Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 8-14, 2011

Eternity (Tee Rak)

Sivaroj Kongsakul's debut feature Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak) premiered at last year's Pusan International Film Festival, where it won the New Currents competition and made Sivaroj another Thai name for world cinema followers to get acquainted with. It opened the World Film Festival of Bangkok last year, before heading back out on the road on a award-winning run of festivals in Rotterdam, Deauville and Hong Kong and earning critical praise at the LA Film Fest. It's also been announced for the upcoming London Film Festival. In the meantime, Sivaroj went to France, where he took part in the Cannes Cinefondation Residency program.

Now, finally, Sivaroj's highly emotional, personal and spiritual ode to his late father comes home to Bangkok once again, giving the multiplex crowds a contemplative alternative to the cacophonous Hollywood and Thai-studio blockbusters as part of the Extra Virgin Director's Screen Project at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

A quiet, tearful and homespun tale, Eternity (Tee Rak) is a look at man's existence in three segments, tracing back from his lonely sadness in the afterlife, to his all-too-fleeting romance and marriage and finally to the wife and son he's left behind.

It is not to be confused with a much-bigger, much-gaudier film with the same English title released by the Thai film industry last year, the director of which just happens to be releasing an outrageously big movie this week.

Running until October 5, showtimes for Eternity are at around 7 nightly with matinees around 2.30 on Saturdays and Sundays at SFW CentralWorld. Rated G.

U Mong Pa Meung (The Outrage)

Thai melodrama guru ML Bhandevanop “Mom Noi” Devakula directs U Mong Pa Meung (อุโมงค์ผาเมือง), an adaptation of Rashomon, a murder mystery that was most famously depicted in the classic 1950 movie by Akira Kurosawa.

Mom Noi insists this isn't a remake (even though the international English title The Outrage is the same as the 1964 Paul Newman western that was a remake of Rashomon). Rather, this "Thai Rashomon" is an adaptation of a stage play that was translated by statesman and writer MR Kukrit Pramoj from a Broadway version of the story. The movie has the dual purposes of celebrating the centennial of Kukrit's birth and the 40th anniversary of studio Sahamongkolfilm International.

It's set 500 years ago in the Lanna kingdom of northern Thailand. The lush Chiang Mai mountain setting is the same as Mom Noi's romantic epic last year, Eternity (Chua Fah Din Salai). It also has the stagebound, breathless melodrama and lavish costuming that audiences of Mom Noi's films have come to expect. And it has action choreography by Ong-Bak stunt guru Panna Rittikrai.

The Thai title, U Mong Pa Meung, refers to a tunnel under a city wall (instead of a city gate, as in the Kurosawa movie), where a woodcutter (Petthai Wongkumlao), a monk (Mario Maurer) and an old man (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) have taken shelter for the evening and they discuss and argue over the news of a murder in the woods and the conflicting accounts of it in the trial that followed.

Ananda Everingham takes the "samurai" role as a nobleman warrior, murdered while travelling with his wife ("Ploy" Chermarn Boonyasak). Dom Hetrakul is in the Toshiro Mifune role as the bandit. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark – Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) "presents" this horror thriller, an amped-up remake of a 1973 made-for-TV movie, about a little girl (Bailee Madison) who moves into a creepy old Gothic mansion with her family and starts seeing nasty little creatures. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes also star. Del Toro co-scripted the film with veteran screenwriter Matthew Robbins and they handed directorial duties over to comic-book artist Troy Nixey. Critical reception is mixed. "While it's pleasantly atmospheric and initially quite scary, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark ultimately fails to deliver the skin-crawling chills of the original." Rated 15+.

Zookeeper – Kevin James is an unlucky-in-romance zookeeper who receives advice in the ways of mating from his animals. The talking critters include Adam Sandler, Jon Favreau, Sylvester Stallone, Nick Nolte, Cher, Maya Rudolph and Don Rickles. The live-action cast includes Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Donnie Wahlberg, Joe Rogen and The Hangover's Ken Jeong. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. I think this going to seem like a major comedown after the critically acclaimed hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Rated 15+.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan – A young man sets out to arrange a marriage for his brother but finds himself falling for his future sister-in-law. Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar star in this love-triangle romantic comedy. In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) tonight at 8, Sunday at 7.30 and Monday at 8 and at Major Rama III tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 4. Call (089) 488 2620 or visit

Also showing

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – The annual twice-yearly screening series of acclaimed foreign films closes out on Friday, September 9, with The Illusionist, the latest feature by Triplets of Belleville animator Sylvain Chomet. Based on a screenplay Jacques Tati, it's the story of a French illusionist who finds himself out of work and has an adventure in Scotland with a young woman. The movie is on DVD with English subtitles. The show time is at 5pm in the Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building, 9th floor, off Henri Dunant Road.

All That I Love – This acclaimed Polish drama follows the lives and loves of four young guys as they struggle to form a punk band against the backdrop of 1980s Poland and its political turmoils stemming from communism and the Solidarity movement. Directed by Jacek Borcuch, it was in competition at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and has won praise from other festivals, including Busan, Rotterdam, Brussels, New York and Los Angeles. It was also Poland's official entry to the Oscars. The screening is at 8pm next Thursday, September 15 at the Foreign Correspondents Club. Entry for non-members is 150 baht and 100 baht for anyone wanting to sample the vodka and zhurek from the Polish Embassy.

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