Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 15-21, 2011

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise's punctuationally difficult spy franchise returns for a fourth installment with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which has Cruise back as Ethan Hunt, joined by a team that includes Simon Pegg (returning from M:I3), Paula Patton and Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner.

The story goes that the Impossible Missions Force has been framed for the bombing of the Kremlin and the U.S. president initiates "ghost protocol", shutting down IMF and disavowing all its agents. The IMF secretary (Tom Wilkinson) gives Hunt a new mission – go rogue in an effort to clear their name.

As with all the other M:I films, there's a daring feat by Cruise, who always performs his own stunts. This time, watch him scale the outside of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, footage of which was captured with the extra-large 70mm IMAX cameras in the same way action scenes in The Dark Knight were filmed, and not, thank goodness, in 3D.

The director is Brad Bird, who follows Brian De Palma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams in helming the franchise. It's the much-acclaimed Bird's first live-action effort, having previously done 1999's animated feature The Iron Giant and two Oscar-winning Pixar CG-animated movies, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

It's early days yet for critical reception, with mostly the industry press weighing in. But so far, the buzz is extremely postitive.

The IMAX version with the full height is offered only at the IMAX theatre at Paragon Cineplex, which also has an exclusive prologue to The Dark Knight Rises. It's also at other cinemas including the 4DX thing with the moving seats at Paragon. Rated 13+.

Also opening

Sleeping Beauty – In Sucker Punch, Emily Browning portrayed an orphan girl who's sent to an insane asylum, where she performs as an exotic dancer and goes into a dream state that has her fighting giant samurai, zombie soldiers and a fire-breathing dragon. It's somewhat the same premise in Sleeping Beauty, where she works as a semi-nude waitress at an exclusive gentleman’s club and is promoted to the Sleeping Beauty Chamber where elderly, impotent men pay to have an erotic experience with her while she's sedated. The debut feature by Australian director Julia Leigh and "presented by Jane Campion", it was in the main competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Critical reception is evenly mixed. At Apex Siam Square. Rated 20-.

Machine Gun Preacher – Gerard Butler stars in this fact-based biographical drama as Sam Childers, an ex-convict alcoholic drug-dealing gang member who turns to Christianity and then devotes his life to missionary work, rescuing children in war-torn Sudan, and takes up arms again to protect those children from raids by rebel soldiers. Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction) directs. Critical reception is mixed. At SFW CentralWorld and House on RCA. Rated 15+.

Love, Wedding, Marriage – Mandy Moore is a newlywed marriage counselor who's shocked to learn her parents (James Brolin and Jane Seymour) are headed for divorce. She'll stop at nothing to get them back together in time for a 30th-anniversary surprise party. Kellan Lutz from the Twilight movies co-stars. Dermot Mulroney directs. Critical reception is negative. Rated G.

Thang Yak Wad Jai (ทางแยกวัดใจ) – Each year around this time, the film industry offers special films called "pappayon chalerm prakiat", which honor the achievements of His Majesty the King. This year's offering comes from film studio GTH, which offers a trio of short films, all starring actor Pitisak Yaowanon as a man who affects the lives of others with his good deeds. The segments are directed Chayanop Boonprakob (SuckSeed), Sophon Sakdapisit (Laddaland) and Nithiwat Tharatorn (Dear Galileo). Sponsored by True, viewers can get a pair of free tickets if they figure out how to register their good deeds at the website, It's showing only at Major Cineplex.

Also showing

German Open Air Cinema Season – The Goethe-Institut Thailand's annual outdoor screening series continues next Tuesday with North Face (Nordwand), a fact-based mountaineering drama from 2008, directed by Philipp Stölzl. Set in the summer of 1936, a pair of passionate climbers, friends since childhood, aim to be the first to climb the north face of the Eiger, a steep stretch of rock that's known as the "murder wall". 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.

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