Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 21-27, 2015

Song of the Sea

A sweet traditionally animated feature from Ireland hits big screens this week with the Academy Award-nominated Song of the Sea, which is inspired by the ancient Celtic folklore about the selkie, mythical creatures that lived as seals in the ocean but could also exist for a time as humans on land.

The story is about a young brother and sister, who live with their lonely lighthouse-keeper father. They discover that their mother was a selkie.

Top Irish screen and stage talents Brendan Gleeson and Fionnula Flanagan are among voice cast.

It is directed by Tomm Moore, whose previous animated feature, The Secret of Kells, was also nominated for the Oscar.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. Rated G


Director Brad Bird, who previously helmed the Pixar animations The Incredibles and Ratatouille as well as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, makes his return to the Disney fold with Tomorrowland, a promising adaptation of a theme-park attraction.

The sci-fi adventure story is about a curious teenager (Britt Robertson) who comes into possession of a mysterious pin that reveals a hidden futuristic world. It leads her to track down a jaded former boy genius (George Clooney). Chased by mysterious goons, the pair climb into a rocket-powered bathtub and blast off on a mission to uncover the secrets of Tomorrowland.

It's co-scripted by Damon Lindelhoff, writer of Cowboys and Aliens and Star Trek Into Darkness, and is inspired by a 1950s Disney theme park attraction, as well as Walt Disney's own optimistic dreams of utopian societies.

Critical reception is generally positive. In addition to screenings at conventional multiplexes, it's also at IMAX. However, it's not in 3D. So enjoy. Rated G

Also opening

Paa Happy She Taa Yuh (ป้าแฮปปี้ Sheท่าเยอะ a.k.a. Miss Happy or literally "happy auntie") – Popular TV actress and product presenter Khemanit "Pancake" Jamikorn "goes ugly" for her big-screen debut, wearing a frizzed-out wavy mop of hair and funky mismatched baggy blouses and long skirts. She's Meesuk, a young lady who somehow manages to remain cheerful despite a run of bad luck that includes a heart problem and a doctor's diagnosis of one month to live. To survive, she decides she needs to just dance, with moves supplied by her gay best friend (singer Chalatit "Ben" Tantiwut). Rated 15+

A Little Chaos – Alan Rickman directs and stars as a droll King Louis XIV in this historical drama about the romantic entanglements of gifted landscapers competing to design a garden for the Palace of Versailles. Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Stanley Tucci and Helen McCrory also star. Critical reception is evenly mixed. Rated 15+

Unfriended – It's a bit of a twist on the "found footage" horror genre, with a screengrab drama that unfolds during a chat session on a teenager's computer. She and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for an online bullying attack that led to a girl's suicide. This was also called Cybernatural, and critical reception is mixed, leaning slightly to positive. Rated 18+

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' – The villain Frieza returns with an aim to take vengeance against Goku and the other Saiyans. Another in a long-running series of popular Japanese manga and anime franchises, it's at SF and Apex, with the Japanese soundtrack and English and Thai subtitles at some cinemas. Rated G

Also showing

Singapore Film Festival – Six recent films from Singapore are screening from tonight until Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Among the highlights is the dark satire Unlucky Plaza, in which a Filipino restaurateur spirals out of control and takes hostages. There's also Singapore's submission to the Academy Awards, Sayang Disayang, which was the first Malay film to be produced in Singapore since the city-state became independent 50 years ago. It is a drama about a disabled elderly widower and his slowly changing relationship with his Indonesian housekeeper. Other entries are Banting, about a Muslim girl who secretly becomes a professional wrestler, the quirky romance Singapore Girl, the thriller Ms. J Contemplates Her Choice and supernatural horror in Bring Back the Dead. Showtimes and more details are covered in a special post. Tickets are free, and handed out 30 minutes before the shows on a first-come, first-served basis. So queue up.

The Friese-Greene Club – Oh sure, you hear a lot about The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, but tonight's selection is probably Francis Ford Coppola's finest film – The Conversation. The top-prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974, it stars Gene Hackman as an obsessive surveillance expert. John Cazale also stars, in one of the five feature-film roles he played in a short but unrivaled career. Tomorrow, it's a British triumph at Cannes, Roland Joffe's 1986 adventure epic The Mission, with Jeremy Irons as a missionary priest to South American tribal people, and Robert De Niro as a slave-hunting mercenary who seeks redemption. Featuring a gorgeous soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, The Mission was actually a commercial flop, according to the FGC's desscription. The club is closed for a private function on Saturday, but the show resumes on Sunday with director Frank Oz's fun adaptation of the musical Little Shop of Horrors, starring a giant talking plant and Rick Moranis, with support from Steve Martin and Bill Murray. Next Wednesday is one more music documentary for the month, Who the F**k Is Arthur Fogel, a 2013 look at the little-known Canadian CEO behind Live Nation Entertainment, the company that has monopolized the rock-concert industry. 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.

Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice – On Saturday, the second entry in this year's Cinema Diverse series at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center brings together two young filmmakers, Thailand's Aditya Assarat (Wonderful Town, Hi-So) and India's Chaitanya Tamhane for a discussion and screening of Tamhane's Court. The courtroom drama follows the trial of an elderly folksinger who is accused of abetting a man's suicide. “Court is very funny even though it’s not a comedy. The acting is very real. It could have been acted as a comedy but then it wouldn't have been funny. I laugh because the actors never let me forget this is a serious situation. That is the power of the movie,” Aditya says. A stunning debut film, Court won prizes last year at film fests in Vienna, Venice, Singapore, Goteborg and elsewhere. The accolades include the New Talent Award at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. Along with the two directors, actor-producer Vivek Gomber will be on hand for the post-screening talk. There's no way to reserve seats – registration opens at 4.30pm, with the screening at 5.30pm on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium.

Alliance Française – Director Sylvain Chomet is best known for his animated features like The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, but he turned to live-action for 2013's Attila Marcel, an oddball comedy about a dysfunctional young man who was raised by his overly-attentive aunts. He seeks to break away from his sheltered existence, with the help of an eccentric neighbor lady. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, May 27, at the Alliance.

Take note

More details are emerging about the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which is set for June 5 to 14 at the Esplanade Ratchada. While a schedule and other details are being hammered out, there is a Facebook events page. It is being put on by Attitude magazine, which is also sponsoring a short-film contest in conjunction with the fest.

And yet another film fest has cropped up – the Italian Film Festival from June 2 to 11 at the Quartier CineArt. I'll have more details ready in a few days. It is being organised in part by the Dante Alighieri Cultural Association Bangkok, which has also been putting on monthly film screenings.

Next Thursday has another documentary screening at the FCCT, The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol, which accuses the South Korean authorities of moving too slowly to rescue victims of the 2014 ferry disaster. Hit the link and scroll down for more upcoming movies in the FCCT's Contemporary World Film series.


  1. It would be nice to know before the box office opens as to which of these film, if any, will have English subtitles. I'd like to see four or five but without the titles, I'll just stay home. - Ian

    1. Apologies for the delay in posting your comment. Ordinarily, it goes without saying that the non-English-language films will have English subtitles, especially at cinemas in central Bangkok. It gets problematic outside the city though, so I understand the frustration.