Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 22-28, 2012

The Master

Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson continues in the starkly bold direction he took with There Will Be Blood, about an iconoclastic 1910s oilman, with The Master
Set in post-World War II America, it's a striking portrait of drifters and seekers. Joaquin Phoenix stars as navy veteran who returns from war unsettled and uncertain of his future. He is drawn to a group called "The Cause" and its charismatic leader (frequent Anderson collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Amy Adams also stars.

The film has been controversial because it is loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and the early days of the Church of Scientology, but it also picks up on themes explored in There Will Be Blood.

It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, and fueled controversy there when it was awarded the Silver Lion for best director and Volpi Cup for best actor (shared by Phoenix and Hoffman). The jury reportedly wanted to give The Master the Golden Lion top-prize as well, but the festival's rules prevented that, so the prize went to Kim Ki-duk's Pieta, and ended up feeling like a consolation prize to the South Korean director.

Tipped as a likely multiple nominee for next year's Academy Awards, critical reception is mostly positive. At Apex Siam Square and Paragon. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Premium Rush – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, coming off a strong performance in Looper, climbs aboard a bicycle for this thriller about a hotshot New York City bicycle messenger who is chased by a corrupt cop seeking the envelope he's supposed to deliver. In the film, Gordon-Levitt rides a "fixie", a bicycle with no brakes nor gears that's popular among Bangkok hipsters. Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung also star. David Koepp, screenwriter on dozens of hit films, directs. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 13+.

Red Dawn – Wolverines! John Milius' gritty 1984 classic about patriotic teenagers who take up arms as guerrilla fighters after the Soviets invade the U.S. has been remade. Rather implausibly, the U.S. is invaded by North Korea. Originally it was supposed to be China, but studio executives thought they ought not offend the world's biggest emerging movie market. A bunch of young stars are in the cast, among them Chris "Thor" Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games. Adrianne Palicki, Josh Peck and Isabel Lucas also star. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

3 AM (ตีสาม 3D, Tee Sam 3D) – Following the international-sales success of its 3D haunted airplane thriller Dark Flight earlier this year, Five Star Production offers more three-dimensional scares with this three-segment horror flick. Patchanon Thammajira directs The Wig, which follows two sisters (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk and Focus Jirakul) in a haunted wig shop. Kirati Nakintanon directs a story about a medical student (Tony Rakkaen) who gets the job of looking after the corpses of a bridge and groom. And Isara Nadee directs O.T., starring Shahkrit Yamnarm and Ray MacDonald as pranksters in an office whose practical jokes on co-workers go too far. Rated 15+.

The Four – Gordon Chan brings “The Four Great Constables” novel series to the big screen. Four sleuths skilled in martial arts are hired by the emperor to solve various mysteries. Liu Yifei, Collin Chou, Ronald Cheng, Deng Chao and Anthony Wong star. Thai-dubbed only at Major Cineplex. Rated 15+.

Love, Faith, Miracle Season 2 (ความรัก ศรัทธา ปาฏิหาริย์ (ซีซั่น 2), Kwam Rak, Sattha, Patiharn (Season 2)) – Eight short films, each running around 10 to 15 minutes, are produced by Satien Dhammasathan. Stars include Shahkrit Yamnarm, Lalita Sasiprapha and Sorrapong Chatree. Admission is free. In Thai – no English subtitles – at the Scala from Friday through Sunday.

Rak Jab Jai (รักจับใจ ) – Thai stage musicals have increased in popularity in the past couple of years and the fad doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. This is a recent hit stage musical that's simply been filmed, so if you missed the live performance or you want to see it again, here's your chance. Pop singer "Bie" Sukrit Wiesetkaew stars. He's a guy in love with a blind woman (Nuenruthai Sophon). In Thai – no English subtitles – at Major Cineplex. Rated G.

Also showing

Fados is the closing film.

World Film Festival of Bangkok – The 10th annual festival rolls into its final weekend with lots of movies worth seeing. Tonight at 9.30 is The Lovers on the Bridge, a 1991 drama by French director Leos Carax. Tomorrow at 8.20 is Elephant Shaman by Shane Bunnag, about the last elephant shaman in Thailand. It screens again on Saturday at 3.40. Also on Saturday is Return to Burma, which follows a Burmese construction worker who returns home after working for years as a laborer in Taiwan. Sunday's highlights include Under Snow from Japan and Win/Win from the Netherlands. The closing film is Fados, which is a celebration of Portugal's predominant musical genre. It starts at 6 on Sunday. It's all at the Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada.

Entre nos mains (Into Our Own Hands) – The Alliance Française Bangkok's month of documentaries finishes off with this 2010 work by Mariana Otero about workers who form a cooperative to take over a bankrupt lingerie factory. It's at the Alliance Française at 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 28.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan – Yash Chopra's final feature before his death last month is a sweeping Bollywood romance starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif. He's working as a bomb-disposal expert for the Indian army in Kashmir, where he meets Anushka, a Discovery Channel intern who by chance comes across his old diary and discovers his haunted past and mourning over a lost love. Score by AR Rahman. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Paragon. Rated 15+.

Sneak preview

Cloud Atlas – Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowskis (The Matrix) team up for what's been termed  the biggest-budget independent film ever made. Filming what had been regarded an "unfilmable" novel by David Mitchell, the sprawling narrative traces half a dozen or so stories through 500 years of history, from the 19th century to the distant future, with characters in overlapping storylines who have been reincarnated in various forms. The star-studded cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doona, Ben Whishaw and James D'Arcy. Critical reception is mixed, but even critics who don't care for the film seem to think it's something that should be seen, just to be believed. It's in sneak previews this week from around 8 nightly at Apex Siam Square, Paragon and CentralWorld before moving to a wider release next week. Rated 18+.

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