Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening September 17-23, 2015

Mae Bia (The Snake)

Giant snake aside, it's the same old story with veteran director and drama coach ML Bandevanop "Mom Noi" Devakula, who adapts yet another well-known Thai tale with his latest film Mae Bia (แม่เบี้ย, a.k.a. The Snake).

Based on a short story by the late writer Vanich Charoenkit-anant, it's the erotic tale of a married businessman returning to Thailand after many years overseas. Feeling the need for a refresher course in Thai ways, he signs up for a cultural tour and becomes smitten with the enchanting guide Mekhala. Sparks fly, but Mekhala has a symbiotic relationship with a supernatural cobra, which makes her deadly to would-be suitors.

Journeyman actor Shahkrit Yamnarm stars alongside newcomer "Oam" Karnpithchar Katemanee, a third-place winner of Thailand Miss World 2009.

As with the other movies the veteran drama coach Mom Noi has made since his return to filmmaking a few years ago, Mae Bia is an old and often-adapted tale. It has already been made into a film at least twice, including a 2004 version that featured Napakprapha "Mamee" Nakprasert in one of her big break-out roles.

Mom Noi's other late-period efforts are Chua Fah Din Salai (Eternity), U Mong Pha Mueang, Jan Dara and last year's Plae Kao (The Scar). Aside from the Rashomon remake U Mong Pha Meuang, all are slavish adaptations of well-worn and well-known stories from the canon of Thai popular literature. And to a certain segment of Thai society these stories never get old. Appearing to have been made in the bygone eras in which they are set, Mom Noi's movies feature unabashedly stagebound acting, sumptuous period costumes, lush backdrops and lots and lots of sex scenes. It's rated 18+

Also opening

Burying the Ex – Director Joe Dante looks to be capturing a little bit of the old fun B-movie flair he had with such movies as Matinee, Gremlins and The Howling. A low-budget effort, Burying the Ex stars Anton Yelchin as a fellow who is afraid of his manipulative and controlling girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene). After she is killed in a freak accident, young Max moves on to a new girl (Alexandra Daddario), but Evelyn returns from the grave as a zombie and is more menacing than ever. It's at SF cinemas. Critical reception has been mixed. Rated 15+

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails – In part two of the latest franchise to be ripped from the pages of a young-adult novel, Thomas (Dylan OBrien) and his fellow Gladers, including Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Lee Ki-hong) and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), find their way out of the Maze only to stumble on a confusing world run by the mysterious organization WCKD. Searching for answers, the youngsters decide to brave the Scorch, a vast expanse of post-apocalyptic desert. Among the stars in this new installment is Aiden Gillan from Game of Thrones and The Wire. Critical reception has been mixed. Rated 13+

The Case of Hana and Alice – In this animated prequel to Shunji Iwai’s 2004 live-action youth drama, Alice is a newly arrived student who becomes friends with the neighbor girl Hana. The two seek to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a classmate. The rotoscope method is used to animate this story, allowing actresses Anne Suzuki and Yu Aoi, who played Hana and Alice 10 years ago, to play younger versions of their characters. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex, House and Quartier CineArt. Rated G

Jurassic World: The 3D IMAX Experience – Genetically enhanced dinosaurs are bigger and badder than ever as the record-setting blockbuster from earlier this summer returns for a one-week engagement at IMAX theaters. Worth noting, as I often have on this blog, the only honest-to-goodness IMAX screen in Thailand is at Paragon. There are several other IMAX theaters in Thailand now, and though the IMAX company refuses to distinguish any differences between them, these newer "IMAX Digital" outlets have smaller screens and in my book they are not real IMAX theaters. Accept no substitutes. Rated G

Katti Batti – Touted as an "anti-romance", this Bollywood comedy-drama has an architect (Imran Khan) falling head-over-heels in love with a quirky, free-spirited young woman (Kangana Ranaut). She's different, and that's what attracts the guy. But just as suddenly as she enters his life, she leaves. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – The month of directorial debuts continues with Christopher Nolan's Memento tonight, Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape tomorrow and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs on Saturday. Douglas Sirk Sunday has Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall in Written on the Wind. Next Tuesday is the film that kicked off the revitalized career of Wes Craven, 1994's Scream. And next Wednesday is another showcase from last year's Shnit International Short Film Festival, in a run-up to this year's fest, which is set for October 7 to 18, and is held simultaneously in major cities worldwide, including Bangkok. 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 – The month of female-focused movies continues with L'homme qu'on aimait trop (In the Name of My Daughter). Catherine Deneuve stars in the fact-based drama as the owner of a casino in Nice, who has a strained relationship with her fiercely independent daughter (Adèle Haenel). Further stress comes when the daughter enters into a relationship with a womanizing lawyer (Guillaume Canet), and eventually disappears, prompting the mother to launch an epic search. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, September 23, at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

Everest – And the autumn-winter blockbuster season has officially begun, with the fall's first big Hollywood tentpole Everest hitting the screen in sneak previews before a bigger release next week, following its world premiere last week at the Venice Film Festival. Based partly on the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Everest recounts the 1996 disaster on the world's highest mountain, when a sudden blizzard blanketed the peak, killing eight climbers. Touted as a "3D epic" it is nevertheless in converted 3D. It's screening in sneak previews from around 8 nightly at most multiplexes and opens wider next Thursday. Rated G

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