Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 12-19, 2015

Inside Out

For their latest feature Inside Out, the wizards at Pixar Animation go inside the mind of a depressed 11-year-old girl at a crucial time in her life.

Such a story may not seem like the type of uplifting family friendly movie Pixar is best known for, but it could well be the most-imaginative and complex story yet attempted by the pioneering computer-animation studio.

The main characters are the emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust, who operate from Headquarters, a spaceship-like command center inside the mind. Under the controlling efforts of the domineering Joy, things run pretty smoothly until a mishap causes Joy and Sadness to be swept away to the far recesses of the girl Riley's mind. They have a big adventure, trying to figure out how to get back to Headquarters. Meanwhile, Fear, Anger and Disgust are ill-equipped to handle operations as Riley is struggling to cope with moving with her parents to a new city.

It's directed by Pete Docter, who previously touched on childhood fears with Monsters Inc. and growing old with the emotional Up. He also came up with Toy Story and Wall-E. Helping to crack the code of Inside Out was co-director Ronnie del Carmen, who has had a hand in Pixar's Brave, Ratatouille and other pictures. They approached it from their viewpoint as doting fathers, who came up with Inside Out as a way of coping with their children growing up.

The voice cast is perfect, with Amy Poehler bringing her relentlessly perky persona from TV's Parks and Recreation to the proceedings as Joy. She is so darned happy you want to strangle her. She's joined by Phyllis Smith from the U.S. version of The Office as the melancholy but deceptively powerful Sadness. The emotions are further rounded out by Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader as Fear, Mindy Kahling from The Mindy Project as, eww, Disgust, and always-outraged comedian Lewis Black as Anger.

Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. I've actually already seen this myself, and can attest that it is another fine effort by the folks at Pixar. If you don't leak anything from your eyes at some point, then something is probably wrong with you.

As with all Pixar and Walt Disney animation films, there will be an accompanying short before the main feature, with Inside Out paired with the Polynesian-tinged musical romance Lava.

It's in actual 3D, though I saw it in 2D, and didn't feel I missed out. In the U.S., the grown-up-friendly Inside Out is rated PG, meaning youngsters might need parental guidance to understand it fully. But here in Thailand, where the censors take a cursory glance, see it's a cartoon and automatically think it's only for kids, it's rated G.

Also opening

Our Little Sister – Following the death of their estranged father, three twentysomething siblings invite their shy 13-year-old sister from another mother to come live with them at their grandmother's house, which is in a lovely rural setting. Hirokazu Kore-eda directs, and Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose star. Adapted from the manga Umimachi Diary, the drama premiered in the main competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Critical reception is generally praiseworthy. It's at Apex, House, Paragon, SF World and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Rated 15+

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, debonair CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill from Man of Steel) is forced to team up with a tough Soviet spy (Armie Hammer from The Lone Ranger) to stop a mysterious criminal organization that has acquired its own atomic bomb. Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant and Jared Harris also star. Guy Ritchie directs this long-in-the-works adaptation of the 1960s TV series that starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. It looks stylish enough, I suppose. However, I wish Ritchie would go back to directing more small-budget British gangster movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, rather than overblown retreads like his Sherlock Holmes movies or this thing. No chance of that. He's doing Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur next. Surprisingly, critical reception is actually mostly positive. It's in 2D only, including IMAX. Rated G

Monster Hunt – In ancient China, a young man (Jing Boran) becomes pregnant after an encounter with a demon. He and his strong-willed monster-hunter girlfriend (Bai Baihe) plan to sell the baby demon lord, but develop feelings for it as they evade bounty hunters. Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng also star. A blend of live-action actors with computer-animated blobs from the Uncanny Valley, it's directed by Raman Hui, who previously worked in Hollywood on such efforts as Shrek and Antz. It's been a big hit in China, and you can read all about it in a Los Angeles Times article. Rated G

The Diabolical – When a single mother (Ali Larter) and her two young children are tormented by an evil presence in their quiet suburban home, she turns to her scientist boyfriend (Arjun Gupta) to take on the violent forces that paranormal experts are too frightened to face. An indie horror directed and co-written by Alistair Legrand, The Diabolical premiered at this year's South by Southwest Festival, and has had some positive reviews from horror-speciality websites. Rated 18+

Parasyte: Part 2 – Young hero Shinichi (Shota Sometani) and the friendly alien parasite in his right hand come up against various forces of the pro-parasite cabal, including a mean ex-schoolteacher, the mayor and his mysterious bodyguard (Tadanobu Asano). This follows the first part, which was released here in May. Critical reception has been mixed, with the consensus being that Part 1 was pretty strong, but Part 2 isn't. Rated 15+

Brothers – Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra are fighting siblings who take out their anger with each other in the mixed-martial-arts fighting ring in Brothers, which is an official remake of the 2011 Hollywood fight drama Warrior. Jacqueline Fernandez also stars. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Central Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, two of the club's themes this month combine, with French director-actress Catherine Breillat starring with Marlon Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial erotic drama The Last Tango in Paris. Tomorrow, there's some new guy, a Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor named Max Von Sydow, playing a game of chess against Death in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Friday has more Bertolucci, his 1970 Italian political thriller Il Conformista. Saturday's Terry Gilliam movie is his unsung 2013 effort The Zero Theorem, which fans view to be a final entry in a trilogy of Orwellian films by Gilliam, Brazil and 12 Monkeys being the other two. And Sunday has the original conspiracy theory thriller, John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate, starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and a very terrifying Angela Lansbury. Next Wednesday is a directorial effort from Breillat, 2001's Fat Girl, in which two teenage sisters explore their sexuality. 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.

19th Thai Short Film and Video Festival – The Thai Film Archive and Thai Film Foundation's annual short-film extravaganza opens at 5.30pm tomorrow at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Selected from more than 500 entries from around the world, the program is a daunting thing to get your head around. Don't think too hard. Just do what I do – show up, sit down, shut up and take it all in as best you can. The highlights are many, with the broadest appeal coming from the selections from the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, which is the biggest and best short-film showcase in the world. Many Oscar-winning entries have come out of that festival. Other widely appealing shorts can be found in the International Competition slots and the S-Express, which has films from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The Queer Program is something the festival organizers are quite fond of, and rightly so. They additionally have a special program this year called "Out of Place", which is a selection of expat-friendly stories about foreigners and their misadventures in foreign countries. That's all in addition to the usual selections of Thai shorts, youth and student films, documentaries, animation and experimental entries. The fest runs until August 23, with weekday screenings starting at 5.30pm and then a full slate on Saturdays and Sundays, starting from 11am. Please note that the BACC is closed on Mondays, so no fest that day. Shows are in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium as well as a smaller improvised space on the fourth floor. Admission is free. For the schedule and further details, please check the festival's Facebook page.

Alliance Française – There is no free French film tonight because of Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday and the Mother's Day public holiday (which is why movies in the malls are opening a day earlier this week), but the Alliance is back open for movies next Wednesday with a special event, which brings actress Irene Jacob to Bangkok for a "meet the artist" session with Polish auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski's arthouse drama Rouge (Red), which is part of his influential Three Colors trilogy. The show and talk are at 7.30pm on Wednesday, August 19 at the Alliance.

1 comment:

  1. I think the title should be The Man Before UNCLE as the organisation doesn't yet exist other than a gleam in Hugh Grant's eye and a throwaway line at the end. Which kind of defeats the purpose. I found it very disappointing and the leads lack of any chemistry made them bland and predictable. The series was conceived as television's answer to James Bond yet the film is a sub-par spy drama we've seen a dozen times. Even Get Smart was better.
    I walked out of Inside Out, bored to tears. - Ian