Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 14-20, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

The films of Wes Anderson, such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, have a cult following, thanks to their quirky characters, wry, absurdist humor, lavishly detailed and exacting production designs and the antics of Bill Murray. Detractors dismiss Anderson's films as "precious", and perhaps they are, but that's what makes them special.

His latest effort, Moonrise Kingdom, should not disappoint his fans.

Set in 1965, on an island off the coast of New England, the story involves a pair of precocious 12-year-old kids – a boy scout and a girl from a dysfunctional family – who decide to run off and get married. A search party forms to rescue the kids as a storm approaches. The scene is like a painting of a vanished America by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to Anderson regulars like Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, there's Bruce Willis as the police chief, Edward Norton as the scoutmaster, plus Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban.

Moonrise Kingdom premiered as the opener of this year's Cannes Film Festival, shockingly the first time one of Anderson's films has been invited to the prestigious fest. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at Apex Siam Square.

Also opening

Antapal (อันธพาล) – Kongkiat Khomsiri, director of such acclaimed, retro-infused crime dramas as Muay Thai Chaiya and Slice, offers a fresh, violent take on the fact-based account of young gangsters in 1950s and early '60s Thailand. It's much the same story that was done by director Nonzee Nimibutr and screenwriter Wisit Sasanatieng in 1997's Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters (2499 Antapan Krong Muang), though Kongkiat insists it isn't a remake. "Tao" Somchai Kemglad and Krissana "Noi" Sukosol Clapp star as a pair of young hoodlums who take on the old-time mafia to shake up the Thai underworld. They then find themselves challenged by a pair of even younger hoodlums who are obsessed with the style of James Dean and being gangster kingpins themselves. Rated 18+.

Coriolanus – Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this contemporized adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, which is scripted by John Logan (Gladiator). He's a leader who's pushed by his manipulative mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and ultimately ousted from power by a discontented public. He then offers his life and services to his sworn enemy (Gerard Butler). Brian Cox and Jessica Chastain also star. Coriolanus premiered in competition at last year's Berlin Film Festival. Critical reception
is mostly positive. Rated 15+.

Piranha 3DD – Having played for two weeks already in sneak previews, the 3D horror-comedy with the not-so-subtle double-entendre title finally opens in a wider release. A follow-up to the 2010 version, itself a remake of a cult-classic Roger Corman B-movie, the action this time has the bloodthirsty flesh-eating prehistoric fish finding their way into a newly opened water park to feast on babes in bikinis. Ving Rhames, despite having been eaten in the first part, returns for more fun, as do Christopher Lloyd and Paul Scheer. Joining the cast is "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff plus Gary Busey, Katrina Bowden, Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Chris Zylka and David Koechner. Critical reception is mostly negative, but if you liked the first one, you might want to give this one a chance. In 3D. Rated 20-.

Dark Tide – Halle Barry is back in a bikini for this underwater thriller. She's an expert diver who's famous for swimming with great white sharks, but after a near-fatal close call, she's been out of the water for nine years. Coaxed back in by her ex-boyfriend and a wealthy backer, she has to face her fears. Olivier Martinez also stars. Critical reception is mostly negative. It's at Apex Siam Square.

Architecture 101 (Rak-Reak) – This South Korean romance has two students in an introductory architecture class falling in love. Then, 15 years later, she tracks down her old flame to seek his help in building her dream home. Uhm Tae-woong, Han Ga-in, Lee Je-hoon and Bae Suzy star. It's at Major Cineplex, Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.

Chernobyl Diaries – Young travellers seeking an "extreme" adventure book a tour of the abandoned city where the workers of the failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant lived. There, they find they are not alone. Oren Peli, the director behind the Paranormal Activity "found-footage" horror franchise, produces this. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

Four Stations (Sathanee See Phak, สถานี 4 ภาค ) – Boonsong Nakphoo, who previously did the low-budget farmer drama Poor People the Great, directs this four-segment feature, supported by the Culture Ministry's Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, that collects stories by SEA Write Award and National Artist authors from different regions of the country. The stories are "Dtu Pboo" ("ตุ๊ปู่") by Mala Kamchan (มาลา คำจันทร์) from the north, "Songkram Cheewít Suan Dtua Kongtoo Taa"  ("สงครามชีวิตส่วนตัวของทู-ทา") by  Wimon Sainimnuan, a.k.a. Wat Wanlayangkoon (วัฒน์ วรรลยางกูร) from the central plains, "Lom Laeng" ("ลมแล้ง") by Khamsing Srinawk a.k.a. Lao Khamhom (ลาว คำหอม) from the northeast and "Baan Glai Reuan Kiang" ("บ้านใกล้เรือนเคียง") by Paitoon Tanya (ไพฑูรย์ ธัญ ญา) from the south. It's at the Lido at 6.30 nightly until next Wednesday.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari – Vidhu Vinod Chopra, producer of such Bollywood hits as 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai, presents this comedy about a boy who has dreams of playing on the Lords' cricket ground. To fulfill his son’s dream, the honest and upright father (Sharman Joshi) performs the first small act of dishonesty in his life – he borrows a gleaming red Ferrari, just for one hour. The only trouble – he doesn’t inform its legendary owner. And so begins a wild, bumpy ride. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) on Friday and Sunday at 7.30 and Monday at 8 and at Major Central Rama III on Saturday at 7.30 and Sunday at 4. Call (089) 488 2620, (02) 225 7500 or log on to

Also showing

Amazing Thailand 9FilmFest – The second annual edition this short-film film festival will be held on Sunday, June 17 in the Infinicity Hall lobby of Paragon Cineplex.

More than 150 entries were submitted, with 29 semi-finalists from which the nine finalist shorts were chosen.

Here's the list of finalists, which are mostly from Thailand:

  • The Moment, Pathomwat Wansukprasert
  • Video Call, Wattanapong Wongwan
  • Where the Heart Is, Rattha Buranadilok & Thammaruja Dharmasaroja
  • Smiling Heart, Karawee Chokkunawattana
  • Numberman in Love, Eiji Shimada
  • Love Cookies, Sugimasa Yamashita
  • Friend, Narongchai Parthumsuwan
  • Rec. Life Titsalak Kamngam
  • Jack's Chronicle, Pissapob Silltham

Among the entries is a returnee from last year, Eiji Shimada's Numberman, which took the top prize in 2011.

Top prize is 600,000 baht from a total prize purse of more than 1 million baht, thanks to such sponsors as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, AIS, Major Cineplex and Ford.

The rules are that the films have to be nine minutes or less and must include a signature item, which this year was "heart".

Activities start at 11.45am, with a screening of Man with a Video Camera 2, the latest effort by 2011 9FilmFest finalist and last year's winner of the best cinematography award, Kris Clijsters.

Then will be the screening of the semifinalist shorts mixed with video-and-music mixes by DJs.

The finalist shorts start screening at 7pm in a ceremony emceed by filmmaker and former Miss Thailand World "Pop" Areeya Chumsai.

Other celebs include the jury members, MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wych Kaosayananda, Australian director George Miller, American filmmaker Ron Fricke and  2011 9FilmFest finalist Kanin Ramasoot.

The evening’s  special  guest is American R&B, jazz and gospel singer Howard McCrary, who acts in Smiling Heart. A Grammy Award nominee, he'll close the evening with a set of his songs, including "The Land of Smiles" and "Smile from the Heart" from the short film.

“This year, the films have been amazing and creative.  Using the heart as a signature item, has given us films filled with love, yet often times with tragedy. We promise a rollercoaster of feelings when you see the films on the night of 17 June,” says Brian Bennett, 9FilmFest founder.

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