The Monuments Men
George Clooney directs and heads an all-star cast in The Monuments Men, a fact-based World War II comedy-drama about a crack team of Allied historians, art experts, museum directors and architects who fought to rescue stolen works of art from the Nazis and keep valuable buildings and sculptures from being bombed.
The prank-loving actor-director-producer is joined by his old Ocean's Eleven pal Matt Damon, along with Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett.
The story is based on the exploits of the men and women who took part in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program under the Allied military authorities, as documented in the book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" by Robert M. Edsel.
The Monuments Men was originally set to be released in December, which would have made it a contender for the Oscars and other awards, but Clooney wanted more time for post-production, so the movie was delayed until now.
Critical reception is mixed, with the general consensus being that the movie isn't bad but isn't all that great either. Rated 13+
Saving Mr. Banks – Here's more history coming alive on the big screen, with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Disney's Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney as the Hollywood mogul pulls out all the stops to woo sourpuss author Pamela "P.L." Travers (Emma Thompson) and let him make her book into a movie. Other stars include Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak and Kathy Baker. It was a nominee for several BAFTAs, including Outstanding British Picture and best actress for Thompson. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated G
Pompeii – And here's even more history, this one going way back to the year 79 AD when Naples, Italy's Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted, burying the city of Pompeii under 20 feet of ash and pumice. The cataclysmic eruption forms the backdrop of a tale of star-crossed lovers – a gladiator (eight-pack rocking Kit Harington from Game of Thrones) and a merchant's daughter (Emily Browning). Other stars include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Jared Harris, Carrie-Anne Moss and Paz Vega. Paul W.S. Anderson directs, taking break from his Resident Evil franchise. Critical reception is unknown, but I'd imagine most critics will say Pompeii blows. It was filmed in actual 3D. Rated 15+
My Bromance (พี่ชาย, Pee Chai) – Nichapoom Chaianan directs this indie drama about a teenage boy and his relationship with his new stepbrother. It's at Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada. Rated 15+
The Friese-Greene Club – "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Tonight, it's the 1968 original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston pounding the sand in despair. Tomorrow, director Mark Hammond will be on hand for a screening of Johnny Was, his 2006 gangster drama starring Vinnie Jones, Patrick Bergin, Eriq La Salle, Lennox Lewis and Roger Daltrey. Saturday's "controversial" film is Irreversible, Gaspar Noé's 2002 psycho-sexual mystery. Sunday, it's another classic musical with High Society. And next Wednesday, see Alain Delon in 1967's Le Samourai, the film-noir classic that inspired Jim Jarmusch to make Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. All shows start at 8. 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.
Japanese Film Festival – This year's festival features an all-anime program of eight screenings from tonight until Sunday at the Lido multiplex. The opener is The Garden of Words, a contemporary romantic fantasy by Makoto Shinkai. Tomorrow is the TV and manga adaptation Chibi Maruko-chan: Ono Kun and Sugiyama Kun. Saturday offers the 1982 space pirate tale Arcadia of My Youth, a package of shorts that includes Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor and the childhood drama A Letter to Momo. Sunday's entries are 1968's Little Norse Prince Valiant, 2006's The Girl Who Lept Through Time and 2010's Colorful. Tickets are 50 baht and can be purchased in advance at the Lido box office. For the schedule, please see the Japan Foundation website.
Filmvirus Double Bill – Wiwat "Filmsick" Lerwiwatwongsa invited his cinephile friends in the collective known as Filmvirus to put together an eclectic program of double bills that will run from this Sunday through April at Thammasat University's Pridi Banomyong Library. Up first this Sunday are experimental films, starting at 12.30pm with HSP: There is No Escape From the Terrors of the Mind, an Irish-funded feature by Iranian filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi. That's followed at 2.45pm by Birth of the Seanama, a 2004 feature by Sasithorn Ariyavicha. The totally silent (no music, no dialogue), black-and-white, 70-minute feature, depicts Bangkok rising up from the primordial ooze and then sinking back into it. Other double bills are from the UK, Separation (1968, Jack Bond) and The Other Side of the Underneath (1972, Jane Arden) on March 2, the Filipino films All Be Damned (1990, Lino Brocka) and Working Girl (1984, Ishamel Bernal) on March 9 and Italian, Dillinger è morto (1969, Marco Ferreri) and Dossier 51 (1978, Michel Deville) on March 16. The series runs until March 30 and then takes a break for the Thai New Year before resuming with screenings on April 20 and 27. The venue is the Rewat Buddinan Room in the basement of the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Chan. You'll need to show your I.D. and have it copied to gain entry. The best way to get there is to take the Chao Phraya River Express to Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier and then ride the ferry across to Tha Chan.
Goethe Institut – The annual Open Air Cinema series comes to a close next Tuesday with Stopped on Track (Halt auf freier Strecke), a 2011 drama by Andreas Dresen about a happy couple living the perfect life until the day the husband is diagnosed with a brain tumor. The show starts at 7.30pm at the Goethe on Sathorn Soi 1. The Open Air Cinema series will resume around December.
Alliance Française – Isabelle Czajka directs the 2010 comedy-drama D'amour et d'eau fraîche (Living on Love Alone). Anaïs Demoustier and Pio Marmaï star in this tale of a young woman who meets a guy and on a whim joins him in his illegal schemes in the south of France. The show starts at 7pm on Wednesday 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.
The new movie-listings website Moveedoo now fully supports schedules for House, Scala and Lido cinemas as well as the mall multiplexes. The site has also received a snappy but simple updated design since I last wrote about it a couple weeks ago. Looks good.
Film scholars, mark July 7 to 10 on your calendar as the dates for the eighth Association of Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference, which returns to Thailand this year. It will be held at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya.
The caretaker government is making moves to end the Bangkok Shutdown and reclaim areas from the whistleblowing protesters. Riot police attacked a protest sites on Tuesday in the Phan Fah Leelat bridge area. Five people, including a police officer, were killed and around 70 were injured in the clash.
Although the "official" rally sites have been generally peaceful, they are unpredictable and violence could occur at any moment. Keep that in mind if you choose to watch a movie near the protest blockades, which includes the main rally stage at Pathumwan near Siam Square. Most embassies would advise against it.