Pixar Animation offers a Disney fairy-tale princess spin on the blue-in-the-face Celtic bluster of Mel Gibson's Braveheart with Brave. It's the story of the headstrong daughter of a Scottish king who finds herself cursed after she defies an age-old custom regarding the traditional female role. She embarks on an adventure in which she must discover the meaning of true bravery.
The voice cast is heavy on Scottish brogue, with Kelly MacDonald (Boardwalk Empire, No Country for Old Men, Trainspotting) in the lead as Princess Merida, a young woman who'd rather hone her archery skills than get married. Comedian Billy Connolly is her father the king with Emma Thompson as the queen. Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson also star.
With the heroine's fiery mane of red hair, Brave looks fantastic, but it has been derided as "minor Pixar" by critics who've been spoiled by the heights of Pixar storytelling perfection, such as the Toy Story series and The Incredibles. Though not as bad as the Cars movies, critical reception is mixed, but still mostly positive. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.
The Bourne Legacy – In a reboot of sorts for the Bourne movie franchise, The Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner takes over the lead from Matt Damon, and Tony Gilroy, writer on the first three Bourne movies, replaces director Paul Greengrass. Renner is Aaron Cross, another agent trained for black-ops using unorthodox brain-altering methods that were similar to those used to create the killing machine Jason Bourne. With the CIA rushing to close the books on the controversial program and eliminate the agents, Cross escapes and sets out to expose his corrupt superiors. Some scenes were filmed in Manila. Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac and Stacy Keach also star. Reportedly, there's still a chance Damon might return to the franchise, but only with Greengrass as the director. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 15+.
A Simple Life – Director Ann Hui's drama dominated the major Hong Kong and Chinese-language movie awards last year and earlier this year. Deanie Ip stars as a servant who's worked for four generations of a Hong Kong family and is with the last remaining family member (Andy Lau) when she suffers a stroke. Giving ever more time and attention to his servant's needs, the man comes to realize how much she means to him. It's a fact-based story, inspired by the experiences producer Roger Lee had with his own family's servant. There are many cameos by actual Hong Kong stars. See if you can spot them all. Winner of the best actress prize at last year's Venice festival, critical reception is glowingly postive. A Simple Life played in Bangkok earlier this year as part of the Hong Kong Film Festival, and it now opens for a limited run at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at House on RCA.
Always on My Mind (คิดถึงทุกคืน, Khid Tueng Took Khuen) – Sakchai Deenan, the director of the Sabaidee trilogy of romances that paired Thai leading men with a Lao actress, offers another cross-border romance in the same vein. Here, he pairs Thai actors Pawarith Mongkolpisit and Sirachat Jianthaworn with Lao actresses Nuta Rajwonglao and Sangdawee Malisomchai. It screens at 7.30 nightly at the Esplanade Ratchada.
Sat2Mon (คืนวันเสาร์ถึงเช้าวันจันทร์ , Khuen Wan Sao Thueng Chao Wan Jan) – Multi-hyphenate musician and actor "Dan" Worrawech Danuwong adds writer-director to his roster of titles with this romantic comedy released by Sahamongkolfilm International. Dan has been the star of seemingly dozens of romantic comedies and dramas that have been huge hits with his legion of young fans. Here, he directs and stars as a TV producer in love with an anchorwoman, and he convinces her friend to help him woo her, but things of course become complicated. Rated 15+.
Les inséparables – Christine Dory directs this 2008 drama starring Guillaume Depardieu and Marie Vialle about a drug addict who falls in love with a co-dependant woman. Together, they find ways for their passion to give them strength. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Wednesday, August 15, at 7.30pm
Two Thai indie films, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's 36, which I first mentioned last week, and Kongej Jaturanrasmee's P-047 are continuing their limited runs. Nawapol's 36, which is comprised of 36 single-shot scenes, is at House at 6 nightly until Sunday while P-047 is at the Lido. Both are well-worth seeing and supporting!
And clear your calendars for next week – the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival starts on August 16 and runs until August 26 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. I hope to hear more soon about the highlights of the longest-running Thai film festival, so stay tuned.