Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 20-26, 2012


Oliver Stone is back in action with Savages, a gritty tale of a couple of young marijuana growers who run afoul of a violent Mexican cartel.

Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson star as Chon and Ben, two hipsters who are growing a potent strain of weed that Chon, a former soldier, brought back from the war in Afghanistan. It's made them very wealthy but has attracted unwanted attention from the Mexican drug cartel. They share a girlfriend (Blake Lively) who's named O and when they won't give in to the cartel's demands, O is kidnapped.

The cast boasts John Travolta as a corrupt DEA agent, with Benicio Del Toro as a cartel enforcer and Salma Hayek chewing up scenery as the cartel leader.

Based on a crime novel by Don Winslow, who also co-scripted the movie, Savages is a return of sorts to the sordid types of stories Stone stylishly spun in Natural Born Killers and U-Turn.

Critical reception is mixed but it's generally faring better than Stone's previous effort Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Rated 18+.

Also opening

I Carried You Home (Padang Besar, ปาดังเบซา) – Indie Thai director Tongpong Chantararangkul makes his feature debut with this slow-moving drama about estranged sisters (Akhamsiri Suwanasuk and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) who are reunited by the bizarre circumstances of their mother's death. They accompany their mom's body on an ambulance drive from Bangkok to their hometown of Pedang Besar on the Thai-Malaysian border. I Carried You Home premiered at last year's Busan International Film Festival, where it was in the New Currents competition. Other festival appearances have included Marrakech, Vancouver, Rotterdam, Deauville and most recently Washington, D.C. It opened the 9th World Film Festival of Bangkok in January and was also featured at June's MovieMov Italian Film Festival. It's at Apex cinemas in Siam Square and at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 15+.

Dredd 3D – Karl Urban, the Kiwi actor who's become a favorite of genre fans for playing Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek remake and as the killer government agent in Red, takes over a role once held by Sylvester Stallone. It's a new adaptation of the comic book about a dystopian lawman who's given the authority of judge, jury and executioner. He's charged with bringing justice to a feared slum and its resident druglord (portayed by Lena Headey from Game of Thrones and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Olivia Thirlby also stars, playing Dredd's rookie telepath partner. And watch out for Wood Harris, a.k.a. Avon Barksdale from The Wire. In contrast to the unwelcome remakes of a couple other 1990s sci-fi movies, Total Recall and the upcoming RoboCop, anticipation for this new take on Judge Dredd has been high because the 1995 Stallone version was too campy to do the comic justice. And fans haven't been disappointed by this darkly violent tale, which is penned by Alex Garland (The Beach). Critical reception is mostly positive. In 3D. Rated 18+.

Hit and Run – Dax Shepard co-directs and stars in this independent car-chase comedy about a getaway driver who breaks out of the witness protection program in order to take his girlfriend to Los Angeles. While racing down the road, he has to stay ahead of gangsters, the girlfriend's ex-boyfriend and a U.S. marshal. Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold and Kristin Chenoweth also star. Critical reception is mixed, but if you like car-chase flicks, then you'll probably have fun with this. Rated 15+.

Bait – It's been more than 35 years since Jaws swam into cinemas, and movie-goers still aren't safe from sharks. In Bait, hungry great whites are washed ashore in a tsunami. They are feeding in a flooded supermarket where shoppers are trapped. Bait saw a limited theatrical release in the U.S. but is mostly going direct-to-DVD. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. In 3D. Rated 15+.

Also showing

L’heure zéro (Towards Zero) – Pascal Thomas directs this 2007 mystery based on the novel by Agatha Christie. François Morel, Danielle Darrieux, Melvil Poupaud, Laura Smet, Chiara Mastroianni, Alessandra Martines and Clément Thomas star in this whodunnit about a wealthy old woman murdered at her seaside home. Which one of her eccentric guests is the culprit? A vacationing police inspector tries to unravel the tangle of clues. It's in French with English subtitles at 7.30pm on Wednesday, September 26 at the Alliance Française.

Take note

The Nokia Ultra Screen theaters at Paragon Cineplex are no more. After seven years, the premium cinema wing at Paragon has been renamed under a new sponsorship deal with Bangkok Airways. Similar to the EGV Gold Class theaters, the Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Screens offer an ultra-pricey but ultra-comfortable alternative to the conventional multiplex auditoriums. They have a reclining chair, pillows and blankets, and a deluxe lounge to sit in before the show.

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