Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 22-28, 2015

Vanishing Point

Winner of the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Vanishing Point (วานิชชิ่ง พอยท์) is artist-filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong's feature-length debut. It deals with the themes he explores in his short films and video-art installations, which reflect on strict Buddhist teachings and the dangers of materialism and greed.

Part of the inspiration for Vanishing Point stems from a horrific car crash Jakrawal's parents were involved in long ago, and newspaper clippings of the wreck, featuring a car bent in half, opens the film. With that as a jumping-off point, the highly abstract art-house film becomes a psychological drama, about a family man and a reporter whose lives are two parallel lines, and eventually intersect at that "vanishing point" on their existential plains.

This new Vanishing Point is not directly related to the cult-classic 1971 car-chase movie, but both films deal with philosophical themes and arrive at more or less the same destinations.

Vanishing Point, which has been shown at many film festivals, had its local premiere last Friday, with the film's crew taking over a derelict former porn cinema in Bangkok and having attendees be part of a giant art installation.

It has received much praise from Jakrawal's fellow indie filmmakers, as well as from more-learned critics and academics. I'm still not sure what to make of it, but I liked it. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, and comes to SFX Maya Chiang Mai on November 5. Rated 15+

Also opening

Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg directs this fact-based account of a humble New York family attorney who, at the height of the Cold War, is tasked by the U.S. government with brokering a prisoner exchange, trading his client, a convicted Soviet spy, for U.S. Air Force spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose U-2 was shot down over Russia. Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan star. Screenwriters included the Coen brothers, who in addition to making their own films, are frequent hired-gun scribes. I mean, they helped write Angelina Jolie's war movie Unbreakable, for Pete's sake. With Oscar-buzz prestige attached to Bridge of Spies, critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

The Little Prince – An colorful elderly aviator befriends a neighbor girl and distracts her from her studies with his epic story of a mysterious boy prince who lived on a tiny planet. Directed by Mark Osborne, who previously did Kung Fu Panda, this animated adaptation of the story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery features the voices of Jeff Bridges, James Franco, Rachel McAdams and many others. Along with Pixar's Inside Out, The Little Prince seems destined to be in the Oscar race for best animated feature. Critics are full of praise. Rated G

Straight Outta Compton – From the violence of the streets in the 1980s, five young men in Compton, California, formed the rap group NWA – Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella – translating their experiences into brutally honest music that controversially rebelled against the police and other authorities. Stars include O'Shea Jackson Jr., portraying his father Ice Cube. F. Gary Gray, who made his debut in 1995 with Ice Cube's stoner comedy Friday, directs. He gained a lot of street-cred from Hollywood execs for Straight Outta Compton and has been tapped to direct the next Fast and Furious movie. Critical reception is generally positive. This was a breakout hit this summer in the States, and it's sure to please musicians and fans in Thailand's own hip-hop scene. It's at Apex, Paragon and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 18+

The Last Witch Hunter – Vin Diesel wants another franchise to add to his work in Fast and Furious and Riddick. The musclebound man with the voice of a gravel truck stars in this supernatural fantasy as an ancient warrior, whose path of vengeance converges with that of the resurrected Witch Queen, whom he first killed long ago, but not before she cursed him with immortality, depriving him of an after-life with his wife and daughter. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine also star. Hollywood scion Breck Eisner (The Crazies) directs. Critical reception has been dismal so far. Rated 15+

The Visit – M. Night Shyamalan wants his career back. The director of cult favorites like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable has helmed a string of duds of late, among them After Earth and The Happening. With The Visit, he teams up with Blumhouse Productions, the purveyors of found-footage horror thrillers like Paranormal Activity, for a story of camera-toting youngsters visiting their grandparents' rural Pennsylvania farm. There, they find grandma and grandpa are up to no good. Critical reception is mixed, but good enough for some critics to call this Shyamalan's "return to form". Rated 15+

Hor Taew Taek ... Hak na Ka (หอแต๋วแตก แหกนะคะ) – In exaggerated Gothic style, the fifth entry in Poj Anon’s crossdressing horror-comedy franchise has former students returning to their boarding-school alma mater as teachers. They deal with a problem ghost while fending off a takeover attempt by a rival. Jaturong Phonboon, Ekachai Srivichai, Charoenporn Ornlamai, Weeradit Srimalai and Sudarat Butprom are among the stars. Rated 15+

Water Boyy the Movie – Teenage lads discover they have feelings for one other in this gay romance about gifted swimmer Num (Anuphat Laungsodsai), whose father (Nopphon Komarachun), the coach for the national swim team, brings Muek (Papangkorn Rerkchalermpon) to train with him. Rated 15+

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight is an encore screening of So Very Very (จริงๆ มากๆ, Jing Jing Mak Mak), a South Korean romantic comedy about a struggling young South Korean filmmaker who marries Thai woman. Directed by Jack Park, the indie film recently played at House on RCA. Tomorrow, it's Le château de ma mère (My Mother's Castle), a sequel to last Friday's Mon Pere, adapted from the autobiographical novel of Marcel Pagnol. Saturday's Irish film is the black comedy Waking Ned Devine, while Sunday has one more Robert Aldrich film for the month, The Dirty Dozen, still one of the best "team assembly" movies ever made. Next Wednesday is one more documentary for the month, Touching the Void, following mountaineers on a hazardous quest on a Peruvian peak. 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 – It's romance across the social-class divide in Pas son genre (Not My Type), a 2014 drama by Lucas Belvaux that stars Émilie Dequenne and Loïc Corbery. It's about a philosophy student falling in love with a hair-dresser. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 28, at the Alliance.

Take note

The next Documentary Club offering at SF cinemas will be Man on Wire, the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary about high-wire artist Philippe Petit's 1974 stunt at the World Trade Center in New York. It has seen a resurgence in interest thanks to director Robert Zemeckis' dramatization of the event in The Walk. The doc will screen in a sneak preview at some SF cinemas from 8pm on Monday and then open for real next Thursday at select SF branches.

Coming up next month is Spanish Film Week from November 5 to 8 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Supported by the Embassy of Spain, it'll screen five fairly recent critically acclaimed Spanish films, El Niño, Magical Girl, 10,000 KM, Loreak and the animated musical romance Chico and Rita.

The World Film Festival of Bangkok runs from November 13 to 22 at SF World, opening with the Thai film Snap, a brand-new feature from Kongdej Jaturanrasamee.

And from November 26 to 29, also at SF World, is the Bangkok edition of the International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls. Find out more at the EVAGWG film festival website or the Facebook event page.

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