Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 10-16, 2013

The Man with the Iron Fists

Rap musician RZA has always been into kung fu. The name of his pioneering hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, is taken from the name of a cult-favorite kung-fu film.

Now, he takes his devotion further with a move into filmmaking and the vanity project The Man with the Iron Fists, which in addition to honoring martial-arts films is also an homage to the entire grindhouse genre. Along with directing the film and producing the soundtrack, RZA stars as a freed slave in China who becomes a blacksmith and channels an ancient energy to turn himself into a living weapon. He's among a handful of lone warriors who must band together in order to face a common foe.

The cast in this weird genre-jumping fantasy is a mix of Hollywood heavyweights like Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu and Asian martial arts talents, including Rick Yune, Cung Le, Byron Mann and Daniel Wu.

The project is the result of years of development by RZA, who co-wrote it with Eli Roth (Hostel). And, of course, Quentin Tarantino, weighed in as well.

Critical reception is mixed, though if you're a fan of old-time kung-fu movies and grindhouse films, then you'll probably dig this. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Gangster Squad – Ruthless New York mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is making a move on Los Angeles in the 1940s. A determined crew of police officers is determined to stop him. Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin head the untouchable squad, with Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick and Michael Pena helping out. Nick Nolte is the gravel-voiced police chief, and Emma Stone is the lady in red. With a retro look recalling The Untouchables, Dick Tracy or LA Confidential, Ruben Fleischer directs, making his move into mega-budget territory after helming the comparatively smaller action comedies Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 18+.

Hyde Park on Hudson – Bill Murray portrays U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this dramatic account of his many affairs. The backdrop of the story is during the visit by England's King George VI and Queen Consort Elizabeth – the first English monarchs to set foot on U.S. soil. They spent a weekend at Roosevelt's retreat in Hyde Park, New York. The cast also includes Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt, reuniting Murray with his love interest from Wes Anderson's Rushmore, and Laura Linney as FDR's distant cousin and close confidante Daisy Suckley. Elizabeth Marvel also stars, portraying FDR's secretary (and mistress) Missy. Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Morning Glory) directs. Murray's performance has earned many plaudits, but critical reception is mixed. It's at Apex in Siam Square and Paragon Cineplex. Rated 13+.

Gf*Bf (Girlfriend Boyfriend) – This acclaimed Taiwanese drama chronicles the three-way romance of  two guys and a girl over a period of rapid social change in the 1980s. It's been a winner and nominee of several awards, including best actress for Gwei Lun-Mei at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the Golden Horse Awards. It's in Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles at House.

Upside Down – Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst star in this topsy-turvy science-fiction romance about sweethearts on worlds that exist one on top of the other. The Up world is rich and prosperous and rules over the impoverished Below world. Contact between the two cultures is hazardous and generally forbidden. But the young man is determined to overcome all obstacles to be with the girl he loves. Argentine director Juan Diego Solanas directs this French-backed feature, which hasn't yet been released in the U.S. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated 13+.

Texas Chainsaw 3D – Tobe Hooper's cult-slasher franchise enters the modern 3D era with this story that's set 20 years after the 1974 original. Critical reception is mostly negative, with even fans of the series expressing their disappointment. Rated 18+.

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