Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 4-10, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The Apes franchise that started with the 1968 sci-fi thriller starring Charlton Heston is rebooted with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, an origin tale that traces the takeover of the earth by those damn dirty apes to the present day.

James Franco stars as a research scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer's. His first test subject is a chimpanzee named Caesar, and the "cure" genetically modifies the chimp to give him human-like intelligence. He breaks free, releases the medicine among other apes and starts a revolution that leads to all-out war between the humans and the apes.

With special effects by Oscar-winners WETA Digital (Lord of the Rings, King Kong), employing some of the technologies developed for Avatar, Rise aims to present "photo-realistic" apes rather than actors in monkey suits.

Behind the creepily expressive face of Caesar is actor Andy Serkis, probably best known for his motion-capture portrayal of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings.

Brian Cox, Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow and Tom Felton also star.

Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) directs.

Critical reception, so far, is positive. Rated G.

Also opening

Tom Hanks directs and stars in Larry Crowne, a comedy that puts him back in the Forrest Gump mode of an outcast dweeb who becomes an inspiration to those around him.

Hanks, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), is a middle-aged ex-Navy man with what he believes is a secure job at a "big-box" discount store. He's in for a surprise though, when he's downsized because according to company policy he doesn't have enough schooling.

So he sets out to take classes at a local community college and in the process remakes himself, gathering a circle of colorful new friends, new clothes and a battered motor scooter while he starts a romance with his pretty teacher. She's played by Julia Roberts, making for a reunion of lovebirds who previously romanced each other in Charlie Wilson's War.

Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also star.

Critical reception for this feel-good romance is mostly negative. "Despite the relaxed, easy chemistry of stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, Larry Crowne is surprisingly bland and conventional," is the consensus. Rated 15+.

Also showing

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 tonight 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.

Morbid Symptom – The DK Filmhouse (Film Virus) screening series alongside the Dialogic exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre continues on Saturday with two movies under the theme "the Old". At 3pm it's The Seed of Man (Il seme dell'uomo), a 1969 post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller by Italian director Marco Ferreri in which a young couple is rounded up by authorities, taken to an isolated base and ordered to conceive of a child in hopes of repopulating the earth. At 5 it's The Surrogate Woman, a 1987 historical drama by Korean master Im Kwon-taek about the complicated affair of a nobleman and a servant girl he's chosen to be the surrogate mother for his heir. The screening venue is a corner of the BACC's eighth-floor gallery, on a bare white wall where there are a handful of beanbag chairs strewn around. If you want a seat, get there early.

Madame Freedom (Jayu buin) – Romantic entanglements ensue in this classic 1956 South Korean film in which a married university professor finds himself attracted to typist Miss Park while the man's wife becomes interested in a young neighbor and begins to learn dancing from him while also attracting the attention of the owner of the clothing store where she works. Directed by Han Hyung-mo, it's considered a landmark for South Korean cinema as it presented for the first time the commercial potential of modern romantic dramas. The screening, supported by the Korean Film Archive, is with English subtitles at 5.30pm on Wednesday, August 10 at the Sri Salaya Theatre at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom.

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