Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 12-18, 2012


Up-and-coming English actor Tom Hardy is already on Bangkok screens in the highly acclaimed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and will be seen again in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises, but here he is all bulked up and sporting a six-pack in Warrior, opposite rising Australian star Joel Edgerton in a drama about estranged brothers who enter a mixed martial arts tournament and work out their troubled relationship in the octagonal-cage ring.

Nick Nolte is their father, a former boxer, alcoholic and born-again Christian. He agrees to train his prodigal youngest son (Hardy).

Gavin O'Connor, who previously helmed the fact-based Kurt Russell hockey drama Miracle, directs.

While the film's promotional material draws comparisons to Rocky, critics have also noted similarities to other recent critically acclaimed fighting movies, Wrestler and The Fighter.

Warrior is being tipped as one of the favorites of the year's awards season, with Hardy and Nolte being mentioned for laurels. Critical reception is generally positive.

It's at Apex Siam Square.

Also opening

My Week with Marilyn – The Weinstein Company aims to repeat the Oscar-baiting success of The King's Speech with another artful fact-based historical drama that's set in England. This one deals with royalty of a different sort – screen siren Marilyn Monroe, breathlessly portrayed by Michelle Williams, who has already collected a few prizes for the role and is nominated for several others, including a Golden Globe. The year is 1956, and Monroe, having just married playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), is in England on her honeymoon and to film The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). A 23-year-old assistant to Olivier (Eddie Redmayne) strikes up a friendship with the actress and ends up writing a couple books about his experience. Dame Judi Dench also stars, portraying actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. Critical reception is mostly positive. At Apex Siam Square, Paragon Cineplex and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 13+.

Contraband – Mark Wahlberg stars in this crime drama as a reformed criminal who is pulled back into his old life after his brother-in-law botches a drug deal. To protect his family, Marky Mark has to go to Panama to retrieve millions in counterfeit U.S. currency by duct-taping the bills around his torso. Kate Beckinsale, Caleb Landry Jones, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas also star. Icelandic actor-director Baltasar Kormákur directs, and it's a remake of 2009's Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which Kormákur starred in. This movie is just being released this week in the U.S., so critical reception is too early to tell. Rated 15+.

5 Days of War – Finnish director Renny Harlin caught fire in Hollywood back in the 1990s, directing such cult-classic action movies as Die Hard 2Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He was even married to Long Kiss star Geena Davis for a time. Then he directed Cutthroat Island, a pirate movie filmed in Thailand that was a over-budget disaster that bombed at the box office. Since then, he's directed a string of mostly duds and doesn't look to be turning things around with 5 Days of War, in which an American journalist, his cameraman and a Georgian native are caught in the crossfire of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Rupert Friend, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Richard Coyle, Rade Sherbedgia and Val Kilmer star. It had a limited release in the U.S. last summer and went to DVD in November. Now it's in theaters in Thailand. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 18+.

What's Your Number? – Anna Faris stars as a young woman who begins a frantic search for all her ex-boyfriends in an effort to find out which one was her true love. She get help from a guy played by Chris Evans. Critical reception for this predictable and formulaic rom-com is mostly negative. At SF cinemas. Rated 13+.

Friends Never Die (มึงกู เพื่อนกันจนวันตาMueng Koo Phuean Kan Jon Wan Tai) – A once-popular subgenre of Thai cinema was the teenage gangster movie, and they continue to crop up from time to time, and this is one of those. Moving from Bangkok to study in Chiang Mai, the new kid in town, Song ("Mouse" Nattacha Chantaphan), faces problems with senior students and copes by joining a gang led by a guy named Gun (Mario Maurer). Together they overcome the bullying and learn what friendship really is. Rated 15+.

Rak Wei Hei (รักเว้ยเฮ้ย!) – A nerd (Phongphit "Starbucks" Preechaborisuthkul) falls in love with a young female DJ ("Ink" Chayanuj Boontanapibul from Channel [V] Thailand) and learns how to win her heart from a love guru (Nakorn “Ple” Silachai). Rated 15+.

Also showing

Don 2 – Shah Rukh Khan is back as the indisputable king of the Asian underworld, and he aims to take over the European drug cartel. A sequel to a 2006 action drama, it was filmed in Thailand, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur and Switzerland.  Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Om Puri, Lara Dutta and Kunal Kapoor also star. In Hindi with English subtitles at SF Cinema Terminal 21 tonight at 7.45 and at Major Rama III tomorrow and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4 and 7.30. Call (089) 488 2620, (02)225 7500 or visit

German Open Air Cinema – Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds, Goodbye Lenin!, The Edukators) stars in next Tuesday evening's feature, Elephant Heart (Elefantenherz), a 2002 drama about a struggling amateur boxer. He works a tedious job and still lives at home with his unemployed alcoholic father. His only joy comes from training at the local gym, and he gets a chance at being a contender from a shady promoter. 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.

Hiroshima mon amour – Born in colonial French Indochina, writer Marguerite Duras specialized in East-West romances that were based on her own life, penning stories like The Lover and The Sea Wall, both of which have been made into movies. In 1959, she wrote the screenplay for this Japan-set drama by Alain Resnais, about the relationship between a French actress only known as "she" (Emmanuele Riva) and a married Japanese man only known as "him" (Eiji Okada). Touching on themes of the atomic bomb, forgetfulness and memory, the film is generally credited with starting the French New Wave cinema movement. It's showing at 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 18, at the Alliance Francaise Bangkok.

Take note

There are at least five film festivals coming up in the next two weeks and running into February in Bangkok and around Thailand.

Starting January 18 is the Goethe-Institut Thailand's Science Film Festival, with screenings of mostly short documentaries in venues around Bangkok, mainly geared for busloads of schoolchildren. It was postponed from last year because of the floods.

Also postponed from last year is the World Film Festival of Bangkok, which starts on January 20. The opening is at Paragon Cineplex, but after that, the screenings will all be at the Esplanade Ratchadaphisek. The closing films on January 27 will be outdoor screenings at the Village Square at the Nine Neighbourhood Centre on Rama IX Road. Highlights include Turin Horse by Bela Tarr, this year's recipient of the festival's Lotus Award, and the 3D Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog.

The 6th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival runs from January 24 to February 5 in various venues around Bangkok. The special focus is "Raiding the Archive", and the opening on January 24-25 will be at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom. Other screenings take place on January 28-29 and February 4-5 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

The Hua Hin International Film Festival has imposed itself on January 26 to 29, with a selection of around 50 films. Some of them, like the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady and the South Korean romance Always, will have regular theatrical runs. And six of the films in the HHIFF are also screening in the World Film Festival.

And up in Chiang Mai from February 2 to 5, there's the Lifescapes Southeast Asian Film Festival, with a selection of documentaries and documentary-style dramas that aim to tackle social issues in the five mainland Southeast Asian countries. The Nation had a story about the first four festivals mentioned here plus one more.

Some films you might have missed have been brought back this week at House on RCA: Pen-ek Ratanaruang's hitman thriller Headshot, the original Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the psychological thriller Take Shelter.

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