Ah, Valentine's Day. The perfect day to grab a date and watch a movie with Bruce Willis blowing stuff up.
Willis is back as tough wise-cracking police officer John McClane for A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth entry in the action-movie franchise that began in 1988.
For the first time, the events take place away from U.S. soil, with McClane visiting Moscow on vacation and to track down his estranged son Jack. The kid is played by up-and-coming Australian star Jai Courtney from Spartacus: Blood and Sand and most recently Jack Reacher.
It turns out Jack is a secret agent working to protect a government whistleblower. Together, father and son uncover a plot by terrorists to use uranium from the old Chernobyl nuclear plant to build weapons of mass destruction.
The director this time around is John Moore, who previously did the videogame adaptation Max Payne, the 2006 remake of The Omen, 2001's Behind Enemy Lines and the 2004 remake of Flight of the Phoenix. The script is by Skip Woods, writer of The A-Team, Swordfish and other action films.
This is just now opening in the U.S., so critical reception is not yet registering. It opened in Singapore last week. MovieExclusive and Nutshell gave it mixed marks but mainly complained about the local authorities' censorship of the "yippie ki yays", which isn't the case for the Thai release. It's also at IMAX and IMAX Digital. Rated 15+.
Warm Bodies – "Zom rom com" is a term I think was first coined for British director Edgar Wright's genre-bending cult hit Shaun of the Dead, but it also applies to this new zombie romantic comedy in which a teenage zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) starts to experience feelings after he comes to the aid of a cute girl (Teresa Palmer). Other zombies notice the star-crossed lovers and start to experience feelings as well. They also gain the ability to communicate through grunts and gestures. However, the leader of the human resistance against zombies (John Malkovich) is the girl's father and he has other ideas. And there are fierce even-more-dead skeletal creatures that pose a greater threat to both humans and zombies. Rob Corddry, Dave Franco and Analeigh Tipton also star. It's directed by Jonathan Levine, who previously did 50/50, The Wackness and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 15+.
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. This was in sneak previews last week and moves to a wider release this week at Major Cineplex outlets, including Paragon, Esplanade, Mega, etc. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+.
Safe Haven – Don't let director Lasse Hallström hear you call this a "chick flick". The king of melodrama, he actually hates that term. Nonetheless, this has all the makings of a "chick flick", being yet another adaptation of a gooey over-sentimental novel by Nicholas Sparks. Julianne Hough is a young woman on the run from a violent past. She arrives in a small North Carolina town with no intention of getting into another relationship, but the setting is so gosh-darn romantic, she can't help it. She falls for Josh Duhamel, a kind-hearted widower store-owner father of two kids. This doesn't come out in the U.S. until this week, and critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 13+.
Choice Khoo See Dee Tae Fun (Choice คู่ซี้ดีแต่ฝัน) – Musicians “Way” Prinya Intachai from the hip-hop group Thaitanium and Preeti "Bankk" Barameeanant from the Thai rock group Clash (not to be confused with the Clash) make their directorial debut and also star in this comedy about a pair of convenience-store clerks who dream of doing more with their lives. They face some tough choices after their store is robbed. Among the other stars turning up are "Sai" Inthira Jaroenpura, "Tao" Somchai Khemklad and Sirin "Cris" Horwang. Both the musicians have acted in films before, with Way playing a menacing tattooed monk in 2011's Mindfulness and Murder, among other films. And Bank starred in 2009's basketball-martial-arts thriller Fireball. Rated 15+.
Clap! French Film Festival – Bangkok movie-goers are spoiled for choice this week with three festivals going on. The Clap! French Film Festival started yesterday at SFX the Emporium and runs through next Wednesday, and overlaps with both the annual Japanese Film Festival at SFC Terminal 21 and German Film Week at Paragon Cineplex. Highlights of the French fest include tonight's free outdoor double-bill at Museum Siam of The Artist and Intouchables, starting at 7pm. Among this weekend's offerings are the 2011 Cannes Jury Prize winner Polisse, about the Child Protection Unit of the Paris police and the animated feature The Rabbi's Cat. Tickets are 120 baht (100 baht for students) at the box office – book them now – no need to queue for hours on end in hopes of getting a good seat. Please see the full line-up in a previous post.
Japanese Film Festival – Here's one of those "free" film festivals in which you pay the price in the time it takes to stand in line for the tickets. They are handed out 30 minutes before showtime but the lines often start forming well before then, so plan accordingly if you want to ensure a good seat. The Japanese fest offers one of the few times a year that Japanese films are screened in Bangkok with English subtitles – the rest of the year the regular Friday screenings at the Japan Foundation are generally Thai-subbed only. This year's festival, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday at SF Cinema City Terminal 21, offers seven food-themed movies. Please see the full line-up in a previous post
German Film Week – Instead of having you queue up for an hour or two, the Goethe Institut offers an e-mail reservation system for its free festival – just follow the instructions on their website. This year's fest starts on Monday and runs through next Sunday, with seven films, one screening each night at 7 at Paragon Cineplex. Please see the full line-up in a previous post
ABCD: Any Body Can Dance – Song and dance are a vital part of all Bollywood movies, so it seems strange that there aren't more movies that are actually about dance. Prabhu Deva stars as a guy who just wants to dance. That's it. Plus some great music. Billed as "India's first 3D dance film", it is indeed screening in 3D at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Major Rama III and Paragon. Rated G.
Special 26 – Akshay Kumar stars in this fact-based comedy-drama heist flick. It's inspired by a case from 1987 when men posing as Central Bureau of Investigation officers staged a daring robbery of a jewelry store in Mumbai. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III.
House cinema on RCA is closed from today until Sunday for a private event – auditions for "The Voice Kids".
Thanks to Art of the Bangkok Coffee and Movie Meetup Group for pointing out that the Major Cineplex group has "a Golden Ticket" promotion for its Oscar-nominated movies, offering tickets for 100 baht. I am not sure about what restrictions, if any, apply to this deal, but under the promotion, Major is bringing back Oscar-nominated movies that screened last year or earlier this year, such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Argo, Skyfall, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (which was also screening at House on RCA).
The deal also covers such Oscar-nominated coming attractions as Silver Linings Playbook and Flight. Michael Haneke's bleak elder-care drama Amour, which is the closer of the Clap! French Film Festival on February 20, moves to a regular theatrical release on February 28, according to Major's promotion.
There's also Lincoln, which has no definite date yet other than "coming soon".
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell screenwrites and directs this romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper as a bipolar man living with his parents after a stint in a psychiatric institution and a disastrous marriage. Trying to get back on his feet, he strikes up an odd friendship with a young widowed woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who also has issues. Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver are the guy's working-class parents and the supporting cast includes Chris Tucker. Silver Linings Playbook is nominated for eight Oscars, including best picture and best director as well as all four acting categories, a feat not matched since 1981's Reds (and DeNiro's first Oscar nom since 1991's Cape Fear). Wins this awards season include Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for Lawrence and a BAFTA for best adapted screenplay, though Russell thought Lawrence should have won a BAFTA too. This is in sneak previews, with screenings from around 8pm at most multiplexes (including Apex Siam Square), before moving to a wider release next week. Rated 15+.