Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 30-February 5, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

Although it's critically acclaimed and has garnered five Academy Awards nominations, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street has polarized critics and the director's fans.

On one hand, it's a welcome return to form for the director of such gritty crime movies as Goodfellas and Casino. On the other hand, it's typical of Scorsese's approach, with his trademark rapid-fire dialogue, voiceovers and flashy editing on overdrive. A critic friend of mine likens it to manga (Japanese animation).

The fact-based tale is about hedonistic stockbrokers in the late 1980s. Oscar-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars, portraying Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who went from penny stocks to a life of excess. Jonah Hill, also an Oscar nominee, portrays a fellow trader who becomes Jordan's partner in lucrative "pump and dump" schemes.

The cast also features Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin. The Oscar-nominated screenplay, based on Belfort's memoir, is by Terence Winter, writer of The Sopranos and creator of Boardwalk Empire.

It's been controversial for its vivid depictions of drug use, sex and foul language, as well as the glorification of Belfort's deeds. Also, it's around 3 hours long, so brace yourself.

Critical reception is mostly positive, with accolades including Academy Award nominations for best picture and director plus a Golden Globe win for DiCaprio, Directors Guild nomination for Scorsese and Writers Guild nod for Winter. Following a sneak preview last week, The Wolf of Wall Street moves to a wider release today. Rated 18+

Also opening

Lone Survivor – Like Zero Dark Thirty, here's another critically hailed fact-based tale from the frontlines of the post-9/11 War on Terror. Mark Wahlberg stars as a member of a four-man US Navy SEAL team on a mission in 2005 to capture or kill a high-level Taliban operative. They are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana also star. It's directed by Peter Berg (Battleship, The Kingdom), who brought aboard Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL who wrote the book about his harrowing experience. Wahlberg was rumored to be in the running for an Oscar for his role, but he was snubbed. The movie did score two Academy Award nominations for sound editing and sound mixing, and it won two Critics' Choice Awards, including best actor in an action movie for Wahlberg. Critical reception is mixed, but mostly positive. Rated 15+

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – The fifth "official" entry in the "found-footage" ghost franchise is set in suburban southern California, where three Latino teenagers discover a witch in their midst. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to the negative side. Rated 15+

Four Kings (สี่เรียงเซียนโต๊ด, See Riang Sian Tode) – Actor Supakij Tangtadsawat makes his directorial debut with this tale of a gambler (Thep Pho-ngam) and his nephew (Akarin Akaranithimetharat) who team up with a card-sharp magician  (Shahkrit Yamnarm) and a distractingly pretty female accomplice (Patra Athiratkun) to run a scam on a gambling den. They eventually decide to take their game to a casino in a neighboring country, where the stakes are higher, as are the dangers if they are caught. Rated 15+

Until Now (กาลครั้งหนึ่ง...จนวันนี้, Kalla Khrug Nueng … Jon Wan Nee) – The relationship of a boy and girl, Ton and Kaew, is tracked over the course of their lives, from the childhood romance of schoolmates, to young adulthood and then marriage, which sees the guy (Arak Amornsupasiri) having second thoughts about marrying his girlfriend and deciding to search out his old sweethart Kaew. Rated G

Badges of Fury – When it comes to Hong Kong martial-arts action comedies, most folks will likely think of movies by Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung. But Jet Li can do comedy too, though he's mainly the straight man in Badges of Fury. He's a veteran Hong Kong police inspector working on a serial murder case involving a budding young actress and her sister. He's partnered with a bumbling rookie (Wen Zhang). Collin Chou (The Matrix Reloaded), Michelle Chen, Liu Shishi, Jin Shui, Ada Liu and Wu Jing also star. Critical reception is mixed. It's in Mandarin with English and Thai subtitles in some cinemas, including at Paragon, Mega, Paradise, Esplanade Ratchada,  Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – One of Woody Allen's favorite films, Stanley Kubrick's World War I drama Paths of Glory starring Kirk Douglas, screens tonight. Tomorrow, January comes to a close with one more tribute to the late Peter O'Toole – 1972's The Ruling Class, which thumbs its nose at Britain's class system and features a totally mad O'Toole as the inheritor of an earldom. February brings a new schedule, featuring the French crime wave on Wednesdays, Strange Visions of the Future on Thursdays, special events on Fridays, controversial films on Saturdays and classic musicals on Sundays. This Saturday features another Kubrick classic, 1971's highly disturbing A Clockwork Orange. You'll never listen to Beethoven's Ninth or "Singin' in the Rain" the same again. Sunday's musical is My Fair Lady. And next Wednesday's French crime thriller is 1981's Diva. All shows are 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 reservations are a must. There are often last-minute changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page before planning a visit.

Goethe Institut – There are three films left in the Goethe's annual Open Air Cinema series. Next Tuesday, February 4, is the Kosovo war drama My Beautiful Country, in which a widowed Serbian mother of two young children cares for an injured Albanian soldier who has broken into her home. The show starts at 7.30 on the lawn at the Goethe on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – February brings a new theme for the French cultural center's cinema, "Love in Movies", starting on Wednesday, February 5 with Pauline et François, a 2010 drama starring Laura Smet, Yannick Renier and Léa Drucker. It's about a family man whose life changes when a woman comes into his life. The show starts at 7pm at the Alliance Française de Bangkok. It's at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

The Lido and Scala cinemas are soldiering on as the "Bangkok Shutdown" anti-government protest continues into its third week with no end in sight. Late-night shows have been cancelled. The best way to get there is by Skytrain. You can access Siam Square through the rear entrance of the Digital Gateway mall, and bypass the crowd of vendors catering to the protesters on Rama I Road. It's best to catch an earlier show at Lido and Scala and then make your escape from the area as quickly as possible.

But you'd best get your movie-going fix in by Saturday because there's an election on Sunday, and the protest leaders have vowed to bring Bangkok to a halt by staging marches in all 50 of the city's districts.

Last Sunday there was advance voting, and polling places were blockaded by protesters. Shots were fired at one polling place, and left one protest leader dead. So take care if you are out and about.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 23-29, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Having already transformed himself from the shirtless fixture of romantic comedies to a versatile character actor and celebrated indie-film leading man, Matthew McConaughey lost an incredible 50 pounds from his already lean frame to portray an AIDS-suffering Texan in Dallas Buyers Club. It's a fact-based story of the early days of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.

He's Ron Woodroof, a homophobic oilfield worker and rodeo cowboy whose life changes when he's diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. Grabbing the bull by the horns, he begins smuggling in unapproved drugs to treat his symptoms, and eventually enters into a reluctant partnership with a transgender woman (Jared Leto, who dropped 30 pounds to portray his cross-dressing character) to treat others.

Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn and Griffin Dunne also star. Jean-Marc Vallée directs.

Hailed as the biggest success story among this year's crop of independent films, Dallas Buyers Club is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Leto. Both McConaughey and Leto have also won Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards and many other accolades. Critical reception is wildly positive.

It's at Apex Siam Square's Lido (still open!) and SF Cinemas. Rated 18+

Also opening

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Johnny Knoxville embarks on the biggest stunt ever for the Jackass franchise, dressing up as an 86-year-old widower who gets up to all sorts of painful shenanigans while travelling across the U.S. with his eight-year-old grandson. Critical reception is mixed, but surprisingly positive. Bad Grandpa is even an Oscar nominee, beating out American Hustle to score a nod for best makeup and hairstyling. Rated 15+

I, Frankenstein – Having tackled vampires and werewolves, the creators of the Underworld franchise turn their attention to another classic literary monster with I, Frankenstein. Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking, The Dark Knight) is Adam, Victor Frankenstein’s creation. He's caught in a centuries-old conflict between demons and gargoyles who want the secret to his immortality. Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto and Jai Courtney also star. It's based on Kevin Grievioux's graphic novel and is written and directed by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean). This is just being released in the States this week, so there's not much critical response, but I can't imagine anybody's going to be raving about it. In 3D (converted) in some cinemas. Rated 13+

Firestorm – Andy Lau is back in action in this gritty Hong Kong crime tale. He's a senior police inspector chasing a crew of seasoned criminals who are pulling off daring heists. He tries to get an ex-con to work undercover as a mole in the gang. Gordon Lam and Hu Jun also star. Firestorm premiered at the recent ScreenSingapore industry confab and was a box-office hit in China. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+

Jai Ho – With nothing to do with the song of the same name from the movie Slumdog MillionaireJai Ho the movie stars Salman Khan as a former military man who fights a one-man war against against corruption and injustice. At Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai), Rama III, Pattaya Chiang Mai. Starts Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – One of Woody Allen's favorite films, François Truffaut's The 400 Blows, screens tonight. Tomorrow, catch all the finalist entries of last year's 9FilmFest, an annual contest that invites filmmakers to make 9-minute films that incorporate a "signature item" that changes from year to year. On Saturday it's 1982's The Thing, a tense sci-fi thriller that many fans regard as John Carpenter's greatest masterpiece. Sunday combines two of this month's tributes into one, honoring the recently departed Peter O'Toole and director David Lean with 1962's epic-of-epics, Lawrence of Arabia. 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 reservations are a must. There are often last-minute changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page before planning a visit.

Goethe Institut – The German cultural center's annual Open Air Cinema series got under way in December, but I wasn't reminded of it until now. Four screenings remain at the Goethe, which is on Sathorn Soi 1. Next Tuesday, January 28, it's Night Train to Lisbon. The brand-new drama by veteran Danish director Bille August stars Jeremy Irons as a Latin professor who stops a young woman from killing herself, which then leads him on a life-changing journey. The remaining outdoor films are My Beautiful Country on February 4, Hotel Lux on February 11 and Stopped on Track on February 25. The shows start at 7.30pm. The Goethe also regularly screens German films once a month at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya and at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. I will keep track of the BACC screenings here. The next film is at 6pm on February 11 – Goethe!, a biographical romantic drama about the poet's young adulthood. Also on February 11, there will be a lecture, Humor Is Laughing Despite Of It by author and film scholar Dr. Peter Zimmermann. That's at 5pm at the Goethe Institut.

Alliance Française – The month of comedies wraps up with Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love) from 2010. It's about a free-spirited young woman (Sara Forestier) who uses sex as a weapon to manipulate conservatives. She meets her match in Arthur Martin (Jacques Gamblin), a 40-something guy who is not what he seems to be. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, January 29, at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, now located on Wireless Road opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Sneak preview

The Wolf of Wall Street – Following his 3D family friendly children's story Hugo, Martin Scorsese returns to making the types of films his fans really want him to make, dealing with hedonistic stockbrokers in the late 1980s. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this fact-based tale, portraying Jordan Belfort, a trader who went from hawking penny stocks to a life of excess. Jonah Hill portrays Jordan's partner in lucrative "pump and dump" schemes. The cast also features Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin. The screenplay, based on Belfort's memoir, is by Terence Winter, writer on The Sopranos and creator of Boardwalk Empire. Though controversial for its vivid depictions of drug use, sex and foul language, as well as the glorification of Belfort's deeds, critical reception is mostly positive. Accolades have included Academy Award nominations for best picture, director and adapted screenplay, as well as actor and supporting actor for DiCaprio and Hill. DiCaprio also won the Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy film. It's in nightly sneak previews at most multiplexes (from around 6 at the Scala, later at other places) before opening wide next week. Rated 18+

Take note

Situated in the heart of the "Bangkok Shutdown" protests, Siam Square's Apex cinemas, the Lido and Scala, remain open for business, although they have dropped their later night-time shows.

I made the trip to Siam last weekend to catch a noontime screening of 12 Years a Slave and to see the situation for myself. I was surprised to find the Skytrain not too-terribly packed. It was mostly business as usual in Siam Square, though there were fewer cars trying to park and many vendors and shops were temporarily closed.

Thailand's biggest cinema chain, Major Cineplex reports a decline in attendance at theaters near the protest sites, but then theaters away from the rallies are seeing an increase in business.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 16-22, 2014

12 Years a Slave

Fresh off its win at the Golden Globes for best motion picture – drama, 12 Years a Slave is one of the most-acclaimed films this awards season. It will likely be among the leading nominees for the Academy Awards, which are being announced today in Los Angeles.

Directed by Britian's Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger), it's based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northrup, a free black man from upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery in the American South.

Facing cruelty at the hands of a malevolent slave owner, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity and somehow find his way back to freedom.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon with Michael Fassbender as the mean plantation owner. Other stars include Brad Pitt (who also produced), Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard and Lupita Nyong'o.

Critical reception is wildly positive, despite 12 Years a Slave making for a harrowing, punishing view. It has won or been nominated for dozens of awards and is on the year-end-best-film lists of many, many critics, except the controversial Armond White. Rated 15+

Also opening

Oldboy – Spike Lee directs this Hollywood remake of the 2003 cult-hit revenge thriller by South Korean director Park Chan-wook. Josh Brolin stars as an advertising executive who is held hostage in solitary confinement for 20 years. When he is inexplicably released, he sets out to find out who orchestrated his bizarre and torturous punishment, only to discover he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Lance Reddick, Michael Imperioli and Samuel L. Jackson also star. There was much teeth-gnashing by Asian cinema purists when the remake was announced, but the complaints were tempered somewhat by anticipation over what auteur Spike Lee might do with the story. However, critical reception is mixed, with the consensus being that it's a by-the-numbers remake, right down to the claw hammer, that neither improves on the perfectly fine original nor adds anything new. Rated 20-

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – The late novelist Tom Clancy's bookish cold-war spy Jack Ryan gets a reboot in this new adventure, with Star Trek actor Chris Pine taking over the role that's been previously played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. Shifting him to the post-9/11 war-on-terror, Ryan is a junior analyst at the CIA, where he uncovers evidence of an upcoming financial terrorist attack. He was hoping for a nice cushy desk job but then he's handed a pistol by his boss (Kevin Costner) and told he's "operational" now. Kenneth Branagh also stars, playing the villain, and he's directing too! Other stars include Keira Knightly, Colm Feore and David Paymer. This is just being released in the U.S. this week, so critical reception is unknown. Rated 15+

3AM 3D Part 2 (ตีสาม คืนสาม 3D, Tee Sam Khuen Sam Sam D) – Venerable Thai studio Five Star Production serves up another trio of horror stories that take place during the early-morning haunting hour. The same trio of directors return from the first entry in 2012, Patchanon Thammajira, Kirati Nakintanon and Isara Nadee. Ray MacDonald, who was featured in the first 3AM as an prankster office worker whose practical jokes turn fatal, stars in this one as an angry guy whose friends are haunted in a funeral parlor. Another story is set at a convent, where schoolgirls dare a classmate (Supanat Jittaleela, the tomboy from Yes or No) to sneak into the abandoned chapel. And a third story is about shop workers who are scared as they hurry to finish an order. Sinjai Plengpanich stars. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Shutdown, schmutdown. In spite of roads being blocked by the whistleblowing anti-government protesters, it's still possible to get to the private cinema club. Tonight's offering is one of Woody Allen's favorite movies, 1948's Bicycle Thieves, in which a poor man searches desperately for his stolen bicycle. Tomorrow, it's a tribute to the late Peter O'Toole and The Stuntman, in which O'Toole is an egomaniacal director who will do anything to bring his vision to the screen, even if it means risking the lives of his crew and stunt doubles, among them a young fugitive from the law (Steve Railsback). Barbara Hershey also stars. Saturday is a classic by John Carpenter, Escape from New York, capturing Kurt Russell in one of his finest performances. Sunday is a classic film of director David Lean, his 1954 adaptation of the romantic comedy Hobson's Choice. And next Wednesday is another "love of Asian ladies" movie, the Hong Kong-set Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. 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 reservations are a must. Also, there are often last-minute changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page before planning a visit.

Alliance Française – The month of family comedies continues with Ensemble, c'est trop (Together Is Too Much), a 2010 comedy starring Nathalie Baye as a woman who finds out her husband has been cheating on her. She then decides to go live her her son and his family, putting pressure on everyone. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, January 22, at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, now located on Wireless Road opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. It's right in the midst of one of the "Bangkok shutdown" rally sites, but I've not heard otherwise, so I'm assuming it's open. Call (02) 670 4200 to confirm.

Take note

Anti-government protesters set up camp around Siam Square's Scala cinema, which was closed on January 13, 2013. Photo via Veen_NT 

The "Bangkok shutdown" by the whistleblowing anti-government protesters began on Monday, with seven major intersections blocked. The main stage is set up at Pathumwan intersection, a stone's throw from Siam Square's Scala cinema, which was closed for business on Monday as the whistleblowers pitched tents and camped around the protest site. The sister venue, the Lido, remained open. For now, it appears the operators of the Scala and Lido are taking things day-by-day, and both are open. Scala is showing 12 Years a Slave. But before fighting your way through the protesters to see a movie, it's best to call ahead and confirm they are open – (02) 251 2861 for the Scala and (02) 252 6498 for the Lido. Or you can try checking the Facebook fan page.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 9-15, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

Critics and cinephiles are absolutely raving about the Coen brothers' latest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis
It's the story of a musician in the early 1960s New York folk scene. Oscar Isaac stars as the oddball Davis, a taciturn young folksinger who's usually carrying an orange tabby cat everywhere.

The script is loosely based on the struggles of Greenwhich Village figure Dave Van Ronk, the eccentric-but-talented "Mayor of MacDougal Street", who while well regarded among his folksinging peers never achieved the great heights of commercial fame as more-careerist contemporaries like Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell.

Other stars include Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham and Coen bros' regular John Goodman.

The soundtrack is produced by the Coens' frequent musical collaborator T-Bone Burnett, who worked chart-topping magic with O Brother Where Art Thou? For this new project, he brought aboard English folk musician Marcus Mumford to help with new recordings of traditional folk standards. Isaac himself sings and plays on most of the tracks.

Critical acclaim is extremely high for Inside Llewyn Davis, which won the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival. It's also a major nominee for the Golden Globes and will likely be one of the leading Oscar nominees as well. Rated G.

Also opening

Paradise Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody makes her debut in the director's chair with this comedy about a religious young woman (Julianne Hough) who suffers a crisis of faith after being seriously injured in a plane crash. She heads to Las Vegas for her first taste of worldly sins, and is befriened by a casino bartender (Russell Brand) and woman gambler (Octavia Spencer). Nick Offerman and Holly Hunter also star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Following the first film in 2006, here's more food-based fun from Sony Pictures Animation. Oddball inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) goes to work for a top company. But everything changes when he discovers that his most infamous creation, a machine that turns water into food, is still operating and is now creating "foodimals" – food-animal hybrids. Other voices include James Caan, Kristen Schaal, Will Forte, Anna Faris, Terry Crewes and Andy Samberg. Critical reception is generally positive. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G

Rang (ร่าง, a.k.a. The Parallel) – Paula Taylor Buttery, the model-actress with the huge million-baht smile, takes a serious turn in the first Thai film of 2014. She stars in this horror thriller from Golden A Entertainment as a young woman who is forced to have an abortion. She then adopts a little girl who has lost her mother. But then the girl's ghost mom comes calling. Wanisa Nuchanon and Manasicha Kerdkosum also star. It's directed by Phon Worawaranyu, previously an assistant director on several films by industry veteran Tanit Jitnukul. Rated 18+

The Tiger Mask – This is a live-action adaptation of a popular Japanese manga series about an anti-hero wrestler, which in turn inspired many actual Japanese professional wrestlers to don the Tiger Mask persona. Eiji Wentz stars as the titular guy who fights in opposition to an evil wrestling organization and to save an orphanage. Natsuna Watanabe and Show Aikawa also star. Thai-dubbed only. Rated 13+

Sadako 3D 2 – Following quickly on the heels of last year's Sadako 3D, here's another entry in the rebooted Ring hair-ghost franchise. Directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa with a script by Ring author Koji Suzuki, Sadako 3D 2 is set five years later with Miori Takimoto as a clinical psychologist raising her orphaned four-year-old niece. The cursed online video reappears, and strange things begin to occur around the girl. Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+

Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial – This 2010 entry in the long-running tokusatsu suitmation franchise is in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Ultra Series. Having survived his battle against Ultraman Zero, the evil Ultraman Belial, now known as Galactic Emperor Kaiser Belial, takes up a new conquest for universal domination. Thai-dubbed only. Rated G

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Bangkok's private cinema club has reopened after a break for the holidays, but there's no screening scheduled for tonight. Fridays are in memory of the last of the great "hellraiser" actors, Peter O'Toole, starting this week with My Favorite Year, with O'Toole perfectly cast as a flamboyant alcoholic actor. Saturdays are devoted to the classic early films of John Carpenter. This week, it's his second feature, 1976's gripping Assault of Precinct 13. Sundays are devoted to the epic pictures of David Lean, with Great Expectations as this week's entry. And next Wednesday is the first in a string "love of Asian ladies" movies – 2002's Butterfly Man, presented by the director, Bangkok-based British filmmaker Kaprice Kea. It's about a young Brit who falls for the charms of a Thai masseuse on Koh Samui. 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 reservations are a must. Also, there are often last-minute changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page when planning a visit.

Alliance Française – The month of family comedies continues with Les beaux gosses (The French Kissers), a 2009 coming-of-age tale of an awkward 14-year-old boy. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, January 15, at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, now located on Wireless Road opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. The Alliance plans to close on Monday, January 13 for the "Bangkok shutdown" (see below), but they hope to be open again by Wednesday. If you plan to attend, please call ahead – (02) 670 4200 – to confirm.

Take note

Get your moviegoing fix in this weekend because come Monday, January 13, it's going to be tough going in many areas of the city because of the "Bangkok shutdown" by the whistleblowing anti-government protesters.

The plan is to block at least seven major street intersections. The key locations are:

  • Rama IV-Silom Road
  • Asok-Sukhumvit
  • Ratchaprasong
  • Pathumwan
  • Victory Monument
  • Lat Phrao
  • Chaeng Wattana (Government Complex)

The protesters have promised they won't disrupt Skytrain or subway services, but you can expect those trains to be extremely crowded because there won't be any other way to get around. If you must use the trains during this period, plan ahead and have plenty of credit on your Rabbit card or subway pass so you can skip the lengthy queues for change and one-time tickets/tokens.

For now, the shopping malls near those major intersections plan to stay open. These include Paragon, CentralWorld and the Emporium. They expect this affluent group of protesters will want to take a break from blowing whistles and listening to blustery speakers, and have a nice pricey meal and gourmet coffee, or shop for trendy new outfits to wear at the rally.

However, before you put yourself at risk of hearing loss from massed whistles or a tear-gas attack, only to arrive and find the cinema closed, it's best to call ahead.