Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 28-August 3, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Comics' cinematic universe continues to expand with Captain America: The First Avenger, which is meant as a tie-in with the franchise of superheroes that includes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Thor.

Captain America: The First Avenger is an origin story, in which a scrawny runt of a guy named Steve Rogers is deemed unfit for military service in World War II. Determined to serve his country, he volunteers for the top-secret Project Rebirth, which turns him into a musclebound Super Soldier. Chris Evans stars.

Dubbed Captain America, he leads a special-ops team into battle against the Nazis and the advanced weaponry of the evil HYDRA organisation, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

Tommy Lee Jones also stars alongside Sebastian Stan as Rogers' sidekick Bucky Barnes, Hayley Atwell as the Cap's love interest Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci as the scientist who made the Super Soldier serum.

The director is Joe Johnston, who got his start as a special-effects artist on 1977's Star Wars and then made his directorial debut with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in 1989. His other films include Jumanji, Hidalgo, last year's The Wolfman and the movie that the 1940s style of Captain America will recall, 1991's The Rocketeer.

As with all the other movies of the Marvel cinematic universe, you'll likely want to remain seated through the closing credits for an "Easter egg" teaser to the next movie in the franchise, The Avengers, due out next year.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive, promising "plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment."

It's in 2D and 3D (as well as 4D at Paragon Cineplex).

Also opening

Gancore Gud (ก้านคอกัด) – Hip-hop mogul Joey Boy blends gangsta rappers with girls and ghouls for this low-budget horror-comedy that has his Gancore hip-hop collective stranded on a remote island where they hope to party with a bunch of bikini-clad Playboy models. They instead are confronted by zombies and other supernatural beings. Released by Phranakorn, Gancore Gud is the feature-film directorial debut for Joey Boy, a.k.a. Apisit Opasaimlikit, who previously acted in GTH's 2006 rock 'n' roll comedy The Possible (Kao ... Kao) and the "Monk Teng" comedy Luangphee Teng 2 (The Holy Man 2). You can read more about the movie in an article in The Nation. Watch the trailer at YouTube. Rated 18+.

Wu Xia (a.k.a. Dragon) – Donnie Yen is a man with a criminal past in 1917 China. He's working as a paper maker and is seeking a peaceful life for himself and and his family, but after he accidentally kills two robbers in his shop (a plot point that recalls David Cronenberg's A History of Violence), a determinedly canny detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) turns up and won't let go of the case. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues as Donnie tries to keep his past from being revealed. Martial-arts star of the 1970s Jimmy Wang Yu puts in a powerful appearance as a villain as does veteran Hong Kong actress Kara Hui. Tang Wei (Lust, Caution) also stars, playing Donnie's wife. Hong Kong producer-director Peter Chan (Perhaps Love, The Warlords) directs. Wu Xia premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and it was picked up for U.S. release by The Weinstein Company and given the rather plain, ambiguous title Dragon. While the original title Wu Xia might bring to the imagination the graceful swordplay of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, the martial-arts action is rather hard-hitting and gritty and is said to be an homage to the old Shaw Brothers' kung-fu movies, especially One-Armed Swordsman, which starred Jimmy Wang Yu. Critical reception is mixed (see here, here, here and here. In Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at SFW CentralWorld; elsewhere Thai-dubbed. Rated 13+.

A Better Life – An illegal-immigrant Mexican gardener struggles to make ends meet in Los Angeles as he tries to avoid the immigration agents and steer his son away from street gangs. Chris Weitz, who previously co-directed American Pie and About a Boy with his brother Paul and has also done such big-budget fare as The Golden Compass and New Moon, directs this low-budget indie-flavored drama set entirely in L.A.'s Hispanic community. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at Lido in Siam Square. Rated 13+.

Horrible Bosses – Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston star as the terrible title trio in this workplace comedy about three guys (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) who plot to kill their bosses. Jamie Foxx also stars as the hustling ex-con the bumbling buddies turn to for advice. Of particular note are Colin Farrell sporting a combover-style hairdo and Jennifer Aniston playing against her usual sweetheart type as a sex-crazed dentist trying to put the moves on her assistant. Critical reception is mixed, surprisingly leaning to positive. The consensus: "It's nasty, uneven, and far from original, but [works] thanks to a smartly assembled cast that makes the most of a solid premise." Rated 15+.

Also showing

BollywoodThai – Bangkok's Indian movie promoters BollywoodThai have a pair of encore screenings of their recent releases. The controversially scatalogical crime comedy Delhi Belly shows at 8pm on Friday, July 29, at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai). And the buddy-roadtrip movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara screens at 8pm on Wednesday, August 3 and at 4pm on Sunday, August 7 at Major Cineplex Central Rama III. To book tickets, call (089) 488 2620.

Films on Contemporary Art and ArtistsThe Reading Room launches a new quarterly screening series on Saturday with two films by artists who take on the subject of our urban environment. First up at 2pm is Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow directed by Sophie Fiennes, bearing witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer's alchemical creative processes. It renders in film, as a cinematic journey, the personal universe he has built at his hill-studio estate in the South of France. Next at 4.30pm is Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, following artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from the garbage-dump city of Jardim Gramacho the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to the heights of international art stardom. An Oscar-nominee for best documentary, Wasteland won the Panorama Audience Award and the Amnesty International Film Prize at last year's Berlin Film Festival, and an audience award at Sundance. The Reading Room is at 2 Silom Soi 19, fourth floor. Call (02) 635 3674.

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) – Two giant figures of 20th century Indian culture – filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Nobel laureate writer-artist Rabindranath Tagore – come together for this epic about women's emancipation set against the backdrop of a nationalist movement sweeping British India. A project long in the works by Ray, Ghare Baire was released in 1984, premiering in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It's based on a novel by Tagore. Ghare Baire screens at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand next Thursday in celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore. Part of the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series, the Embassy of India, will provide wine, beer and food by Mrs Balbir's restaurant. Admission for non-members is 150 baht and 150 baht for anyone wanting to eat. The show time is at 8pm on Thursday, August 4.

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