Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 7-13, 2013

Jan Dara: The Finale

Director ML Bhandevanov Devakula wraps up his two-part adaptation of the epic story of lust, incest and sexual abuse in a noble family in the 1930s and '40s.

In Jan Dara: The Finale (จันดารา ปัจฉิมบท), Mario Maurer glues on a moustache, signifying that he's all grown up. But just who, and what, has he become?

After spending time in the provinces, exiled from his family's Bangkok mansion, he has learned the terrible truth behind his birth. He is urged by his family's matriarch (Radklao Amaradit) to return to Bangkok to claim his birthright and get revenge on his hateful stepfather (Sakkaraj Rerkthamrong).

But in taking revenge, Jan also lashes out against his friends and loved ones. It appears the circle of sex and violence from which he was spawned is never ending.

Ratha Po-ngam, Bongkot Kongmalai, Chaiyapol J. Poupart and Sho Nishino also star.

Adapted from a 1966 novel by Utsana Phleungtham, Jan Dara has been made into films before, most notably in 2001 by Nonzee Nimibutr. With censorship smears now replaced by ratings, Mom Noi thought the time was right to really exploit the story. However, despite the bodacious bare curves of actress Bongkot “Tak” Kongmalai, last year’s Jan Dara: The Beginning was greeted with yawns.

Despite rumors that director Mom Noi was going to make this installment even more explicit than last year's Rated 18+ part one, Jan Dara: The Finale is also rated 18+.

Also opening

Bullet to the Head – The stream of flicks featuring ageing action stars continues unabated, and it's largely thanks to Sylvester Stallone who got things rolling again with The Expendables. Arnold Schwarzenegger is still stomping around on the big screens in the slick modern-day western The Last Stand, and Bruce Willis is coming up next week in the fifth Die Hard movie, A Good Day to Die Hard. A pulpy B-movie actioner that's adapted from a French graphic novel, Sly's Bullet to the Head is also a return for another action-movie veteran, director Walter Hill, the man behind such classics as The Warriors, The Long Riders and 48 Hrs. Having been producing and directing for mainly TV in recent years, notably the HBO series Deadwood, it's his first theatrical feature in more than a decade. Sly plays a hitman who teams up with a cop (Sung Kang) to bring down the killers of their respective partners. Critical reception is mixed, but it should appeal to fans of Stallone and the action genre. Rated 15+.

Lost in Thailand – The highest-grossing Chinese movie ever comes to Thai screens for this weekend's Chinese New Year. The low-budget road comedy was shot on the fly in various locations around Thailand. It's a loose sequel to 2010's Lost on Journey. Xu Zheng, who also directs, stars as a businessman and inventor of a new techonology. He comes to Thailand to find a company executive who is on a retreat. He's tailed by a unscrupulous rival (Huang Bo). Along the way, Xu Zheng falls in with a bumbling countryman (Wang Baoqiang). They experience the various things that other tourists in Thailand might encounter, like Buddhist temples, elephant rides, resort hotels, ladyboys and general culture shock. Critical reception is mixed. Update: It's Thai-dubbed everywhere except Paragon, which has the original soundtrack with English subtitles just once a day for now. Rated G.

Mama – Orphaned children who survived an ordeal are rescued by their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain). But the girls, who have grown half wild in their time alone, aren't quite right, and soon their new stepmother is convinced that there is an evil presence among them. Guillermo del Toro executive produces this horror thriller directed by Andres Muschietti, which was No. 1 at the U.S. box office upon its release there last month. Reception is generally favorable, with critics hailing the "old-school" scares that recall such other child-centered horror films as The Exorcist and del Toro's own Pan's Labyrinth. Rated 15+.

I Am a King – This South Korean comedy adapts Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper and sets it during the Joseon Dynasty in the 1400s. The heir to the throne wants to experience life outside the palace, so he has a slave who looks like him take his place. Joo Ji-hoon stars, playing a dual role as the crown prince and the slave. It's at Major Cineplex only, with Korean with English and Thai subtitles at some outlets, including Paragon and Esplanade. Rated 13+.

Also showing

Le bruit des gens autour (Sunny Spells) – Diastème directs this 2008 romantic comedy-drama starring Emma De Caunes, Léa Drucker and Bruno Todeschini with interconnected stories taking place during the Avignon Festival. It's at the Alliance Française at 7.30pm on Wednesday, February 13.

Take note

The Scala cinema in Siam Square is hosting the British Council's Live at the Scala, a multimedia performing arts festival, from tonight through Saturday, starting at 7pm. So it won't be movies as usual. Instead, it'll be all kinds of live, cutting edge performance art acts. Admission is 100 baht.

Where's Lincoln? It had been listed on the Pantip schedule as a possibility for release in Thailand this week, but it sadly never materialized, despite the movie's star, Daniel Day-Lewis, being pretty much a shoo-in for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Lincoln, covering the 16th U.S. president's move to free the slaves, is nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg. DDL has already won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his role, and Tommy Lee Jones scored at the SAG Awards for his portrayal of a flinty abolitionist lawmaker. Despite all the accolades, Lincoln is now nowhere to be found on the Thailand release calendar. Perhaps if it wins an Oscar or two, the distributor Fox and cinemas will be more keen to screen it here.

Meanwhile, another Oscar-nominated slavery-themed American movie, Django Unchained, will be appearing sooner than I expected. I spotted posters for it at Major Sukhumvit, and it's set for release on March 14. Director Quentin Tarantino's "n-word"-laced homage to spaghetti westerns and blaxploitation stars Jamie Foxx as a former slave out for revenge against his master (Leonardo DiCaprio in an atypical offbeat villain role). He's helped along the way by an amiable bounty hunter, portrayed by Christoph Waltz, the Oscar-winning Austrian actor who found worldwide fame as a charming Nazi in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Django Unchained is nominated for five Oscars, including original screenplay for Tarantino and supporting actor for Waltz, who's already won the Golden Globe this year for the role.

Still to come on February 21 is Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic comedy directed by David O. Russell. It stars Jennifer Lawrence in a Golden Globe- and SAG-winning role. Bradley Cooper also stars as a depressed young man who is still living at home with his working-class parents. It's also won accolades for Robert DeNiro as Cooper's father, in one of his most solid performances in awhile. Silver Linings Playbook is up for five Oscars and marks the first time since Reds that a film has been nominated in all four acting categories, with nominations for Lawrence, Cooper, DeNiro and Jacki Weaver.

Also on February 21 is the airline drama Flight, starring Denzel Washington in an Oscar-nominated role. It's directed by Back to the Future helmer Robert Zemeckis, marking his welcome return to live-action drama after a string of motion-capture animation experiments.

Sneak preview

Bachelorette – Aiming to capture the success of Bridesmaids, this comedy about the drunken antics of women at a bride's bachelorette party stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan as three friends who are invited to the wedding of a chubby classmate who they used to make fun of in high school. She's played by Rebel Wilson, who came to fame for her quirky supporting role in Bridesmaids. James Marston and Adam Scott also star. It's screening at the multiplexes from 8 nightly this week until moving to a wider release next weekend. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+.

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