Cult-favorite South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) makes his much-anticipated English-language debut with Stoker, a Hitchcock-style thriller.
The family drama centers on a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) whose father has just died in a car wreck. Out of the blue, her long-lost uncle (Matthew Goode) comes to live with the family. Though she suspects he has ulterior motives, she is mysterious drawn to her uncle.
Nicole Kidman is the emotionally unstable mother. Dermot Mulroney and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) also star.
The last movie to be produced by Tony Scott before his death last year, it's also the debut screenplay by Wentworth Miller, the hunky star of the TV series "Prison Break". Nobody believed such a good script could be written by a physically attractive person, so Miller submitted it under a pen name, Ted Foulke, after his dog. It hit the 2010 "black list" of the most sought-after Hollywood scripts.
And although the name of the film evokes "Dracula" author Bram Stoker, Miller has been at pains to insist the story isn't about vampires. However, the villain is just as predatory.
Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.
Jack the Giant Slayer – Hollywood's first major tentpole release of the year, the fairy tale of a brave farmboy and magic beanstalks is given the Lord of the Rings comedy-fantasy-epic treatment by director Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects). Nicholas Hoult, already on Bangkok screens as a lovestruck zombie in Warm Bodies, is the young hero who befriends a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) as he battles goofy CGI giants. Other cast members include Ewan McGregor as a helpful royal guard, Stanley Tucci as the king's scheming adviser, Ian McShane in full Britishness as the king and Bill Nighy as one head on a two-headed giant. Opening this week in the U.S., critical reception is too early to tell. It's in 2D as well as 3D, including IMAX and IMAX Digital. Rated G.
Gambit – This rather shrill remake of a 1966 Michael Caine crime caper stars Colin Firth as an art dealer seeking to swindle his abusive boss (Alan Rickman) by conning him into buying a fake Monet "Haystacks" painting. However, the plan quickly unravels thanks to an unpredictable Texas rodeo queen, played by a hammy Cameron Diaz. Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci (again) and Cloris Leachman also star. This remake has been stuck in Hollywood's development hell for years, with such names as Aaron Sorkin, Alexander Payne, Robert Altman and Mike Nichols attached at one time or another. Eventually, the Coen brothers cashed a paycheck for writing the script and directing chores fell to Michael Hoffman (The Last Station). Critical reception has been overwhelmingly negative, showing that not everything the Coens have something to do with is necessarily good. It's at Major Cineplex. Rated 13+.
A Werewolf Boy – A young woman (Park Bo-young) who has moved to an isolated country estate for health reasons encounters a feral young man (Song Joong-ki) living on the grounds. She befriends him and struggles to civilize him. A Werewolf Boy premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and was featured at the Busan fest before opening in a wide release in South Korea, where it reached No. 3 at the box office and is one of the country's highest-earning melodramas of all time. It's in Korean with English and Thai subtitles at some cinemas, including SF World at CentralWorld and Paragon, and Thai-dubbed in most others. Rated G.
Chronicle of My Mother – If Amour isn't enough sadness for you, here's more drama about the elderly and dying. With his aged mother slipping away, a bitter writer seeks reconciliation and answers about why she abandoned him after World War II. Yakusho Koji, Kiki Kirin and Aoi Miyazaki star in this adaptation of an auto-biographical novel by Yasushi Inoue. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square and House on RCA.
Kai Po Che! – This hit Bollywood comedy drama stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Raj Kumar Yadav and Amit Sadh as three friends who are bound by their love for cricket. Enduring various epic struggles, they set out to open a cricket academy. Amrita Puri also stars. It's directed by Abhishek Kapoor and produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur. The first-ever Indian film to be featured in the World Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival, critical reception is generally positive. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Rated 13+.
Amour – Hot off winning this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Michael Haneke's bleak drama opens this week in select cinemas in what's officially classified as a "sneak preview".
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star as retired music teachers in their 80s, whose lifelong bond of love is severely tested after Anne suffers a series of crippling strokes. Isabelle Huppert also stars, portraying the couple's daughter.
An uncompromising portrait of the ravages of old age, Amour has nonetheless been met with widespread acclaim since its premiere last year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the top-prize Palme d'Or.
Other accolades have included the BAFTA for Best Leading Actress and Best Film Not in the English Language and César Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. It was nominated for five Oscars in all, including best picture, best director and best actress. Riva, who turned 86 on Oscars day last Sunday, is the oldest actress to be nominated for the honor.
It's in French with English and Thai subtitles at the Lido in Siam Square. Select branches of SF cinemas – SF World, SFX the Emporium, SFX Lad Phrao, SFC Terminal 21 – are also screening it in French with both English and Thai subs, at least that's what they told me on their ticket hotline. Some Major Cineplex outlets also have it – Ratchayothin and Mega – but double-check on the soundtrack and language, because the website is indicating an English dub with Thai subs at most Major branches. Showtimes are from around 8 nightly. Rated 15+.