Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 1-8, 2013

Iron Man 3

There's just one wide release this week – Iron Man 3 – and it opens today, two days before it makes its bow in U.S. multiplexes. Today also also happens to be May Day, Thailand's National Labor Day, a public holiday. So the movie chains have a chance at luring idle workers and their comrades in to boost up the box-office takings.

Iron Man 3 has Robert Downey Jr. suiting back up for his fourth full-blown outing as the brash billionaire superhero Tony Stark (not counting his cameo in the teaser at the end of The Incredible Hulk). While suffering post-traumatic stress after seeing New York destroyed and his brush with death in The Avengers, Tony faces a fearsome new foe in the guise of the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who rips Stark's world apart.

Don Cheadle (not Terrence Howard) also returns as Tony's good friend Rhodey, and he dons a suit too, with a new red, white and blue paint job as Iron Patriot, formerly known as War Machine. Also returning are Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark's girlfriend and longtime assistant Pepper Potts, Guy Pearce as rival industrialist Aldrich Killian and Jon Favreau, the director of the first two Iron Man movies, as Tony's driver and head of security, Happy Hogan.

Iron Man 3 is a Disney/Marvel co-production with China, a strategy that helps Hollywood skirt China's stringent quota rules that only allow a handful of foreign films to screen there each year. It's already opened in several Asian territories and broken many records.

There's even a "Sweded" Thai trailer.

Shane Black directs. He's the superstar screenwriter of the Lethal Weapon series, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, among other flicks, and he also directed Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Iron Man is part of the sprawling Avengers franchise, but RDJ has been dropping hints that this may be his last go 'round in the armored suit, wondering in GQ magazine "who many genre movies can I do?" He suffered injuries during the filming of Iron Man 3 and is probably still sore. Co-star Paltrow has said she doesn't think there will be an Iron Man 4. It may all be a play to boost Downey's $50 million paycheck even further.

Meanwhile, Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is spinning on, with Thor: The Dark World due out later this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier next year, Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series and eventually The Avengers 2.

As always with these Marvel comic-book flicks, there's a post-credits teaser for another movie in the series, so stick around and take time to appreciate just how many people worked on the film.

Critical reception for Iron Man 3 is highly favorable, much better than the rather dull second entry in the series, with the consensus being that the sense of fun from the first entry has returned. It's in 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G.

Also opening

Shootout at Wadala – This fact-based Bollywood action flick recalls the 1982 fatal police shooting of gangster Manya Surve (John Abraham) by Mumbai police. It was the first of the so-called "encounter killings" in Mumbai. Kangna Ranaut and Anil Kapoor also star. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles Major Cineplex Sukumvit (Ekamai) and Central Rama III. Starts Friday.

Also showing

Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington – Sebastian Junger directs this documentary on war photographer Tim Hetherington, his friend and co-director of the Oscar-nominated, Sundance-winning Afghanistan war documentary Restrepo. Which Way covers Hetherington's life until his last days in Libya, where he was killed on April 20, 2011. After premiering at this year's Sundance festival, it was broadcast on HBO. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand hosts a special screening of the documentary to benefit RISC (Reporters Instructed In Saving Colleagues). Admission for non-members is 350 baht. The showtime is at 8pm on Thursday, May 2 at the FCCT.

Cautionary Tale – This independent feature made its Bangkok debut last weekend at Jam Cafe, a new venue near Surasak BTS station that has regular movie nights. Produced and directed by Christopher Zawadzki, Cautionary Tale follows a children's TV show host grieving over the death of his daughter. The sad New Yorker comes to Bangkok and is cheered up by a Thai rock musician named Cherry. She inspires him to start making music again. There will be two more screenings of A Cautionary Tale, at 6pm on Sunday, May 5 at the Titanium Ice Bar on Sukhumvit Soi 22 and at 7pm on May 14 on the rooftop of the Hotel Muse on Soi Langsuan. Check the film's Facebook page for more details.

Contemporary Mexican Film Festival – Following the celebration of Mexico's Cinco de Mayo this Sunday, the Mexican Embassy in Bangkok is putting on a film festival. Held in conjunction with the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, the fest will feature five fairly recent Mexican movies. The screenings will be at the Sri Salaya cinema at 5.30pm every Tuesday from May 7 to June 4. The opening film is El Estudiante (The Student), about a 70-year-old man who enrolls in college and meets colorful new friends. May 14 will feature Amor en Fin (Love on a Weekend), which has three love stories from different social classes over the course of three days. Espiral (Spiral) on May 21 is about the women left behind when their men migrate to the U.S. in search of better-paying jobs. La Mitad del Mundo (The Half of the World) on May 28 is about the sexual awakening of a mentally challenged young man. And the closing film on June 4, Flor de Fango (Mud Flower), is a drama about a medical-school lecturer who falls for his family's late nanny's 14-year-old daughter. All will be shown with English subtitles. As always, the Film Archive has daily screenings of Thai and foreign films and many special events. Please follow the FAPOT Facebook page for updates (mostly in Thai only).

Les femmes du 6ème étage (The Women on the Sixth Floor) – Owing to today's public holiday, there's no movie at the Alliance Française tonight. May's roster of screenings starts at 7.30pm next Wednesday, May 8, with Les femmes du 6ème étage, a 2011 comedy directed by Philippe Le Guay about an uptight stockbroker whose life is changed by a colorful group of Spanish maids who've moved into his apartment building. Other movies this month are Louise Michel on May 15, L’Exercice de l’Etat on May 22 and Baara on May 29.

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