Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bangkok CInema Scene: Movies opening September 19-25, 2013


Neill Blomkamp, the South African director who made his debut in 2009 with the thrilling sci-fi adventure District Nine, is back with Elysium, offering more social commentary against a futuristic dystopian backdrop.

It's a future about 140 years from now where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened to the poor that the 1 per cent richest of us don't even live here – they reside on a luxurious space station known as Elysium, where everyone is beautiful and wealthy and never sick. The rest of us are stuck down here on Earth, which has been devastated.

Among those toiling away is Matt Damon. He becomes a fugitive on the run and is determined to break into Elysium.

District Nine star Sharlto Copley also stars, playing a hard-ass security agent, and Jodie Foster presides over it all as the Secretary of Defense.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to favorable. It's also at IMAX theaters. Rated 15+.

Also opening

You’re Next – A gang of masked, axe-wielding murderers descend upon a family reunion and the hapless victims seem trapped, until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all. Adam Wingard, who directed segments of the cult-hit V/H/S anthology horror anthologies, helms this thriller, which premiered to much acclaim at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.

Diana – The final turbulent years of Princess Diana's life is recounted in this biopic starring Naomi Watts as the Princess of Wales. It focuses mainly on her romance with a British-Pakistani surgeon, Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews from Lost and Planet Terror), who she dated for 18 months before the pressure of the tabloid spotlight became too great.  It's based on Kate Snell's 2001 book Diana: Her Last Love and is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the filmmaker best known for the Hitler biopic Downfall that has been used countless times as the "Hitler reacts" meme on the Internet. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+.

Namaste Hello Byebye (นมัสเต จ๊ะเอ๋ บ๊ายบาย, Namaste Ja-Eh Byebye – Suchart Manaying stars in this spiritual road-trip comedy as a young woman who is laid off from her job. She joins a Buddhist pilgrimage that is part of the Sathien Dhammasathan Center's Bhikkhuni in Two Lands project, which ordains girls at the birthplace of Buddhism in India and Nepal. Rated G.

Phata Poster Nikla Hero – Shahid Kapoor and Ileana D'Cruz star in this comedy about an actor who is mistaken to be a supercop. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Peter Sellers shows off the full range of his chameleon-like comic talents in Stanley Kubrick's doomsday satire Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, screening tonight at the FGC. Sellers plays three roles, the U.S. president, a stuffy British Royal Air Force officer and the oddball wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Strangelove. He was also supposed to play the pilot of the B-52 bomber, but after Sellers sprained an ankle, that role ended up going to iconic cowboy actor Slim Pickens. George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn and James Earl Jones also star. Friday's David Cronenberg movie is Dead Zone starring Christopher Walken as a guy who wakes up after years in a coma to find he has horrifying psychic powers. Saturday's "midnight movie" is the controversial 1932 movie Freaks, featuring actual carnival sideshow performers. Sunday's classic is It Happened One Night, Frank Capra's 1934 madcap romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  Shows start at 8pm. The FGC 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.

The Style by Toyota 9FilmFest – The finalists have been chosen for this year's 9FilmFest, with the screening set for 7pm on Sunday, September 22 at Paragon Cineplex in Bangkok. Entry to the screening is by invitation, but just send an e-mail to and explain in one sentence or two “why you like 9FilmFest?” and the festival organizers might let you in. Of course, you can always turn up on the day, hoping to get in to see the films, but there's no guarantee there will be enough seats in the theater.

Here's a look at the nine finalists, which all use this year's unique "9 signature item", which is "waterway".

  • The Guardians, directed by Disspong Sampattavanich – A canal village's resident "crazy man" is determined to teach himself to swim in hopes of connecting with the soul of his late son.
  • Distortion, directed by Thana Chairatanasil – Despite his father's warnings about hanging out down by the river, a boy falls in with the wrong crowd, opening a doorway to a doomed life.
  • Teppanyaki Kamikazi, directed by Raymond Lewin – The Great Penguino, an out-of-work street magician, struggles to find work. But he's easily distracted by beautiful women.
  • Bangkruai Pradesh, directed by Rattha and Pathara Buranadilok – Footage from the Flood of 2011, recovered from the memory card of a flood-damaged camera, is used in this documentary in which a young man recounts his experience in the disaster.
  • The Great River, directed by Steve Rouse – A father gives his young son a toy boat, but the family lives in a canal community and is surrounded by dangerous polluted water. So the boy has to dig his own canal to play with the boat.
  • Clueless?, directed by Byron Bishop – A farmer and his wife discover a man, apparently dead, in a rice paddy. They go to the police station, where an overzealous detective treats them as suspects. Watch for an appearance by actor Bishop's supermodel wife Cindy Bishop.
  • Lie, directed by Narongchai Parthumsuwan – A pudgy, balding middle-aged man poses as a young pop star, attracting a high-school girl. And she wants to meet.
  • The Cream, directed by Naruphon Punphairoj and Satit Ngerntong – A man hopes a tube of face cream will make him handsome.
  • Clock Blocked, directed by Robert Peters – A time-obsessed man has found the perfect woman – she's punctual – except for today.

In addition to the movies, the 9FilmFest has many other activities. Events get underway at 3.30pm on Saturday in the Paragon Cineplex Infinicity Hall with an international dance workshop hosted by choreographer Eddie Baytos. That's followed at 5.30 by a Dj music set and then a magic show at 6.30 with Tommy Tucker and "Teppanaki Kamikaze" star Dr Penguino. Sunday opens at 5 with a world music concert by Eddie Baytos and his all-star band, the Nines. Thanks to support by Technicolor, valuable post-production services were provided to make the films presentable on the big screen, with the finalists unspooling at 7pm.

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