More than four decades of American history and race relations are covered Lee Daniels' The Butler, which chronicles the incredible career of a White House servant who worked for eight presidents, from Truman in the 1940s to Reagan in the '80s.
It's a fact-based story, adapted from an article and subsequent book by Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood.
Oscar buzz has surrounded this project even before filming started, thanks to director Lee Daniels, who was a big winner in 2011 with Precious. The star-studded cast boasts Forest Whitaker as the title character plus Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, Cuba Gooding Jr, Lenny Kravitz and David Oyewolo.
Presidential portrayers include Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack as Nixon, James Marsden as Kennedy, Liev Schrieber as Lyndon Johnson and Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda as the Reagans.
The film picked up notoriety a couple months back when The Weinstein Company had a fight with Warner Bros., which claimed the rights to the title belonged to one of their long-lost silents films from 90 years ago. Eventually, a compromise was reached allowing the Weinsteins to call the film Lee Daniels' The Butler.
Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 13+
Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen continues to be back in the good graces of film critics with yet another highly acclaimed film. Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett in a much-lauded performance as a New York socialite who is broke and depressed after divorcing her scam-artist husband (Alec Baldwin). She lands in San Francisco to stay with her working-class sister (Sally Hawkins). The terrific cast also includes Michael Stuhlbarg, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard and surprising dramatic turns from comedians Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. Rated 13+
About Time – Britain's rom-com king Richard Curtis directs this tale of a young man who learns the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time for short increments. Domhnall Gleeson (son of Irish actor Brendan) stars as an awkward guy who uses his gift to strike up a romance with a pretty girl (Rachel McAdams). Bill Nighy is the guy's cool dad. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 13+
Insidious: Chapter 2 – James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw) serves up more scares in this story about a family whose haunted past has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world. Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye and Barbara Hershey star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+
Streetdance All-Stars – British youngsters put on a big dance show in a bid to save their struggling neighborhood youth center. In 3D. Rated 15+.
Love Syndrome (รักโง่ๆ, Rak-ngo-ngo) – The various relationships of four pairs of young men and women are covered in this romantic comedy-drama by director Pantham Thongsang. Rated 15+.
Detective Conan: Private Eye in the Distant Sea – The boy sleuth of Japanese animation and manga takes to the ocean aboard a high-tech naval warship as he investigates the death of a sailor. At SF cinemas, Thai-dubbed only. Rated G.
The Friese-Greene Club – Dustin Hoffman is a young man in crisis in The Graduate tonight. Tomorrow, go behind the scenes of Terry Gilliam's aborted effort to make a movie about Don Quixote in Lost in La Mancha. On Saturday, go for a ride with Steve Martin and John Candy in John Hughes' hilarious Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And Sunday features another classic Bette Davis performance in 1939's Dark Victory. Next Wednesday has Natalie Portman at her most precocious and (Gary Oldman at his most ferocious) in the assassin tale Leon, starring Jean Reno. Shows start at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. With just nine seats, the screening room fills up fast, so please check the website to make bookings.
Spanish Film Festival – Eight recent Spanish films will be shown for free next week at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld as part of Spanish Week. Here's the line-up:
- Blancanieves – The tale of Snow White is reimagined as a tragic black-and-white 1920s silent film, with Snow as a bullfighter. Monday, October 14, 7.30pm.
- Miel De Naranjas (Orange Honey) – Veteran helmer Imanol Uribe directs this drama set during the Franco regime in the 1950s in which a young government functionary grows weary of the injustices and switches sides. Tuesday, October 15, 7pm.
- Arrugas (Wrinkles) – This award-winning 2011 animated feature tackles an unusual subject for animation – old age. It's about a pair of men who form a friendship at a nursing home. Wednesday, October 16, 7pm
- Los Niños Salvajes (The Wild Children) – Winner of several awards at home, this drama is about three Catalan teenagers who are having rough time coping because of their dysfunctional family and school lives. Thursday, October 17, 7pm.
- Grupo 7 – Another major nominee and award-winner, a favorite at genre-film fests, this ripping action yarn is about a tough anti-drugs police unit in Seville. Friday, October 18, 7pm.
- Una Pistola En Cada Mano (A Gun in Each Hand) – This hit comedy is about eight men in their 40s, all dealing with various crises in their lives. Saturday, October 19, 5pm.
- The Pelayos (Winning Streak) – Daniel Brühl and Lluis Homar star in this heist comedy-drama about a pair of brothers who have a system for beating the odds on a casino's roulette wheel. Saturday, October 19, 7pm.
- Silencio En La Nieve (The Frozen Silence) – World War II, on the Russian Front. A former Spanish police inspector serving in the German army probes the mysterious circumstances of the deaths of some soldiers. Sunday, October 20, 7pm.
In addition to the films, there are performances of Spanish opera and flamenco at the Siam Society. As always with these free film festivals, allow yourself an hour or so beforehand to line up and collect your precious little ticket.
If you missed Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิปไตย, Prachathipatai) (and it's very possible you did) when it was released for a limited run in Bangkok in June, you now have another chance to catch it. House on RCA has it listed on their schedule in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the October 14, 1973 student uprising against a military dictatorship. Directed by Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Pasakorn Pramoolwong, the documentary gathers together a dozen or so academics who talk about the tumultuous times since constitutional monarchy came about in 1932. Frank and sometimes funny, it's censored in a couple of places. If you're interested at all in Thai politics, hurry on over to House and catch it while you can. Paradoxocracy will also screen at 1pm on Sunday at the Thai Film Archive as part of program that also features two other documentaries, Ngao Prawat Sart (The Shadow Of History) by Panu Aree and Octoblur (Lom Tulakom) by Patana Chirawong.
And as a final note this week, seems it was premature to announce that the films had resumed at the Alliance Française Bangkok, which has moved to a new location at the corner of Rama IV and Wireless roads. I've now been informed that the movie nights are delayed because the place is still being fitted out. The Alliance folks now say the movies will resume on Wednesday, November 6, with shows starting at 7pm. Apologies for any inconvenience.