Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 22-29, 2013

Kick-Ass 2

The titular costumed crimefighter and his pal Mindy, a.k.a. Hit-Girl return for more ultra-violent action in Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the 2010 film that was adapted from the comics of Mark Millar.

The heroic exploits of the dweeb named Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)  have inspired a wave of other ordinary folks to don masks and costumes to fight crime. With his newly honed six-pack abs, he joins up with a group led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).

Meanwhile, the blade-wielding Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) struggles to cope with high school, where she runs afoul of a clique of mean girls. She masks up and ditches school to fight crime, against the wishes of her foster father Marcus (Morris Chestnut).

And a new masked supervillain arises to challenge the heroes – the former Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) – newly christened as The M– F'er. He seeks to avenge the death of his gangster father at the hands of Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl.

Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) takes over as writer-director on this entry, with Matthew Vaughn, director of the first Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass 2 met with controversy after Jim Carrey excused himself from doing promotional appearances for the film, saying that after the Sandy Hook school shootings, he could no longer support such a violent film.

And critics have been unkind to Kick-Ass 2, saying it doesn't hold up as well as the first one. But, if you're a fan of Hit-Girl, then check this out because it's unlikely they'll give her her own movie. Rated 18+.

Also opening

Any Day Now – Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt star in this fact-based drama about an "unconventional couple" in the late 1970s who become guardians to a teenage boy with Downs syndrome after the boy's mother is sent to prison. When the men's relationship is called into question, they have to fight the biased legal system to adopt the boy. Winner of several awards on the film-festival circuit last year, critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. It's at House on RCA and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 18+.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Lily Collins is a snarky teenage girl in New York City who discovers she has the gift of seeing a secret supernatural parallel world. After her mother (Lena Headey) disappears, she joins with the Shadowhunters, a band of half angels who battle demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures, all while attending fabulous parties. It's based on the first book in the The Mortal Instruments series of young-adult novels by Cassandra Clare, and will likely appeal to the same audience that likes the Twilight movies. Harald Zwart (The Pink Panther 2, The Karate Kid remake) directs. This is being released in the U.S. this week, so critical reception is a bit thin. Rated 15+.

The Conjuring – James Wan, director of Saw and Insidious, brings his trademark creepy dolls to this fact-based horror tale of the Warrens, the husband-and-wife paranormal investigators best known for their work in Amityville. Here, the Warrens, portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, are called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse in Harrisonville, Rhode Island. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston also star. Like another modestly budgeted thriller released this summer, The Purge, The Conjuring has had great success at the box office and even better response from critics. Rated 15+.

Java Heat – Thailand isn't the only country where Hollywood comes to make ultra-violent pulpy B-movies like Rambo IV, Elephant White and Only God Forgives. Indonesia takes its licks in Java Heat, which has young leading man Kellen Lutz joining with a local Muslim detective (Ario Bayu) to investigate a terrorist attack. The mastermind of it all is none other than Mickey Rourke. As with most of these types of films, critical reception is terrible. It's at Major Cineplex (EGV, Esplanade, Mega, Paradise, Paragon) only. Rated 18+.

The Second Sight (จิตสัมผัส, Jit Sampad 3D) – Venerable Thai studio Five Star Production continues its direction into actual 3D horror with this thriller is about a guy named Jane (Nawat Kulratanarat) who has a special gift that allows him to see ghosts and the karma of those around him. When reckless teenager Kaew kills someone in a hit-and-run, Jane’s girlfriend Jum (Rhatha Pho-ngam) pleads with him not to help. But Jane, who knows the incident was no accident, goes ahead anyway, leading to problems for the couple. Pornchai Hongrattanaporn, a.k.a. Mr. Pink, directs, marking his first movie in 3D. Rated G.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Again – Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Sonali Bendre star in this Bollywood gangster flick, which is a sequel to a 2010 movie. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Starts Friday.

Also showing

17th Thai Short Film and Video Festival – Thailand's longest continuously running film festival opens at 5.30 today with Jury, a South Korean satire about film-festival judging panels. Tomorrow's highlights include the S-Express Singapore package. Saturday offers a full day starting at 11am, with always excellent Best of Clermont-Ferrand, The Death Trilogy by veteran Thai indie filmmaker Pimpaka Towira and S-Express Chinese among the highlights. Sunday's program includes the International Competition entries. Please note that not all the Thai films have English subtitles, so kindly consult the program at the venue before entering the screenings so that you don't disrupt things by stumbling in and then quickly stumbling back out because of the lack of subs. The number of people who do this is simply astounding, and it's distracting to audience members who have settled in and are trying to concentrate on the films. The festival runs until September 1 (except Monday) at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, with screenings in the fifth-floor auditorium and fourth-floor conference room. Shows start at 5 on weekdays and 11 am on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free. The full schedule can be found on the Short 17 Facebook page.

The Friese-Greene Club – The month of documentaries continues at Bangkok's private cinema club, with courtroom drama in 1996's Paradise Lost tonight, the 1976 coal-miners' union classic Harlan County U.S.A. tomorrow night and 1966's ode to surfing The Endless Summer on Saturday. On Sunday, go inside a mental asylum with Frederick Wiseman in 1967's Titicut Follies. Next Wednesday is Chris Marker's visually poetic Sans Soleil. And, plan ahead for September, which will include the films of Peter Sellers, David Cronenberg and classic Midnight Movies. The FCG is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from around 6pm. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.

La Danse – The Friese-Greene Club isn't the only place in town showing documentaries by Frederick Wiseman. Next Wednesday's free movie at the Alliance Française is Wiseman's 2009 documentary on the Paris Opera Ballet. The show starts at 7.30pm.

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