Wally Pfister, the lensman for Christopher Nolan on everything from Memento to The Dark Knight Trilogy, makes his feature directorial debut with Transcendence, a Nolanesque high-concept sci-fi thriller in which a man's experiments with artificial intelligence threaten to bring an end to human existence.
Johnny Depp stars as an ambitious tech guru who wants to create a powerful sentient computer network that combines the collective knowledge of everything. "Once online, its analytical power will be greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world," he says. His controversial experiments make him the target of anti-technology extremists who inadvertently become the catalyst for him to take his work to the next terrifying level.
Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser and Morgan Freeman also star.
This is just coming out, so critical reception is still being parsed. Rated 15+
Need for Speed – Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman from TV's Breaking Bad) stars in this adaptation of the popular Electronic Arts video game. He's an ex-convict street racer who joins a cross-country race with revenge on his mind and a massive bounty on his head. Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton also star. Critics aren't racing to praise it, but if you like car-chase flicks (or the Emmy-winning Aaron Paul) then it's probably okay. This opened in sneak previews last Friday and moves to a wider release today. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated 13+
My House (บ้านขังวิญญาณ, Baan Khung Winyarn) – After a young couple move into a new home with their daughter and mother-in-law, the whole family starts to change. The girl sleepwalks, the husband is always bad-tempered and the food goes rotten at an alarming rate. When the mother-in-law dies, the couple decides to investigate. Akara Amatayakul and Ariya Tharnwong star. It's directed by Theeratorn Chaowanayothin, who a few years back took part in the omnibus horror Ngao. Rated 18+
Khumba – Not content to let Disney's The Lion King nor DreamWorks' Madagascar hog all the talking African animal action, South Africa's Triggerfish Animation Studio turns out this musical tale about a half-striped zebra who is rejected by his superstitious herd. He embarks on a daring quest to earn his stripes. The voice cast includes Jake T. Austin, Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant, Steve Buscemi and a host of others. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G
Lupin the 3rd vs Detective Conan – Anime franchises cross over as the boy detective Conan Edogawa aims to catch master thief Arsene Lupin III, who is suspected of stealing the the Cherry Sapphire. It was a nominee for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, which went to Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises. It's at SF cinemas only and it Thai-dubbed only. Rated 13+
2 States – A young man and woman meet at college and fall in love. Trouble is, they are from different states with wildly different cultures – he's from Delhi and comes from a Punjabi household while she is from a Tamil Brahmin family in Chennai, and none of the parents are going to easily accept the marriage. Starring Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, this romantic comedy is based on the partly autobiographical 2009 novel by Chetan Bhagat. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon, Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Anthony Hopkins is in one of this career-best performances in Merchant-Ivory's Remains of the Day, portraying a butler who begins to question his lifelong loyalty. Tomorrow, Albert Brooks takes a witty look at what happens after we die in Defending Your Life. Saturday, a film crew invades a small town, leading to chaos in State and Main, written and directed by David Mamet. Sundays this month are normally for Michael Redgrave movies, but this week there's a special event – it's Cinematography Evening. The guest is Geoff Boyle, an early adopter of digital technology who's shot such films as The Mutant Chronicles and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which was made in Thailand. The event, sponsored by VS Service, a prominent production-services firm, begins at 7pm with a screening of Boyle's documentary Side by Side. Next Wednesday, go behind the scenes of the golden age of Filipino exploitation cinema in Machete Maidens Unleashed. Shows start at 8 unless otherwise noted. 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.
Film Virus Double Bill – Saddle up and hit the trail to Thammasat University on Sunday as the Double Bills resume with a pair of "late westerns". First up is Uli Edel's 1999 made-for-TV movie Purgatory, in which outlaws ride into a town that turns out to be a holding space for the Wild West's legendary figures. The terrific cast includes Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts, Randy Quaid and Donnie Wahlberg. That's followed by John Wayne's swansong, 1976's The Shootist, directed by Don Siegel. The show starts at 12.30pm. The venue is the Rewat Buddhinan Room in the basement of the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan. You'll need to show your I.D. and have it scanned to gain entry. To get there by ferry, take the Chao Praya River Express to Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier and then transfer to a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat piers.
Thailand International Film Destination Festival – The second edition of the Thailand Film Office's showcase of foreign film productions in Thailand has three screenings daily from April 22 to 28 at Paragon Cineplex. The offerings include such classics as the Oscar-winning The Killing Fields and the Robin Williams' laughfest Good Morning Vietnam, in which Thailand stood in for its wartorn neighbors. There will be two Bond movies – The Man with the Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies. And there are a host of premieres, among them Glory Days, about a '90s hair-metal band reuniting in Pattaya and attempting to turn back the clock. Other films include the Bangkok crime flick Only God Forgives, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. Local premieres include the Pang brothers' 3D disaster thriller Out of Inferno and Hong Kong director Benny Chan's crime drama White Storm. The schedule has yet to be finalized, so keep your eye on the website and Facebook page.
Alliance Française – Romain Lévy directs the 2012 comedy Radiostars, about shock jocks from a failing radio station who hit the road in a bid to win back their audience share. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 23 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.
I can't seem to find showtimes on Major Cineplex's website. Where'd they go? Their smartphone app still carries the timings though. And so does Moveedoo.
With Songkran out of the way, film-event organizers aren't letting the heat slow them down. Upcoming engagements include the Swedish Film Festival from April 24 to 27 at SFX the Emporium, the Autism Film Festival on April 26 at Paragon and Bangkok International Student Film Festival from April 29 to May 4 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.