," is the consensus.

It's at House on RCA. Rated 15+.


The hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder is the latest Marvel Comics superhero to hit the big screen. In Thor, Chris Hemsworth portrays the powerful but arrogant warrior. The Australian actor became widely known after his high-profile appearance in 2009's Star Trek, playing James Kirk's heroic but doomed father.

After a power struggle in his realm, Thor is banished to modern-day earth, where he lands in New Mexico, is tasered by Kat Dennings and taken in by her and other scientists, among them Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgaard. After blustering at the puny humans, Thor goes out for coffee with them, breaks mugs and poses for Facebook photos.

Eventually, the battle in Thor's kingdom comes to Earth, and he has to fight Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Anthony Hopkins is Odin and Rene Russo is Thor's mother. Idris Elba and Clark Gregg also star.

Elevating the pedigree of this movie above the usual comic-book flicks is director Kenneth Branaugh, who likely tapped into all that's mythical and Shakespearean about this tale.

But because Thor is closely allied in the Marvel universe with the Iron Man franchise, expect to sit through the ending credits for a teaser to the Captain America movie coming out in July or to next year's The Avengers. It'll probably have something to do with Samuel L. Jackson and his eye-patch clad character Nick Fury.

Critical reception so far is wildly positive. Also in 3D, including IMAX. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Drive Angry – The always entertaining Nicolas Cage stars in this crazy-looking movie, which seems to be a mix of Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds and Ghost Rider. He's a criminal who breaks out of Hell to go on a road-raging drive of vengeance against an evil cult leader (Billy Burke) who is threatening to sacrifice Nic's infant granddaughter in a Satanist ritual. Nic hooks up with Amber Heard and her sweet muscle car and the pair go tear-assing around, shooting anyone who obstructs their path. Meanwhile, Satan has sent his accountant (a scene-stealing William Fichtner), who is tasked with dragging Nic back to hell. Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine 3D) directs. This movie was actually filmed in 3D for maximum exploitive effect. Critical reception is mixed. "It may deliver the over-the-top action pieces, but Drive Angry prefers to work safely within [the] grindhouse formula than do something truly unique," is the consensus. In 3D at some cinemas. Rated 18+.

Ladda Land (ลัดดาแลนด์, a.k.a. The Lost Home) – This is the latest effort from writer-director Sophon Sakdaphisit, who scripted the hit thrillers Shutter and Alone and made his directorial debut a couple years back with Coming Soon. He's now set his sights on the posh housing developments that are popping up around the edges of Thailand's cities. Starring Saharat Sungkhapreecha and Piyathida Worramusik, Ladda Land has a family who are happy in their home until ghostly things start cropping up. The fact-based tale springs from a housing development in Chiang Mai that was eventually abandoned after a series of unexplained deaths. Rated 18+.

Jakkalan (จั๊กกะแหล๋น) – Martial-arts star Jeeja Yanin (Chocolate, Raging Phoenix and the upcoming Tom-Yum-Goong 2) tries her hand at comedy in this crime farce that's directed by Mum Jokmok. She's a mischievous young woman who gets mixed up with gangsters, delivering smuggled goods on her trendy fixed-gear bicycle. There's also a bit of romance for Jeeja as well as gags from Mum and his usual crew of comedians. It's a different kind of movie for Jeeja, who's traditionally played characters who do their talking with their fists. Here, she's got quite the smart mouth, but eventually her Muay Thai fury is unleashed. Rated 15+.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son – From the high point when Flip Wilson first donned a dress to portray the sassy woman Geraldine, the schtick of the cross-dressing comedian has grown increasingly hackneyed, thanks to the likes of Tyler Perry and his Madea character and Martin Lawrence in his fat-suit playing Big Momma. Now Lawrence's franchise gets a reboot of sorts, with younger comedian Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder) joining him for more crude sight gags that take broad swipes at womanhood and people of size. Lawrence and Jackson are father and son who both disguise themselves as large women while on an undercover FBI mission to investigate a murder at an all-girls school. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative, but the movie proved popular enough at the U.S. box office back in February that they'll probably keep making these. It's only at SF cinemas. Rated 13+.

Tomorrow’s Joe (Ashita no Joe) – The 1960s manga that spawned a 1970s anime series gets a live-action adaptation. Set in 1960s Japan, it stars singer Tomoshita "Yamapi" Yamashita as a teenage hoodlum in a detention center who has talent that's spotted by an alcoholic ex-boxer (Teruyuki Kagawa). In Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Journey Through ASEAN – Two more movies dealing with children and family issues in Southeast Asia are featured in the Film Kawan film series at TK Park at Central World. At 2pm on Saturday it's Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) by Indonesian director Riri Riza. The box-office-hit childhood drama deals with 10 schoolboys growing up in the 1970s as they struggle with poverty in their village on a tin-mining island. At 2pm on Sunday there will be a screening of Moving to Mars, a documentary about two families of refugees from Burma, tracking their journeys from a camp on the Thai-Burmese border to their new homes in the U.K. The screenings are in Mini Theater 1 in TK Park on the eighth floor of CentralWorld.

Flandres – Bruno Dumont’s romance and war drama won the Grand Prix du Jury in 2006. It’s about young guy enjoys countryside walks and sex in the hedgerows with his girlfriend. He loves her, but can't quite bring himself to say they are a couple. That leads to problems later. And then the guy is shipped out to fight in some unnamed near-future European war. Critical reception is generally positive, with praise for the beautiful cinematography and convincing portrayals. Screens on Wednesday, May 4 as part of the "Special Festival de Cannes" at the Alliance Francais Bangkok, every Wednesday until May 25.

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