Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening August 20-26, 2015


The short life of Grammy-winning pop musician Amy Winehouse is detailed in the much-acclaimed hit documentary Amy, which comes to Thai cinemas as part of the ongoing Doc Holiday series put on by SF cinemas and the Documentary Club.

Winehouse was 27 years old when she died on July 23, 2011, following a rapid rise to stardom. Known for her bluesy voice, which was compared to the likes of Billie Holiday or perhaps Nina Simone, her hits included the song "Rehab" and her second album "Back to Black". However, she had problems, in her personal life and with the trappings of fame, and she turned to drugs and alcohol to cope.

Asif Kapadia directs. He previously did Senna, which profiled car-racer Ayrton Senna. Kapadia follows the same formula for Amy, which involves audio recordings of around a hundred interviews that serve as the backdrop for archive videos from family and friends, news clips and concert footage, avoiding the trap of "talking heads" that so many documentaries fall into.

Critical reception is highly positive.

The scheduling of these Documentary Club offerings is a little confusing, but it's all calculated to virally boost interest in the film through social media. There is just one screening scheduled for this week, at 8 tonight at SFW CentralWorld. Amy then moves to a wider release from next Thursday at CentralWorld, SF Cinema City Terminal 21, SFX Central Rama 9 and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. More shows may be added. For details, check the Documentary Club Facebook page or SF Cinema's bookings page.

Also opening

Pixels – Aliens mistake classic video games as a declaration of war, and invade the planet in the form of Pac-Man and other arcade characters. In response, the U.S. president (Kevin James) recruits a childhood friend (Adam Sandler) and other champion gamers to fight back. Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad also star. Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire) directs. As with all of Sandler's other movies, critical reception has been brutal, but that won't stop this from turning up repeatedly on HBO about a year from now. Rated G

Hitman: Agent 47 – A genetically engineered assassin is assigned to take on a mega-corporation that plans to unlock his secrets in order to create a highly advanced army of killers. Rupert Friend shaves his head for this role, starring alongside Hannah War, Zachary Quinto and Ciaran Hinds, among others. This is a second movie adaptation of a video game and is a reboot/sequel to 2007's Hitman, which starred Timothy Olyphant. Critical reception is just now starting to register. Rated 13+

Exeter – Teenagers become possessed by an evil spirit, which was released when they played a vintage record backward. Serves them right. Stephen Lang, Brittany Curran and Gage Golightly are among the stars. It's directed by Marcus Nispel, who has previously done the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, and is produced by the same folks behind the torturous horrors Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Also known as Backmask, critical reception has some positivity, but mainly from horror fans. Rated 18+

Love Love You อยากบอกให้รู้...ว่ารัก (Love Love You Yak Bok Hai Roo Wa Rak) – Here's the type of indie gay Thai film that inspired the release of other Thai gay films this year, such as P'Chai My Hero, Red Wine and the Dark Night and The Blue Hour. Here, Blue Hour leading man Atthaphan Poonsawawas stars as a young man named Gump who feels the Earth shake when meets Sun (Thanasarn Miangbua). Gump’s boyfriend Night (Narrapat Sakulsong) has meanwhile fallen for for a dude named Ball. Their friends step in to sort things out. Napat Jaitientum directs. Rated 13+

Next Station I Love You – After two years of marriage, a young woman (Yang Fanghan) is diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, prompting her husband (Steven Ma) to quit his job to take care of her. Together, they turn to their faith for solace. A Chinese drama, it is directed by Dewei Li. It's at Major Cineplex.

All Is Well – Abhishek Bachchan, Asin, Rishi Kapoor and Supriya Pathak star in this road-trip comedy-drama about a dysfunctional family being chased by goons. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Maryam, an entry in the S-Express Indonesia package, screening on Saturday.

19th Thai Short Film and Video Festival – S-Express packages of shorts from the Philippines and Singapore plus broadly appealing International Competition entries are on tap tonight and tomorrow at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. On Saturday, you have the choice between the International Competition, finalist Thai shorts in the top-tier R.D. Pestonji Award competition (named for Thailand's first auteur) or all the S-Express entries in one go. The festival wraps up on Sunday, which starts with a morning block of Thai animation, all competing for the Payut Ngaokrachang Award, named after Thailand's pioneering animator. Screenings start at 5.30pm on weekdays and 11am on Saturday and Sunday. For more details, please check the festival's Facebook page.

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight's Bergman offering is 1962's Winter Light, which is described as the Swedish great's "favorite" and is "intimate and autobiographical". Tomorrow's Bertolucci film is the Italian director's controversial 2003 effort The Dreamers, in which a young American man meets a pair of French siblings against the backdrop of riots in Paris in 1968. Saturday has another Terry Gilliam film, with 1977's Jabberwocky, which was his first solo effort following Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And Sunday has Frank Sinatra in the very dark drug-addiction drama The Man with the Golden Arm, which is directed by Otto Preminger and has an iconic poster designed by Saul Bass. The month starts winding down next Wednesday, with one more film from French actress-director Catherine Breillat, 1999's Romance. 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 – Secrets among a close-knit group of friends and family come spilling out in the 2012 comedy-drama Amitiés sincères, directed by Stephan Archinard and François Prévôt-Leygonie and starring Gérard Lanvin, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Ana Girardot, Wladimir Yordanoff and Zabou Breitman. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, August 26, at the Alliance.

Take note

Undeterred by Monday night's bombing at the Erawan Shrine, which killed 20 people and hurt around 100, the government is pressing on with events, including yet another film festival at CentralWorld, right by the blast site. Announced on Tuesday by the Culture Ministry (the very day there was another, non-fatal bomb blast near Sathorn Bridge Pier), the Bangkok Asean Film Festival will run from August 27 to 30 at SF World Cinema. It will have entries from all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with Cambodia's The Last Reel and Vietnam's Big Father, Small Father and the Other Stories being among the notable titles. I hope to have more details to pass along by this time next week.

Also near the Erawan Shrine, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand has two upcoming screenings, with the Brazilian drama Behind the Sun (Abril Despedaçado) by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) next Thursday, and the Belgian drama Two Days, One Night (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) by the Dardenne brothers on September 7.

Further down the street, the Friese-Greene Club also has a special event next Thursday, with a best-of selection from last year's Shnit International Short Film Festival. It's part of the run-up to this year's Shnit, which is set for October 7 to 18, and is held simultaneously in major cities worldwide, Bangkok among them.

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