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.

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