Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 15-21, 2014


Purists – mainly in Japan – have been critical of the new Godzilla even before it was released. This new Godzilla is too fat, they say. Director Gareth Edwards, is just shrugging it off, saying Godzilla is "big-boned".

This is a reboot of the long-running kaiju franchise, about a giant, atomic-fire-breathing prehistoric lizard, awakened and mutated by mankind's meddling with nuclear technology.

Edwards, a British filmmaker, made his mark with the well-regarded moody sci-fi thriller Monsters, which was about large aliens walking the Earth – aliens you don't really see until the director is good and ready to show them to you.

Like Monsters, the focus is more on people, rather than giant critters. The setting delves into the monsters' origins, which were then covered up in Japan in the 1950s. Later, an earthquake caused an accident at a nuclear power plant in Japan. One young man, an American naval officer (Aaron Taylor-Johnson from Kick-Ass), believes there's been a conspiracy. Meanwhile, the guy's father (Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad) has uncovered evidence that may lead to something big.

Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Straithairn and Sally Hawkins also star.

Critical reception is mixed, but is certainly way more positive than Hollywood's lame 1998 first take on the revered Japanese franchise. Rated G

Also opening

Enemy – Jake Gyllenhaal is a sad man who takes no interest in anything in life. Even having a beautiful girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent) isn't enough to snap him out of his sorry state. But he perks up when he spots an actor in a movie who looks just like him. Based on a 2002 novel José Saramago, O Homem Duplicado (The Double), this thriller is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who previously worked with Gyllenhaal in Prisoners – a thriller that I found infuriatingly pretentious. Safe to say I'll be giving this a miss – the premise alone has me running very far away. But critics are generally positive, so perhaps you'll enjoy this more than I will. Rated 15+

Haunt – After moving into an old house with his family, a teenage boy begins experiencing paranormal activity. He enlists the help of a neighbor girl to investigate. They find a box that allows them to communicate with the dead. Harrison Gilbertson, Liana Liberato and Jacki Weaver star. This had a limited release in the States last year and was later offered as video-on-demand. However, critics don't really demand you see it. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – I somehow got my wires crossed when looking at the schedule last week, and jumped the gun – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie screens tonight, not last Thursday as I thought. I guess it was the idea of a young Maggie Smith that got me all excited. Tomorrow, the must-see-on-the-big-screen selection is Terrence Malick's painterly debut, Badlands, following Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek on a cross-country crime spree. On Saturday, the "troubled youth" movie is Suburbia, Penelope Spheeris' look at street punks. It was why she got hired to direct Wayne's World. And on Sunday, Audrey Hepburn is in a terrifying situation in Wait Until Dark – she's a blind woman terrorized by a home invader. And next Wednesday is National Lampoon's European Vacation – not the best of the Vacation movies, but still a "great American comedy". 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.

Learning Through Asean – Indonesian Movies – The second part of a double-bill program at the Thai Film Archive opens at 1 on Saturday with Postcards from the Zoo, a surreal comedy by Indonesian indie director Edwin. It's about an orphan girl (Ladya Cheryl) who grows up in a zoo, working various odd jobs. She then takes up a with an itinerant cowboy magician (Nicolas Saputra). It competed for the Golden Bear at the Berlin fest in 2012. That's followed at 3 with a selection of Edwin's short films and then a talk with the director and his producer Meiske Taurisa.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Films are back with a vengeance at the FCCT, which kicks off a double-bill of Monday night screenings next week. First up is La Petite Chambre, a 2011 Swiss drama about a bitter widower who fights being moved into a nursing home. So he's saddled with a caregiver, a young woman who is just as stubborn and bitter as he is. It was Switzerland's Oscar submission. Swiss Ambassador Christine Schraner Burgener is laying on wine, snacks and cheese. The show is at 7pm – not 8pm as they have been in the past. Admission is 150 baht for non-members plus 100 baht more if you want to eat or drink. The next screening is on May 26, with Michael Winterbottom's India-set romance Trishna, with support from the British Embassy.

Alliance Française – Tragedy strikes a young family in Australia when the father dies in L'Arbe (The Tree). One of the daughters, an 8-year-old-girl, believes her father's spirit lives in the gigantic fig tree that grows in their yard, and it is so big, it threatens to topple over and crush their house. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars and Julie Bertuccelli directs. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, May 21.

Take note

The European Union Film Festival runs from May 23 to June 5 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. I'll make a special posting about it in a day or so.

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