Stray dogs unite and revolt against their human overlords in White God, an unusual thriller from Hungary that won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
The story centers on a girl (Zsófia Psotta), who is forced to give up her pet dog after she moves in with her mean father, who lives in an apartment building that doesn't allow pets. He also doesn't want to pay the city's "mongrel" tax. So, the lovable mutt Hagen is abandoned, only to become the leader of a pack of 250 half-breed canines that take over Budapest.
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, White God won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The film also took the Cannes fest's sidebar Palm Dog prize, and was Hungary's submission to the Academy Awards. No dogs were harmed in the making of the film, which involved no computer-graphic trickery. All those dogs are real.
White God is the second film brought in by the new indie distribution outfit HAL Film, which recently released another buzzworthy title at Cannes in 2014, The Tribe. The man behind HAL is Dhan Plewtianyingtawee, the owner of a film school who wanted more Thais to see the kinds of weird and wacky films he likes. You can read a story about him in BK magazine.
Critical reception is mostly positive. It's in Hungarian with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA as well as Esplanade Ratchada, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Paragon. Rated 18+
The Walk – From I Wanna Hold Your Hand to Back to the Future, Roger Rabbit to Forrest Gump, and Polar Express to Flight, everything director Robert Zemeckis has learned how to do in the past has been put into The Walk, which viscerally recreates the death-defying stunt by Frenchman Philippe Petit, who walked a high wire strung up between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York in 1974. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars. Critical reception is wildly positive. This moves to general release after a one-week sneak preview run. I saw it last weekend, and it's an amazing feat of filmmaking that will have you gripping your armrests throughout. Go on, see it in IMAX 3D. Rated G.
Crimson Peak – In 19th century England, a young author (Mia Wasikowska) is charmed by a nobleman (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into his isolated country manor, high up on a hillside of red clay. There, she starts to learn the ghostly secrets of the crumbling mansion. Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Jim Beaver also star. Much anticipated by fans, this Gothic horror fantasy is the latest effort from Mexican master Guillermo del Toro (Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth). He actually built a three-story house on a movie lot to give his actors and viewers a palpable sense of the film's grand scale. Critical reception is building up. Rated 18+
Good Kill – Ethan Hawke is your surrogate as you sit in the pilot's seat in America's controversial drone war. In Good Kill, he's a former U.S. Air Force fighter jockey who transitions to unmanned aerial operations, guiding drones in bombing missions over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas. January Jones and Zoe Kravitz also star. Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War) directs. Critical reception is leaning to positive. Rated 15+
The Intern – Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro are a mismatched couple in this romantic comedy. She's the young founder of a lucrative online fashion business that joins a new internship programme for senior citizens, bringing a bright 70-year-old widower (De Niro) into her life. Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, It's Complicated) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G
The Down (เดอะดาวน์) – Five twentysomething Thais who just happen to have Down syndrome are spotlighted in this documentary, which aims to show people with Down syndrome in a positive light, living ordinary lives and contributing to society. The five are Sutthiphot "Bank" Kanoknak, who works at a Uniqlo store, Kamonporn "Pan" Vachiramon, an AIS customer service staffer, twin Special Olympics bocce-ball champs Onnipa "Orm" and Atiya "Un" Kanjanasiri, and Starbucks employee Sirinluck "Beer" Chalat. The film is a passion project of producer-director Wongthanong Chainarongsingha, founder of A Day magazine. You can find out more about the movie in an article in The Nation. It is showing at Major Cineplex and SF cinemas. Rated G
Detective Conan: Sunflowers of Inferno – The latest adventure of Japanese manga and anime's boy detective has him on the trail of a fake Van Gogh "Sunflower" painting. Thai-dubbed. Rated 13+
Pyaar ka Punchnama 2 – Kartik Aaryan, Nushrat Bharucha, Sunny Singh, Sonalli Sehgall, Omkar Kapoor and Ishita Sharma star in this sequel to a 2009 Bollywood romantic comedy. Having all met their true loves at the beach in the first film, here the guys are still learning to cope with their demanding girlfriends. Luv Ranjan directs. It's in Hindi with English subtitles (sorry, no Thai) at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Fresh from its run at House on RCA, the South Korean-Thai romantic comedy So Very Very (จริงๆ มากๆ, Jing Jing Mak Mak) comes to the club tonight for the first of two special screenings. Tonight, director Jack Park will be on hand to talk about his film, which follows a struggling young South Korean filmmaker as he falls in love with a Thai woman and marries her. To attend, check out the Facebook events page. So Very Very also screens at the club next Thursday. Tomorrow, it's La Gloire de mon père (My Father's Glory), a 1990 drama set in the pre-war French countryside that is adapted from the autobiographical novel of Marcel Pagnol. Saturday's Irish film is The Field, a 1990 drama by Jim Sheridan with Oscar nominee Richard Harris as an elderly sharecropper in a dispute over his rented farmland. And Sunday has another fitful collaboration between the great Bette Davis and director Robert Aldrich in Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Next Wednesday is another documentary, the food flick Jiro Dreams of Sushi. 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.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Bangkok – The club's Contemporary World Film Series heads to Switzerland next Monday with Sam, a 2015 drama about a boy whose parents are divorced, who goes to live temporarily with his alcoholic father. The show is at 7pm on Monday, October 19. Admission is 150 baht for non-members. Swiss wine and cheese is being laid on by the Swiss embassy, and it's 100 baht to have some of that.
Alliance Française – Couples fall in and out of love over the course of visits to the countryside in Week-ends (Weekends in Normandy), a 2014 comedy-drama by Anne Villacèque that stars Karin Viard, Noémie Lvovsky, Jacques Gamblin and Ulrich Tukur. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 21, at the Alliance.
You have another chance to see the charming Thai indie film P'Chai My Hero (พี่ชาย My Hero) this week as it is released back into cinemas for a limited run. Also known as How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), the coming-of-age drama is experiencing an "Oscar bump" as the result of being picked as Thailand's submission to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Feature. With plenty of warmth and humor, it deals with many issues, including gay themes and Thailand's unique military draft lottery. It's at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and Esplanade Ratchada.
There's also a Thai film you won't be seeing this week, the Buddhist-themed thriller Arbat, which was to be released but has been banned at the behest of Buddhist groups.