Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 11-17, 2015

Jurassic World

Chris Pratt, the clownish slob from TV's Parks and Recreation who got a buff bod when he got his big break in film with Guardians of the Galaxy, takes on an evil dinosaur in Jurassic World.

After three movies, the dopes who run the dinosaur island still haven't learned that you shouldn't meddle with prehistoric DNA.

Anyway, a wealthy entrepreneur (Irrfan Khan) has bought the theme park, and to boost attendance has created Indominus rex, a hybrid dino that's many times larger and more terrifying than the Tyrannosaurus rex. It is also smarter, and it sets out on a killing spree that seems very calculated.

Pratt is an animal trainer, who has a trio of the clever velociraptors, who work with him. And Bryce Dallas Howard is the park's corporate manager, and aunt to a couple of imperiled youngsters. Other stars include Vincent D'Onofrio, Omar Sy and B.D. Wong, the lone holdout from the original Jurassic Park trilogy.

Colin Trevorrow, who previously did the indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, directs. And Steven Spielberg still has a hand in as executive producer.

Highly anticipated by fans, critical reception is just coming in. It's in converted 3D, including IMAX, as well as regular 2D in some cinemas. Rated G

Also opening

A Matter of Taste – Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt, known for his eccentric style, is profiled in this 2011 documentary. It follows him as he struggles with his career in post-9/11 New York City, where at one point he was serving up burgers and fries instead of his usual gourmet fare. It's directed by Sally Rowe, a former script supervisor on Chappelle's Show who ate at one of Liebrandt's restaurants, fell in love with the food and befriended the chef. A Matter of Taste is latest film to come to Thai cinemas courtesy of the Documentary Club, a grass-roots social-networking experiment in movie releasing. Screenings are at 3, 5, 7 and 9pm Friday through Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at 8 nightly from Friday to Sunday at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Further screenings may be added, but to find out about those, you have to check Facebook. In fact, they already had a screening  – on Monday with a special fusion-cooking show. Sorry I missed that. Advanced bookings through the SF Cinema City website are encouraged.

Hamari Adhuri Kahani – This sweeping romantic drama has such exotic backdrops as Dubai, South Africa, and, of course, India, including a religious procession across a landmark bridge in Kolkata. Starring Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan, the story is about a married woman who falls for a man after her husband has disappeared, and was co-written by actor-producer Hashmi himself, based on his own parents. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also opening

Second Silent Film Festival in Thailand – One of many, many benefits of having an active and conscientious film archive in Thailand is that they put on wonderful festivals like this, and also raise the profile of the threatened historic Lido and Scala theaters. Every one of the films being screened is worth seeing. My own picks are the two-fisted pair of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. westerns, The Good Bad Man and The Half-Breed, as well as Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Junior, and Piccadilly, starring the gobstopping beauty Anna Mae Wong. Other highlights on the schedule include the pioneering experimental film Man With a Movie Camera, plus a free talk on Saturday afternoon by piano accompanists Mauro Colombis and Stephen Horne with music lecturer Dr. Anothai Nitibhon. There's also another chance to see the opening film, the German Expressionist masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on Monday night. The fest shifts over to the Scala on Wednesday with The Epic of Everest, which was made under punishing and primitive conditions during the ill-fated expedition by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. It's a charity event to benefit earthquake relief in Nepal. Tickets are 120 baht (200 baht for the closing film). There are also special packages of eight tickets for 800 baht, which come with a souvenir tote bag.

Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival – Heading into the final weekend for the inaugural BGLFF, there are many highlights on the schedule, including I Love You. Thank You and The Commitment from the Philippines and The Sun, the Moon and the Hurricane from Indonesia, which will have question-and-answer sessions by the directors. There's also question time scheduled for the U.K. gay drama Soft Lad. I've been looking forward to Eisenstein in Guanajuato, a gorgeously strange-looking feature from the great Peter Greenaway, inspired by that weird time when Soviet cinema pioneer Sergei Eisenstein went to Mexico to make a movie. The fest wraps up on Sunday with The Blue Hour, a new Thai independent drama. It's invitation only, but hopefully the film will get at least a limited release in Thailand.

Italian Film Festival – The first film fest at the new Quartier CineArt in that new mall opposite Emporium wraps up at 8 tonight with The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza), this year's winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring the auteur's frequent leading man Toni Servillo, the drama follows a retired writer on his 65th birthday as he walks the streets of Rome and reflects on his life, past loves and unfulfillment. Tickets are 150, 170 and 300 baht.

The Friese-Greene Club – Costa-Gravas' fast-paced French-Algerian political thriller Z screens tonight. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, it also has the rare distinction of also being nominated for best picture. Tomorrow, Peter Sellers daubs on the brown greasepaint for Blake Edwards' The Party, a politically incorrect comedy in he plays an idiotic Indian actor. It was actually an Indian friend from days long since past who turned me onto The Party, and she says it is a cult classic among her folk. That is the genius of Peter Sellers. Saturday's food-themed pic is another Peter Greenaway, his classic black crime comedy The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. The "her" in this case is Helen Mirren, 1989 Helen Mirren. And Spielberg Sunday is 1941, a sprawling, overstuffed World War II comedy that was his biggest flop but is beloved by some for its excesses. Next Wednesday's "boundary pushing" movie is Stanley Kubrick's erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut. Shows start at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. For more details, check the club's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – There are two free French screenings to list. First up on Saturday is a "kids' screening". It's animation, but I think adults will like it too. It's 2013's Aya de Yopougon, the cool and stylishly animated tale of a teenage girl in 1970s Yop City, Ivory Coast, who somehow turns up pregnant. The show is at 2pm on Saturday. The usual Wednesday screening is 2 automnes 3 hivers, a romantic comedy centering on three hapless thirtysomethings during the course of two autumns and three winters. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, June 17.

Sneak preview

It Follows – After a sexual encounter with a stranger, a carefree young woman can't shake the feeling that she's being followed. Critics have high praise for this horror thriller with the consensus being "smart, original, and above all terrifying ... the rare modern horror film that works on multiple levels – and leaves a lingering sting." It's in sneak previews for the next two weeks, with shows from around 8 nightly. Rated 15+


  1. Wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on the gay film festival re the highlights and the lowlights. Particularly if some of them from overseas are unlikely to get a general release here and we film fans have to track them down on DVD. Good to know what to look out for. - Ian

    1. I only got to see four entries in the BGLFF, due to conflicts with the Silent Film Festival across town. Hopefully, if these festivals happen again next year, they will avoid these heartbreaking scheduling overlaps. That was the lowlight for me, shuttling between two great festivals and having to make tough choices.

      I enjoyed all four entries I saw at BGLFF, including The Night from China, as well as the two Thai films, which will both be released here generally.

      For me, the biggest highlight was Eisenstein in Guanajuato, which was my first experience watching a Peter Greenaway film. Mind blown. It'll be one to seek out on DVD from overseas, because it was slightly censored here, even though it was rated 20-.