Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 24-30, 2011

Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah)

Pen-ek Ratanaruang aims to turn the hitman genre on its head with Fon Tok Kuen Fah (ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า), a.k.a. Headshot.

Based on a short novel by acclaimed Thai writer Win Lyovarin, it's a film-noir flavored thriller about a cop who is blackmailed by a powerful politician and framed for a crime he did not commit. Sent to prison, he is eventually recruited to become a hitman for a shadowy vigilante group. While posing as a monk on one job, he's shot in the head and wakes up after a three-month coma to find that he sees everything upside down, literally. He aims to start a new life, but finds himself being hunted by revenge killers.

"Peter" Nopachai Jayanama stars. He's the actor who portrayed the prince's leading general in the Naresuan movies and also starred in Pen-ek's forest thriller Nymph. Cris Horwang, from Saturday Killer and Bangkok Traffic Love Story, also stars.

This is the first feature that Pen-ek's done without the Thai studio Five Star Production. He's gone the indie route and is now with the upstart production marque Local Color, started by producer Pawas Sawatchaiyamet (formerly Saksiri Chantarangsri).

Headshot had its world premiere back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. It also screened in competition at the Tokyo fest, where Pen-ek did an official interview. You can read it at the festival website. The film also screened at the Vancouver fest, where IndieWire gave it a favorable review. There's even a review in The Nation today. And you can watch the Thai trailer.

It's at SF cinemas. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Take Shelter – The intense actor Michael Shannon stars in this psychological drama, portraying a small-town family man who is disturbed by apocalyptic visions. He sets about building a storm shelter in his backyard without explaining the need for it, and his strange behavior strains his relationship with his family. Jessica Chastain also stars, portraying the man's wife. It's directed by Jeff Nichols, an independent writer-director from Little Rock, Arkansas, who made the critically acclaimed Shotgun Stories, which also featured Shannon. Take Shelter is also gathering critical acclaim as well as awards at film festivals. It's at Apex Siam Square and at House on RCA. Rated 15+.

Puss in Boots – The scene-stealing supporting character from Dreamworks Animation's Shrek movies gets his own feature in this swashbuckling adventure that fractures more fairytales. Here, the swordfighting feline, voiced by the debonair Antonio Banderas, teams up with the street-smart cat burglar Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and his old friend, the criminal mastermind Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) to battle the outlaw couple Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). Critical reception is mostly positive. It's being released this week in just 3D, including IMAX and at Paragon's 4DX cinema, but will have a wider 2D release next week. Rated G.

Trespass – Another week brings another Nicolas Cage movie. With Seeking Justice released last week, Bangkok movie-goers can now get a double-dose of Nic with Trespass, which reunites him with 8MM director Joel Schumacher. He's a fast-talking diamond merchant who has a pretty blonde wife – played by Nicole Kidman. They live in a lavish mansion and have a troublemaking teenage daughter (Liana Liberato). Suddenly, their home is besieged by masked men, who hold them hostage. Ben Mendelsohn, Jordana Spiro, Cam Gigandet and Dash Mihok also star. Critical reception is mostly negative, the consensus being it's "another claustrophobic thriller that Joel Schumacher can churn out in his sleep ... nasty and aggressive, more unpleasant than entertaining." Rated 15+.

Take note

Although areas of suburban Bangkok continue to be plagued by floodwater, life is returning to normal across much of the metropolis as water recedes and efforts turn to recovery.

The Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhom Pathom, weathered the flood, putting up sandbag barriers and sealing its vault. It served as a haven for flood refugees and survivalists, showing daily matinees. The Nation had a story about it. A video clip, embedded above, captures the mood.

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