Ever-reliable action star Jason Statham takes on a role previously played by such tough guys as Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, Jim Brown and Mel Gibson in Parker, an entry from the pulp-novel crime stories of Donald Westlake
Written under the pen name of Richard Stark, Westlake's Parker novels, about a professional thief who generally steals from the mob or other criminals, have been adapted into films many times before, including Point Blank starring Lee Marvin, The Oufit starring Robert Duvall, The Split with Jim Brown and Payback (a remake of Point Blank) with Mel Gibson.
Rarely have the characters in the films actually been named Parker, until now with Statham. Here, in a story based on Flashfire, the 19th Parker novel, he's out for revenge against the members of his former crew after they double-crossed and left him for dead after a heist.
Jennifer Lopez also stars, in a role that recalls her critically hailed performance in Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of the Elmore Leonard crime tale Out of Sight. But here, instead of a tough-talking deputy U.S. marshal, she's more of a comic-relief sidekick to Statham.
Taylor Hackford (Ray, The Devil's Advocate) directs.
Critical reception is mixed, with critics evenly divided on whether they like J.Lo or find her annoying. Rated 15+.
Zero Dark Thirty – In sneak previews for two weeks, director Kathryn Bigelow's war-on-terror drama finally moves to a wider release this week. The fact-based account of the decade-long hunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden has been mired controversy, mainly because of its depiction of torture. Jessica Chastain stars in an Oscar-nominated role as a CIA operative heading up the mission with assistance from the U.S. Navy Seals. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and the film also picked up the Golden Globe for best picture in the category. In addition to best actress for Chastain, the film is nominated for four other Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Boal, but notably not Best Director. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. Rated 15+.
Les Misérables – Another major Oscar nominee that's been in sneak previews and moves to a wider release this week, Les Miz is a strange beast, being a musical that's sung in English about French rebellion. Covering 17 years that culminates in the 1832 Paris uprising, the epic tale involves Jean Valjean, a man jailed for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. He gets out of prison and tries to get back on his feet, but is doggedly pursued by his former warden, the obsessive Javert. Other characters include Fantine, a woman forced into prostitution to support her illegitimate daughter. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), Les Miz won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and best actor and supporting actress for Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway as Fantine. Russell Crowe also stars, croaking his way through the role of Javert, along with Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. It's nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, but notably not Best Director for Hooper. Critical reception is mixed, but if you're a fan of musicals then you'll probably enjoy it. Rated 15+.
Liberal Arts – Josh Radnor, best known for the TV comedy series How I Met Your Mother, directs and stars in this independent comedy-drama. He's a young graduate who returns to his alma mater, a small Ohio liberal arts college, for a professor's retirement party. There, he falls for a precocious sophomore music student (Elizabeth Olsen). Richard Jenkins (also on Bangkok screens in Killing Them Softly) and Allison Janney star as a couple of professors. Liberal Arts premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival and secured a limited theatrical release. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at House on RCA.
Thongsuk 13 (ทองสุก 13, a.k.a. Long Weekend) – Merry young pranksters head to a remote island for a weekend of fun but instead find nothing but non-stop terror. This is the first feature from a new Thai studio, Wave Pictures, and marks the return to the scene by director Taweewat Wantha. Thongsuk 13 doesn't look to be reaching the same heights of batshit insanity as Taweewat's early 2000s cult hits, the zombie comedy SARS Wars and the sci-fi comedy The Sperm. It's a straighter horror direction, but Taweewat's cool stylistic touches are present, so this could actually be fun if you're into horror. Rated 15+.
Double Trouble – This is a Taiwanese action-comedy vehicle for Jackie Chan's son Jaycee. He's the head of a security team charged with looking after a valuable painting but is fingered as a prime suspect when the artwork is stolen by a pair of female thieves in stiletto heels. He teams up with a rifle-toting young woman named Ocean (Xia Yu) to get the painting back and clear his name. It's at Major Cineplex (including EGV, Esplanade, Mega, Paradise, etc.) and is Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.
Race 2 – Fast cars, casinos, exotic locations, hot babes and heists are promised and delivered by this globe-trotting Bollywood action-comedy-drama starring Anil Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, who reprise their roles from the 2008 hit. Deepika Padukone, John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez join in this time around. In Hindi with English subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Major Rama III and Paragon. Rated 15+.
Mademoiselle Chambon – Stéphane Brizé directs this 2009 comedy-drama starring Vincent Lindon, Sandrine Kiberlain and Aure Atika about a blue-collar guy (Lindon) who finds himself attracted to his son's sophisticated violin teacher (Kiberlain). He pursues her, but also fights against giving in to his desires. It's in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française at 7.30pm on Wednesday, February 6.