Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 12-18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

No, The Lincoln Lawyer has nothing to do with the 16th president of the United States.

It's a modern-day crime thriller set in Los Angeles, with Matthew McConaughey sleazing it up as highly sought-after criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car.

Accustomed to defending bikers, drug dealers and various other low-life criminals, McConaughey's Mickey Haller takes on the highest profile, most challenging case of his career when he agrees to help a wealthy Beverly Hills playboy who's accused of rape and attempted murder.

The accused is portrayed by Ryan Phillippe, and he looks to be running a game on the lawyer as the suspense builds.

The cast includes William H. Macy as Mickey's down-at-the-heels investigator, Michael Peña as a previous client whose case was similar and Marisa Tomei as Mickey's disapproving prosecutor ex-wife. Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Bob Gunton and Bryan Cranston also star.

Critical reception is mostly favorable. "It doesn't offer any twists on the predictable courtroom thriller formula, but with a charming Matthew McConaughey leading its solid cast, The Lincoln Lawyer offers briskly enjoyable entertainment," says the consensus.

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

Also opening

White Buffalo (E-Nang Ei Khoei Farang, อีนางเอ๊ย...เขยฝรั่ง) – The phenomenon of the dusky women of Isaan getting hitched to pale-skinned foreigners is the basis of this romantic comedy. “Ron AF5” Patarapon Too-on stars as a young man who returns to his Northeast village for a childhood friend’s wedding and is shocked to discover that the women there are crazy about farang men, including his old crush, Waewdao (“Preaw AF2” Anusara Wanthongtak). Rungrawan Tonahongsa, who previously played the troublemaking Isaan maid in Noo-Hin: The Movie, also stars. It's the feature directorial debut by veteran industry hand Chinoret Khamwandee and was chosen from the Thailand Script Project four years ago and picked up for production by Sahamongkolfilm International. It also received backing from the Culture Ministry's "Strong Thailand" fund. Read more about it in The Nation. And check out the trailer. Rated 13+

Love First (Khob Khun Thee Rak Kan, ขอบคุณที่รักกัน) – Five Star Production brings together three stories about families in this romantic-drama anthology directed by Peerasak Saksiri, who previously wrote the screenplay to the hit historical musicial drama The Overture; Putipong Saisikaew, who was one of the "Ronin Team" behind Art of the Devil 2 and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, the longtime lensman for Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The cast includes veteran soap actress Lalita Sasiprapha nee Panyopas, best known outside Thailand for her roles in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's 6ixtynin9 and Ploy, and the young starlet Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, who made her debut in Ploy. However, the two Ploy actresses appear in different segments – Lalita as the wife of a soldier husband heading off to duty while Saipan Apinya is a music student travelling around the countryside with a professor (veteran character actor Somchai Sakdikul) and another student played by Patchai Pakdeesusuk, better known as Pup from the rock band Potato. Check out the trailer. Rated G.

Priest – Paul Bettan stars as a vampire-fighting priest in this Wild-West-flavored special-effects-driven action-horror thriller that's based on a South Korean comic. When his niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires, Bettany's character disobeys his monsignor (Christopher Plummer), breaks his vows and goes in search. He's accompanied by a wasteland sheriff who's also the niece's boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) and a former warrior priestess, played by Maggie Q. Karl Urban (Star Trek, Red) is the villain, Black Hat. Genre-cult character actor Brad Dourif also stars. Scott Stewart, who previously directed Bettany as an avenging angel in Legion, directs. Critical reception so far is negative, but because this movie doesn't open in the U.S. until Friday the 13th, it's possible that better opinions are still forthcoming. It's also showing in 3D (post-converted). Rated 15+

Panda Diary (Panda Days) – Pandas, pandas, pandas. If you can't get enough of these roly-poly, bamboo-munching black-and-white bears from TrueVision's 24-hour Panda Channel broadcast from the cage of Lin Ping at the Chiang Mai Zoo or the upcoming Kung Fu Panda 2 animated feature, here's a Japanese documentary a pair of four-year-old cubs born in captivity in Wakayama, Japan and their journey to a new home – a reserve in China where they will help repopulate the species in their native land. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square. Rated G.

Also showing

Bangkok International Student Film Festival – The second edition of the annual showcase of student films offers more than 200 shorts and documentaries from around the world, include France, the U.K., New Zealand, Spain, the Czech Republic, Kenya, South Korea and Israel, as well as Thai student films. Many will have English subtitles. Starting today, screenings run from around 11am or noon daily except Monday until May 20 on the fourth and fifth floors of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Check the daily schedule on the festival website for more details. There will be be seminars and workshops. Admission is free. Get a glance of the action in the festival trailer.

You Say You Want a Revolution – For the past several weeks, this exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre has been hosting retrospectives of short films by local indie filmmakers. This Friday's screening features the work of Chulayarnnon Siriphol, whose notable films include Hua-Lam-Pong, Danger and Karaoke: Think Kindly. You can read more about the program at Limitless Cinema. The showtime is from 6 to 8pm on the ninth floor of the BACC. There's also a screening on Saturday from 6 to 8 featuring shorts by Paisit Panpreuksachat. Upcoming shows will feature shorts by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit and Wiwat "Filmsick" Lertwiwatwongsa.

Clean – Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung won the best actress prize at Cannes in 2004 for her portrayal of the drug-addicted widow of a rock star. Directed by her ex-husband Olivier Assayas, she has her hair all frizzed out and is chain-smoking. She's a woman determined to change her ways in order to take custody of her son from her in-laws. Nick Nolte appears as her father-in-law. Clean was also a nominee of the Bangkok International Film Festival's Golden Kinaree in 2005, as well as loads of other prizes. Critical reception is mostly positive. Screens on May 18. Screens at 7.30pm on Wednesday, May 18 as part of the "Special Festival de Cannes" at the Alliance Francais Bangkok, every Wednesday until May 25.

Take note

House cinema on RCA is closed through Tuesday as it hosts the annual auditions for the "Academy Fantasia" talent show. It'll reopen on Wednesday, May 18.

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