Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 23-29, 2012

The Artist

Probably this year's most-awarded movie, The Artist opens in Bangkok on the same weekend as the Oscars. A "silent" film, shot in black and white in keeping with the style of the old silent movies, it's a nominee for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and original screenplay for Michel Hazanavicius, best actor for Jean Dujardin and best supporting actress for Bérénice Bejo.

Other accolades include the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical, seven Baftas and best actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Even the movie's scene-stealing canine star, the Jack Russell terrier Uggie, has won awards, including Cannes' Palm Dog and the recent Golden Collar Awards in Hollywood.

Set in 1927 Hollywood, Dujardin is an actor whose career is fading away with the advent of talkies. But he receives encouragement to develop a new skill from a rising young actress (Bejo).

Other stars include John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller and Malcolm McDowell.

Critical reception is wildly positive. It's a Apex Siam Square, SFW CentralWorld and SFX the Emporium. Rated 13+.

Also opening

Haywire – Double-crossed and left for dead while on a mission in Dublin, a government security operative (Gina Carano) has to use her high-kicking skills to evade killers while trying to find out the reason behind her attempted assassination. Steven Soderbergh directs this action-packed globetrotting thriller, which is led by Carano, a real multiple-martial-arts fighter who performs her own stunts. The supporting cast includes Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.

The Ides of March – An up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a scandal that threatens to end his candidate's shot at the presidency. George Clooney also stars. He also directed and co-scripted this political thriller. The cast also boasts Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright. It's an Oscar nominee for best adapted screenplay and was also a nominee for several Golden Globes, including best picture, best director and best actor for Gosling. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 15+.

A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg, the master of psychological thrillers, goes back to the dawn of the psychoanalytic method in this historical-fiction drama about psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and his student Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) becoming involved with unbalanced patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). It's won a few accolades this season, including a Golden Globe nomination for Mortensen – working in this third consecutive film with Cronenberg, following A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Fassbender has also been noted by critics, both for his role here and for his work in Shame, which is due to be released in Bangkok soon. Critical reception is mixed, but mostly positive. Rated 18+.

Jack and Jill – In a week when so many great movies are opening, distributors are also slipping in what's likely the worst movie of 2011. Adam Sandler stars in this crude stinker, playing dual roles about a family man whose comfortable life is thrown into disarray when his heavyset, clumsy and overbearing twin sister – Sandler in drag – comes for a visit. Katie Holmes and Al Pacino also star. Critical reception is resolutely negative. Rated G.

War of the Arrows – The best archer in Korea (Park Hae-Il) goes up against the Qing Dynasty to save his younger sister (Moon Chae-Won) who was abducted by Mongolian invaders. It's in Korean with Thai subtitles at Paragon; dubbed elsewhere. Rated 15+.

Gang Tob Phee (แก๊งค์ตบผี, Ghost Day) – Making his directorial debut Gangcore Gud last year, rapper-actor Joey Boy got Bang Rajan director Thanit Jitnukul to serve as technical adviser. And I guess the zombie comedy must've been a successful-enough collaboration because they've teamed back up for another horror-comedy for Phranakorn Film, Ghost Day. With Thanit directing, Joey Boy stars with Jazz Chuancheun. They are a pair of ghostbusters whose YouTube video of an exorcism becomes a viral hit. They are then invited to do a demonstration for a TV show, which at first underestimates the pair as mere tricksters, but then they show just how real ghosts can be. Fresh-faced young actress Phimnara Wright from last year's Do+Nut also stars, along with Boriboon Chanruang and Surasak Wongthai as well as some of the usual comedians, including Kom Chuancheun. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – CU's Dramatic Arts Department's twice-annual DVD screening series started last week, but I only heard about it this week. Today's screening is Our Beloved Month of August (Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto), a Portuguese comedy about musicians in a dance band during their country's most festive time of year. On Monday it's Incendies, about Canadian twin siblings sent on a trip to the Middle East by their mother's dying wish. And next Wednesday it's A Screaming Man, the 2010 Cannes Grand Prize winner from Chad. It's about an ageing former swimming champ who is replaced as hotel pool attendant by his son, and the consequences of the man's jealousy of his son against the backdrop of war. Remaining movies are Le Quattro Volte on March 2, Estomago on March 5 and Attenberg on March 2. All movies are screened on DVD with English subtitles. Afterward, there will be a discussion with Thai film critics. Admission is free. The venue is off Henri Dunant Road, in CU's Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building, 9th floor. The show time is 5pm.

German Film Week – Free German movies continue at 7 nightly until Sunday at Paragon Cineplex. From tonight, the films are A Year Ago in Winter, I’ve Never Been Happier, Lila Lila and When We Leave. And don't forget the Goethe-Institut's German Open Air Cinema season, which closes out next Tuesday, February 28, with The Stranger.

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