Well, this it. After seven movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the final installment in the film franchise that was spawned by the best-selling novels of J.K. Rowling.
Plunging right in from last November's Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the young student wizards Harry, Ron and Hermione continue their battle against the evil Lord Voldemort and the dark forces that threaten to take over the world.
Returning for the final time are the child actors all grown up, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasely and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.
Critical reception is mostly positive, mostly, I'm guessing, out of a sense of relief that it's all over. The consensus is that it's a thrilling conclusion to a cinematic story that's been 10 years in the making.
It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G.
The Lost Bladesman — The co-director and writer of Infernal Affairs, Alan Mak and Felix Chong, turn to China's Three Kingdoms epic for their latest thriller, blending historical martial-arts action with palace intrigue. Donnie Yen portrays the legendary General Guan Yu in his crossing of five passes and slaying of six generals. Jiang Wen portrays the rival general Cao Cao, with Alex Fong, Edison Wang and Betty Sun also starring. Critical reception (also here and here) is mixed. Chinese soundtrack only at SFW CentralWorld, elsewhere Thai-dubbed. Rated 15+.
European Union Film Festival – Continuing through Sunday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, one highlight of the EU fest is the British documentary Exit Through the Giftshop, about an eccentric shopkeeper's quest to capture the shadowy graffiti artist Banksy. It's showing tonight at 7.30 and on Saturday at 7.25pm. There's also the Spanish prison drama Cell 211, at 5.25pm Friday. The screenings are on DVD, with the original soundtracks and English subtitles, in the first-floor auditorium at BACC. Check the full line-up in an earlier blog entry, the festival's Facebook page (which has links to trailers) or a Google calendar.
Indie Spirit Project – Bioscope magazine's screening series continues for one more week at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld with Breakfast Lunch Dinner (no commas), a compilation of shorts by three female Asian directors, China's Wang Jing, Thailand's Anocha Suwichakornpong and Singapore's Kaz Cai, and Lumpinee, a documentary by Chira Wichaisuthikul on youths in a Muay Thai camp in Trang. Screenings run nightly until Wednesday, with Breakfast Lunch Dinner at 7 and Lumpinee at 9.
Delhi Belly – Having caused upset in India for its vulgar language (as well as its depiction of a Hyundai car) BollywoodThai has organized one more screening next week of Delhi Belly. The scatalogical comedy is about a trio of hapless young men, Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunal Roy Kapur, on the run from mobsters in India's capital. It's screening at 8pm on Tuesday, July 19 at SFX the Emporium. Call 0894882620 or 022257500 or visit www.BollywoodThai.com.
The King of the White Elephant (Phra Chao Chang Pheuak, พระเจ้าช้างเผือก) – Screening next week at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, this 1941 black-and-white historical epic is a rare film for at least a couple of reasons. First, it's one of the few Thai films made in English. And second it's one of the oldest surviving complete Thai features. Produced by statesman Pridi Banomyong, The King of the White Elephant was an anti-war propaganda piece in the months leading up to the Japanese invasion of Thailand. Not long after the film was released, Thailand was allied with Japan and Pridi had joined the Seri Thai resistance. With elephant battles and palace intrigue, as well as lots of humor, it's the story of a peace-loving king who finds himself having to go to war when his borders are attacked. The cast are all non-actors, students and faculty from Thammasat University, which Pridi founded. Though the 35mm prints were lost, a 16mm print was found in the U.S. Library of Congress and efforts were undertaken by the Thai Film Archive to make a restored 35mm print with the generous assistance of Kodak and Technicolor Asia. The restored film was presented at the 2007 Phuket Film Festival. The FCCT's screening (on DVD) will be introduced by the archive's deputy director, Chalida Uabumrungjit. And there will be a ranad (Thai xylophone) performance by Thaweesak Akarawong of the Office of Performing Arts. Pridi's daughter Dusdi Banomyong will be a special guest. Admission for non-members is 150 baht and 50 baht for anyone wanting to eat the Thai snacks. The show time is at 8pm on Thursday, July 21.
When it opened two weeks ago, Transformers: Dark of the Moon not only took over nearly all the screens in Thailand's multiplexes, screening in 3D and giving movie-goers little else to choose from, it's also been showing in the Major Cineplex Group's new 4D cinema at Paragon Cineplex. It's in Paragon's theater No. 5, one of the smaller halls tucked behind the big Siam Pavalai auditorium.
The Nation had a story about it last Friday.
So not only is there the 3D explosions popping out of the screen, there's also shaking seats, wind blowing and water spraying. Said to be popular in South Korea, where the technology originates, it's yet another gimmick to entice viewers away from their comfortable homes, their Blu-ray players and plasma screens. Priced at around 500 baht, it seems a bit too much punishment to take to have to endure. To me, the thought of spending 150 minutes being pummeled by the Transformers is not appealing.
In related news about ticket prices, the leading cinema chains Major Cineplex and SF cinemas have instituted price increases, meaning most movies now cost 140 or 160 baht, and that's just the starting price. Depending on where you sit, what movie you're going to see and the location of the theatre, you might end up paying as much as 200 baht for an ordinary movie.
Be careful where you select your seat, particularly at SF cinemas, which first show you "light blue available" in the back, where the expensive seats are. You have to get them to re-select things on the computer screen to show chairs up front for the lower prices. This is a deceptive practice.