Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 28-June 3, 2015

The Voices

Impossible to pin down, artist, writer, graphic novelist and children's book author Marjane Satrapi keeps everyone guessing with her latest project The Voices, an offbeat black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as a mentally ill guy who commits murder after he starts hearing the voices of his pet cat and dog.

It's quite a change of pace for the multi-talented French-Iranian, who made her film debut in 2007 with the stark animated adaptation of her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis, about growing up in revolutionary-era Iran. She turned to live action with an adaptation of another of her graphic novels, Chicken With Plums, a French arthouse drama, which was followed by the French crime comedy The Gang of the Jotas.

With The Voices, she makes her Hollywood debut. Along with Reynolds, who also performs the voices in The Voices, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver also star.

Critical reception is mostly praiseworthy. Rated 15+

Also opening

San Andreas – Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson takes the lead in this latest dish-up of disaster from Hollywood. He's a famously heroic search-and-rescue helicopter pilot who is put to the test when California's San Andreas Fault slips entirely and causes a massive earthquake that liquifies Los Angeles. He rescues his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) and they work together to look for their daughter, who is trapped in San Francisco. Brad Peyton, who previously did the special-effects focused Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and the Journey to the Center of the Earth movies, directs. A half dozen or so writers were involved with this, but the chief credit goes to Carlton Cuse, a producer of many TV series, including Martial Law, Nash Bridges and Lost. Critical reception has yet to register. This was actually filmed in 3D and is screening in both 2D and 3D including IMAX. Rated G

Khrua Toh Amadya Taya Rattanakosin (ขรัวโต อมตะเถระกรุงรัตนโกสินทร์, Khrua Toh: Immortal Monk in Rattanakosin) – A devotional project of veteran industry figure Somkiat Ruenpraphat, this biographical drama is about one of Thailand's most famous Buddhist clergymen, Somdej Toh or, more formally, Phra Buddhacharn Toh Phomarangsi. He lived from 1788 to 1872 and was thought to have possessed magical powers. Consequently, amulets said to have been minted by the iconic monk have sold for as much as 100 million baht, and collectors believe a Somdej Toh amulet offers guaranteed protection, good luck and wealth. The biographical drama covers four periods, with four different actors portraying him, Chaitawat "Petch" Nuangjamnong, Jesadaporn "Pleng" Chomsri and Prachaya "Namkhang" Prathumdej during his earlier years, and veteran musician-actor Settha Sirichaya taking over for the monk's final years. You can read more about it in an article in The Nation. Rated 13+

Yes or No 2.5: Klab Ma Phua Rak Ther (Yes or No 2.5: กลับมา...เพื่อรักเธอ) – Originated in 2010 and billed as "Thailand's first lesbian film", the Yes or No franchise has proven popular across Asia. The first film was a syrupy and light coming-of-age romance between a naive college girl who eventually falls for her tomboy roommate, and a sequel followed up on their relationship. Now, in this not-a-sequel sequel, the fan-favorite tomboy from both films, actress-musician Suppanad "Tina" Jittaleela, portrays a different character. She's a photographer named Wine who is still in love with her former girlfriend Pim even though Pim is now hooked up with with a dude. A tomboy friend tries to find Wine a new match, but that backfires. Rated 15+

The Nutcracker – Last year, for the 40th anniversary of its most popular character Hello Kitty, the Japanese company Sanrio issued a remastered version of its 1979 stop-motion animated Nutcracker Fantasy with a new cast of Japanese voice actors. Nostalgic American viewers might be reminded of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials that used the same animation style, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The story is loosely based on the Tchaikovsky ballet and E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, about a little girl named Clara who becomes involved in a battle between the doll kingdom and the two-headed rat queen. Rated G

Also showing

The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol – Screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand tonight, here's another selection that debuted in Bangkok as part of the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival earlier this year. The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol takes the South Korean government to task over a slow response to last year's ferry disaster that claimed the lives of 300 people. Also known as Diving Bell, the doc focuses on efforts to bring in a diving bell that would have sped the rescue efforts, but it went unused. Highly critical of the government, the documentary premiered at last year's Busan International Film Festival over objections by the city's mayor, and led to political pressure for festival director Lee Yong-kwan to resign. The embattled Lee still has his job, but the controversy continues, with recent budget cuts that film-fest organizers say are politically motivated. The screening is at 7 tonight at the FCCT. Admission to non-members is 150 baht.

The Friese-Greene Club – May winds down with a pair of top-prize winners at the Cannes Film Festival. Americana is first up tonight with director Wim Wenders' desert saga of an amnesiac (Harry Dean Stanton) attempting to reconnect with his brother (Dean Stockwell), seven-year-old son and ex-wife (Natassa Kinski). Tomorrow, it's a British Palme d'Or winner, 1971's The Go-Between, a period romantic drama starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates. Saturday's final "sexy" movie for the month is 1976's In the Realm of the Senses, a controversial and sexually explicit arthouse romance by Nagisa Oshima. And the month closes out on Sunday with one more "modern musical", the Bee Gees-infused 1977 classic Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta. 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.

FilmVirus Wild Type – In a special program this Saturday night, Filmvirus and the Reading Room present a selection from Chiang Mai's recent Fly Beyond the Barbwire Fence festival, which screened short films about ethnic minorities made by ethnic minority directors, telling stories of their own. Put together by Friends Without Borders, FFFest regularly serves up rare cinematic gems that often get picked up for screening in other festivals, so Saturday's show will likely offer a preview of good things to come. The show starts at 7pm at the Reading Room, a fourth-floor walk-up venue on Silom Soi 19, opposite Silom Complex.

Court – Following last weekend's screening as part of BACC's Cinema Diverse, the indie Indian courtroom drama Court comes to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand's Contemporary World Film Series. Screening at 7pm on Tuesday, June 2, the drama is about the absurd trial of a elderly activist folksinger whose inflammatory songs are said to have caused a sewage worker to commit suicide. The debut feature of young director Chaitanya Tamhane, the film has won prizes from many festivals, including Venice. Along with the movie, there will be snacks from the Spicy by Nature Indian restaurant. Admission is 150 baht for non-members plus 100 baht for anyone wanting the food.

Italian Film Festival – The first big movie event at the luxurious new EmQuartier mall opens at 8pm on Tuesday with Leopardi (Il giovane favoloso), a biographical drama about romantic-era poet Giacomo Leopardi. The following night, it's The Ideal City (La citta ideale), the directorial debut of actor Luigi Lo Cascio. He also stars in the drama, about an environmentally obsessed architect whose life unravels. The festival runs until June 11 at Major Cineplex's fancy new Quartier CineArt theater, where tickets can be booked in advance for 150, 170 and 300 baht. For more details, check the Dante Alighieri Society website or Facebook.

Alliance Française – Life under the terrifying Islamic State forces comes into focus in 2014's Timbuktu, a drama by Mauritania-based auteur Abderrahmane Sissako (Bamako). Set in the Malian city, the story centers on an escalating conflict between a cattle farmer and a fisherman that ends up coming under the auspices of the Jihadists' kangaroo court. Timbuktu was in the main competition at Cannes last year and won two sidebar prizes. It was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Mauritania. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, June 3, at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

La Famille Bélier – A 16-year-old girl, the only hearing member of a deaf farm family, discovers she has a talent for singing and gets a chance to go to Paris pursue her dreams. But leaving home means her parents and brother will lose their interpreter. Directed by Eric Lartigau, this comedy-drama was a major nominee at this year's César Awards in France, and it won the Most Promising Actress prize for young star Louane Emera. It's in French with English and Thai subtitles, and is in sneak previews from around 8 nightly at the Lido in Siam Square, House on RCA and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and other venues before adding more showtimes next week. Rated 15+

Take note

Still to come is an update on the first Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which runs from June 5 to 14 at the Esplanade Ratchada. Details about showtimes and ticketing are slow in coming, but you can read more about some of the festival's very interesting entries over at that other blog. Keep an eye on the Facebook events page for other details.


  1. Maybe if Attitude staff spent a little less time photographing straight men in various stages of undress for their so called gay magazine (Straight men on the cover, straight men we love inside - are there no gay men in Thailand?) we might be up-to-date with the English language program.
    Any word O Wise Kwai on the release of Red Wine in the Dark Night, which looks like a gay vampire film.? - Ian

    1. Thanks for the heads up about Red Wine in the Dark Night. It's a Tanwarin film! According to Facebook, it is set for release on July 23. On the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Fest, I've been hearing the delays are because various government ministry bureaucrats want a look-in. I's to cross, T's to dot, and so on. So it's not necessarily the fault of Attitude.

  2. Probably not as we all know how much the bureaucracy loves to interfere. On the other hand, the festival starts in less than a week and still information is not forthcoming. Very frustrating for those of us who want to support these filmmakers. - Ian

  3. This is really a wonderful post.