Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 1-7, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro

Cineplex operators and movie distributors are clearing the decks for this week's release, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is very nearly the only new movie making a bow.

This is the second entry in Sony's hastily rebooted Marvel superhero franchise, following the 2012 film. Andrew Garfield returns as the webslinging smart-alec Peter Parker, with Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacey (Garfield and Stone are an item in real life). Also, Sally Field is back as Parker's sassy Aunt May.

Joining the cast this time around is Jamie Foxx as a nerdy electrical engineer for OsCorp who is obsessed with Spider-Man. Through an experiment gone wrong, he transforms himself into the terrifying new supervillain Electro.

Other baddies include the Green Goblin, the villainous alter-ego of Parker's longtime friend Harry Osbourne (Dane DeHaan). Paul Giamatti is a Russian gangster who becomes the hard-charging Rhino.

It's exhausting keeping track of all these Marvel Comics movies. As a film franchise, Spider-Man is licensed to Sony, which from 2002 to 2007 made a trilogy of films directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire. After the Raimi series ended with an overblown whimper – too many villains, not enough Spidey – Sony quickly turned around and rebooted the franchise with 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb and The Social Network's Garfield in the lead.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox is pursuing its own Marvel properties, X-Men and Fantastic Four, with X-Men: Days of Future Past due next month and a reboot of Fantastic Four planned for next year.

Most of the rest of the Marvel properties are under the auspices of the Disney-owned Marvel Studios and its house of cards known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These include the interconnected Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (plus TV's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as well as the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.

Critical reception is generally positive so far. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G

Also opening

Ragini MMS 2 – Indo-Canadian pornographic actress Sunny Leone returns for this sequel to the 2011 found-footage horror about a failed director who rides a haunted viral video-text message to fame. Parvin Dabas, Kainaz Motivala and Divya Dutta also star. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Sneak preview

Oculus – A young woman becomes convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortune her family has suffered. Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) stars. Critical reception is generally positive. This is in sneak previews, with screenings from around 8 nightly in most multiplexes. It moves to a wider release next week. Rated 15+

Also showing

Chalawan, a short film by Anuchit Ratanatrimongkol of King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang.

Bangkok International Student Film Festival – Now in its fifth year, the Bangkok International Student Film Festival began on Tuesday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, with screenings starting at 11am daily. Running until Sunday, there are hundreds of short films, with many competition programs filled with entries by Thai university students. There are also student films from the around the world in the International Competition, and the region's filmmaking talents are featured in the New Asean Filmmaker Spotlight. There is also an entire category for just animation. The screenings are taking place in both the fifth-floor auditorium and the fourth-floor conference room at the BACC. For the schedule and more details, check the festival website or Facebook page.

Alliance Française – Senegalese men in search of better lives take their chances on the high seas in La Pirougue, screening at 7pm on Wednesday, May 7 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.

Also opening

Having been busy with the just-wrapped Thailand International Destination Film Festival, Friese-Greene Club proprietor Paul Spurrier hadn't yet released a May schedule of screenings at his place. Keep an eye on the website or Facebook for details.

Taboo-breaking indie filmmaker Thunska Pansittivorakul will release two feature films on his Tumblr page, one May 5 and another a week later on May 12. Each will run for one week.

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