Thursday, July 12, 2012

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

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

With an asteroid hurtling towards Earth and most of humanity in a panic about the end of existence, one guy (Steve Carell) stays strangely calm as he decides to take a road trip and is accompanied by his neighbor (Keira Knightly).

A dark comedy, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, is the directing debut by screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, who previously wrote the fun, quirk-filled romantic-comedy Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Martin Sheen, Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt and William Petersen are among the other stars.

Critical reception is mixed, but I have to say, despite the ponderous title, this looks intriguing. It's at House on RCA and Paragon. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Heaven and Hell (Wong Jorn Pid, วงจรปิด)  – Two of Thailand's gifted horror filmmakers, Yuthlert Sippapak and Tiwa Moeithaisong, join forces for this trio of scary stories that are purportedly taken from security cameras in three places: a broken-down elevator (Hell No. 8), a convenience store (the cheekily named Heaven 11) and a creepy old house (Ghost Legacy). Yes, it looks like another entry in the tiresome trend of "found footage" horror films, but hopefully Yuthlert and Tiwa can offer something fresh. Yuthlert, a prolific, genre-hopping director, previously did the stylish horror-comedy Buppa Rahtree film series while Tiwa, a talented cinematographer and editor, previously directed the controversial cannibalism thriller Meat Grinder. Rated 18+.

The Dictator – Having previously assumed the guises of idiot wannabe-gangsta Ali G., boorish Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat and flamboyantly gay German fashion reporter Bruno, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen takes on what may be his most outlandish persona yet – Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, a Muammar Gaddafi-styled dictator of a North African country. When he's kidnapped in a plot orchestrated by his conniving uncle (Ben Kingsley) and replaced by a lookalike, Aladeen finds himself stuck in New York where he ends up working in a co-op grocery run by a rights activist (Anna Faris). This has been playing in cinemas for two weeks already in a sneak-preview run and now opens in a wider release. Critical reception is mixed, edging toward positive. Rated 18+.

Ice Age: Continental Drift – The fourth entry in Twentieth Century Fox's Blue Sky Studios animation franchise finds the mismatched trio of prehistoric mammals, Manny the wooly mammoth, Diego the sabertooth tiger and Sid the sloth, embarking on yet another adventure after their continent is set adrift. On their ice floe on the high seas, they encounter more colorful talking-animal characters, who are pirates. As always, it's the antics of the hapless Scrat the sabertooth squirrel that sets things into motion. Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo return to the voice cast that also features Peter Dinklage, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Keke Palmer, Chris Wedge, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Drake, Nicki Minaj and many others. There's not yet critical consensus because the movie isn't out in the U.S. until tomorrow. In 3D. Rated G.

The Prodigies – Five teenagers with psycho-kinetic powers who've been groomed for a special program are attacked in an act of betrayal by the program's founder. They then plan their revenge. This animated feature is from French video-game designer Antoine Charreyon. Critical reception is mixed, with reviews at TwitchFilm, Digital Journal, Quiet Earth, Moria and Criticize This!. In 3D. Rated 15+.

Apartment 143 – Sigh. More fake "found footage". Here, in this Spanish-made thriller, parapsychologists investigate strange happenings in an apartment building. Rated 15+.

Also showing

A scene from Shellshock, a jury-prize winner.

Bangkok International Student Film Festival – The third annual fest started on Tuesday and runs through Sunday in the fifth-floor auditorium at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. They've already selected their competition winners: Best Picture to So it Goes, a travel drama by Antti Heikki Pesonen from Aalto University, Finland, and jury prizes to Shellshock, a World War II movie by John Corcoran from Dublin Institute of Technology and the photography thriller Photoshop by Sopolnawitch Achira Ponglamjiak from Mahidol University International College. The remaining programs include Middle East and African and Thai Student showcases today, Australian and "adults only" showcases tomorrow, German and South American showcases on Saturday and Queer and Immigrant films on Sunday. Check the full schedule at the website and find out more at Facebook.

Marathon 16 – As it does every year, the Thai Short Film and Video Festival shows all of its entries, numbering around 500 or so, in a "marathon". It's been going on since last month and runs until July 31, with screenings from 5.30 to 8.30pm on weekdays (except Mondays) and 11am to 8.30 on Saturday and Sundays in the fourth-floor screening room at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The best will be selected for competition in the main event, the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival from August 16 to 26 at the BACC.

A Mighty Heart – Angelina Jolie portrays Marianne Pearl, the crusading wife of Daniel Pearl, the journalist kidnapped by Islamic militants in Pakistan. This critically acclaimed fact-based 2007 drama is by British director Michael Winterbottom and is screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand at 8 tonight, with support from the British Council. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 50 baht for anyone who wants to drink some Fuller's London Pride beer.

L’heure d’été (Summer Hours) – Olivier Assayas directs this 2008 drama starring Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling and Jérémie Renier about siblings who must come to terms with their mother's mortality as they decide what to do with her childhood belongings. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, July 18, at 7.30pm.

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