Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 11-17, 2011

The Legend of King Naresuan Part IV

There's no elephant in the room.

It's tough to get those big beasts to cooperate for the cameras, so the promised "elephant battle" has not emerged for the fourth installment of the Legend of King Naresuan series.

Now the vaunted fight with pachyderms will be depicted in Naresuan 5, which is being filmed at the Prommitr studio in Kanchanaburi.

Meanwhile, enough battle footage has been shot to cobble together another violent and bloody chapter from Siam history – The Legend of King Naresuan Part IV (Tamnan Somdej Phra Naresuan Maharaj 4: Suek Nandabayin, ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช ภาค 4 ศึกนันทบุเรง ). It's being released this week to coincide with the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty the Queen's birthday on August 12, which is also Mother's Day in Thailand.

Naresuan 4 follows the April release of Naresuan 3. Meanwhile, the first two movies in the Naresuan series have been released on DVD in the U.S. as Kingdom of War.

With the movie's subtitle loosely translated to mean "wars with Nandabayin", Naresuan 4 focuses on the 1576 invasion of Ayutthaya by the army of Burmese King Nandabayin.

Jakrit Ammart portrays the Burmese monarch. Lt. Colonel Wanchana Sawasdee returns as Naresuan, back in action with a cast of thousands that includes "Peter" Nopachai Jayanama, Taksaorn Paksukcharoen, Chatchai Plengpanich, Grace Mahadumrongkul and Inthira Charoenpura.

The trailer, playing for the past several weeks in cinemas, on Bangkok's skytrain and elsewhere, has been frightening children and tourists with a graphic beheading scene. Rated P.

Also opening

Tomboy – The new kid in town – a girl named Laure – decides to dress and act like a boy. She fools all the other kids into thinking she's a boy, but things get complicated when she attracts a girlfriend. Directed by Céline Sciamma, Tomboy screened earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Teddy Award, given by a special jury to the best film with gay themes. It's in French with English and Thai subtitles at Apex in Siam Square.

Bad Teacher – Cameron Diaz is a junior-high teacher with a rotten attitude. Bored with teaching, she maintains a steady regimen of booze and pot and sleeping in class to get through her day. When a handsome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) catches her eye, she becomes determined to marry him and sets about to change her ways so she can earn a big bonus and pay for breast-enlargement surgery. But she has to compete with a colleague (Lucy Punch) and keep away from a pestering gym teacher (Jason Segel). Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard) directs. "In spite of a promising concept and a charmingly brazen performance from Cameron Diaz, Bad Teacher is never as funny as it should be," is the critical consensus. Rated 18+.

The Dragon Pearl – Sam Neill stars in this family-oriented Chinese-Australian fantasy as an archaeologist working in China. His son Josh and a local girl Ling find a mysterious cave which they think is home to an ancient dragon. Louis Corbett, Li Lin Jin and Jordan Chan also star. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Memorial to Ratana Pestonji – The Thai Film Archive pays tribute this month to pioneering director Ratana Pestonji, who strove for innovations in the Thai film industry and put Thai movies on the world cinema map. His features include Black Silk (แพรดำ, Prae Dum), which is not only regarded as the first Thai film noir, it's also one of the first Thai films to compete at an overseas festival. It screened in competition at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival. It'll show at 1pm on Friday, August 12, with English subtitles. Another of his films is 1958's Dark Heaven (Sawan Mued), about a singing garbageman who enters into a tragic romance with an orphan girl. It'll show at 1pm on Sunday, August 14. Ratana's 1957 debut feature Country Hotel screens on Wednesday, August 17 at 5.30. The stagebound comedy is set in a bizarre bar and guesthouse that has only one room, where a mysterious man and an enigmatic heroine attempt to stay. Various musical acts parade through the bar, which also plays host to arm wrestling and a boxing match. From a hilarious, farcical first half, the movie descends into film-noir territory for its second half. "With its distinctive style and clever screenplay, Country Hotel is one of the best Thai films which everybody must see," says the Film Archive. There are also foreign films with English subtitles. On Tuesday, August 16 at 5.30 they'll show Hiroshima mon Amour, a 1959 French New Wave romance by Alain Resnais, about a French actress working on an anti-war film falls in love with a Japanese architect shortly before her return to France. Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada star as the couple referred to as "she" and "he". The film earned an Oscar nomination for screenwriter Marguerite Duras, as well as a special award at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. Next Thursday, August 18 at 5.30pm, it's Ounie Lecomte's A Brand New Life, the acclaimed South Korean that recently enjoyed a run at House cinema. It's about a 9-year-old girl left at an orphanage trying to come to grips with her abandonment. It won the Best Asian Film Award at the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival and the jury award at the 2009 Cinekid Festival in Amsterdam. The screenings are in the Sri Salaya Theatre at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom.

Mother's Day programs – House cinema on RCA will screen two films in celebration of Thailand's August 12 Mother's Day – Me and You and Everyone We Know and Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me and Sometimes Dad. Me and You is the much-acclaimed debut feature by writer Miranda July. It's about a recently divorced shoe salesman (John Hawkes), the father of two children, who gets into a relationship with a quirky cab driver and video artist (July). Tokyo Tower is about an artist who must care for his cancer-stricken mother. The cast includes mother-daughter actresses Kirin Kiki as the mother in her later years and Yayako Uchida, who portrays the woman in recollections about the artist's childhood. See the House website for showtimes.

Les Sœurs fâchées (Me and My Sister) – Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Frot star in this 2004 comedy-drama about sisters with clashing personalities. It screens at 7.30pm on Wednesday, August 17 at the Alliance Francaise.

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