Red Wine in the Dark Night
Along with How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), released here last week, and next month's release of The Blue Hour, fans of Thai queer arthouse cinema have been anticipating Red Wine in the Dark Night, the latest from talented writer-director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, who previously surveyed transgender culture in the award-winning It Gets Better (ไม่ได้ขอให้มารั, Mai Dai Kor Hai Ma Rak).
Following the successful string of indie gay romances that have been getting limited releases in Bangkok cinemas, Khuen Nan Red Wine in the Dark Night (คืนนั้น Red Wine in the Dark Night), is getting a wide release from Thanadbuntueng Production, Artfo Production and Tanwarin's own Am Fine Production.
There's an intriguing vampire vibe with the plot about an innocent soul named Wine (Pongsatorn "Fluke" Sripinta from My Bromance) who encounters a blood-sucking amnesiac he names Night. He's played by Steven Isarapong Fuller, who previously appeared in Tanwarin's mainstream ghost romance Threesome.
Other stars include Krittachapon Thananara, (It Gets Better, Hug Na Sarakham, Teacher and Student), Nontapat Intarasuan (Feel Good) and Sutthinat Uengtrakul (Love’s Coming).
"I would like to make this film simply to remind all of us that love can really make us blind. Love is definitely a beautiful thing, on the other side, love creates obsession and makes us do whatever it takes to make a person love us and be with us as long as possible. I believe love requires lots of thoughts to make it really work," says Tanwarin in a director's statement issued ahead the movie's release.
Southpaw – Movie-awards season is months away, but already Jake Gyllenhaal is getting Oscar buzz for his transformative performance in this boxing drama. He's a former champ who loses everything – his title, his wife and daughter, his suburban home, his manager, etc. It seems hopeless until he meets a retired boxer (Forest Whitaker) who agrees to become his trainer and support his comeback bid. It's directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) and written by Kurt Sutter, best known for his work on the gritty TV series The Shield and Sons of Anarchy. Rachel McAdams and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson also star. Most of the attention on Southpaw is focused on Gyllenhaal being practically unrecognizable after he bulked up for the role and trained for months as a boxer, following his dramatic weight loss for the very creepy Nightcrawler. But apart from that, Southpaw appears to be very much in the realm of standard Hollywood boxing pictures, and critical reception is only evenly mixed. Rated 13+
Ted 2 – Writer-director Seth MacFarlane again voices a foul-mouthed teddy bear in this sequel to the 2012 broad-comedy hit about a guy (Mark Wahlberg) who is "thunder buddies" with his magically transformed stuffed animal. In this sequel, Ted has gotten married to a (human) co-worker (Jessica Barth) and the two want to have children. When sperm-donation plans go comically awry, the two plan to adopt, but the state says parents need to be human and they rule Ted is not a person but property. So a recently graduated law student (Amanda Seyfried) is recruited to take on what becomes a major civil-rights case. Critical reception is evenly mixed. Rated 18+
Poltergeist – Tobe Hooper's classic 1982 thriller about family who move into a home built on an old cemetery that is haunted by evil spirits still holds up. But Hollywood is a relentless machine that must remake and ruin everything to keep the gears greased. And so it goes. But hey, at least the talented actor Sam Rockwell is getting a paycheck, so maybe he'll do something better next. The only difference between this and the original is the family now has a flat-screen TV. There's also some special-effects and scares ramped up to appeal to the current generation of fans of movies like Saw and The Conjuring. Yuck. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to the negative side. Rated 13+
Latitude 6 (ละติจูดที่ 6) – Restive southern Thailand is the backdrop for this propaganda film by the Internal Security Operations Command and UCI Media. A romantic drama, its aim is to "promote better understanding". There are various stories of cultural and religious conflict, mainly having to do with actor-musician Peter Corp Dyrendal, who portrays a Bangkok banker assigned to Pattani. There, he is charmed by the laid-back southern lifestyle. He falls for a young Muslim woman and hopes to prove he is worthy to the girl's strict father. Though the Army means well (and doesn't it always?), the film's release is poorly timed, with the motorcycle-enthusiast actor embroiled in social-media-fueled controversies over affairs and failures to turn up to work on TV shows. Rated G
Mon Love Sib Muen (มนต์เลิฟสิบหมื่น) – Just like Hollywood, the mainstream Thai movie industry isn't terribly inventive, and when one studio has a big box-office hit, the others follow it with something that looks similar, in hopes it will also catch on. The latest attempt is a reworking of the 1970 classic Monrak Luk Thung, which starred the legendary screen duo of Mitr Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowarat, and was a massive hit in its day, remaining in theaters for something like six months. There were (and still are) tons of other rural Thai musical romantic comedy-dramas, but none caught on like Monrak Luk Thung. Pariphan “Toh Phantamitr” Vachiranon, a member of the Phantamitr film-dubbing team, directs this new version, which is tarted up with CGI kickboxing roosters and hipster comedians. Chaiyapol Julien Poupart (Threesome, Jan Dara, The Scar) stars as a country boy who is hopelessly in love with a local lass, but can't marry her until he raises a lavish dowry. Rated 15+
Empire of Lust – This historical epic from South Korea is set sometime during the early Joseon Dynasty, and involves a prince who has been passed over as heir to the throne. Meanwhile, a battlefield hero falls for a courtesan who has a hidden agenda. Fans seem to think this one's okay. Rated 15+
The Friese-Greene Club – The club is having a private event tonight, but is back open tomorrow with another "precocious girl", this time Mischa Barton in the terrific Lawn Dogs, in which a 10-year-old girl from a gated community goes against the wishes of her social-climbing parents and befriends the local yokel who mows lawns in the neighborhood. Hey, it's Sam Rockwell, who can be seen cashing a paycheck in the Poltergeist remake. Saturday has the original "bad kid" movie, 1956's The Bad Seed, in which a perfect pig-tailed little girl seems to be a murderer. Sunday's "imaginary friend" movie is The Machinist, which had Christian Bale dropping half his body weight to portray an industrial worker who is losing his mind over his inability to sleep. Next Wednesday is one more Canadian comedy, the Academy Award-winning hit teen pregnancy comedy Juno. 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.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – With the earthquakes in Nepal on the minds of the region's newshounds, the FCCT hosts a screening on Monday of Kathmandu, a Mirror in the Sky (Katmandú, un espejo en el cielo), a fact-based 2011 Spanish drama about an idealistic young schoolteacher who volunteers in Kathmandu and devotes herself to helping the street kids. She faces difficulties due to cultural and caste differences, bureaucracy and corruption. The film is based on the life of Victoria Subirana, founder of the EduQual Foundation, who will fly to Bangkok to appear at the screening and talk after the movie. The show is at 7pm on Monday, July 27. Admission for non-members is 150 baht plus 100 baht for anyone wanting the tapas and wine laid on by the Spanish embassy.
Alliance Française – Suzanne, the second feature from director Katell Quillévéré, chronicles the life and affairs of a young woman, who becomes a teen mother and then later courts trouble when she falls for a gangster. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, July 29, at the Alliance.
Apologies for omitting word last week of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre's Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice series, which had Concrete Clouds director and well-known film editor Lee Chatametikool screening Filipino director Raya Martin's How to Disappear Completely and then discussing it last Saturday. Although I had noted it here a couple of weeks ago, last week I had the dates confused in my mind. But there's no excuse. I have been terrible about keeping up with the BACC's movie events, and I'll try to do better. If anybody involved with the series is reading this and can assist in "promoting better understanding", please give a shout.