Bilbo Baggins' adventure continues in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second of director Peter Jackson's adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to Lord of the Rings.
Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo, a mild-mannered hobbit who is tasked by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) with joining 13 dwarfs on a journey to reclaim their lost kingdom from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Inflating the fairly slim children's novel into a epic trilogy to match Lord of the Rings has meant Jackson has padded out the story with new many elements, which include Orlando Bloom as Legolas the elf, a character not introduced until Lord of the Rings, taking part in this swashbuckling adventure.
Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott and James Nesbitt are among the many other stars.
Critical reception is generally positive. Like the first Hobbit movie, this was filmed in 3D and in a high-definition high frame rate of 48 frames per second. It's a stunning, different look for what you're accustomed to seeing in cinemas. It'll be available in some cinemas. Just look for the HFR logo. There are many other choices, including plain old 2D as well as IMAX 3D. Rated G
Empire State – Liam Hemsworth, Michael Angarano and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson star in this fact-based crime yarn about a pair of young security guards who decide to rob the armored truck company they work for. It was the largest cash heist in U.S. history. On their trail is a veteran New York police detective (The Rock) as well as local gangsters. This went straight to DVD in the U.S., and there hasn't been much of a critical reaction. Rated 15+
Battle of the Year – A Los Angeles hip-hop mogul aims to put the Americans back on top in an international street dance competition that has long been dominated by other countries. He enlists a down-on-his-luck basketball coach to lead the American dancers to victory. Critical reception is, ah, who cares? Rated 13+
Asean Nights: Asean Beyond Frontier – Laos' first horror film Chanthaly (also the first Lao feature by a female director) will make its Thai debut in an outdoor screening this weekend as part of the Asean Arts Festival at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Chanthaly will play on Saturday as the first of an all-horror double feature. It precedes the blockbuster Thai ghost comedy Pee Mak Phra Khanong. Directed by Mattie Do, Chanthaly premiered at last year's Luang Prabang Film Festival. It's since screened in a few other fests, most notably Austin's Fantastic Fest. In Bangkok, Chanthaly is part of a three-day festival, Asean Nights: Asean Beyond Frontier, featuring music and films from tomorrow until Sunday. The Thai-Muslim band Baby Arabia will open the festival, playing its ear-wormy blend of Malay and Arabic folk and rock at 5pm on Friday followed at 6.30 by the Indonesian childhood drama The Rainbow Troops Music by the Paradise Bangkok Molum International Band precedes the screenings of Chanthaly and Pee Mak on Saturday. And the fest's closing day on Sunday offers music by DJ Maft Dai and a double feature of Chou Davy's Golden Slumbers, a documentary on Cambodia's lost golden age of cinema, and Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's teen Thai culture drama Tang Wong. You can read more about the festival in an article in The Nation.
The Friese-Greene Club – Larry Clark looks at more troubled kids in Ken Park tonight, and tomorrow, come out to play with Warriors, Walter Hill's classic dystopian look at a New York taken over by warring street gangs. Saturday offers Brian DePalma's original Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek. And Sunday is another Christmas classic, 1947's Miracle on 34th Street. Next Wednesday, it's the beginning of "troubled adults" films, with frogs raining from the sky in Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. 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. Also, there may be changes in the schedule, so please check the website.
Alliance Française – Films have finally resumed at the Alliance Française de Bangkok. Next Wednesday's free show is Couleur de peau: Miel (Approved for Adoption), an animated feature by the comic-book artist Jung that follows his journey back to South Korea for the first time since he was abandoned at age 5. The show is at 7pm. Take note that the Alliance Française de Bangkok is now located on Wireless Road, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.