The opening film of this year's World Film Festival of Bangkok, the documentary Somboon (ปู่สมบรูณ์, Poo Somboon), returns to the screens this week in a limited release at SF cinemas.
It follows the efforts of the title character, a remarkable elderly gentleman who devotes his life to the care of his chronically ailing wife of 45 years. The documentary is the debut feature of Krissada Tipchaimeta, a 28-year-old film school graduate.
In Bangkok, it's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and SF Cinema City at The Mall Bang Kapi. It's also at SF cinemas in Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai as well as the Dej Udom Theatre in Ubon Ratchathani. Rated G
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Director Peter Jackson wraps up his bloated adaptation of JRR Tolkien's slim prequel novel to the Lord of the Rings. At first there are three armies – the dwarves, having reclaimed their mountain kingdom from the dragon Smaug, are beseiged by the woodland elves of Mirkwood and the men of Lake-Town. But then comes an attack by the forces of evil – orcs and wargs – forcing dwarves, elves and men into an alliance, held together by the supernatural forces commanded by Gandalf the wizard. Critical reception is mixed. It's in real 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX, and as with the previous two entries, there might be versions screening in 3D with the high-definition high frame rate, so look for the HFR logo at the box office if you're into that sort of thing. Rated G
Stonehearst Asylum – A young doctor (Jim Sturgess) is thrown into an unpredictable situation when he arrives for his internship at Stonehearst Asylum, where nothing is as it seems. He's at first mesmerized by a woman there (Kate Beckinsale) and drawn to the experiments of the asylum's superintendent (Ben Kingsley) until the truth about the place is revealed. Michael Caine and Brendan Gleeson also star. Brad Anderson (The Call, Transsiberian) directs. Also called Eliza Graves, and adapted from an Edgar Allen Poe short story, critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
The Possession of Michael King – "Found footage" recounts the ordeal of an atheist filmmaker who sets out to debunk the existence of God and the Devil after his wife dies after receiving poor advice from a psychic. Released straight-to-video in the U.S., critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+
P.K. — The arrival of a stranger with a child-like outlook on life causes those around him to rethink the way they see the world. Aamir Khan stars as as the innocent title character with Sanjay Dutt and Anushka Sharma among the other leads. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles Paragon, Embassy Diplomat Screens and Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – It's Christmas all month at the club, with a selection of movies that might not necessarily be about Christmas. Though some are. This week's titles are Billy Wilder's The Apartment tonight, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan tomorrow, the slasher Christmas Evil on Saturday and Meet Me in St. Louis on Sunday. Next Tuesday, don't shoot your eye out – it's the holiday classic A Christmas Story, followed on Wednesday's Christmas Eve with the now-traditional FGC screening of It's a Wonderful Life. The club's bar be closed on Christmas Day, but members and holiday refugees are invited to "BYOB" to celebrate. See the Facebook page for details. 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.
Björk: Biophilia Live – Blurring the lines between film, music and art, the latest concert movie by the Icelandic avant-garde singer will be projected onto the front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on Saturday night in an open-air screening. Supported by the Goethe-Institut, it's the closing entry of the Goethe's annual Science Film Festival. To get another of your senses working in this multimedia experience, Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak will create an edible landscape art installation. The show starts at 8pm, but for those who want to find out more, there's something going on at 5.30pm on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium, with the screening of the behind-the-scenes documentary When Björk Met David Attenborough.
Alliance Française – An animated feature closes out the year's free French screenings. It's the French-Belgian-Irish produced Brendan et le Secret de Kells (The Secret of Kells), which was released in 2009 with an English soundtrack and was nominated for an Academy Award. The adventure tale is a ficitionalized account of the discovery of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the Bible that is considered a national treasure in Ireland. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, December 24. Take note, there will be no free film program on New Year's Eve; programs resume at the Alliance on January 7.
I'm back after a two-week break. In my absence, a couple of noteworthy Thai films were released.
First, there's the slick commercial romantic comedy with the gibberish title I Fine ... Thank You ... Love You, about a boorish mechanic striking up a relationship with his English-language tutor. It reportedly crossed the benchmark 100-million-baht threshold at the box office in its first three days and holds second place for the best opening of a Thai film. The other is the indie drama W, about the struggles of a college freshman thrown into the deep end at a faculty that wasn't her first choice. The debut feature by Chonlasit Upagnit, it's at House on RCA.
And the Goethe-Institut's annual Open-Air Cinema Series has started, with screenings at 7.30pm on Tuesdays at the institute off Sathorn Soi 1. They're taking a break for Christmas and New Year's, so the series resumes on January 6 with Forget Me Not, and runs until February 17.