Thursday, April 12, 2012

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

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

In Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a stuffy fisheries scientist (Ewan McGregor) is hired by a sheikh to introduce British salmon to the desert country.

It's an impossible job, but the British government's hard-charging press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches onto the scheme as a means of distracting the public from bad news about the war.

So the expert presses ahead with the absurd plan and in the process has a life-changing experience that sees him falling for the sheikh's financial adviser (Emily Blunt).

Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat) directs. The script, based on a novel by Paul Torday, is by Simon Beaufoy, who previously adapted 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire.

Critical reception for this "feel good" movie is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated G.

Also opening

Battleship – Before there were video games, there was the simple naval-combat board game in which ships are secretly placed on a grid and your opponent tries to guess where your hidden ships are by calling out the grid coordinates. "You sunk my battleship," was the cry of defeat. Now that board game has been transformed by toymaker Hasbro into a big-budget action film, with an alien invasion taking place during war games in the Pacific. It more closely resembles Transformers, which funnily enough, is also a Hasbro toy franchise. They should find a way to work G.I. Joe into the movie so three Hasbro franchises can get in on the action all at once. Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgaard, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker star. The singer Rihanna also stars, making her big-screen debut. Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, The Rundown) directs. This doesn't open in the U.S. until next month, so there's not yet any critical reception. Rated 13+.

One for the Money – Katherine Heigl is a woman who's desperate for cash. She takes a job working for her sleazy cousin's bail-bonds company, and her first job is tracking down a former vice cop and murder suspect who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in high school. Julie Ann Robinson (The Last Song) directs. It's been unfavorably compared to a similar movie, The Bounty Hunter, which starred Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Better movies along these lines might be Midnight Run or even Domino. Perhaps stay inside during the insane Songkran holiday and watch those instead. Critical reception is overwhelmingly negative. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Le genou de Claire (Claire's Knee) – Eric Rohmer directs this 1970 drama about a 35-year-old professor who is suddenly struck with the urge to touch a teenage girl's knee. It's at the Alliance Francais at 7.30 next Wednesday.

Sneak preview

Home (Home ความรัก ความสุข ความทรงจำ, Home Khwam Rak Khwam Sook Khwam Songjam) – Matters of heart and family are still near and dear to Love of Siam director Chookiat Sakveerakul and he explores them in his new movie Home, which opens in wide release next Thursday but is in sneak previews this weekend through Monday at select cinemas at around 8 nightly. Home is a collection of three stories set in Chookiat's northern Thailand hometown of Chiang Mai. One has a pair of high-school pals (Juthawut Wattanakampon and Kittisak Pathomburana) reminiscing about their school days, and there's an undercurrent of perhaps something more than friendship. Another thread is about a northern gal ("Noon" Siriphan Wattanajinda) who's getting cold feet as she's about to marry a southern lad (Ruangsak Loychoosak). And a third storyline stars veteran actress Penpak Sirikul – yes, her, again – who earlier this year starred in It Gets Better and is on big screens now in She. In Home, she portrays a soon-to-be-widowed wife of a man (Witoon Jaiprom) with terminal cancer. Rated 18+.

Take note

The ticket sellers at the Scala will be on the job for a while longer it seems. Photo by Philip Jablon.

It looks like the Lido and Scala cinemas are safe from destruction for the time being.

Chulalongkorn University says it has no plans to tear down the two remaining iconic cinemas in Siam Square. At least not yet.

It was all a big misunderstanding, Chula officials say, arising from a press conference they held to publicize the start of construction on their new Siam Square One mall on the site of the Siam Theatre, which suspiciously burned down in the spate of arson attacks during the break-up of the red-shirt political protests in 2010. It was at that press conference that the Chula officials might have mentioned something about it being "curtains" for the Lido and Scala, and that was what was duly reported in the press.

The news created a lot of negative publicity for the university, with movie-goers criticizing the august institution as they rallied to save the Lido and Scala from the wrecking claw.

"Plans have yet to be developed regarding the future of the site," Chula says in a press release, translated on the Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project blog. "All concerned parties will have a say in the matter during the planning process."

The Thai-language press release is on file (PDF) at It's dated March 19. I'm unsure why it's taken so long for the news of the clarification to be reported.

Keep in mind, Chula is not saying they'll never tear down the Lido and Scala – they just don't have any plans to do so at the moment. That could all change when Apex's lease on the Lido runs out next year and Scala's lease is up in 2016.

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