Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 20-26, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Picking up from last year's entry in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 follows heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she escapes from the Quarter Quell death-game only to return home to District 12 and find it utterly destroyed.

She then moves on to District 13, where she agrees to be the figurehead of a rebellion against the Capitol. However, difficulties arise when she discovers her longtime guy pal Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has been taken prisoner and is being used as a tool against the rebellion.

Julianne Moore joins the cast this time around, portraying President Alma Coin, the leader of insurgent District 13.

Returnees include Donald Sutherland as Panem's President Snow and Woody Harrelson as Katniss' mentor Haymitch. And Philip Seymour Hoffman puts in one of his last filmed appearances before he died in February, reprising his role from last year's Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Critical reception is crazily positive. But keep in mind, this is only a placeholder for the big finale, Mockingjay Part 2, which doesn't come out until a year from now.

And something else to watch out for – in Thailand, the Hunger Games films are controversial because the three-fingered salute used by the rebels has been adopted by anti-coup protesters. On Wednesday, students used the salute to protest a visit by coup leader and prime minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. And, having had business disrupted in the past by political protests, Apex cinemas has decided to not show the film, so no Hunger Games at Lido or Scala. Rated 15+

Also opening

Magic in the Moonlight – Woody Allen directs this comedy, set in the 1920s' French Riviera, about a curmudgeonly English magician (Colin Firth) who performs as a Chinese conjurer. He’s asked by a friend to expose a young woman (Emma Stone) who claims to be a spirit medium but her wealthy clients are convinced she’s a hoax. Simon McBurney, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater and Marcia Gay Harden also star. Critical reception is mixed, with the consensus being this is minor Woody. Rated G

Bittersweet Chocolate – The description I was given for this doesn't match the gross poster. But maybe that'll make folks curious. Oompon Kitikamara directs this indie thriller about a mother who surprises her son with a birthday treat – an ultra-dark and bittersweet chocolate cake. Its mysterious taste makes strange things happen. It's at House on RCA.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Lawrence Kasdan gives the '90s generation their own "big chill" with Grand Canyon, tonight. Tomorrow, there's Jack Nicholson in one of his most unhinged performances in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Saturday is another classic Johnny Depp performance, portraying the legendary maker of some of the worst movies ever in Tim Burton's Ed Wood – probably the best movie Burton has ever made. Bring your mother on Sunday for the black-and-white horror classic Psycho. And next Wednesday is a special event – join the club if you want to find out what. 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.

Alliance Française – France during World War I has been the theme of this month's screenings. Next week's offering is the 2005 made-for-TV documentary Premier Noel Dans Les Tranchées (First Christmas in the Trenches), which covers the Christmas truce of 1914, when troops on all sides of the bloody trench war laid down their arms for the holiday and celebrated together. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, November 26.

Take note

Apologies for neglecting to mention the Spanish Film Festival that was held last weekend at SF World Cinema. For some reason, word of it did not reach me. I aim to keep track of such events, but this one slipped through the cracks. Again, sorry.

It's a light week for new openings this week as multiplexes clear the decks for The Hunger Games. But the next two weeks will be busy, with bunches of movies opening – big tentpoles like Ridley Scott's Exodus and Disney's Big Hero 6 among them – plus His Majesty the King's birthday coming up on December 5. There is talk of several special screenings in honor of the King, so I hope to hear more about those beforehand.

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