Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening July 31-August 6, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe embraces the weird with its new franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, in which a disparate band of desperados have to learn to work together in order to save us all.

Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, The Lego Movie) stars as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, a spacefaring adventurer who was abducted from Missouri as a boy and raised by criminals. He steals a valuable orb and is pursued by a bizarre group of bounty hunters – the green-skinned warrior woman Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the hulking Drax the Destroyer (WWE wrestler Dave Bautista), gun-toting raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Rocket's sidekick, the humanoid tree Groot, who only says "I am Groot." He's voiced by Vin Diesel.

The cast, absolutely overstuffed with talent, also includes John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou and Josh Brolin. Benicio Del Toro is "the Collector", described as an "outer-space Liberace".

The director is James Gunn, an inventive, cult-favorite figure who directed the low-budget genre hits Slither and Super.

Boosted by the recent San Diego Comic-Con, where a sequel for 2017 and an animated TV series was announced, anticipation is high. It's in 3D (converted) in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G

Also opening

Rosewood Lane – After the death of her father, a talk-radio psychologist returns to her childhood home. There, a game of cat-and-mouse ensues as she gets into a conflict with a sociopath paperboy. Rose McGowan, Lauren Vélez, Lesley-Anne Down and Ray Wise star. Victor Salva, the controversial maker of the Jeepers Creepers series, directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

The Unreasonable Man (ไม่รู้.มันคืออะไร.แต่ชอบ) – Infamous "badboy" actor "Tao" Somchai Kemglad co-directs and stars in this indie project that was completed over the course of several years. He's a brooding Luddite barber who is given a cellphone and is mystified about how to use it. Supharat Boonamayam also directs, and Pramote Sangsorn co-stars. At 6 nightly at the Lido.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – A pair of thrillers close out July, with Guillermo del Toro's strange fantasy Pan's Labyrinth tonight and George Romero's original trapped-in-a-mall-by-zombies tale Dawn of the Dead. August brings a new program, with question-and-answer sessions on Wednesdays, Asian horror on Thursdays, Alan Parker on Fridays, "films that mess with your head" on Saturdays and classic film noir on Sundays. Saturday's head trip is Adrian Lynne's Vietnam veteran acid flashback Jacob's Ladder. Sunday, it's The Third Man, a moody mystery set in post-war Vienna starring Joseph Cotten, the zither and that cuckoo clock speech. Next Wednesday is the first in a series of question-and-answer sessions, with journalist and director Bradley Cox present to talk about Who Killed Chea Vichea? Banned in Cambodia, Cox's Peabody Award-winning documentary is a searing portrait of injustice under the Hun Sen regime. 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.

Elle Fashion Film Festival – Tonight's opening film is the brand-new French biopic Yves Saint Laurent, followed by My Way, chronicling the life of singer Claude François, writer of the hit song that would eventually become the signature tune of Frank Sinatra. Saturday's highlights include the romantic comedy Populaire, in which a French secretary becomes the world's fast typist, and Wes Anderson's much-anticipated The Grand Budapest Hotel, which almost didn't land a big-screen spot in Bangkok. Sunday includes another fine comedy from the winning duo of actor Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom, The Look of Love. The fest is at SFX the Emporium. Tickets are 200 baht and may be purchased in advance at the box office. For more details, please see my earlier blog post or the SF Cinema website.

The Lives of Others – Parts one and two of celebrated Russian director Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible comprise this Sunday's Film Virus double bill of biographical films at Thammasat University Tha Prachan. Made in 1944 with approval from Joseph Stalin, part one aimed to rally the wartorn Soviet Union by presenting the Tsar of all the Russias as a nationalist hero. The second part was completed in 1946 but was held up by state censorship until 1958, 10 years after Eisenstein died. Notably, the score is by the great composer Sergei Prokofiev. The show starts at 12.30 on Sunday in the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University Tha Prachan, in the Rewat Buddhinan Room, floor U2, the basement. Dress appropriately and inform the desk worker you are there to see a movie. For details, call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

Alliance Française – Selections from last year's My French Film Festival are featured throughout August, starting with Sport de filles, a 2011 drama in which a gifted professional horseback rider has her steed taken out from under her and has to start over. Patricia Mazuy directs; Josiane Balasko, Marina Hands and Bruno Ganz star. John Cale, yes that John Cale, composed the score. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, August 6.

Take note

The schedule is up for the First Silent Film Festival in Thailand, set for August 7 to 13 at the Apex cinemas in Siam Square. Organized by the British Council and the Thai Film Archive, it will feature restored prints of early Alfred Hitchcock works, his debut The Pleasure Garden, The Ring and The Lodger, and four other silents, all with live musical accompaniment. Most of the fest takes place at the Lido, where tickets are 100 baht and can be booked at the box office. However, the closing night gala, the only screening of The Lodger, is at the Scala, and it's 500 baht. I'll detail more about the fest in the next day or two.

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