Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 16-22, 2012

The Expendables 2

Old action heroes never die, they just all make movies together.

Sylvester Stallone is back in action for The Expendables 2, leading a cast of other ageing action stars in a testosterone-fuelled yarn.

Stallone and his fellow mercenaries, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture and Terry Crews, are hired by the shadowy Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) for a seemingly simple mission. But then one of their own is killed by a rival mercenary (Jean-Claude Van Damme), so they plot revenge.

Also joining the fun this time around are Arnold Schwarzenegger (who along with Willis cameoed in the first film) and Chuck Norris. There's also Liam Hemsworth, the younger brother of Chris "Thor" Hemsworth, as eye candy for the girlfriends who get dragged to this, and Chinese actress Yu Nan as the only female member of the mercenary team.

Simon West (Con Air) directs.

Sadly, the release of Expendables 2 comes not long after the death of Stallone's 36-year-old son Sage, a producer and distributor of cult B-movies, leading to the mourning Sly curtailing his promotional appearances.

Critical reception is surprisingly favorable so far, so if like me you're a fan of old-time '80s-style action flicks and gratuitous violence, then you'll probably like this. Rated 15+.

Also opening

Yes or No 2 Rak Mai Rak ... Ya Kuk Loei (Yes or No 2 รักไม่รัก อย่ากั๊กเลย) – Tomboy Kim and her "dee" girlfriend Pie are still together after the college roomates became lovers in the 2010 cult hit Yes or No? So, I Love You. Now their relationship is tested when the two young women go their separate ways for internships, with Pie (Sucharat Manaying) going to Chanthaburi and Kim (Supanart Jittaleela) heading off to picturesque Nan Province where she catches the eye of the attractive Jam (Apitha Klaiudom). Sarassawadee Wongsompetch again directs, with a screenplay by the popular writer Nepalee. The first openly lesbian Thai film, 2010's Yes or No didn't do all that well in Thai cinemas, but it became big in other parts of Asia, attracting huge followings in Taiwan, where it was released on DVD, as well as China and the Philippines. A Bangkok Post article from last month examines the phenomenon and executive producer Chatchada Musikaratuay talks more about the film's success in another Bangkok Post article. Rated 13+.

North Sea Texas – With Yes or No 2 in wide release, here's a tale of gay love, a coming-of-age drama about a Belgian teenage boy in a small town who becomes fixated on the guy next door. It's won awards at festivals and is generally well-received by critics. It's at House on RCA.

Ek Tha Tiger – Bollywood Thai returns to the scene with this thriller starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif about a university professor suspected of selling nuclear secrets to Pakistan. It's in Hindi with English subtitles at SF Cinema City Terminal 21 tonight and tomorrow at 7.30, Saturday at 7 and 8, Sunday at 3, 4 and 7 and Monday and Tuesday at 7.30. Call (089) 488 2620 or (02)225 7500 or visit

Also showing

Ashes by Apichatpong Weerasethakul is the opening film.
16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival – The annual festival of short subjects gets underway today with registration at 4 and then the opening film Ashes by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at 5.30. That'll be followed by Pitch Black Heist, starring Michael Fassbender and part of the festivals Bafta package, and Il Capo, one of this year's Best of Clermont-Ferrand programme. There are too many other highlights to mention. There's a lot to offer – not just Thai films, but shorts from all over the world, including animation, documentaries and special-interest programmes. Just show up and take a seat. If you don't like what you see, just stay seated quietly for five or 10 minutes and something else will come up that you might end up enjoying. The festival runs daily except Monday until August 26 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in the fifth-floor auditorium and in the fourth-floor conference room. Admission is free. For more details, search for "16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival" on Facebook or visit

Benda Bilili! screens today as part of the Chula film fest.
Chulalongkorn University International Film Festival – The twice-annual DVD screening series started on Monday and has already shown two movies, but as has been the case for the past few editions, I didn't find out it was going on until it was too late. Anyway, there's still lots of movies to see. On Friday it's a musical from Congo, Benda Bilili!, about a teenager working with disabled folks to form the best street band in all of Kinshasa. On Monday, it's 3 Idiots, a highly enjoyable Bollywood screwball comedy about college chums reuniting for a road trip to find their long lost friend. Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani and Sharman Joshi star. And next Wednesday it's cult director Takashi Miike's remake of the samurai epic Hara-Kiri. The series runs until August 31 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5pm on the ninth floor of the Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building at Chula. Admission is free. All have English subtitles.

Le bal des actrices (The Actresses' Ball) – Maïwenn directs and stars in this 2009 comedy that also features Mélanie Doutey, Charlotte Rampling and Julie Depardieu. It's about a director making a documentary about actresses who falls in love with one of her subjects. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, August 22, at 7.30pm.

Jism 2 – For the past month or more, Major Cineplex has been releasing recent Bollywood movies in limited screenings at various branches. They come out on Fridays, and I find out about them too late for this weekly update, which comes out on Thursday, the day most other films are released in Thailand. Last week's release was the controversial Jism 2, which has had tongues wagging in India because it stars Sunny Leone, a Canadian-Indian adult-film actress who is making a crossover into the legit movie business. Sunny stars as a porn star who is hired by a spy (Arunoday Singh) to be a "honey trap" for an assassin (Randeep Hooda). From now on, I'll aim to post more details about Major's Bollywood films whenever I hear about them. Jism 2 is rated 18+.

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