Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 17-23, 2012

Iron Sky

When the Finnish sci-fi flick Iron Sky was first touted in a viral marketing campaign a couple years ago, the idea of the Nazis secretly retreating to the moon seemed preposterous but also somehow serious, grim and even somewhat intriguing.

Now the movie is completed, and it's a goofy-looking comedy that makes the Nazis a big joke like they were in the TV show "Hogan's Heroes". It's a type of humor that's become politically incorrect in recent years, especially in light of director Steven Spielberg's vow to never again make the Nazis the butt of a joke as he did in Raiders of the Lost Ark because they were nothing to joke about. And there was the recent controversy at a Chiang Mai school where students staged a Nazi rally for costume day. Iron Sky will certainly confuse the issue in that regard. Maybe the students will want to hold an Iron Sky costume day? On top of the idiotic Nazis, there's also a somewhat dated parody of former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin who's somehow gotten herself elected U.S. president.

As the story goes, in the last moments of World War II, a secret Nazi space program evaded destruction by fleeing to the dark side of the moon and it's there that over the past 70 years they've constructed a gigantic swastika-shaped fortress and an armada of flying saucers. When an American astronaut lands a bit too close to the secret base, the moon führer (Udo Kier) decides the glorious moment of retaking the Earth has arrived sooner than expected. Two Nazi officers, ruthless Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) and idealistic Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), travel to Earth to prepare the invasion.

It premiered earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival and critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Distortion (คน-โลก-จิต, Kon-Loke-Jit) –  It's been four years since veteran director Nonzee Nimibutr, director of the 1990s "Thai new wave" films Daeng Bireley's and Young Gangsters and Nang Nak, has had a feature in cinemas. Distortion is a psychological thriller in which four characters – a psychologist, a scientist, a businessman and a student – somehow become involved a serial-murder case. Sarunyu Prachakrit, Boonyisa “Poppy” Chantrarachai (first runner up Miss World Thailand 2012), Artit Wiboonpanitch, Arpa Pawilai and Suchao Pongwilai star. Rated 18+.

The Flowers of War – Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the director of such opulently costumed martial-arts epics as Hero and House of Flying Daggers as well as such world-cinema classics as Raise the Red Lantern and The Road Home, turns his attention to the Japanese "rape" of Nanjing in 1937 in this English-language historical drama. Christian Bale stars as an American stranded in Nanjing by the Japanese invasion. Holed up in a Catholic convent, he's persuaded to pose as the convent's priest in a bid to protect the schoolgirls who live there. He gets some unlikely help from a band of prostitutes who are hiding in the convent's basement. Ni Ni, the young actress who plays a pivotal role in all this, won the Best Newcomer award at this year's Asian Film Awards. It was also a nominee for several other AFAs, including best director, and was China's submission to the Oscars, though it didn't make the shortlist of nominees for Best Foreign Language film. Critical reception is mixed. It's at Apex Siam Square. Rated 13+.

StreetDance 2 – When a top street dancer loses to an American crew, he sets off to gather the best dancers from around the world to take them on. Filmed in 3D at various landmark locations, StreetDance 2 also sees our hero fall in love with a beautiful salsa dancer. Critical reception is mixed. In 3D only. Rated 15+.

The Viral Factor – Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse star in this international-crime thriller directed by Hong Kong's Dante Lam. Jay is the leader of an International Security Affairs task force tracking a deadly virus. His brother (Tse) is a master thief. It's a bit of a departure for Lam, who's done tightly twisting crime stories based in Hong Kong. This one moves further afield, with action taking place in Jordan but mostly in Kuala Lumpur. Critical reception is mixed. It's at Major Cineplex and unfortunately is Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Also showing

Swedish Film Festival – Organized with the Embassy of Sweden, the fest offers seven recent acclaimed films with screenings running until Sunday at SFX the Emporium. The line-up is A One-way to AntibesSimple SimonSimon and the OaksA Thousand Times StrongerSound of NoiseSebbe and Miss Kicki. All are in Swedish with English subtitles. Admission is free. Line up a half hour before showtime to get your ticket. Check the schedule at the SF Cinema City website or read the article in The Nation, which also has details on the upcoming EU Eco Film Festival starting on May 24, which will be followed the week after by the annual EU Film Festival. Also upcoming is the Buddhist International Film Festival from June 7 to 10 at SFW CentralWorld.

L'enfer (Hell) – Claude Chabrol directs this 1994 drama starring François Cluzet, Emmanuelle Béart and Marc Lavoine. Based on the script to 1964's unfinished Inferno by Henri-Georges Clouzot, it's about a couple who run a hotel with the husband beginning to suspect his wife of infidelity an descending into paranoia from which there is no escape. It's at the Alliance Française at 7.30 on Wednesday, May 23.

Take note

House on RCA is closed through May 21 while it hosts the auditions for "True Academy Fantasia".

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