Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 1-8, 2012


German-born, Irish-raised actor Michael Fassbender is now in three movies on Bangkok screens! Just last week, he stars in two, playing a psychologically messed-up Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, and as a suave and untrustworthy mission partner to Gina Carano's hard-hitting special-ops agent in Haywire. But it's for Shame, opening this week, that Fassbender has received the most accolades in the past year.

He plays a young man living in New York, who has carefully cultivated a private life that allows him to indulge in his addiction to sex. But the sudden appearance of his troubled sister (Carey Mulligan) puts a major cramp in his lifestyle.

British filmmaker Steve McQueen directs. Shame premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival, where it won the best actor award, among other prizes. It's also collected awards from many other critics associations and festivals. Critical reception is mostly positive.

In the U.S., Shame was released under the controversial and most-restrictive NC-17 rating because of its explicit sex scenes. In Thailand, it receives the most-restrictive rating too, 20-, with ID checks mandatory, and is reportedly uncut. It's at Apex Siam Square.

Also opening

The Grey – Director Joe Carnahan teams back up with his A-Team star Liam Neeson for this grim-looking adventure tale. Neeson is the rather dour and brooding security chief for an oil-drilling team that finds itself fighting for survival after their plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness. There, they become prey for a pack of hungry wolves. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 13+.

Chronicle – "Found footage" in the style of such films as Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield and The Devil Inside recounts this tale of three teenage boys who develop telekinetic powers after they come into contact with a mysterious object. Critical reception is surprisingly positive, showing there might be good things yet in store for this tired trend of "found footage" films. Rated 13+.

Act of Valor – Active-duty members of the U.S. Navy SEALs elite special-ops force star in this action drama about a mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent. Basically, a small filmmaking unit was allowed to hang out with the SEALs while they went through training exercises. Some filming took place in Phnom Penh, where an explosion was staged. Critical reception is mostly negative, with the film being derided as pro-military propaganda. Rated 18+.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – The annoying shrill-singing woodland rodents are back for a another sequel, this time on a cruise-ship vacation. Critical reception is mostly negative. Even actor David Cross, who cashed a check as one of the live-action actors in this movie, slammed it. Small children will probably enjoy it enough to make their parents buy the DVD for repeated viewings. At SF cinemas. Rated G.

Rak Sud Teen (รักสุดที) – Mario Maurer is the handsome playboy leader of a motorcycle gang he's in with a couple of goofy guys. He swore he’d never fall in love, but then he meets a beautiful girl ("Ice" Amina Gul) and it's love at first sight. Thima Kanchanaphairin and Worachat Thammawichin also star. Parithan Wacharanon directs. He's better known as the leader of the team that dubs all the Chinese films in Thailand. Rated G.

Tamnan Rak Mae Nak 3D (แม่นาค 3D) – The story of the ghost Mae Nak has been adapted for movies, television and the stage dozens of times, and is still probably best done in the 1999 film by Nonzee Nimibutr, Nang Nak. The story, supposedly true, takes place sometime in the mid-1800s reign of King Mongkut, in Phrankhanong, a rural canal village that's now been swallowed by the Bangkok metropolis. While the pregnant Nak's husband Mak is away fighting a war, she dies while giving birth. Mak returns home, unaware that his sweet loving wife and new baby are ghosts, and the fearsome Nak takes vengeance on any neighbor who tries to clue Mak in. Now the story is told in Thailand's first 3D horror feature, which has been long in the works. Nak's endlessly stretchy arms will reach out to choke you. "Tak" Bongkot Khongmalai is Mae Nak. Rangsirote Phanpheng co-stars and Phichai Noirod directs. Rated 15+.

Also showing

The Battle of Algiers – Gillo Pontecorvo directs this vivid documentary-style war drama from 1966 on the battle against French colonial forces by Algerian freedom fighters. Highly acclaimed as a classic of world cinema, the film is held up as an important commentary on urban guerilla warfare. It screens at 8 tonight at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, with support from the representative of Algeria, who will provide Algerian food. Admission is 150 baht for non-members.

Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – CU's Dramatic Arts Department's twice-annual DVD screening series has three more movies. Tomorrow it's Le Quattro Volte, about an old goatherder struggling to maintain his way of life. Monday's movie is Estomago from Brazil, about an Italian-restaurant cook who learns to get by in a society divided between those who eat and those who get eaten. The series closes next Wednesday with Attenberg, an "awkward sex" comedy about a weird young woman who observes her fellow humans as if they were subjects of a David Attenborough wildlife documentary. 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.

Take note

Part of La Fete, Thailand's annual French cultural festival, the French Film Festival runs from March 9 to 18 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. The focus this year is on comedy, with 10 films: Service Entrance, A Happy Event, Sarah’s Key, Wolberg's Family, Altogether Too Many!, Love Like Poison, A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures, The Names of Love, Deep in the Woods and Khamsa. Tickets are 120 baht or there's a limited number of five-ticket packages available for 500 baht.

With the Academy Awards finally handed out and the endless, buzz-killing speculation over for another year, now's a good time to take a relaxed look at some of the winners playing here and see if they live up to the hype. They include the enjoyably entertaining The Artist at Apex Siam Square and SF cinemas. It won best picture, director original screenplay, leading actor and other awards. Also at Apex and SF cinemas is Alexander Payne's The Descendants, which won best adapted screenplay and features a fine performance by best-actor nominee George Clooney (who's also very slick in The Ides of March, which he also directed). The original screenplay winner Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen's best movie in years – is still playing at Apex. The best foreign language winner Nader and Simin: A Separation is still on at House. It's a gripping family legal drama and is well worth seeing. Martin Scorsese's heartfelt and fantastic Hugo, winner of most of the technical Oscars, is playing in 3D only at Paragon and CentralWorld. And The Iron Lady, featuring an Oscar-winning turn from Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, is still around.

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