Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 5-11, 2015

Jupiter Ascending

The creators of The Matrix, siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski, return with another story of a seemingly ordinary person who is plucked from obscurity to change the destiny of moviegoers for another generation.

Jupiter Ascending is the story of a young woman named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting she was destined for great things. Grown up, she's accepted the cold reality of her job as a housecleaner, but her life changes with the arrival of a space-faring warrior (Channing Tatum), who tells her she's actually descended from alien royalty, which makes her the ruler of Earth.

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), James D'Arcy, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also star.

Critical reception is mixed, leaning to negative. The consensus seems to be is that it looks fantastic but doesn't make a lick of sense. It's in real 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated 13+

Also opening

The Theory of Everything – Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe winner Eddie Redmayne portrays renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking during his time at Cambridge and his early romance with fellow student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Debilitated at the tender age of 21 by early onset motor neurone disease, Hawking feels he's in a race against time as he embarks on groundbreaking scientific work. Critical reception is generally positive. This opened in sneak previews last week and now moves to a slightly wider but still limited release. It's at Apex, Paragon, SFW CentralWorld, SFX Maya Chiang Mai and Major Cineplex Central Festival Chiang Mai. Rated 13+

Single Lady Phror Khoei Me Fan (ซิงเกิลเลดี้ เพราะเคยมีแฟน) – Popular celebrity "Aum" Patcharapa Chaichuea earns more from making personal appearances at product-launch events and from TV soap operas than she ever will as a movie actress. So it's not surprising that her outings on the big screen are infrequent, with her last being in 2011's 30 Kamlung Jaew. Now she's back as the high-profile star of the second project from a new production company, Transformation Films, which launched last year with the successful Tukkae Rak Pang Mak. In Single Lady, Aum is a career woman who decides to right old wrongs and reconnect with old boyfriends. The guys are a varied bunch, from rotund little comedian Jaroenpron “Kotee Aramboy” Ornlamai to more conventionally handsome types, such as "Tar" Navin Yaovaponkun, "Tar Barbie" Phaopon Dhephasdin Na Ayutthaya (actual former exes of Aum's), Ravit Therdwong, Ekachai “Ekkie” Uasangkomset and Arak Amornsupasiri. Thanakorn Pongsuwan, who made his debut with the 2003 romance Fake, also starring Aum, is the director. It's a comeback of sorts for him, following his move into martial-arts action with 2007's Opapatika and 2009's Fireball. Rated 13+

The Rewrite – Hugh Grant is a washed up, divorced and broke Oscar-winning screenwriter who has been forced to take a job as a teacher at a small college. His life, wait for it, takes on new meaning when he becomes involved with a single mother (Marisa Tomei) who has gone back to school. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, Juno) and Allison Janney (Juno) also star. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated G

Comet – A chance encounter brings together a cynical guy (Justin Long) and a quick-witted young woman (Emmy Rossum) for a tempestuous, star-crossed love affair that takes them from a meteor shower in Los Angeles, to an encounter in a Paris hotel room, to a fateful phone call. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Gallows Hill – After an American man and his family are involved in a traffic wreck in Colombia, they take refuge in a secluded inn. There, they discover a girl locked in the basement and free her without knowing she’s an ancient evil spirit. Peter Facinelli, Sophia Myles and Nathalia Ramos star. Also known as The Damned, critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+

Dolly Ki Doli – Sonam Kapoor is a conwoman who travels around, duping wealthy men into marriage and then running away with their loot. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Australia vs. New Zealand is one of the features this month, with the two countries' film masterpieces going head-to-head on Thursdays and Fridays. Tonight, it's Nicolas Roeg's highly regarded Walkabout, in which a girl and boy stranded in the Outback are assisted by a mystical Aboriginal boy. Tomorrow, it's the Kiwis' turn with Jane Campion's award-winning The Piano, starring Holly Hunter as a mute Scotswoman sold into marriage in Auckland. With the help of her daughter (Anna Paquin in her debut role) and a buns-baring handyman (Harvey Keitel), she struggles to get her prized piano back after it was sold by her boorish husband (Sam Neill). There are no film screenings this weekend, so it is suggested that club members find a seat at the Thailand International Film Destination Festival, covered below. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For more details, check the club's Facebook page. There's just nine seats, so book them.

The Upside Down World: Three Short Films by Pramote Sangsorn – Acclaimed indie filmmaker Pramote Sangsorn dusts off some of his work for a special screening this weekend at Thong Lor Art Space. The films are Observation of the Monk, featuring well-known performance artist Wannasuk "Kuck" Sirilar, the award-winning Island of Utopias and his most recent award-winning effort, Isan Mars, which looks at an effort to train Northeastern farmers for work on the Red Planet. The screenings are at 7.30pm nightly from Friday to Sunday. Admission is 250 baht with part of the proceeds going to the Ramintra School for the Blind. For more details, please see the Facebook events page.

A scene from Hand in the Glove.
Japanese Film Festival – The long-running and popular festival continues through Sunday at Paragon Cineplex. Tonight at 7, it's Leaving on the 15th Spring, a coming-of-age story about an Okinawan girl. Tomorrow, veteran actress Kirin Kiki stars in Until the Break of Dawn, in which she's a spirit medium teaching her trade to a young grandson. Saturday's encore screening of the made-in-Thailand manga adaptation Lupin III is said to be fully booked. However, distributors United Home Entertainment have taken note and plan to bring it to cinemas on March 19, hopefully with English subs. Also on Saturday is Hand in the Glove, a brand-new film featuring an intriguing mix of Japanese and Thai talent on both sides of the lens. The fest wraps up on Sunday with two dramas, The Ravine of Goodbye and My Man. Please see my earlier posting for more details. Tickets are Bt100 – general admission seating, so sit wherever you want.

Thailand International Film Destination Festival – Now in its third year, the Thailand Film Office's showcase of foreign films made in Thailand has 10 entries screening from Saturday until Wednesday at Paragon Cineplex. Noteable entries include the Tokyo film festival Audience Award winner Pale Moon on Sunday, 2011's Stretch, which David Carradine died during the making of, and Zero Tolerance, a British-produced action yarn directed by the infamous Wych Kaosayananda and starring direct-to-video butt kickers Scott Adkins and Gary Daniels along with Vietnamese star Dustin Nguyen. It's all covered in an earlier blog post. Tickets are free, but as with all these "free" festivals there's a catch – you'll have to first register by phone and then pick up your tickets from a special table in the cinema lobby 30 minutes before showtime. To register, call (091) 757-0467 or (091) 757-1067.

Filmvirus Kawaii Luv Luv – The Sunday afternoon series of Japanese double features wraps up this weekend. First up at 12.30pm is Pool, a 2009 drama that was filmed in Thailand. In a nice bit of synergy that ties in with two film festivals happening here right now, it deals with a young woman who reunites with her estranged mother, the operator of a run-down Thai resort. That's followed by Sleeping Man from 1996, which is pretty much as the title describes. The venue is 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. Bring identification. For details, call (02) 613-3529 or (02) 613-3530.

German Open Air Cinema – Two more screenings remain in the annual series at the Goethe-Institut. Next up is On the Edge, a 2013 drama about the affairs of a random group of strangers who meet at a Swiss resort. It screens at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 10, at the Goethe-Institut off Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – "Lost illusions" is the theme for this month and next week's entry is Les lendemains, in which an idealistic young woman falls in with a bunch of militant squatters. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, February 11 at the Alliance.

Take note

Several films that were already in cinemas in recent months have returned this week through a promotion at Major Cineplex theaters to capitalize on the free publicity generated by Hollywood's awards season. This week's returnees include the Academy Award-nominated animated features Big Hero Six from Disney and Studio Ghibli's The Tale of Princess Kaguya. There's also Begin Again, a musical romance, which has an Oscar-nominated original song. Upcoming other re-releases are the indie hits Boyhood and Whiplash plus Gone Girl. and another Oscar-nominated animation, How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Coming up next month is the fourth edition of the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival, running March 21 to 28. But before that, from February 26 to March 6, the Thai Film Archive has something called Memory! Reprise in Thailand International Film Heritage Festival, with a very interesting line-up of old movies at. if I'm reading it right, the Alliance Française.

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