Director Harmony Korine is no stranger to generating water-cooler talk with his controversial and polarizing films that are down-and-dirty portrayals of the lives of youngsters.
His latest unapologetically grimy, candy-colored effort, Spring Breakers, stars ex-Disney princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens along with Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine as four bikini-clad college girls who turn to robbery to finance their spring-break vacation. Caught and put in jail, they are bailed out by a sleazy, oddball character named Alien, played James Franco in one of his most iconic roles.
Premiering at last year's Venice film festival, Spring Breakers achieved almost-instant cult status. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 20-.
Riddick – Before there was Fast and Furious there was Pitch Black. Vin Diesel returns to the role that made him a cult favorite in this third live-action outing for the space-faring anti-hero Riddick. Up against an alien race of predators that look similar to the nasty creatures in Prometheus, he activates an emergency beacon that alerts bounty hunters from across the galaxy. They arrive to find themselves as mere pawns in Riddick's game of revenge. Two other favorite actors among the sci-fi crowd also star – Karl Urban (Dredd and Star Trek) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Others include Dave Bautista and Bokeem Woodbine. David Twohy, director of the previous two Riddick movies, also returns. Buzz is pretty high for this but it's only opening in the U.S. this week, so critical reception is still a bit thin. Rated 15+.
The Bling Ring – And here's more youngsters breaking bad. Sofia Coppola directs this fact-based black comedy about young Hollywood social-climbers who rob the homes of celebrities, stealing their luxury-brand fashion accessories. Harry Potter witch Emma Watson stars along with Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga. Premiering in the Un Certain Regard program of this year's Cannes Film Festival, critical reception is mixed leaning slightly to positive. Rated 20-.
Closed Circuit – Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star in this Brit thriller as two lawyers who have a secret romantic past. They are assigned to the defense team of a high-profile terrorism case involving a mysterious explosion in a busy London market. John Crowley (Intermission) directs. Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ciarán Hinds, Jim Broadbent and Riz Ahmed also star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+.
The Man Who Laughs – Jean-Pierre Ameris directs this new adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel about a man with a scar on his face that gives him a permanent smile, kind of like the Joker in The Dark Knight. Marc-André Grondin stars as the young man Gwynplaine who is raised as travelling performer by Ursus (Gerard Depardieu). Alongside the beautiful blind girl Déa (Christa Thoret), the three travel from village to village until the day Gwynplaine learns that he's the heir to a large and noble family and distances himself from the only two people who have ever loved him for what he is. In French with English and Thai subtitles. Rated 15+.
Switch – The always-smooth Andy Lau stars in this Chinese spy thriller as a special agent who battles an array of foreign villains as he tries to recover a Yuan Dynasty scroll that holds ancient secrets. Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+.
Shuddh Desi Romance – Shield your eyes or turn your head demurely away, because there's supposedly kissing in this Bollywood romantic comedy. It stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – This month the FCG features movies starring Peter Sellers on Thursdays, the body horror of director David Cronenberg on Fridays, Midnight Movies on Saturdays, classics on Sundays and "boundaries of sex" on Wednesdays. Tonight, it's Sellers as a mentally handicapped gardener mistaken to be an eccentric millionaire in Hal Ashby's Being There. Tomorrow it's Videodrome. David Lynch's disturbing Eraserhead is on Saturday, preceded by a documentary, Midnight Movies – From the Margin to the Mainstream. Sunday is a little movie about a guy who thought it would be fun to run a newspaper. He goes crazy and ends up mumbling "Rosebud". Next Wednesday it's In the Realm of Senses, Oshima's 1976 erotic cinema classic. 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.
Elle Fashion Film Festival – Dovetailing nicely with this week's release of The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers is this festival of films inspired by the world of fashion. It runs from September 10 to 15 at SFX the Emporium. Here's the line-up:
- A Single Man – Designer Tom Ford makes his bow as a director with this drama starring Colin Firth as a gay man in 1960s Los Angeles. Tuesday, September 10, 8pm.
- Blancanieves – Brothers Grimm meets The Artist in this highly stylized black-and-white silent Spanish retelling of the story of Snow White. It's set during the Roaring '20s. Wednesday, September 11, 8pm.
- I Am Love – Tilda Swinton heads the cast in this drama about a dysfunctional wealthy Italian textile-manufacturing family hit by hard times. Thursday, September 12, 8pm.
- L'Amour Fou – This documentary looks at the relationship of fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent and his lover Pierre Berge. Friday, September 13, 8pm.
- Face (Visage) – Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang travels to the Louvre in Paris for this comedy-drama that explores the myth of the legendary beauty Salome. Saturday, September 14, 2pm.
- Color Me Love – This 2010 Chinese romantic comedy is a remake of The Devil Wears Prada. Saturday, September 14, 5pm.
- Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen star in this romance that traces the rumored affair between titans of the worlds of fashion and music – the creator of Chanel No. 5 perfume and the composer of The Rite of Spring. Saturday, September 14, 8pm.
- Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires) – Xavier Dolan directs this 2010 drama about a couple – a man and woman – who fall in love with the same guy. Sunday, September 15, 3pm.
- Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux à la reine) – The last days of Marie Antoinette in power are seen through the eyes of a young female servant who reads aloud to the queen. Diane Kruger is Antoinette with Léa Seydoux and Virginie Ledoyen also starring. Sunday, September 15, 8pm.
Tickets cost 150 baht. As part of the fest, there is an art installation in the Emporium's first-floor Fashion Avenue. For more details, visit SF Cinema City's fstival page or www.facebook.com/ellethailandmagazine.