Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 4-10, 2015

Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Two much-anticipated Thai independent titles from the festival circuit, How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) (พี่ชาย My Hero, P'Chai My Hero) and The Blue Hour, will have their local premieres in a brand new event, the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, running from tomorrow until June 14 at the Esplanade Ratchada.

In addition to the two Thai titles, the highlights are many, with entries from around the world and an especially potent combination of recent films from across Southeast Asia as well as China and South Korea.

The fest, which seems overdue for Bangkok, is being organized by the gay-lifestyle magazine Attitude, with support from the Thai Film Archive, the U.S. Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and other organizations.

Here's the line-up:

  • How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) (พี่ชาย My Hero, P'Chai My Hero) by Josh Kim – Adapted from the short-story collection Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, the tale centers on 11-year-old Oat, an orphan boy who is raised by his aunt and his openly gay older brother Ek. It also deals with Ek's concerns about the annual military draft lottery and whether he'll have to join the army.
  • The Blue Hour (อนธการ, Onthakan) by Anucha Boonyawatana –  A loner, bullied gay boy arranges to meet a stranger for a hookup at an abandoned swimming pool. Friendship follows, but it leads to very dark places.
  • 54: Director's Cut by Mark Christopher – Hacked to pieces by producer Harvey "Scissorhands" Weinstein, the disco drama 54 was stripped of its gay context and flopped when it was first released in 1998. Director Mark Christopher recently put his original edit back together and it's now begin hailed as a "cult gay classic". The storied 1970s-80s New York nightclub is seen through the eyes of a young bartender (Ryan Phillippe). Mike Myers takes a rare dramatic turn as embattled disco owner Rick Rubell, Breckin Meyer and Salma Hayek are along for the ride.
  • Eisenstein in Guanajuato by Peter Greenaway – British auteur Greenaway paints a surreal portrait of that strange time in the 1930s when groundbreaking Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein went to Mexico to make a movie.
  • Nude Area by Urszula Antoniak – The Polish-Dutch director offers an interracial coming-of-age romance between teen girls.
  • Summer by Colette Bothof – Another Dutch lesbian coming-of-age drama, Zomer is set in a small town dominated by a power plant, where the arrival of a rebel in leather jacket gives a local girl the courage she needs to break away.
  • Quick Change by Eduardo Roy Jr. – This award-winning documentary drama from the Philippines profiles several transgenders who take big risks to stay beautiful.
  • The Sun, the Moon and the Hurricane by Andri Cung – Three phases of life for a Jakarta man are charted in this drama, which also has Bangkok as a backdrop.
  • The Commitment by Joselito Altarejos – A gay couple faces challenges as they attend a wedding together.
  • Soft Lad by Leon Lopez – In this drama from the U.K., a man young man embarks on an affair that will change his life forever while his lover is forced to confront his own sexuality.
  • I Love You. Thank You by Charliebebs Gohetia – From the Philippines, this romantic drama is about the intertwining lives of jaded twentysomethings, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam serve as a backdrop.
  • The Night by Zhou Hao – Before he did his noteworthy recent documentary The Chinese Mayor, young director Zhou Hao directed and starred in The Night as a male sex worker who is romanced by one of his johns and makes friends with a female streetwalker.
  • Finding Phong by Swann Dubus and Phuong Thao Tran – A documentary and drama about the struggles of a young Vietnamese transgender person, it's directed by the same duo who did With or Without Me, a documentary about drug-addicted HIV-positive men in Vietnam.
  • My Fair Wedding by Jang Hee Sun – South Korea's first same-sex marriage is chronicled in this documentary.
  • Futuro Beach by Karim Ainouz – After failing to rescue a drowning German tourist, a Brazilian lifeguard meets the friend of the victim and decides begin a new life in Berlin, but he still can't escape his past.
Please note that the schedule has been updated. Things have been slow in coming together because the festival organizers have been dealing with the censors over the film ratings. Some films are rated 20-, so be sure to bring your ID if you look like you're younger than 20.

Tickets are 180 baht and 200 baht and can be purchased at the Esplanade box office. Also, the movies have been fed into Major Cineplex's website and apps.

There was further coverage in The Nation as well as that other blog. For more details, check the BGLFF's Facebook events page.

Chalui Tae Khob Fah

Veteran producer, director, actor and general jack-of-all-trades when it comes making movies in Thailand, Adirek "Uncle" Watleela was among the pioneers of the New Thai Cinema movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s that introduced Thai films to the world. At his company Film Bangkok, Uncle was behind the release of such era-defining classics as Tears of the Black Tiger, the original Bangkok Dangerous and Bang Rajan. Now, he is one of the figures behind the recently launched Transformation Films, a joint venture with Major Cineplex.

For Transformation's third release, Chalui Tae Khob Fah (ฉลุย แตะขอบฟ้า, a.k.a. Cha-Lui Reboot: Lost in Seoul or literally Touch the Sky), Uncle re-appropriates a movie he originally made in 1988, about the struggles of upcountry lads who come to the big city to pursue their dreams of becoming popular musicians.

In this new version, the protagonists aim even higher, hoping to tap into the popularity of K-pop and seeking stardom in Seoul, South Korea. Nachat "Nicky" Juntapun and Mek "Jessie" Mekwattana star, along with an actual K-pop boyband singer, Nichkhun Horvejkul, who is famous as the Thai guy in 2PM.

Major Cineplex is hoping for big success with this one, and separate from Cha-Lui, according to Variety and Film Business Asia, the multiplex operator and movie producer has inked a 10-film, three-year deal with South Korean mega-firm CJ Entertainment for more Thai-South Korean co-productions.

Cha-Lui Tae Kob Fah is rated 13+

Also opening

Spy – Melissa McCarthy reteams with Bridesmaids and The Heat writer-director Paul Feig for this send-up of spy movies. McCarthy is a lowly deskbound CIA agent who sees a chance to finally become a field operative when her partner (Jude Law) is declared dead and other top agents are compromised. But instead of the glamorous jetsetting cover identity she hoped for, she's ordered to pose as a dowdy tourist. A surprisingly game Jason Statham basically spoofs himself in his comic turn in support of McCarthy. The cast also features Emily Blunt, Miranda Hart, Morena Baccarin, Peter Serafinowicz and 50 Cent. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+

Extraterrestrial – Hide the Reese's Pieces. The usual slasher-thriller setting of a cabin in the woods becomes the site of an alien invasion in this thriller, in which vacationing youngsters are terrorized by very unfriendly E.T.'s. It's directed by the Vicious Brothers, a Canadian duo who previously did the found-footage horror Grave Encounters. Critical reception is mixed leaning to negative. Rated 18+

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 to 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. Rated 15+

Dil Dhadakne Do – A dysfunctional Punjabi family takes an ocean cruise in this Bollywood comedy-drama, which features the azure waters of the Meditterean as a backdrop to plenty of song-and-dance numbers. Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar star. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene ClubJune's schedule has boundary-pushers on Wednesdays, Costa-Gravas on Thursdays, Peter Sellers on Fridays, food movies on Saturdays and Spielberg on Sundays. However, this Sunday, winter is coming, with a marathon screening of Game of Thrones season five, and plans are to show this season's remaining episodes on Monday nights. I'm not sure this TV thing is a good idea, but whatever. Tuesday nights are request night, as always, so check the schedule if you are interested in joining. Tonight's show is Costa-Gravas' Missing, a 1982 political drama featuring an Oscar-nominated turn by Jack Lemmon. Tomorrow's Peter Sellers movie is Hal Ashby's Being There, in which a simpleton gardener is thrust into the upper-crust of society. Saturday's food-themed feature is Big Night, a 1996 directorial effort by ubiquitous character Stanley Tucci, who stars with Tony Shaloub in a comedy about brothers who run an Italian eatery in the 1950s New Jersey. And next Wednesday's boundary-pushing entry is animator Ralph Bakshi's X-rated cartoon Fritz the Cat. 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.

Italian Film Festival – Continuing through next Thursday at the Quartier CineArt at the EmQuartier mall, among the highlights is Reality, a reality-TV satire by Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone. There's more coverage and the full schedule in a previous post. Tickets can be booked in advance for 150, 170 and 300 baht. For more details, check the Dante Alighieri Society website or Facebook.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – The club's Contemporary World Film Series continues at 7pm on Monday, June 8 with Runway, a 2010 drama by the late Bangladeshi director Tareque Masud, whose 2002 drama The Clay Bird was Bangladesh's first submission to the Academy Awards. Runway is about a poor hard-working family who live in a hut near an international airport. Among them is son Ruhul who becomes increasingly radicalized after he takes computer classes and begins hanging with the wrong crowd. The screening is courtesy of the director's widow Catherine Masud, who was the co-writer, producer and editor of all his films. Admission is 150 baht for non-members plus 100 baht for anyone wanting the snacks laid on by the Embassy of Bangladesh.

Alliance Française – Five high-school students sing their way through their senior year in their rundown port city in Chante Ton Bac D'Abord (We Did It on a Song), screening at 7pm on Wednesday, June 10, at the Alliance.

Second Silent Film Festival in Thailand – With the Italian Film Festival and the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival already competing for our eyeballs, here comes the second edition of the Thai Film Archive's Silent Film Festival in Thailand, which runs from June 10 to 17 at the Lido and Scala cinemas. Next Wednesday's opening film is the classic German horror The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari from 1920. All selections will be accompanied by pianists who are experts at playing for silent films, and will have intertitles in English and Thai. This was a very popular festival last year. Tickets are 120 baht and are already on sale, so hustle on over to the Lido and get them before they are gone. There's a special post detailing it all. Check the schedule at Facebook

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