Life Without Principle
Hong Kong director Johnnie To trades his usual bullets for banknotes in Life Without Principle, a drama about three people plunged into dire financial straits when their lives are somehow intertwined with that of a loan shark.
The characters are an investment banker (Denise Ho) who's forced to push a high-risk investment on a greedy but ignorant customer; a dimwitted triad member (Sean Lau Ching Wan) who turns to the futures market to bail out a fellow gangster; and a police inspector (Richie Jen) whose fiancee (Myolie Wu) puts a down payment on a condominium without consulting him first. The loan shark is Lo Hoi Pang.
Life Withouth Principle premiered in the Golden Lion competition at this year's Venice Film Festival. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's already played in Singapore, where there are reviews by A Nutshell Review and FilmsBlitz.
In Cantonese with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA.
Immortals – Tarsem Singh, the director of such visually stunning movies as The Cell and The Fall, returns with this 3D swords-and-sandals fantasy set in ancient Greece. It's from the same producers as 300. Henry Cavill stars as a stonemason named Theseus, who vows to avenge the death of his mother and takes up a sword to fight the brutal and bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), whose murderous Heraklion army is rampaging across Greece in search of the long lost Bow of Epirus. Theseus gets help from the Sybelline Oracle, Phaedra (Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire), whose disturbing visions of the future convince her that Theseus is the key to stopping the destruction. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to negative. "The melding of real sets, CG work, and Tarsem's signature style produces fireworks, though the same can't be said for Immortals slack, boring storytelling," is the consensus. In 3D. Rated 15+.
Happy Feet Two – George Miller, the producer-director of such films as Mad Max and Babe, offers more family-friendly fare with this sequel to his 2006 animated feature about dancing penguins. Tapdancing penguin Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) now has a son who is reluctant to dance like the other penguins and finds himself an outcast. He takes up with another penguin clan and develops an interest in flight. Robin Williams, Pink, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria, Hugo Weaving, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are among the voice cast. Critical reception is mixed. "The animation is as eye-popping as ever, but Happy Feet Two's narrative is too noisily incoherent to recapture the Oscar-winning charm of its predecessor," is the consensus. It's in 3D, including IMAX. Rated G.
German Open Air Cinema – The Goethe-Institut Thailand's annual outdoor screening series continues next Tuesday with How About Love, a drama by Stefan Haupt that's set here in Thailand. Adrian Furrer stars as a Swiss surgeon vacationing in Thailand whose life takes a major turn when he visits refugee camp on the Burmese border and decides to stay and try to help. You can find out more about How About Love at the movie's website. The German Open Air Cinema series runs every Tuesday night until February 28 at the institute on Sathorn Soi 1. Show times are at 7.30.