Star Trek Into Darkness
J.J. Abrams, the creator of such science-fiction TV series as Lost and Fringe who has now somehow been put in charge of guiding both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, takes the crew of the Starship Enterprise out for another lens-flare-bedazzled spin with the oddly titled Star Trek Into Darkness.
Shrouded in mystery and rumor for much of its production, this second entry in Abrams' rebooted Trek universe has the Enterprise called back to Earth to deal with a mass-destruction mastermind. He is not Khan as fans have speculated but is just some rogue Starfleet officer named John Harrison. He's played by the awesomely named Benedict Cumberbatch.
Back in the captain's chair is Chris Pine as the brash womanizing young Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as his logical Vulcan first officer Spock, Karl Urban as grumpy ship's surgeon McCoy, Zoe Salana as communications officer Uhura, John Cho as helmsman Sulu, Anton Yelchin as whiz-kid navigator Pavel Chekov and Simon Pegg as chief engineer Scotty. Robocop himself, Peter Weller, joins the cast as a hawkish Starfleet commander. Alice Eve a character introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Dr. Carol Marcus, Kirk's love interest.
Hard-core fans of the Star Trek TV series have been critical of Abrams' direction with the franchise, arguing that he's concentrating too much on action, comedy and lens flares, straying away from creator Gene Roddenberry's exploration of social issues and the human condition. Nonetheless, critical reception is mostly positive. Opening tomorrow (not today as with the other movies), it's in 3D (post-production) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated 13+.
Welcome to the Punch – Mark Strong, one of the usual suspects when it comes to British gangster flicks, stars in this slick-looking thriller about a former criminal who has to return to London when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. The ex-gangster's long-time nemesis, a police detective played by James McAvoy, sees one last chance to get his man. While at odds, they uncover a deeper conspiracy. Eran Creevy, who made a small-budget drama called Shifty as well as commercials and music videos, makes his sophomore directorial feature under the production umbrella of Ridley Scott. Critical reception is mixed, but it looks like a sure bet if you're a fan of other genre films like Layer Cake and RocknRolla. Rated 15+.
Evil Dead – Sam Raimi co-produces this new entry into his horror franchise that serves as both a remake and continuation of his original low-budget 1981 cult movie about young folks in a remote cabin who discover a Book of the Dead and unwittingly summon up dormant demons. They are picked off until only one is left standing to somehow turn back the evil. Fan favorite Bruce Campbell, star of the original and Raimi's sequels, also produces and makes a cameo, as does Raimi's Oldsmobile. It's directed and co-written by Uruguayan indie helmer Fede Alvarez, and Diablo Cody doctored the script. Critical reception is surprisingly positive, so, again, if you're a fan of the genre you probably won't be disappointed. Rated 18+.
3096 Days – This fact-based English-language drama recounts the ordeal of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who was kidnapped at age 10 and held captive in a secret cellar for eight years. Antonia Campbell-Hughes stars with Thure Lindhardt as her captor, Wolfgang Přiklopil. It's at SF cinemas and House on RCA. Rated 15+.
Love in the Rain (Ruedoo Tee Taektang, ฤดูที่ฉันเหงา) – Seems like there is one of these types of movies every year, a romantic comedy-drama that's promoted with posters of the characters standing under umbrellas. This year's entry into the canon is the second directorial effort by multi-hyphenate musician and actor "Dan" Worrawech Danuwong. It's set in the little northern tourist-trap town of Pai and involves a tight-knit group of youngsters whose affections towards each other are not necessarily returned in the way they would wish. Kung (Chalermpon “Jack Fan Chan” Thikampornteerawong) falls for Nara (Nara Thepnupha) and also becomes friendly with a musician (Dan) who lives opposite Nara’s house. But Nara is in love with a handsome hair stylist, a guy named Daisy (Toni Rakkaen), who is interested in another girl, Jan (Jintanadda Lammakanon). Like Dan's first directorial effort, the musical romantic drama The Melody, it's produced by industry titan Prachya Pinkaew and Sahamongkolfilm. Rated 15+.
Louise-Michel – The Alliance Française screens free movies with English subtitles at 7.30pm every Wednesday. Next week's offering is this 2008 workplace comedy directed by Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine and starring Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners and Benoît Poelvoorde. It deals with workers at a coat-hanger factory who plot to kill their boss after he shuts down his business and empties it overnight, throwing them all out of their jobs.
The Mexican Film Festival is continuing at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, with screenings at 5.30pm every Tuesday until June 4. And the indie comedy-drama Cautionary Tale has a screening at 7pm on Tuesday night on the rooftop of the Muse Hotel. Please see last week's posting for more details.
Next week, I'll post details about the long-running and popular European Union Film Festival, set for May 16 to 26 at SF World Cinema.