Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 25-September 1, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

James Bond meets Indiana Jones/Han Solo in the wild wild west in Cowboys & Aliens, a genre-bending mash-up starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

Set in New Mexico Territory in 1873, a stranger (Craig) awakens in the desert with a metal band on his wrist. He has no recollection of how it got there. He wanders into the town of Absolution, where he gets into a confrontation with a troublemaking local rich kid. The town sheriff recognizes the stranger as a wanted outlaw. And the rich troublemaker's father, the local cattle baron (Ford), wants the stranger for his own purposes of revenge. Suddenly, alien spaceships begin attacking the town and the reason for that device on the stranger's wrist becomes clear.

Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine also star.

Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) directs. It's adapted from a 2006 graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

Critical reception is mixed. "Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are as dependably appealing as ever, but they're let down by director Jon Favreau's inability to smooth Cowboys & Aliens' jarring tonal shifts," is the consensus.

Cowboys & Aliens was also a disappointment at the box office, being beat for No. 1 by The Smurfs, following the trend of other recent hybridized westerns like Johah Hex, The Warrior's Way and Priest that have performed poorly at the box office. It's blamed for Disney killing its planned big-screen adaptation of The Lone Ranger.

Whatever. I'm anxious to see Cowboys & Aliens. I like westerns. And I like sci-fi. I think I might like Cowboys & Aliens.

In addition to most multiplexes, it's also at IMAX (but it's not 3D). Rated 13+.

Also opening

Kon Khon (คนโขน) – Two veteran stars of the Thai silver screen – Sorapong Chatree and Nirut Sirichanya – are pitted against each other in this dark-looking drama about rival dance troupes in 1965. The story is about performers of khon, the masked-dance artform that's used to depict the Ramakien, Thailand's version of the Ramayana epic poem. It's directed by actor Sarunyu Wongkrachang. Rated G.

Conan the Barbarian – Hawaiian-born model-actor Jason Momoa steps into the role played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1982 film of the same name directed by John Milius. Based on a character created in the 1930s by pulp novelist Robert E. Howard, Conan is a warrior in ancient Cimmeria whose father is killed. Conan the boy grows into strong fighter, bent on taking revenge, which turns into an epic battle. Ron Perlman is the dad and Stephen Lang (Avatar) is the warlord Khalar Zym. Rose McGowan is the warlord's daughter, a powerful witch. Rachel Nichols also stars. Marcus Nispel, who previously helmed remakes of Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directs. "While its relentless, gory violence is more faithful to the Robert E. Howard books, Conan the Barbarian forsakes three-dimensional characters, dialogue, and acting in favor of unnecessary 3D effects," is the critical consensus, which is mostly negative. In 3D in some cinemas. Rated 15+.

Also showing

15th Thai Short Film & Video Festival – Closing on Sunday, remaining highlights in the fest include the Queer Shorts tonight (Thursday, August 25) from 5pm and S-Express shorts from the Philippines and Indonesia on Friday. Saturday includes screenings in the International Competition and the Duke Awards for documentaries. On Sunday there's lots of animation, with Shorts for Kids at 11 and then the Payute Ngaokrachang Award competition for Thai animation in the afternoon from 1. Some films don't have English subtitles, but go along anyway and you'll likely see something that'll make you glad you did. The fest is at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center in the 5th-floor auditorium and 4th-floor meeting room. Admission is free.

Thai Film Archive – The 1998 German heist drama Run Lola Run screens today. Directed by Tom Tykwer, this kinetic thriller stars plucky Franka Potente as a young woman whose boyfriend has gotten in trouble and needs 100,000 Deutschmarks. She has 20 minutes to help him. The story is divided into three "runs" – three scenarios with different outcomes. Next Wednesday, it's the acclaimed 2003 Spanish drama Take My Eyes, about a woman trying to break the cycle of domestic violence. Both have English subtitles. Show times are at 5.30pm in the Sri Salaya Theatre at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – The twice-yearly screening series of internationally acclaimed movies continues tomorrow (August 26) with the Japanese revenge thriller Confessions, 2008's drugs drama Afterschool on August 29 and Davis Guggenheim's documentary on the troubled US school system Waiting for Superman on August 31. After each screening there's a talk with film critics Kittisak Suvannapokhin, Nopamat Veohong and Kong Rithdee. All movies are on DVD with English subtitles. Show times are at 5pm in the Mahachakri Sirindhorn Building, 9th floor.

Third Class Citizen 028: Before Samed – Film-activist group Third Class Citizen offers a retrospective on the short fiilms of Pairach Khumwan at 4pm on Saturday, August 27 at E@Double U Restraurant on the 9th floor of SF World Cinema at Central World. Films include Relativity, Distortion, Are You Mac?, Grayscale and The City of Slince Admission is free.

Spider – Tossapol Boonsinsukh will premiere his short film Spider on Saturday, August 27 at the Reading Room, with screenings at 5 and 6pm. The 17-minute film is in Thai with no subtitles. Check the Facebook event page for more details.

Public Enemy Number One – The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand screens a documentary on Wilfred Burchett, the controversial Australian journalist who covered the Korean and Vietnam wars with such a critical eye that he was branded a communist and a traitor. David Bradbury directs, and is expected to be present for the screening. The show time is at 8pm on Tuesday, August 30. Admission is 150 baht for non-members.

La répétition (Replay) – Emmanuelle Béart and Pascale Bussières star in this 2001 drama about two women who are lifelong friends. Their relationship becomes more than friendship, verges on the obsessive and morphs over the course of many years. Catherine Corsini directs. It's screening at 7.30pm on Wednesday, August 31 at the Alliance Francaise.

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