Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 22-28, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The comic-book onslaught continues as Fox's X-Men franchises converge in X-Men: Days of Future Past, with the stars of the original 2000-2006 film trilogy sharing the screen with the mutant superheroes of the 2011 reboot X-Men: First Class.

Rivalling Disney's Marvel Studios' own juggernaut The Avengers for sheer star power, it's a cast stuffed with Shakespearian-trained talent – Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan as friends-turned-enemies Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto, played in their younger days by a pair of other figures from the stage and arthouse screen – James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Also returning is Hugh Jackman as Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine – he had a hilarious cameo in First Class. Here, with just raw bones for claws now, he's front and center, tasked by Professor X (Stewart) with going back in time to the 1970s to stop a chain of events that led to the creation of the Sentinels – unstoppable killer robots.

For help, Logan has to work with the younger Xavier, a powerful telepath who is a broken man following the events of First Class, in which his lifelong friend, the blue-skinned shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) left him and his other good friend Magneto betrayed him. But they need metal-bending Magneto, who is held in a super-max prison inside the Pentagon.

Others taking part include Halle Berry as Storm, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Nicholas Hoult as the Beast and Fan Bingbing as the teleporting mutant Blink. Original trilogy stars Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden and Famke Jansen also turn up. New to the franchise is Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, portraying Dr. Bolivar Trask, the scientist who created the Sentinels.

Back in the director's chair is Bryan Singer, who helmed 2000's X-Men and the 2003 sequel X2 and has guided the franchise as producer all along. The movie's release comes as he's fighting a scandal in Hollywood.

Writers include Matthew Vaughn, the British producer-director of Kick-Ass and First Class, and Simon Kinberg, whose credits also include the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot and Star Wars: Episode VII.

Critical reception is wildly positive, making Days of Future Past one of the strongest in the X-Men franchise.

As has become the norm with Marvel Comic movies, there's a post-credits scene, so stick around as all the special-effects names roll by.

It's in real 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX and IMAX Digital. Rated G

Also opening

Rob the Mob – Young husband-and-wife hoodlums plan a caper to take revenge on the New York mob in this fact-based crime-comedy starring Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) and Nina Ariana. Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Aida Turturro, Frank Whaley and Griffin Dunne also star. Critical reception is mostly positive – a pleasant surprise. Rated 15+

Draft Day – Kevin Costner, enjoying a career resurgence at the moment, is back doing what he does best – sports movies. The star of Field of DreamsBull Durham (baseball), Tin Cup (golf) and Waterworld (sailing), turns to the gridiron in this comedy-drama that takes place on one of the biggest days for American professional football – the NFL draft – in which a flurry of deals are made for college players. Costner is the manager of the Cleveland Browns, and has to make difficult personal and professional choices as he ponders what to do with the No. 1 draft pick. Jennifer Garner also stars. Ivan Reitman, better known for his comedies like Ghostbusters, directs. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 15+

The Quiet Ones – Hammer Films, the British studio that made classic B-movie horrors from the 1950s through the '70s, was revived a few years back, and has brought us such new B-movie thrillers as The Woman in Black and the Let the Right One In remake Let Me In. The Quiet Ones has a former Oxford professor (Jared Harris from Mad Men) conducting experiments on a young woman who is possessed by dark forces. Sam Claflin and Olivia Cooke also star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Kochadaiiyaan – India's first motion-capture animated feature tells the historical tale of good and evil, featuring South Indian megastar Rajinikanth performing and voicing three roles. The story involves a warrior who returns to his homeland to avenge the death of his father, who was unjustly put to death by the king. Deepika Padukone also stars, performing her own stunts. With music by Oscar-winning film-score composer A.R. Rahman, it's directed by Rajinikanth's daughter, Soundarya R. Ashwin. It was made using the performance-capture technique that was used for such films as Avatar, Tintin and for certain characters in the Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, and yes, Godzilla! It's a first for India. It's also getting a huge debut, delayed a week, so that it could be released across the subcontinent and worldwide in nine languages. For Thailand, it's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon and Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai), Rama III and Pattaya. And, it'll be in 2D only, so you can leave your 3D glasses at home. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Movies on Design – Part of the Bangkok Design Festival, Movies on Design actually started on Tuesday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, but it seems nobody bothered to say anything about it until Monday. The fest, continuing until next Thursday, features documentaries about architecture, art and design. Here's the lineup:
  • Life Architecturally – A profile of Australian architect Robert McBride and his wife, interior designer Debbie Ryan. 2.30 today and 7.45pm on May 28.
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line – Meet the minds behind the expansion of the New York's premiere performing-arts center and the innovative renovation of a derelict Manhattan elevated railway into a landmark new public park. 4.45pm today and 7pm on May 27 with a talk.
  • Cartoon College – A look at American comic culture, with visits to comic-book stores, museums and conventions and talks with such cartoonists as Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware. 5pm on May 28 with a talk.
  • Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present – A profile of the artist who staged an "interactive performance" in 2010 at New York's Museum of Modern Art. 6 tonight with a talk and 4.15pm on May 29.
  • From Nothing, Something: A Documentary on the Creative Process – A series of profiles on creators from different backgrounds, including a novelist, a musician, a designer of movie creatures, chefs, an architect and cancer researchers. 5.15pm on May 27 and 6.30pm on May 29 with a talk.
Tickets are not free! Prices start at 180 baht and they may be purchased at various venues. Check The Nation for details.

European Union Film Festival – Oh joy! It's another of Bangkok's wonderful free film festivals! Get ready to queue up for an hour or more to get those precious little tickets, which they start doling out 30 minutes before showtime. Running from tomorrow until June 5 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, here's this week's lineup:
  • Come As You Are – Three disabled Belgian men want to go to a high-end Spanish bordello. 7pm tomorrow.
  • The Angels' Share – Taking its title from the industry phrase for the booze that evaporates during distilling, Ken Loach's 2012 Cannes Jury Prize winner is about four young Scottish lawbreakers doing community service who turn their lives around when they discover a high-end brand of whiskey. 2.45pm on Saturday.
  • Heavy Girls – Two German men – a young man who lives with his dementia-suffering mother and her caretaker – develop an unexpected queer bond. 4.30pm on Saturday.
  • The Exam – In 1950s Budapest, a young intelligence officer is put through his paces by a mentor. 7pm on Saturday.
  • Lilet Never Happened – In Manila, a Dutch social worker tries in vain to improve the life of a maladjusted Filipina child prostitute. 2.30pm on Sunday.
  • Revival – Smoke, a 1960s band that was known as the "Czech Beatles", reunites for a comeback tour. 4.30pm on Sunday.
  • Walesa: Man of Hope – Veteran Polish helmer Andrzej Wajda directs this biopic about a shipyard electrician who founded a dissident labour movement that brought a peaceful end to communism in Poland. 7pm on Sunday.
  • The Pelayos (Winning Streak) – An oddball collection of Spaniards think they've figured out how to beat the roulette wheel at a casino run by a figure known as the Beast. 7pm on Monday.
  • Palme – The life and times of slain Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme is recalled in this documentary. 7pm on Tuesday.
  • The Spanish Apartment (L’auberge Espagnole) – A young Frenchmen (Romain Duris) moves into a Barcelona flat with group of colorful roomies from all over. Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou and Cecile de France also star. Directed by Cedric Klapisch, this is the first of a rom-com trilogy that was followed by Russian Dolls and Chinese Puzzle, each screening on consecutive nights next week, starting at 7 on Wednesday.
All films will be screened in their original languages with English subtitles. Some films will also have Thai subtitles. Hit the following link to download the schedule or check it at For more information, see

The Friese-Greene Club – Last Saturday's "troubled youth" show ended up being SubUrbia, a 1996 dark comedy by Slackers director Richard Linklater, and not the 1983 gutterpunk drama Suburbia by Penelope Spheeris, as advertised. Linkater's is also a "troubled youth" movie, more in the spirit of Dazed and Confused, and is flat-out hilarious. I'd never seen it before. So no harm, no foul. Keep an eye out for Spheeris' film to be rescheduled. Tonight's show is Flirting, a 1991 Australian boarding-school drama starring Noah Taylor as a boy who enters into a star-crossed romance with Thandie Newton. Nicole Kidman also stars as a sexually repressed student. Tomorrow's big-screen spectacle is Spielberg's sci-fi freak-out Close Encounters of the Third Kind. On Saturday, stay gold with the "troubled youth" selection – Francis Ford Coppola's teen drama The Outsiders, starring the bratpack of Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio. Sunday is Billy Wilder's original Sabrina, a romantic comedy starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Next Wednesday, all you need is this paddle game ... the ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all you need ... and these matches ... and this chair ... it's Steve Martin in the great American comedy The Jerk. 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 good idea. There are sometimes additions and changes in the schedule, so please check the website and Facebook page for updates.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – For his 2011 drama Trishna, stylish director Michael Winterbottom adapts the classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and ports the setting of the star-crossed romance to Rajasthan, India, where the scion of a wealthy British-Indian family falls for a shy local lass who works in the family's hotel. Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) star. Supported by the British Council, the screening will feature Fullers London Pride beer, fish, chips and British Ambassador Mark Kent. The show is at 7pm – not 8pm as they have been in the past – on Monday, May 26 at the FCCT. Admission is 150 baht for non-members plus 100 baht more for the brew and snacks.

Alliance Française – The relationship between pioneering 19th-century neurologist Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and his star teenage patient is examined Augustine, a 2012 historical drama by Alice Winocour. Vincent Lindon and Soko star. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, May 28.

Take note

Now comes the news from Moveedoo: The House website is back!

And those were the cheers of everyone who dislikes Facebook, which was where House's showtimes were listed for the past while, and sometimes hard to access. But somehow the new website design looks familiar. Navigate it by immediately hauling your mouse/finger down, and there is everything in all its heavenly glory.

Bangkok residents awoke to news early Tuesday morning that martial law had been declared by the Thai military. Revealing a little-known codicil in the constitution that gives the army power to preserve order in time of emergency, they aren't calling it a coup, and the "caretaker" government, left toothless by Constitutional Court rulings, is supposedly still in place.

On the surface, the move by the Army is aimed at containing protests by both the Thaksin-leaning red-shirts and the anti-Thaksin folk led by Suthep Thaugsuban.

There is no curfew for now. The military have a presence in certain areas, which includes media outlets. Folks are complaining about traffic. In other words, just another week in Bangkok.

There's an upcoming event to mention, the Kafka-Festival at the Goethe-Institut, screening three Kafka-related films there from June 3 to 5, 1997's The Castle by Michael Haneke, a 1960 Czech film Joseph Kilian by Pavel Jurácěk and Jan Schmidt and 2006's Who was Kafka? by Richard Dindo.

Also, Thai Aurora at the Horizon, in which a collection of new politically themed and somehow-still-relevant short films by young Thai directors will be screened on Sunday, June 15, at TK Park at CentralWorld. The show starts at 2pm.

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