Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 10-16, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Gun-toting apes are on horseback in the second entry in the rebooted science-fiction franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which takes place 10 years after the events of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The experiments that gave rise to evolved apes also created a virus that mutated and wiped out most of humanity.

A small band of human survivors are hanging on in San Francisco, trying to get the power back on. Meanwhile, the intelligent ape leader Caesar and his followers have retreated to the forests in hopes of living in peace. However, there is conflict on both sides. For the humans, it's Gary Oldman, leading a band of bloodthirsty anti-ape malcontents, while among the primates, not everyone is united behind Caesar.

Other stars include Jason Clarkson as a level-headed survivor. Andy Serkis, the motion-capture master, again portrays the chimpanzee Caesar, using the same technology that breathed life into such digital characters as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the latest Godzilla. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) directs.

Critical reception is wildly positive. It's in real 3D in some cinemas. Rated G.

Also opening

Love Slave (ทาสรักอสูร, Tas Rak Asoon) – Comedian, actor and director Petchtai "Mum Jokmok" Wongkamlao parodies 1970s Thai melodramas, TV's "slap-and-kiss" soap operas and perhaps some of his own misogyny with this story of a high-society woman ("Pinky" Sawika Chaiyadej) who is abducted and taken to an island commune where she's abused by the island's owner (Mum) and other residents, including a couple other women (Sakaojai Poonsawat and Lakana Wattanawongsiri). Rated 15+-

A Million Ways to Die in the West – For his first live-action film role, Family Guy and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane strings together a bunch of cliched jokes and pop-culture references about life in the old American west. He's a meek sheep farmer who has to work up the courage to face a notorious outlaw. For help, he's rounded up Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Liam Neeson and a host of other stars in cameos. Critical reception is mostly negative. Most think you should eat a heaping plate of baked beans and watch Blazing Saddles instead of this. Rated 18+

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania – Back in action with SF cinemas, local entrepreneurs the Bollywood Thai boys bring the latest production by Karan Johar to town. The Punjabi romantic-comedy stars Varun Dhawan as a Delhi lad who falls for the unattainable new girl in town (Alia Bhatt). It's at SF Cinema City Terminal 21, SFC Jungceylon Phuket and SFX Pattaya Beach. Shows are at 3, 6 and 8.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, 6 and 8.30pm on weekdays. Opens Friday.

Also showing

House 10-Year Anniversary – A mini film festival, House's monthlong 10th anniversary celebration continues tonight with a free sneak preview of The Fault in Our Stars, about a teenage girl with terminal cancer who falls in love with a guy from her support group. Fault will also have a sneak preview run next week in most cinemas before opening wide on July 24. Tomorrow, it's Last Life in the Universe, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's darkly comic tale of romance between a lonely Japanese librarian and a grieving young Thai woman. Saturday is the Thai premiere of Letters from the South, an omnibus look at the Chinese communities across Southeast Asia. An offering from the new indie outfit Mosquito Films Distribution, it's in six parts. The directors are Thailand's Aditya Assarat, Royston Tan and Sun Koh from Singapore, Taiwanese-Myanmar helmer Midi Z, Malaysia's Tan Chui Mui and Taiwanese-Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-liang. Outside of a film festival, I'm not sure this is getting a release here, so catch it while you can. Sunday has a pair of free documentaries from the Alliance Française – Nostalgia for the Light and All Is Forgiven. Monday will be a free surprise film, and Tuesday is a "House Phenomenon", the tense Iranian Oscar-winning family drama A Separation. And Wednesday is another old favorite of the House programmers, the gripping Brazilian crime drama City of God. Check the Facebook schedule for the full line-up and check the Facebook page for showtimes.

The Friese-Greene Club – Coming-of-age friendship and romance head south of the (U.S.) border with Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También, starring Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna as pair of sex-obsessed teens who take a road trip with an older woman. Friday's "American as apple pie" feature is Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. It's the original version, not the redux, but who knows which ending it will be? Saturday's "modern Australian classic" is The Dish, a 2000 comedy about mishaps at the outback radio telescope that assisted with America's moon landing. Sam Neill and Patrick Warburton star. Sunday has Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers hoofing it in one of their best, 1936's Swing Time. And next Wednesday is a "naughty nun" drama, Norman Jewison's Agnes of God. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.

Filmvirus K-PopPop – This Sunday is the final double bill of contemporary South Korean films at Thammasat University Tha Prachan's library. Up first is Iri, a 2008 drama that looks at the scars that remain 30 years after the train station explosion in the city now known as Iksan. That's followed by Breathless, which follows the unusual friendship that develops between a loan-shark's thug and a young woman. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Rewat Buddhinan Room on floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. They'll then want an ID that can be copied. The campus is located on the river opposite the Chao Phraya River Express Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier. Take a ferry heading to Tha Prachan or Wat Mahathat. Call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Alliance Française – "On a Journey" is the theme for this month's free French films, and next week's offering is Mariage à Mendoza, about brothers taking road trip across Argentina to attend a cousin's wedding. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, July 16.

Sneak preview

Earth to Echo — Boyhood friends encounter a small friendly alien robot in this "found footage" sci-fi comedy-drama that recalls E.T. Critical reception is mixed. This is in nightly sneak previews at most multiplexes before opening wide on July 24. Rated G


  1. The found footage method is extremely irritating to watch and just a lazy method of filmmaking. - Ian

    1. Only "found footage" movie I've liked so far is the superhero tale Chronicle.

  2. With the cost of movie tickets these days (not necessarily referring to Thai cinemas) , I'd want a better quality film than one shot on a mobile phone or whatever. Imagine if ET had been filmed that way. - Ian