Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 18-24, 2014

Pawang Rak (Concrete Clouds)

Finally, Concrete Clouds (ภวังค์รัก, Pawang Rak, literally "subconscious love"), the directorial-debut feature of award-winning film editor Lee Chatametikool, is making its theatrical bow in Thailand. Following a tour of the festival circuit for the past year or so, the 1990s-set drama opens this week in select cinemas.

Here's the synopsis:

In 1997, Mutt (Ananda Everingham), who works as a currency trader in New York, must suddenly return home to Bangkok when his father commits suicide. After the funeral, he decides to track down Sai (Janesuda Parnto), his old girlfriend from high school. Meanwhile his younger brother Nic (Prawith Hansten) is in love with Poupee (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk), who lives in a low-income flat behind their townhouse. While the economic crisis looms over the city, both relationships face uncertainty. As they drift between the past and the present, between dreams and reality, their only escape is in a collage of love songs, music videos and recorded memories. But can these alone hold their relationships together in the face of harsh realities?

It's a stuttering, shattered reflection on the 1997 financial crisis by Lee, who returned to Bangkok that year after being schooled overseas. Over the years since, he's gone on to be a major figure in the Thai film industry, helping to shape such films as Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cannes prize-winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Anocha Suwichakornpong's Mundane History, as well as various mainstream Thai films.

Apichatpong and Anocha are now repaying him, serving as producers on his feature directorial debut, which has been in the works for the past four years or so. Other producers are veteran Thai independent film hand Soros Sukhum and Taiwanese actress-director Sylvia Chang. It's been supported along the way by various film funds and project markets, including Visions Sud East from Switzerland, the Busan film fest's Asian Cinema Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Festival appearances have included Rotterdam, Busan and Hong Kong.

To get yourself in the mood, check out the official trailer or, even better, get your pulse racing with the teaser, featuring a song by the 1990s band Pause.

Concrete Clouds is at SF cinemas and House on RCA. Rated 18+

Also opening

The Maze Runner – Yet another young-adult novel series comes to the big screen in this post-apocalyptic adventure yarn about teens trapped in a massive maze, with huge fortress-like walls that move. It's inhabited by vicious creatures called Grievers. Runners go in and never come back. Seemingly, there is no way out. James Dashner wrote the the trilogy, and the young cast includes Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter. Wes Ball, making his debut, directs. This is just coming out in the U.S. this week, so keep your eye on the reviews. Rated G

Are You Here – Matthew Weiner, creator of the acclaimed TV drama Mad Men, teams up with leading comedy lights Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler for this road comedy about longtime friends taking a trip back to their rural hometown after one of them (Galifianakis) learns of his inheritance. Unfortunately, in spite the efforts of all these fantastic talents, critical reception is negative. Rated 18+

As Above, So Below – A camera crew goes exploring the legendary catacombs below the streets of Paris and discovers a maze-like city of the dead that harbors terrifying secrets. Oh no. Yes. It's another "found footage" horror movie. John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Rak Phasa Arai (รักภาษาอะไร, Myanmar in Love in Bangkok) – Cross-cultural differences and connections are explored in this romance about a young Burmese man (Aung Nay Zoe) who gets into a relationship with a hipster Thai woman who works as a tattoo artist. At Major Cineplex. Rated 15+

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai – The 1972 Shaw Brothers martial-arts action drama The Boxer from Shantung gets the remake treatment. It's the same, old story – a young hick (Phillip Ng) travels to the big city to seek a livelihood and is taken under the wing of a young rising crime lord (Andy On). They run into conflict with the rival Axe Gang. Action-film great Sammo Hung also stars. Wong Ching-po directs. It's Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+

Daawat-e-Ishq – Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapur star in this food-infused Bollywood romance. She's a Hyderabadi shoe-sales girl disillusioned with love because of her encounters with dowry-seeking men, while he's a Lucknawi cook who can charm anybody with the aroma and flavors of his biryani and kebabs. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at the Embassy Diplomat Screens, Major Cineplex Ekkamai, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Khoobsurat – Bollywood and Disney combine for a star-crossed storybook romance. Sonam Kappoor is a hopelessly romantic physiotherapist who is bowled over by a handsome young Rajput prince (Fawad Afzal Khan), despite cultural differences and the fact that he's engaged to someone else. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday (and on September 26 in Pattaya).

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Stunning martial-arts action is on display tonight in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, yet another display of diversity by director Ang Lee. Tomorrow, funny things happen to Yanks in England in John Landis' hilariously scary American Werewolf in London – with still one of the best werewolf transformation scenes ever. This Saturday's "so bad it's good entry" is The Blue Lagoon, a film that seemed "erotic" back in 1980 but now not so much. Sunday, Lauren Bacall teams up with John Wayne to battle commies in China in 1955's Blood Alley. And next Wednesday closes out a month-long tribute to Robin Williams with the dream-like drama Awakenings, one of Penny Marshall's best-regarded directorial efforts. 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.

Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice – In the closing entry of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center's film series this year, Thai director Tanawarin Sukkhapisit will present the Japanese teen drama Himizu, directed by Sion Sono. "For me, Himizu does not just tell an anguished story of a post-tsunami Japan. Instead, when I watched it, I felt like I was literally hit by a tsunami, a force of nature that was so powerful that it dragged me to the bottom of the ocean where I could not breath and felt like I was about to die," says Tanwarin, director of a diverse range of short films and features, including Threesome, It Gets Better and Insects in the Backyard. Screening on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium, registration opens at 4.30 and the show is at 5.30, with a talk afterward. Subtitles are in Thai only – no English.

The Lives of Others – The Filmvirus series of biographical double-bills comes to a close this Sunday at Thammasat University Tha Prachan. Up first at 12.30 is My Life and Times with Antonin Artaud, a 1993 French film based on the novel by Jacques Prevel, who recounts his friendship with the mentally disturbed playwright. That's followed at 2.10 by Room and a Half, about Russian poet Josef Brodsky. 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 – "Novels on the big screen" is September's theme for the free French films. Next week's show is Du vent dans mes mollets (The Dandelions), based on Raphaële Moussafir's novel about a shy 9-year-old girl whose life changes when she gets an adventurous new friend. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, September 24.

Sneak preview

The Purge: Anarchy – Here we go again. In a dystopian near future, when, for one night a year, all law enforcement and emergency services in the U.S. are suspended and virtually all crimes are made legal, a small group of law-abiding citizens prepare for the worst. Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams and Carmen Ejogo star. James DeMonaco directs. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly at most cinemas until next Thursday's wide release. Rated 18+

Take note

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is coming up, running from October 17 to 26. But before that, on September 27, is another Filmvirus event at the Reading Room. It's a comprehensive look at the short films of Chulayarnnon Siriphol, who won a runner-up prize at the recent Thai Short Film and Video Festival for Myth of Modernity.

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