Japan's vaunted animation house Studio Ghibli is reportedly winding things down, with When Marnie Was There being their final feature.
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Arietty), the story is based on a British children’s novel by Joan G. Robinson. It's about a shy sick tomboy who is sent to live with relatives in a coastal village. There, she has visions about a mysterious abandoned mansion and a blonde girl named Marnie who no one else has ever seen.
This will surely be a bittersweet film for fans of Studio Ghibli, which announced Marnie would be its last new movie following the retirement of studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki and the release of co-founding director Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Though this might only be a "short pause" while Ghibli rights itself, there 's nothing new yet in the pipeline.
Critical reception is generally positive. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles. In addition to Scala and House, it's also at CentralWorld, Paragon, Major Ratchayothin and Esplanade Ratchada. Rated G
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – The undersea cartoon world of Bikini Bottom falls into chaos after a pirate (Antonio Banderas) steals the Krabby Patty Secret Formula, forcing Spongebob SquarePants and his pals from the deep to team up, enter our dimension and retrieve the beloved burger recipe. Critical reception is wackily positive. This opened in a sneak preview last week and now moves to a wider release. It's in real 3D in some cinemas. Rated G
Big Game – When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists, the US president – played by none other than Samuel L. Jackson – bails out in his escape pod and lands in the wilderness of Finland. There, he's encountered by a 13-year-old boy undergoing a traditional hunting rite of manhood. Armed with only a bow, it’s up to the kid to fend off attackers while leading the president to safety. Onni Tommila also stars. It's reportedly the most expensive film ever made in Finland. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 13+
Child 44 – Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman try out their Russian accents with varying degrees of success in this thriller that is adapted from the best-selling novels of Tom Rob Smith. Hardy is a state security officer in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. Disgraced and sent to a remote outpost, he bucks authority as he seeks to find out the truth about a child's death, which he believes to be the work of a serial killer preying on little boys. Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+
Boychoir – After his single mother dies in a car wreck, a talented-but-undisciplined Texas boy is packed off to an East Coast boarding school. The boy at first clashes with the school’s choirmaster (Dustin Hoffman), an old-fashioned disciplinarian, but soon learns to channel his hard feelings into his singing. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G
Demonic – College students investigating ghosts are found dead inside an abandoned home. A police detective (Frank Grillo) and a psychologist (Maria Bello) attempt to piece together what happened, with the help of – wait for it – video found at the scene. Critics have yet to discover this latest bit of nastiness, which is churned out of the mill of co-producer James Wan, one of the guys responsible for the sickening Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring as well as the new Fast and Furious movie. Rated 15+
Mr. X – Bollywood enters the realm of big-budget-blockbuster sci-fi with this week's big release, Mr. X, in which a young man gains the power of invisibility and becomes a revenge-seeking vigilante. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Martin Landau is man in a moral quandary in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors tonight. Tomorrow, it's Buffalo '66, cult director Vincent Gallo's love-it-or-hate-it crime drama about an ex-con who kidnaps a young woman (Christina Ricci) and forces her to pose as his wife as he seeks revenge against the man responsible for his imprisonment. On Saturday, it's another of the great westerns, The Searchers, which is is quite simply the best of the many fine films made by John Ford and John Wayne. And on Sunday, François Truffaut is struggling to make a film in the French classic Day for Night. Next Wednesday is another weird Werner Herzog movie, the mockumentary Incident at Loch Ness, which Zak Penn directed and Herzog produced. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.
Week of Portuguese Cinema – Two films by Manoel de Oliveira will screen during the Week of Portuguese Cinema starting on Sunday at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom. De Oliveira, who was making movies well into his 100s, died on April 2 at age 106. Notably, the Thai Film Archive's screenings will feature exclusively 35mm prints, including de Oliveira's debut feature, 1942's Aniki Bobo
Alliance Française – After a break for Songkran, the free French films return next Wednesday with Hippocrate, a comedy-drama about a junior doctor who takes a job in a hospital ward headed by his father. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, April 22.
Woman in Gold – Helen Mirren stars in this fact-based prestige drama, portraying Maria Altman, a determined Austrian woman who fights an extended legal battle for the return of priceless Klimt paintings that were stolen from her family by the Nazis. Ryan Reynolds is her lawyer Randol Schoenberg. Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany and Max Records also star. Critical reception is mixed. Officially not due to open until next week, this is in sneak previews from around 8 nightly in most multiplexes. Rated 13+
Bit of a mix bag of films this week and next as distributors get some smaller titles off their books and clear the decks for the next comic-book behemoth, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will have a one-day sneak preview before opening wide on April 30.
Slightly overlapping the Week of Portuguese Cinema will be the Swedish Film Festival, which runs from April 23 to 26 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Details are covered in an earlier post and the schedule is online at the SF Cinema City website.