Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 3-9, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans returns as Marvel Comics' World War II supersoldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Two years after aliens nearly destroyed New York City in The Avengers, the good-hearted, upstanding and moral Cap is still struggling to find his place in modern society. He's got a list of things to catch up on  and experience, among them eat Thai food.

But a new threat emerges in the form of the Winter Soldier – a steel-armed killer created by Soviet scientists. Turns out it is Cap's old Army buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). In battling the new villain, Captain America teams up with superspy Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) as well as another superhero member of the Avengers, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

Samuel L. Jackson also stars, making his return as the eyepatch-clad S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, and Robert Redford is Agent Alexander Pierce. Cobie Smulders also returns as Agent Maria Hill.

Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who did Welcome to Collinwood and You, Me and Dupree, but also such TV series as Community and Arrested Development, direct.

Critical and fan reception of this film is crazily positive. They're calling it the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet. As with the other films in this series, there will be at least two post-credits bonus scenes and teasers to forthcoming attractions, so awkwardly keep your seat and be patient as all the names of the film crew scroll by. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G

Also opening

American Dreams in China – This sprawling Chinese rags-to-riches drama charts the rise of three ambitious friends over the course of 20 years as they build a business empire on teaching English. It's directed by celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Peter Chan, with cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Huang Xiaoming, Deng Chao, Tong Dawei and Du Juan star. It won best film, best director and best actor for Xiaoming at China's Golden Rooster Awards last year. Critical reception is mixed. It's in Mandarin with English subtitles at Paragon, SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, Esplanade Cineplex Ratchada, Major Ratchayothin and House on RCA. Rated 15+

Tarzan – Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan the Ape Man again comes to the big screen, this time in motion-capture animation from a German studio. Twilight heartthrob Kellan Lutz is Tarzan, the orphan boy raised by apes in the African jungle. With his love interest Jane Porter (Spencer Locke), he faces the mercenary army of the evil CEO who took over the Greystoke family business after Tarzan's parents died in a plane crash. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D. Rated G

Main Tera Hero – David Dhawan directs this comedy about a small-town guy who heads off to college in Bangalore and falls for a beautiful but mysterious young woman (Ileana D’cruz) and then is caught up in a conflict with a corrupt cop (Arunoday Singh) and a gangster (Anupam Kher) whose daughter (Nargis Fakhri) is charmed by him. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Thursdays this month are devoted to Anthony Hopkins, featuring his films from before he blew up big with Silence of the Lambs. This week's entry is 1987's Charing Cross Road, a transatlantic romance that also stars Anne Bancroft. Fridays are for the films of actor-director Albert Brooks, starting with 1987's Broadcast News. Clipped, crisp dialogue is on tap every Saturday this month with the films of David Mamet, starting with his 1987 drama House of Games, starring Lindsay Crouse as a woman in over her head when she encounters a clique of colorful conmen. Michael Redgrave is the star of Sunday movies, starting this week with The Importance of Being Earnest from 1952. Wednesdays feature documentaries about obsessive filmmakers, and in line with the upcoming release of Noah, next week's offering is Audience of One, about a Pentecostal preacher who gets a message from God – "Make a movie!" 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 sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Festival of Luis Buñuel in Mexico – Five films made by Spanish auteur Luis Buñuel during his Mexican period from 1946 to 1965 will be shown at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6. The event, co-sponsored by the Archive and the Embassy of Mexico, opens at 1pm with the comedy El Gran Calavera (The Great Madcap) from 1949. There will then be a talk in Thai by film expert Wiwat "Filmsick" Lertwiwatwongsa. They'll then show the 1952 comedy Subida al Cielo (Ascent to Heaven, a.k.a. Mexican Bus Ride) from 1952. Sunday opens at 1pm with La Illusion Viaja en Tranvia (Illusion Travels by Streetcar) from 1954. Next is the 1959 religious epic Nazarín, which won the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was Mexico's submission to the Academy Awards. The closer is the 1951 family drama La Hija del Engaño (The Daughter of Deceit). All are in Spanish with English subtitles. For more details, check the film archive website or the Facebook page.

Alliance Française – A delinquent boy run scams on wealthy guests at a Swiss ski resort to support his older sister in the 2012 drama L'enfant d'en haut (Sister). Directed by Ursula Meier, who won the Silver Bear in Berlin for her picture, it stars Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 9 at the Alliance Française de Bangkok, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless roads, opposite Lumpini Park in the former location of the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Take note

Scala stairs by PJ.
There is an important article at the Southeast Asian Movie Theater Project. If you care a wit about the future of the Scala theater or life in Bangkok itself, please read it.

Apologies to any readers who showed up late to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand's screening of the Cuban film La Bella del Alhambra on Monday. The FCCT has changed its usual screening time, starting at 7pm rather than 8.

Aside from the Friese-Greene Club, another freeloader movie venue that's been mentioned in the press and social media lately is Jam Cafe, off Sathorn Road in the neighborhood of Surasak BTS station. They show movies on Wednesday nights, but they keep their programming a surprise until almost the last minute. This month's theme is "so bad it's good" and this week's selection turned out to be the truly awful Jean-Claude Van Damme film Street Fighter.

The website for House cinema on RCA seems to have gone belly up, but I assure you the place is still open for business. The best way to keep updated is to "like" their page on Facebook.

The Thai Film Archive follows the excellent programming of Salaya Doc with films by Luis Buñuel this weekend. I haven't regularly covered the Archive's activities for a couple reasons, one that it's a bit far from Bangkok and two because the films aren't often English friendly – they show many great old Thai films, but most don't have subtitles. However, henceforth, if I spot something that might be of interest I will mention it.

The Film Virus Double Bill at Thammasat University is taking a break for Songkran. Whew. Programs will resume there on April 20.

Coming up, the Thailand International Film Destination Festival returns for a second edition, running from April 20 to 29 and showing a bunch of foreign films that were made here. Hopefully, I'll have more details about that soon.

And looking further ahead, there's the Swedish Film Festival from April 24 to 27 at SFX the Emporium.

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