Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 17-22, 2013

Machete Kills

What began as a tongue-in-cheek fake trailer for 2007's Grindhouse double feature of Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez and Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino has blown up into an over-the-top action-movie franchise.

Machete Kills, the sequel to the 2010 first entry, has ex-convict, perennial bad guy, bartender and slow-moving desert reptile Danny Trejo again in the lead. He's a former Mexican "federale" who was betrayed and left for dead. Now working as an assassin for hire, he's tasked by the president of the United States (Charlie Sheen, credited under his real name Carlos Estévez) to battle baddies across Mexico and take down an eccentric billionaire arms dealer (Mel Gibson) who plans to launch a weapon into space.

Aside from cult icon Trejo, the cast boasts Lady Gaga, Desperado star Antonio Banderas, Damian Bichir, Walton Goggins, Spy Kids' Alexa Vega, William Sadler, Amber Heard, Vanessa Hudgens, Chilean stuntman Marko Zaror and Modern Family vixen Sofia Vergara, sporting a machine-gun-equipped bra as Desdemona. Returnees from the first entry include Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba and Tom Savini.

Critical reception isn't as strong as the first film, but if you're a fan of Rodriguez, Trejo and trashy, ultra-violent B-movies, then you'll probably want to see this. It's at SF Cinemas only. Rated 15+

Also opening

Vikingdom – Vikings? In Malaysia? Yes. Vikings. In Malaysia. A showcase for the increasingly competitive Malaysian film industry – look out Thailand – the CGI-laden Vikingdom is aimed at the fantasy-film fans who might have liked 300 or Game of Thrones. Dominic Purcell stars as a Norse king leading the human forces against the hammer-wielding red-headed god Thor, played here by none other than seven-foot-tall bad-ass Conan Stevens, who was actually in Games of Thrones as "Ser Gregor, the Mountain". Critical reception is mixed, with praise for the special effects. In 3D. Rated 15+

Escape Plan – Having had a blast making The Expendables together, '80s action heroes Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have teamed up again for this prison-break drama. Stallone is the world's top incarceration expert. He specializes in breaking out of prisons. He's given one last job – to escape from "The Tomb", a top-secret, high-tech, maximum security facility. But once inside, he finds he's been betrayed and has no way out. So he's forced into an alliance with the prison's top dog (Schwarzenegger). Journeyman Swedish helmer Mikael Håfström (1408, Shanghai) directs. Vincent D'Onofrio, Amy Ryan, Vinnie Jones and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson also star, along with Jim Caviezel as the warden. Critical reception, so far, is mixed. Rated 15+

Coffee Please (แก้วนี้หัวใจสั่น, Kaew Nee Hua Jai San) – Romance is brewing in the coffee plantations of northern Thailand where a young coffee aficionado (Akrapan Namat) meets Jane (Wanikar Pudchang), a lady architect who can’t tell the difference between a coffeemaker and a barista. Jenwai Thongdeenok and Pakasit Patarateeranon direct. Rated 15+

Is Am Are: A Reason to Live For – Three directors, among them celebrity Pasaweepit Sornakarapa, are behind this three-segment collection of morality tales. The stories cover a fan club member who writes about her favorite superstar who committed suicide 10 years earlier, a teacher trying to boost his self-esteem and advance his career by having sex with a mute prostitute, and an unemployed guy whose life changes when he bumps into an old man while getting off the bus. This is screening at the Lido in Siam Square, with Q-and-A sessions after some screenings. See Facebook for details. Rated 15+.

Code Name: Jackal – A female assassin (Song Ji-hyo) is hired to kill a pop singer (Kim Jae-joong). Trouble is, she makes her attempt at a hotel in full view of the police who are on the hunt for another killer, the notorious Jackal. In Korean with English and Thai subtitles at SF World Cinema at Central World. There is one show daily from today until October 22. For details, see FacebookCCC.KoreanMovies.

Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Secret Gadget Museum – A catburglar steals Doraemon's magic bell, and as a result, the blue robot kitty starts acting more and more like a real cat. So his friends Nobita, Shizuka, Suneo and Gian go to the factory where all of Doraemon's gadgets are made. Thai-dubbed only. Rated G

Boss – Akshay Kumar stars in this comedy as criminal kingpin who was disowned in his youth by his schoolteacher father. With his younger brother in conflict with a corrupt cop, the father's only hope is to turn to his estranged older boy and ask for help. Mithun Chakraborty, Shiv Pandit, Aditi Rao Hydari and Ronit Roy also star. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Pattaya and Rama III.

Also showing

Karaoke Girl (สาวคาราโอเกะ, Sao Karaoke) – Documentary and drama blend in the debut feature by U.S.-schooled indie filmmaker Visra Vichet-Vadakan. It's the story of Sa, an exceedingly lovely young woman from the countryside who works in Bangkok as a bar hostess to support the folks back home. You'll get to know her through poetic camera work and contemplative moments, as well as trips from the beach and on the train back home. Bank notes flutter on the breeze and she stars in a karaoke video of her own. This played in Bangkok for a week a couple of weeks ago and now returns for a one-week run at House on RCA.

Spanish Film Festival – Continuing at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, the festival's offering at 7 tonight is Los Niños Salvajes (The Wild Children), an award-winning drama about three Catalan teenagers caught up in dysfunctional family and school lives. Tomorrow, it's the ripping action drama Grupo 7, about a tough anti-drugs police unit in Seville. There's two movies on Saturday, starting at 5 with
Una Pistola En Cada Mano (A Gun in Each Hand), a hit comedy is about eight men in their 40s, all dealing with various crises in their lives. And at 7 it's the casino-heist yarn, The Pelayos (Winning Streak), starring Daniel Brühl and Lluis Homar. The fest closes at 7 on Sunday with Silencio En La Nieve (The Frozen Silence), a mystery that unfolds during World War II on the Russian Front, where a former Spanish police inspector serving in the German army probes strange deaths.

The Friese-Greene Club – Matthew Broderick is a high-school teacher who runs into conflict with an overachieving girl (Reese Witherspoon) running for student-body president in Alexander Payne's Election. Tomorrow, learn all about wunderkind producer Robert Evans in The Kid Stays in the Picture. On Saturday, it's another John Hughes classic, The Breakfast Club, referred to by some critics as "the Citizen Kane of teen movies". On Sunday, Bette Davis is an expat in Singapore in a 1940 William Wyler mystery, The Letter. Next Wednesday, catch another "precocious" girl in The Lawnmower Man, about a girl who strikes up a friendship with the guy who mows the lawn. 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.

The Act of Killing – Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (with Anonymous and Christine Cynn), this experimental documentary is executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris and has won scores of awards at festivals all over the world. It's a gripping and much-acclaimed account of the continuing and pervasive legacy of the Indonesian death squads of the 1960s. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. It's screening at 2pm on Saturday, October 19 at the Lido in Siam Square. Reservations are a must. For details, please check with the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival.

Innocence – Romance is rekindled for Andreas and Claire, passionate lovers in their youth, who meet 50 years later and attempt to pick up where they left off. Directed by Australian helmer Paul Cox, this much-lauded love story of two septuagenarians had tongues wagging when it was released 13 years ago. It screens at 8pm on Monday, October 21 at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand as part of the Contemporary World Film Series. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht for anyone wanting to partake of the wine and cheese laid on by the Australian embassy.

Take note

For some time now, the Major Cineplex chain, including EGV, Esplanade, Mega, Paradise and Paragon, has required viewers to purchase their own glasses for viewing 3D movies. This is a departure from the usual practice.

For example, I saw a 3D movie recently at an SF Cinema City, and I was handed glasses by an usher that then I handed back after the movie. The ticket price, if I recall correctly, was 200 baht.

Major Cineplex is different. They are selling 3D glasses for 150 to 400 baht, with the price depending on how basic or fancy the glasses are and whether you are a M Generation cardholder, which entitles you to a discount of up to 50 percent. Other than having to bear the inconvenience of remembering to take your own glasses when you go see a 3D movie, that's a one-time cost for you.

And Major is saving money by not having to maintain a stock of 3D glasses that have to be cleaned and repackaged after each show and replaced when they go missing or wear out.

And it seems the savings is being passed on. For example, I went to see a 3D movie at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit on a Monday night, when they have a Monday-Tuesday night promotional price of 100 baht for 2D movies. The 3D movie was just 20 baht more. So a better deal, it appears, than SF cinemas.
Next week, owing to the Chulalongkorn Day holiday on October 23, some movies will be opening a day earlier than usual. One of them will be the much-anticipated Thai martial-arts epic Tom-Yum-Goong 2, starring Tony Jaa. The first 3D effort by Jaa, this might be the one you'll want to buy 3D glasses for.

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