The 1996 blizzard that killed eight climbers on the world's highest mountain is recounted in Everest, which in the grand tradition of Hollywood disaster epics boasts an expansive all-star cast.
Josh Brolin portrays adventuresome Texas medical doctor Beck Weathers. Jason Clarke is Rob Hall, the New Zealander leader of one expedition, with Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer, head of another expedition group.
They are in a fight for survival when a freak blizzard blankets the mountain and leaves the climbers with no way to get down from the deadly heights they've reached. Chances of survival become slimmer and slimmer as oxygen-bottle supplies are depleted.
Others in the cast include John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright and Emily Watson. Keira Knightley is Hall's pregnant wife stuck back home in New Zealand, whom he calls while stranded on the peak. Transcripts of those calls provided the basis for some of the film, as does the work of Outdoors magazine writer Jon Krakauer, whose article about the disaster was adapted into the best-selling book Into Thin Air. He's played in the film by Michael Kelly.
Decades in development by Hollywood, Everest finally comes to the screen under up-and-coming Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (Two Guns).
Following high-profile premieres at fests in Venice and elsewhere, Everest kicks off the autumn-winter blockbuster season leading up to the Oscars. Critical reception is generally favorable.
In addition to conventional screens, it's also in converted 3D, including IMAX. Rated G
Pawn Sacrifice – Tobey Maguire is positively unhinged as he portrays the eccentric American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer in this biographical drama, which portrays Fischer as a pawn of Cold War superpowers, coming under pressure as he prepared for the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, facing the formidable Russian master Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, Defiance) directs. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+
Cooties – Tainted school-cafeteria chicken transforms children into zombie-like monsters, forcing a motley band of teachers to work together to survive. Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson and Jack McBrayer star in this indie horror comedy, which premiered at Sundance last year. The writers behind it are an odd couple, Leigh Whannell, who came up with the gory Saw and Insidious movies, and Ian Brennan, one of the creators of the TV series Glee. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
The Green Inferno – Tarantino cohort and torture-porn purveyor Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) pays tribute to the cult Italian horror Cannibal Holocaust with this thriller about idealistic American college students hoping to stop deforestation in the Amazon. Their plane crashes in the territory of natives they hoped to protect – a primitive tribe that still practices cannibalism and ritual dismemberment. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+
Mard Payak: The Great Muay Thai Fighter (มาดพยัคฆ์) – Nation Multimedia Group’s Now 26 TV channel breaks into film with this documentary on boxer Samart Payakaroon. Winner of four national weight-class titles and the 1982 World Boxing Council featherweight champ, he was a fearsome fighter who was known as the "Jade Tiger". Made with Samart’s cooperation, the documentary includes dramatized scenes from his upbringing and career, with actors portraying him at various ages. Norachai Kajchapanont directs. You can read more about the film in an article in The Nation. It's at SF Cinemas.
Siam Yuth: The Dawn of the Kingdom (สยามยุทธ) – Two-fisted swordfighting shirtless youngsters fight for honor and country in this historical-action epic. It's been on the books for many months, but has been repeatedly postponed for reasons I'm not privy to. I guess now the time is right for a jingoistic war flick. The story, as far as I can make out, deals with a tight-knit group of friends who take up the fight against a local warlord in ancient Siam. Rated 15+
Boruto: Naruto the Movie – The 11th entry in the manga-based franchise has young Boruto, son of ninja leader Naruto Uzumaki, hoping to surpass his father’s heroic deeds. He engages his father’s friend, Sasuke Uchiha as his trainer. Most of these manga/anime movies are usually only Thai dubbed, but according to information I've been given, it's in Japanese with Thai subtitles at Apex, Paragon, Quartier Cineart, SFC Terminal 21 and SFW CentralWorld. Rated G
Kis Kisko Pyaar Karu – Popular Indian stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma makes his film debut, playing four roles in this romantic farce about a guy who has married three times and is on the lookout for wife number four. It's in Hindi With English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit and Rama III. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – The club has a private event tonight but the month of directorial debuts wraps up tomorrow with Wes Anderson's quirky comedy Bottle Rocket, which features Anderson's Texas pals the Wilson brothers, Owen (who co-wrote the movie), Luke and Andrew. Saturday, it's Guy Ritchie's turn, with his crime farce Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Wish he still made movies like that. Sunday has one more Douglas Sirk film for the month, with 1955's All That Heaven Allows, starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. Tuesday has Wes Craven's Scream 2 and the month closes out with one more unusual sci-fi entry, the proto-science-fiction film, 1927's Metropolis. 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.
Movies on Design – Part of the Bangkok Design Festival, Movies on Design has five documentaries screening at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center this Friday and Saturday and next Friday and Sunday. The selection consists of Microtopia, about tiny houses; The Startup Kids, about the founders of such Web-based initiatives as Vimeo, Dropbox and Soundcloud; Where Architects Live, featuring the living spaces of Zaha Hadid and other famous building designers; Koolhaas Houselife, which looks at the unexpected hassles of living in an architectural masterpiece; and Gamer Age, a study on the evolution of video games. These are ticketed shows. For the schedule and other details, please see the BACC's website.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdal wanted to prove his theory that Polynesia was settled from the West by indigenous South Americans. To do so, he built a balsa-wood raft, just like the sailors in pre-Columbian times used. The 4,300-mile, 101-day voyage became the subject of an Oscar-winning 1950 documentary by Heyerdal, and it serves as the basis for 2012's Kon-Tiki, an adventure epic that is Norway's most expensive film production yet. A gripping drama, it was a nominee for the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Gutsy directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who ignored the advice of other filmmakers and actually made their film in the open ocean rather than a studio, have since been tapped to helm the upcoming next Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Johnny Depp. Kon-Tiki screens at 7pm on Monday at the FCCT as part of the club's Contemporary World Film Series. The screening is courtesy of the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht for anyone want the embassy's beer, salmon and other delicacies.
Alliance Française – An paroled thief is coaxed back into the life of crime by old cohorts who want to steal a priceless gem in Le dernier diamant (The Last Diamond). To do so, the thief must get close to a woman who is a gem expert. Eric Barbier directs and Yvan Attal, Bérénice Béjo, Jean-François Stévenin and Antoine Basler star. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, September 30, at the Alliance.
Sicario – Here's another movie that's already attracting a fair bit of awards-season buzz. Emily Blunt stars has a hard-driving FBI agent who is recruited to join a top-secret anti-drugs task force on the U.S.-Mexico border. Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro and Victor Garber also star. It's directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy). Following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, critical reception is extremely positive. Sicario is in a two-week sneak preview run, with shows from around 8 nightly in most multiplexes. It opens in a wider release on October 8. Rated 15+