Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 28, 2011-January 4, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Steven Spielberg brings Belgian comic-book hero Tintin to the big screen with The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

For his first animated feature, Spielberg uses the motion-capture process that's similar to James Cameron's Avatar in which the actors perform on a virtual set, and wear special suits and helmets so their movements and expressions are translated to a computer program. Other scenes are wholly done with computer animation.

Spielberg acquired the rights to the Tintin books when author Hergé died in 1983 and sat on them until he could figure out a way to make the movie that matched his artistic vision. This film, the first of a planned series, is based on three comics, The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) and Red Rackham's Treasure (1944).

The results look pretty stunning, with the intrepid boy hero Tintin having the same kind of adventures as Indiana Jones did in Spielberg's live-action movies.

Jamie Bell performs as Tintin, the blond-coiffed boy reporter who has a pet dog named Snowy. He teams up for the adventure with the grizzled Captain Haddock, portrayed by the king of motion-capture animation, Andy Serkis, who previously brought to life the characters of Gollum in Lord of the Rings and King Kong, both movies directed by Peter Jackson, who is producer of Tintin, as well as this summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which Jackson's Weta Workshop special-effects house had much to do with.

The cast is rounded out by British comic duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the bumbling twin detectives Thomson and Thompson and Daniel Craig as the main villain.

Already nominated for several awards, including the Golden Globe for best animated film, critical reception is generally positive. It was filmed in 3D, and will be shown in 3D in most cinemas, including IMAX and IMAX Digital. Rated G.

Also opening

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – This documentary looks at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, whose restaurant, a 10-seater in a subway station in Tokyo's Ginza district, has been recognized as the best sushi place in the world, earning a 3-Star Michelin rating. Reservations must be made up to a year in advance. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, Jiro Dreams of Sushi has been a hit on the festival circuit. It was bought for release by Magnolia Pictures and won an audience award at this year's AFI Fest in Los Angeles. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at House on RCA.

Real Steel – Hugh Jackman trains a giant robot to box in this family drama from Disney. He's a former boxer sometime in the near future who's turned to boxing promotion after robots have replaced humans in the ring. Struggling after losing his robot in a crushing defeat, his estranged 11-year-old son re-enters his life and he finds a way to connect with the boy by obtaining a discarded old "sparring bot" and rehabilitating the underdog machine to be a contender. Practical animatronic robots are used in some scenes while most of the fighting is done by digital 'bots animated by the Avatar "simulcam" motion-capture technology in which the movements of real fighters are used. Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly also star. Critical reception is mixed. It's also at IMAX and IMAX Digital. Rated G.

New Year's Eve – Garry Marshall follows up his star-studded ensemble romance Valentine's Day with another sickly sweet all-star ensemble romance that follows several couples and singles on New Year's Eve. The overstuffed cast includes Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Yeardly Smith, Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro and too many other names to mention. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. Rated G.

Bangkok Sweety (Sor Khor Sor Sweety, ส.ค.ส. สวีทตี้ ) – For the third consecutive year, in what is now an apparent tradition, director Rerkchai Paungpetch and studio M-Thirtynine, release a Thai romantic comedy during the last week of the year. They have all been critically assailed but are insanely popular with young Thai audiences and have always made a ton of money. Bangkok Sweety, a.k.a. Sweety Movie, portrays different kinds of love, all culminating during Bangkok's New Year's Eve celebration. The cast includes "Dan" Worrawech Danuwong, "Pae" Arak Amornsupasiri, Charoenporn "Kotee" Ornlamai, "Saipan" Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Keeratee and "Yipso" Ramita Mahaphrukpong. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Hi-So – Indie Thai director Aditya Assarat's profile of cross-cultural confusion, starring Ananda Everingham, is back after a one-month run at SF cinemas in October. It's been revived by House on RCA. The drama, with dryly comic moments, is about an actor who's moved back to Thailand after being schooled in the States. He's acting in a tsunami film when his girlfriend from San Francisco comes to visit. There's Lost in Translation moments and she and Ananda just can't connect. Later, Ananda has a Thai girlfriend, and the same problems happen all over again. A tsunami-devastated resort and a partially demolished Bangkok apartment building represent the wreckage of the soul. Rated 13+.

German Open Air Cinema – The Goethe-Institut Thailand's annual outdoor movie series starts back up next week after taking this week off. Up next on Tuesday, January 3, is Close to You (Ganz nah bei Dir), a 2009 comedy-drama about a quirky obsessive-compulsive bank clerk who aims to make as little contact with strangers as possible. His life changes when he takes a liking to a blind cello player and then his apartment is robbed, forcing him start his life over again. The German Open Air Cinema series runs on Tuesdays until February 28 at the institute on Sathorn Soi 1. Show times are at 7.30pm.

La Bête Humaine (The Human Beast) – Jean Renoir directs this 1938 thriller, based on the book by Emile Zola. Jean Gabin is a train engineer who lusts after the wife (Simone Simon) of his co-worker (Fernand Ledoux). More seduction, betrayal and murder follow. It's at the Alliance Francaise at 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 4.

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