Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 26-April 1, 2015


British expat readers have been pestering me for months about this one. "When is Paddington coming to Bangkok?" they have asked repeatedly.

Well, please stop bothering me. He's here now.

The marmalade-loving "rarest of bears" of British children’s literature comes to the big screen in this tale that explains how he came to arrive in the big city. Discovered at a London railway station, lost and alone with a note around his neck, Paddington is taken in by the kindly Brown family, however a sadistic museum taxidermist has other ideas.

Ben Whishaw (the new Q from the Bond series) is the voice of Paddington. Colin Firth was originally supposed to do it, but he didn't fit. Plunging into the depths of the uncanny valley, the bear was created for the screen with a combination of computer-generated imagery and animatronic puppetry. His human saviors are Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky), with Nicole Kidman as the evil museum lady.

Paul King wrote the screenplay and directs. Michael Bond, the author of the books, was also involved.

Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated G

Also opening

Home – A fugitive member of an invading race of space aliens is befriended by a plucky teenage girl in this new feature from DreamWorks Animation. It's winning praise for voice work by Rihanna as the girl Tip. Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) voices the alien named Oh. Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin are also featured. Critics are mixed. This opened last week in a sneak preview run and how moves to a wider release. It's in 3D in some cinemas. Rated G

X+Y – An autistic teenage math prodigy (Asa Butterfield) discovers new confidence and friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad for the International Mathematics Oympiad. Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins also star. It's directed by Morgan Matthews as a fictionalized follow-up to his documentary about teen math geniuses Young Beautiful Minds. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 13+

Robot Overlords – With Earth conquered by robots from a distant galaxy, a teen discovers a way to sneak past the cyber sentries and form a resistance group with other youngsters. Hot on their trail is an ex-teacher and robot collaborator. Callan McAuliffe, Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley star. Critical reception isn't really a thing. Rated 15+

Citizenfour – This year's Academy Award winner for best documentary feature comes to Bangkok in an extremely limited release as part of Doc Holiday, which in recent months has organized a series of screenings of acclaimed documentaries at SF Cinemas. Citizenfour is directed by Laura Poitras, a noted documentary filmmaker who began receiving encrypted e-mails from someone named "citizen four" who leaked information about the US National Security Administration's illegal wiretapping. This prompted her and a team of journalists to fly to Hong Kong to meet the source, who turned out to be fugitive former NSA computer administrator Edward Snowden. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. It screens from tomorrow until Sunday at SF World Cinema and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Advance bookings are recommended. For details, please check the SF Cinemas website.

Also showing

Salaya International Documentary Film Festival – Entries in the Asean documentary competition are screening from 1pm today and tomorrow at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Special screenings include Position Among the Stars from the fest's "director in focus" Leonard Retel Helmrich at 5 today followed at 7pm by Love Is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship, which weaves together home movies and historic footage to survey romance, from the first kiss, to mixed-race pairs and homosexual love. Tomorrow at 3, there's a one-off screening of Diving Bell: The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol, a controversial account of last year's South Korean ferry disaster, followed at 5pm by Frederick Wiseman's three-hour opus National Gallery. On Saturday, the fest moves back to the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, and wraps up with The Wages of Resistance: Narita Story, Helmrich's Promised Paradise and the closing film, the new Thai documentary Y/Our Music, with an after-party and live music. It's not a bad idea to reserve your seats, and you can do so online at

The Friese-Greene Club – Top talents of Hong Kong and Chinese cinema converge in Hero, Zhang Yimou's vivid martial-arts fantasy starring a terrific Jet Li as a lawman who tells of his fights with warriors who attempted to assassinate an emperor. Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen also star, with cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Tomorrow, head to the pancakes house with the Coen Bros. and their critically acclaimed 1987 black comedy Fargo. Saturday has the final entry this month from Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore, the 2000 drama Malena, in which a beautiful woman disrupts life in a village. And Sunday is the third offering in a tribute to Sir Carol Reed, with the film-noir thriller Our Man in Havana. Based on a Graham Greene novel, it stars Alec Guinness as a hapless vacuum-cleaner salesman caught up in an espionage scheme. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.  For April's schedule, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – Free French films continue in April with Les garçons et Guillaume, à table! (Me, Myself and Mum), an autobiographical comedy-drama from actor-director Guillaume Gallienne, who adapts his one-man stage show about his sexually confused upbringing and his love-hate relationship with his domineering mother. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, April 1 at the Alliance.

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