Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 10-16, 2011

The Help

One of this summer's most critically acclaimed movies in the U.S., The Help is about a young white woman in Jackson, Mississippi, who starts a secret writing project with a pair of black maids – a risky proposition because of societal rules in the American South of the 1960s.

Emma Stone is Skeeter, the college-graduate writer, with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as her partners in the project, which explores the daily lives of homemakers and their hired help. Bryce Dallas Howard is the town's snooty racist ringleader. Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson also star.

The movie is adapted from the best-selling 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett and is directed by Tate Taylor.

Critical reception is mostly positive. "Though arguably guilty of glossing over its racial themes, The Help rises on the strength of its cast – particularly Viola Davis, whose performance is powerful enough to carry the film on its own," is the consensus. The Help was also a surprise hit at the U.S. box office.

It's at Paragon Cineplex.

Also opening

Tower Heist – The employees of a high-rise luxury condo want to take revenge by stealing from the Wall Street swindler who stole their retirement funds. They know nothing about crime, so they hire a streetwise ex-con to help them with the caper. Directed by recently resigned Oscar producer Brett Ratner, Tower Heist has long been in the works, first hatched six years ago as an idea by Eddie Murphy, who wanted to make an "all-black Ocean's Eleven". Now, many rewrites later, with Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck and Matthew Broderick among the bumbling gang of thieves and Alan Alda as the penthouse tenant, it ain't that. But Murphy is still in the movie, playing the smart-alec ex-convict, and Gabourey Sidibe from last year's much-acclaimed Precious is a saucy maid. Critical reception is surprisingly positive. Rated 13+.

Dirty Girl – A troubled and promiscuous high-school student (Juno Temple) in 1980s Norman, Oklahoma, is assigned to the special-education class, where she strikes up an unlikely frienship with a shy gay guy (Jeremy Dozier). They embark on a road trip to Fresno, California, in search of the girl's birth father. Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy, Mary Steenburgen and Dwight Yoakam also star. Written and directed by Abe Sylvia, the coming-of-age comedy premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. Critical reception is mixed. At Major Cineplex (including Paragon, Paradise, Esplanade, EGV).

Racing Love a.k.a. Mid-Mile(มิดไมล์) – Comedian Kohtee Aramboy stars in this motorsports comedy as a tuk-tuk driver who joins a car-racing team. Kom Chuanchuen also stars along with Alexander Mackie and Atsadaphon "Green AF5" Siriwatthonkun. Rated 15+.

Siang Thao Fah Naa Thao Klong – Musician Lek Carabao along with actress "Kratae" Supaksorn Chaimongkol and others explore the tradition music of Thailand's four regions. Pham Rangsri directs. Screenings at 7 nightly until November 16 at House on RCA.

Also showing

Lemon Tree – A Palestinian widow puts up a fight when the new Israeli defence minister moves in next door and orders her citrus orchard cut down because it poses a security threat. Lemon Tree screens at 8 tonight (Thursday, November 10) at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand. Directed by Eran Riklis, the 2008 drama won many prizes, including best actress for Hiam Abbass and best screenplay at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Admission is Bt150 for non-members. Call (02) 652 05801 or visit

Take note

In the past week, the flood has closed Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Central Lad Phrao, home to an SFX cinema. According to The Nation, Major Cineplex has closed 12 branches because of the flooding.

The waters, keep bottled up on Bangkok's northern edge by permanent floodwalls and a line of sandbags of unusual size (or SOUSs for short), have seeped in and are moving ever-so-slowly closer to central Bangkok. They threaten to hit the Victory Monument area in a week or so. The water is also creeping through the sewers, rising back up in the eastern suburbs, causing what is now minor flooding along Srinakarin Road.

Due to the amount of water still looming behind barriers in northern Bangkok, the flood disaster is expected to continue for several more weeks. It will likely take a month or two to drain it all.

Avoid flooded areas if at all possible. If you feel you have to go to a movie, consult multiple sources of information to ensure the area you're heading to won't be underwater by the time the movie lets out.

I've been keeping tabs on the flood on Twitter, by following the #ThaiFloodEng hashtag. Like Twitter in general, you have to sift through a lot of nonsense for nuggets of useful information, but at the moment I don't know where else to look. And a good source of practical information about the flood can be found in the videos by Roo Su Flood, the latest of which addresses panic buying in the supermarkets.

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