Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 24-30, 2014

The Railway Man

Here's another movie made in Thailand, which dovetails nicely with the ongoing Thailand International Destination Film Festival.

The Railway Man is about a British war veteran who tries to come to terms with the psychological trauma he suffered as a prisoner working on the Thai-Burmese Death Railway under the Japanese.

The setting is the same as The Bridge on the River Kwai, though that classic film wasn't made here – it was shot in Sri Lanka.

Colin Firth stars as Eric Lomax, a British veteran who, years after the war, seeks out his former tormentor, the Japanese officer Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). He then returns to Thailand – it really is Thailand this time – to take the train to Kanchanaburi and walk over that iconic bridge and revisit the site of his torture. The film is based on Lomax's 1995 autobiography.

Other stars include Jeremy Irvine as Lomax during the war, Nicole Kidman as his wife and Stellan Skarsgard as his best friend. Australian helmer Jonathan Teplitzky (Better Than Sex, The Burning Man) directs.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 15+

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is earning widespread praise for her portrayal of an alien who preys on men in Scotland in Under the Skin, the much-anticipated third film by English director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth).

Adapted by Glazer and Walter Campbell from Michel Faber's 2000 novel, the film was shot guerrilla style, with hidden cameras. The actress approached non-actors and picked the men up in unscripted conversations.

Critical reception is mostly positive. It premiered in the main competition at last year's Venice Film Festival. Nominations include best director and actress at the British Independent Film Awards and best film at the London Film Festival. Rated 15+

Also opening

Brick Mansions – When he died in a November car crash, Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker had completed several films. Brick Mansions is one of them. He portrays an undercover Detroit cop working to bring down a crime lord who rules over a dangerous neighborhood that's been cordoned off from the rest of the city. Written and produced by Luc Besson, it's a remake of Besson's Paris-set crime drama District 13 and stars District 13 leading man, parkour stuntman David Belle as a guy who reluctantly teams up with Walker's character. Rap musician RZA portrays the crime lord. This is just coming out in the U.S. this week, so critical reception isn't registering. Rated 13+

The Nut Job – The boom in computer animation continues with this Canadian-South Korean co-production that's a heist flick about talking squirrels looking to steal a bunch of peanuts. The voice cast features Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph, Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl. Critics aren't going nuts over this – it's strictly kiddie fare. It's at SF cinemas. Rated G

The End (ผู้หญิงเลือกได้) – Fed up with her cheating boyfriend, a woman (Natalie Duchien) decides to pick up a strange man in a pub – a decision that will change her life forever. Parm Rangsri (Pawnshop) directs. Rated 18+

Also showing

Thailand International Destination Film Festival – Spotlighting Thailand's role in international film productions, the second edition of the Destination Film Festival continues until Monday at Paragon Cineplex. Today's screenings are the classic Cambodian war drama The Killing Fields, the 1997 Bond entry Tomorrow Never Dies starring Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh, and the Thai premiere of A Stranger in Paradise, an action thriller about a Wall Street trader who ends up trapped in Bangkok's underbelly of crime.Tomorrow, the screenings include Secret Sharer, an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad story about a ship's captain who lands in trouble after he rescues a Chinese woman from the sea. And there will be Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, a gritty action drama starring Scott Adkins. Saturday's offerings are Trafficker, about a young Vietnamese man caught up in a life of crime; Out of Inferno, the Pang brothers' 3D disaster drama about firefighters battling a high-rise blaze; and Glory Days, about a 1990s rock band reuniting and attempting to relaunch their music careers from Pattaya. Sunday includes the Thai big-screen premiere of The Scorpion King 3 and the Indian Olympic athlete biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Monday's screenings include the thriller The Mark: Redemption and the 1976 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee. Following many of the films, there will be question-and-answer sessions with the stars, producers, directors and film crews. Tickets are free and can be booked in advance by calling (096) 324 2642. For the schedule, please see program guide, the website or Facebook page.

Swedish Film Festival – Controversial documentaries, award-winning historical dramas and a childhood adventure are set to screen in the Swedish Film Festival. Organised by the Embassy of Sweden, seven films will be shown from tonight through Sunday at SFX the Emporium. Here's the lineup:

  • Big Boys Gone Bananas!* – A 2011 documentary about another documentary by Fredrik Gertten, it depicts the director's legal troubles after he was sued by Dole for his 2009 film Bananas!*, which covered allegations relating to the fruit grower’s pesticide use at a plantation in Nicaragua.
  • Call Girl – A 2012 drama directed by Mikael Marcimain, it’s based on the “bordellharvan” political scandal of the 1970s, which linked prominent Swedish politicians to a prostitution ring that included underage girls. The story focuses on a delinquent girl who is sent to live in a juvenile home and is eventually recruited by the prostitution ring’s madame (Pernilla August). It received the Fipresci Discovery Prize at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the Silver Award at the Stockholm film fest and was nominated in 11 categories in Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards, including best film, director and screenplay, and won in four technical categories.
  • TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from the Keyboard – This documentary follows Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm, the founders of the Pirate Bay, the torrent-tracking website. The movie was released legally and for free on the Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent sites, but, controversially, several Hollywood studios flexed their censorship muscles and pressured Google to remove any search links pointing to it.
  • The Last Sentence – This is a biographical drama about Torgny Segerstedt, a Gothenburg newspaper editor whose criticism of Hitler and the Nazis ran counter to the Swedish government’s intentions of remaining neutral during World War II. Jesper Christensen stars as Segerstedt. Other cast members include Pernilla August, Bjorn Granath and Ulla Skoog, who won best supporting actress at last year’s Guldbagge Awards.
  • The Ice Dragon – A 2012 adaptation of a children’s novel, depicting the adventure of 11-year-old Mik, a boy in search of a new home. Trekking across the snow-covered countryside, he learns about whales, fishing, friends and love while staying a step ahead of the authorities. It won for best visual effects at last year’s Guldbagge Awards.
  • Avalon – This acclaimed 2011 comedy-drama won the International Critics Award at Toronto and scored Guldbagge Awards last year for best actor and supporting actor. Johannes Brost and Peter Carlberg star in the tale, which takes its inspiration from the hit Roxy Music song of the same name and follows a 60-year-old high-society man who is determined to party as if the ’80s never ended.
  • Behind Blue Skies – Set during the 1970s, its stars Bill Skarsgard as a young man who takes a summer job at a Swedish resort hotel. He’s taken under the wing of the hotel manager (Peter Dalle), who mixes the lad up in various shady business deals.

Tickets are free and can be picked up in the cinema lobby 30 minutes before the shows. For the full schedule, visit

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Anthony Hopkins stars in The Efficiency Expert, a.k.a. Spotswood. He's a cold-blooded management consultant who's sent to Australia to straighten out a troubled factory and its wacky bunch of workers. Tomorrow, Albert Brooks looks at impossible relationships in Modern Romance. On Saturday, David Mamet has a young industrial engineer (Campbell Scott) caught in a complex scam in The Spanish Prisoner. Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Felicity Huffman, Ben Gazzara and Ricky Jay also star. Sunday is the final Michael Redgrave movie of the month, the 1945 Ealing Studios' horror anthology Dead of Night. It features Redgrave obsessed by his ventriloquist's puppet. And April closes out with next Wednesday's Seduced and Abandoned, with director James Toback following Alex Baldwin around at the Cannes Film Festival as the actor rubs shoulders with many celebrities while trying to drum up funding for a film. 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.

Bangkok Autism Film Festival – In observance of World Autism Awareness month, the third Bangkok Autism Film Festival will screen four films on Saturday at Paragon Cineplex. The fest opens at 11am with The Story of Luke, a 2012 comedy about a young autistic man who seeks a job and a girlfriend. Next at 2 is Travels with My Brother, a 2009 short film about a high-functioning autistic man and his relationship with his sister as they travel about their hometown of Toronto. That's followed by Children of the Stars, a 2009 mid-length documentary about a Chinese family and the struggles to cope with their five-year-old autistic son. After another screening of The Story of Luke, there will then be a benefit gala called Indigo Night (dress code indigo blue) and the world premiere of Documenting the Rainbow (Ban Tuk Sai Roon). Directed by Ranitar Charitkul, it documents the making of a play, The Rainbow Theater. Tickets are 250 baht (700 baht for VIP), though the tickets to the Indigo Night gala and Documenting the Rainbow will be sold separately. Proceeds benefit the Rainbow Room Foundation. For details, call (02) 712 5204-5 or e-mail For the schedule, please check the Facebook events page.

A scene from the Oscar-winning short Helium.
What the Festival – WTF Cafe and Gallery, a popular venue for in-the-know artsy types in Bangkok, celebrates four years this weekend with a festival that will feature the screenings of Oscar-winning and nominated short films. The party starts on Saturday on Sukhumvit Soi 53 – a sweaty hike from Thonglor BTS or a taxi ride from Phrom Pong BTS – but the short films screen on Sunday, from 5 to 5.45pm at Opposite Mess Hall, the trendy eatery across the alley from WTF. The films include That Wasn’t Me (Aquel No Era Yo), a Spanish effort that looks at child soldiers in Africa. It won Spain’s Goya Award last year and was an Oscar nominee this year. Next is the Oscar-nominated Finnish comedy Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? It follows an overwhelmed mother trying to rush her family out the door for a wedding. Finally, there's  Helium, the Academy Award-winning short this year. It's about terminally ill boy who escapes to a magical fantasy world through stories told to him by the hospital's eccentric janitor. The party wraps up with an acoustic street performance by the Morlam International Band. For more details, see the gallery's website.

Film Virus Double Bill – The final pair of movies in the series at Thammasat University are "little gems", starting with 2011's The Dish and the Spoon, a drama by American indie director Alison Bagnall. Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander star as a couple thrown together under traumatic circumstances. And the closing film is 1987's Housekeeping, starring Christine Lahti and Sara Walker as teen sisters who go to live with their eccentric aunt (Andrea Burchill) in rural Idaho. It's by Scottish director Bill Forsyth. The show starts at 12.30pm on Sunday. 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.

Alliance Française – A young man's plans for romance are foiled when the French government calls an early end to the long summer holiday in order to rescue the economy in La Fille Du 14 Juillet (The Rendez-vous Of Déjà Vu). The 2013 screwball comedy is directed by Antonin Peretjatko and stars Grégoire Tachnakian, Vimala Pons, Vincent Macaigne. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, April 30 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

Hey, here's Major Cineplex showtimes, which I can't find a link for on their website. So I tried a Google search, and that page is what I found.

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