Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 2-8, 2012

Total Recall

I don't know why it's necessary to remake Total Recall. The 1990 original by Paul Verhoeven, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, still holds up today, thanks to practical special effects and miniatures that didn't rely on hokey CGI trickery. It's part of a canon of late '80s and early '90s sci-fi classics that also includes Verhoeven's Robocop (also with a remake in the works) and James Cameron's Terminator films.

But whatever. Now we have a new Total Recall, which puts Colin Farrell in the Schwarznegger role of a man who's had his memories of being a secret agent on Mars erased, and shadowy forces at work to keep him from remembering.

The setting is similarly futuristic, in a dystopian society where dreams, memory and reality are blurred, thanks to memory-implant technology by the Rekall company, which provides customers with virtual vacations.

Len Wisemen, helmer of the Underworld series of vampire movies directs, and he puts his wife and Underworld star Kate Beckinsale in the Sharon Stone role.

Bryan Cranston, Bookeem Woodbine, John Cho, Bill Nighy and Jessica Biel also star.

Kurt Wimmer, the writer-director of the dystopian drama Equilibrium as well as screenwriter of such films as Salt and Law Abiding Citizen, handles the screenplay. It's adapted from a Philip K. Dick story.

It could actually be ok. However, Total Recall doesn't come out in the U.S. until tomorrow, so there's not yet many reviews. Rated 13+.

Also opening

Echo Planet (เอคโค่ จิ๋วก้องโลก, Echo Jew Kong Loke) – It was back in 2006 that the Thai movie industry entered the age of computer animation with Khan Kluay, the tale of a little tusker who would become the brave war elephant of King Naresuan the Great. Despite its very nationalistic historical storyline, Khan Kluay attracted overseas buyers, spawned a sequel and made a name for Kantana Animation. Now Khan Kluay director Kompin Kemgumnird, a veteran of animated features at Disney and Blue Sky Studios, aims for even broader international appeal with Echo Planet (เอคโค่ จิ๋วก้องโลก, Echo Jew Kong Loke). The environmentally themed story is about a gifted Karen boy who can talk to animals and his tough older sister. They rescue a foreigner boy scout who is the son of the president of Capital State. The three of then set off on an adventure in which they have to stop a project that will cause environmental havoc. Read more about it in a Nation article today. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.

Ka Nam Nom (ค่าน้ำนม) – Social-problem dramas used to be a large component of the Thai film industry back in the 1970s and '80s, but have mostly been relegated these days in favor of horror, comedies and weepy romantic melodramas. Ka Nam Nom, literally "mother's milk", comes out just before the August 12 Queen's Birthday and Thai Mother's Day holiday, and seeks to get back to the roots of social-problem movies. Chudapha Chanthakhet stars as a widowed single mother who struggles to raise her boy and girl, and hopes they will rise from their hardscrabble, small-town roots and have better lives. Full of promise, brother and sister head to Bangkok for schooling, but end up getting caught up in all the various problems that come with life in the big city, such as gang fights and drugs. Teerapat Yamsri and Uttama Chiwanichpan star as the brother and sister and Nati Phunmanee directs. Rated 15+.

The Son of No One – Channing Tatum. He's so hot right now. With recent critically hailed starring roles in such movies as the action drama Haywire, the comedy spoof 21 Jump Street and the strip-dancing drama Magic Mike, based partly on his own life, Thai distributors dip into Tatum's recent backlog of work and pull out The Son of No One, a police drama that saw only a limited release in a few territories last year and mostly went direct to video. He's a rookie cop assigned to the precinct in the working-class neighborhood where he grew up, and where an old secret threatens to destroy his life. Al Pacino also stars, along with James Ransone, Ray Liotta, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes and Juliet Binoche. Critical reception is mostly negative. It's at Major Cineplex branches, including Paragon, Mega, Esplanade and EGV. Rated 18+.

Also showing

36 – Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is a well-known independent filmmaker who's done several award-winning shorts. In the past few years, he's broken into the mainstream industry as a screenwriter on several projects with the GTH studio, including the romance that's currently in cinemas, Seven Something. He also has his own project going, the medium-length feature 36, an experimental effort composed of 36 shots that is described as a "relationship movie that touches on melancholic memories and old buildings". He's been self-releasing the film for the past month or so, organizing screenings at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, the Alliance Francais and now at House. He's been promoting the screenings through the social networks and the Thai media, and most sessions have sold out. It's at House on RCA, showing at 1.45pm and 5.15pm until Sunday.

La tête de maman – Carine Tardieu directs this 2007 comedy-drama starring Karin Viard, Kad Merad and Pascal Elbé. It's about a 15-year-old girl who wants to bring happiness back into the life of her ailing mother, so she sets out to locate her mom's old boyfriend - now a middle-aged veterinarian. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, August 8, at 7.30pm.

Take note

Director Kongej Jaturanrasmee's trippy psychological drama P-047 (Tae Peang Phu Deaw, แต่เพียงผู้เดียว) is continuing its limited release for a third week at the Lido and Esplanade Ratchada. I don't want to explain much more about the movie. Just go see it.

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