Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 18-24, 2015

Love and Mercy

John Cusack and Paul Dano star in Love and Mercy, an unconventional portrait of singer-songwriter Brian Wilson, the mercurial and mentally troubled leader of the Beach Boys.

The narrative toggles between the 1960s and the 1980s, and "Brian-Past" and "Brian-Future".

The younger Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) portrays Wilson in his hit-making early music career, and during a mental breakdown that saw him retreat from touring and into the studio, where he worked obsessively on the landmark album Pet Sounds, amid mounting psychological problems.

Cusack plays the middle-aged Wilson in the 1980s, when he's heavily drugged and under the control of controversial celebrity psycho-therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). An encounter with a Cadillac saleswoman (Elizabeth Banks) puts Wilson on the path to sanity.

The director is Bill Pohlad, who has produced such notable films as Into the Wild, 12 Years a Slave and The Tree of Life. Among the writers is Oren Moverman, who had a hand in the unconventional Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, which had six actors portraying the folksinger.

Love and Mercy premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, and has also screened at the Berlin fest and at South by Southwest. Critical reception is mostly positive. Even Brian Wilson himself, who had little involvement with the project, has been praiseworthy. Rated 15+

Also opening

Little Forest: Winter and Spring – Having adopted a self-sufficient lifestyle, learning to grow her own food and cook for herself, a former city-dwelling young woman faces her next challenge – to survive until spring in her rural mountain home. Ai Hashimoto stars. Based on a monthly manga by Daisuke Igarashi, this is a sequel to Little Forest: Summer and Autumn, which was released here in April and has lingered at House on RCA. So now you can see both there, back to back. The films, which have appealed to urbanites yearning for sustainable lifestyles, are brought here by young distributor Worawisuth Calacheebh, and are yet another experiment in independent movie releases being promoted by social networking. You can read more about those efforts in an article in The Nation. Winter and Spring is in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA, the Lido in Siam Square and Major Cineplex Chiang Mai Airport Plaza. Rated G

Survivor – Ex-007 Pierce Brosnan continues to reinvent his career, portraying a steely assassin and terrorist known as "the Watchmaker". He's out to kill a US State Department staffer (Milla Jovovich) who has been framed for wrongdoing. She goes on the run while trying to clear her name and stop a terrorist attack on New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square. Other stars include Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett and Robert Forster. It's directed by James McTeigue, the surrogate director and assistant to the Wachowski siblings. He previously directed V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin and episodes of the Wachowskis' new Netflix series Sense8. Though it looks slick, critical reception ain't pretty. Rated 13+

Insidious: Chapter 3 – This third entry in the Blumhouse Pictures horror franchise looks into the origins of the demonic spirit that haunted a family in the first two films. Here, the gifted paranormal psychic Elise Rainier (the great Lin Shay) agrees to help a teenage girl reach out to the spirit of her dead mother, which causes an evil entity to take hold. Dermot Mulroney also stars. Leigh Whannell, the co-creator of those icky Saw movies as well as the first two Insidious flicks, directs. Critics have been generally upbeat about these Insidious movies, and reception is evenly mixed. Rated 15+

Monsters: Dark Continent – Ten years after immense alien creatures began appearing, fresh U.S. Army recruits are assigned to enter an “infected zone” in the Middle East, to rescue lost soldiers. This is a sequel to 2012's Monsters, a monster flick that focused on in-the-moment human drama and kept up the tension by only sparingly revealing the strange giant aliens. Critically hailed, Monsters was directed by Welshman Gareth Edwards, who has won more critical acclaim for his reboot of Godzilla and is set to direct a Star Wars standalone film. He is a producer on Dark Continent, which is directed by Tom Green (the British director, not the Canadian comedian). This is more action-focused, and a parable of current-affairs global military conflicts. Critical reception has been tame compared to the first entry. Rated 18+

The Loft – I thought it was an ad for a new condo when I saw the trailer playing in a theater lobby. But no, it's an actual movie, Five married men, from various professional backgrounds, go in together on the purchase of a penthouse that will serve as a secret meeting place for affairs, and keep their wives from spotting hotel charges on their credit cards. It seems like a swell plan until the bloodied corpse of a young blonde is found handcuffed to the bed. Karl Urban, James Marsden,Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet and Matthias Schoenaerts star. Erik Van Looy directs this Hollywood remake of his 2008 Belgian thriller. Critical reception is negative, with the opinion being the original version is better. It's at the Lido in Siam Square and SF cinemas. Rated 18+

ABCD 2 – Dancers from suburban Mumbai are in for cultural shocks as they head to Las Vegas to take part in the world hip-hop dance championships. Famed Bollywood choreographer Remo D’Souza directs the fact-based tale, with Prabhu Deva, Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor as stars. It's a sequel to Disney's hit 2013 3D Bollywood dance movie Any Body Can Dance. Like the first entry, the sequel was filmed in actual 3D, but, owing to the technological quirks of subtitling in both English and Thai, Thailand is only getting a 2D version. It's at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – The Thursday tributes to Costa-Gravas continue tonight with Music Box, a 1989 drama in which an immigrant man (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is accused of being a Russian war criminal. He asks his daughter (Jessica Lange), a successful lawyer, to defend him. Tomorrow, gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room. It's Peter Sellers is his triple-role showcase Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in which he portrays a hapless British officer, the President of the United States and an ex-Nazi scientist. Saturday's food-themed movie is Ang Lee's 1994 breakthrough Eat Drink Man Woman. And Sunday's Spielberg is the original summer blockbuster, Jaws. Get a bigger boat and float on over. The month starts winding down next Wednesday with one more "boundary pushing" entry, 1979's The Tin Drum. 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.

Alliance Française – In 1979, a pair of young French cousins, a man and a woman, pose as a married couple as they see the sights behind the Iron Curtain. But by night, they meet with "refuseniks", Russian Jews who are persecuted for trying to leave the Soviet Union. It's Les Interdits (Friends from France), screening at 7pm on Wednesday, June 24, at the Alliance.

Take note

If you survived the onslaught of the recent overlapping film festivals, and are going through withdrawal from lack of film fests, there's more in store.

On June 27 and 28 at the Reading Room in Bangkok, there will be A Child Outside: Retrospective to John Torres, which will screen all the films of Filipino indie filmmaker John Torres, with a talk by Torres himself. Shows start at 1pm. If you're interested, arrive early to secure your spot – these Filmvirus events at the Reading Room have been increasingly popular, and the place fills up fast.

The Documentary Club has made their next selection – it's The Wolfpack.

Also next month is another big free film fest, the annual European Union Film Festival from July 10 to 19 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. It'll show 18 entries from 14 EU members. The fest will also be held from July 24 to August 2 at SFX Maya Chiang Mai and August 7 to 9 at SF Cinema City, CentralPlaza Khon Kaen.

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