Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening October 8-14, 2015


Emily Blunt is your guide into the dark underbelly of America's continuing war on drugs. In Sicario, she is the hard-driving, by-the-book chief of an FBI hostage-response unit, who makes a grisly discovery in a cartel safehouse along the U.S.-Mexico border. The high-profile case brings her to the attention of a sketchy, flip-flop-clad Defense Department operative (Josh Brolin), who is running a top-secret task force. She's in way over her head, trying to keep up with a quietly intense Latino operative of ambiguous origins (a terrific Benicio del Toro).

Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) directs. Sicario premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Critical reception has been very positive, with Oscar buzz already generating for the performances by Blunt and del Toro, and the stunning cinematography of the bleak landscape by master lensman Roger Deakins.

Sicario moves this week to a wide release, following two weeks of nightly sneak previews. Rated 15+

Also opening

The New Rijksmuseum – Filmed over the course of many years, this documentary covers the controversial renovation of the historic main building of Amsterdam’s landmark art museum, which is home to many masterpieces and finally reopened in 2013 after 10 years of costly delays. Among the issues causing the hold-up was the powerful lobby of Dutch bicyclists, which objected to plans that would altered the museum's main-thoroughfare two-wheeler path through the museum's archway entry. This is the latest entry in SF Cinemas' Doc Holiday series, put on in conjunction with the Documentary Club. Critical reception has been generally positive. It's at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld and at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For showtimes and other details, please check the the Documentary Club Facebook page or SF Cinemas' booking site. Rated G

Pan – The origins of Peter Pan are imagined in epic detail in this fantasy by director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna). Living a bleak existence at a London orphanage, 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) is whisked away to the magical world of Neverland, where he's befriended by James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the warrior princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). They must band together to save Neverland from the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman. No, really. That's Hugh Jackman). This film has been controversial because of the casting of Mara as Tiger Lily, a character typically portrayed as Native American. Critical reception is mixed. It's in 2D and converted 3D. Rated G

We Are Your Friends – Former teen idol Zac Efron is trying hard to be edgy. Following his comic turn as a rowdy frat boy in Bad Neighbors, the former Disney star takes another gritty turn in We Are Your Friends, playing a young DJ struggling to break into the club scene in Hollywood. He’s taken under the wing of an older DJ (Wes Bentley), but things get complicated when the young man makes an unexpected connection with his new mentor’s girlfriend. A flop on release in the U.S. in August, critical reception has been mixed. Rated 18+

Sinister 2 – A young mother (Shannyn Sossamon) moves into an old farmhouse with her twin boys, who become haunted by an evil entity and are forced to watch gruesome home movies in the basement. This is a sequel to a 2012 horror, with James Ransone (Ziggy from The Wire) reprising his role from the first film as Deputy So-and-So. Here, he's Ex-deputy So-and-So, but is still on the case, trying to prove the evil ghost is real. This is cut from the same horror cloth as other Blumhouse Productions, such as Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Critical reception is not as positive as it was for the first Sinister. This was in sneak previews last week and now moves to a wider release. Rated 18+

Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3 – Rubber-suited masked superhero motorcycle riders have another outing in Japan's long-running tokusatsu franchise. Thai-dubbed. Rated G

Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages – And here's another entry in a long-running Japanese franchise. These anime movies (Pokémon, Doreamon, etc.) are brought in for the kiddies when school is on break. Thai-dubbed. Rated G

Jazbaa – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan stars in this drama, which is a Bollywood remake of the South Korean drama Seven Days. Aish portrays a high-powered lawyer whose daughter is abducted. Instead of money, the kidnapper wants the lawyer to defend a career criminal who is appealing his conviction for rape and murder. Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Jackie Shroff also star. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Shnit International Short Film Festival – The third Bangkok edition of the Swiss-based fest is running until Sunday at the Lido cinemas in Siam Square. Begun 13 years ago, the gimmick of this festival is that it is held on the same weekend in many cities worldwide. In addition to the line-up of submitted finalist foreign shorts, there is the "Made in Thailand" program on Friday and Saturday night, with the finalist Thai entries Gen A by Napat Tangsanga, Enlightenment by Sampattavanich Disspong, Ma Nyein Chan by Natpakhan Khemkhao, Once Upon a Time in Tungyahlaum by Natthapat Kraitrujpol, Echoes from the Hill by Pasit Tandaechanurat and Jirudtikal Prasonchum, We Used to Love Each Other by Aroonakorn Pick, Deleted by Nitaz Sinwattanakul and 1428 by Autthavisit Hatsadinthon Na Ayutthaya. Find out more at the festival's Facebook events page.

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, the club offers another film by English writer-director Andrew Birkin, 1988's Burning Secret, starring Faye Dunaway, Klaus Maria Brandauer and child actor David Eberts in a coming-of-age drama. "Vastly underrated" and "recommended" is what the FGC has to say about it. Tomorrow, it's another French film based on the writing of Marcel Pagnol, 1986's Manon des Sources, which is a sequel to the countryside epic Jean de Florette, shown at the club last Friday. Saturday's Irish entry is Once, an ultra-low-budget 2007 hit musical drama about romance between buskers in Dublin. Glen Hansard from The Frames and Markéta Irglová star. On Sunday, screen sirens Bette Davis and Joan Crawford square off in the campy psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? It's part of a monthlong tribute to journeyman director Robert Aldrich. Next Wednesday, it's the documentary Crumb, which has Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff profiling his friend, influential counterculture comic artist R. Crumb. 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 Thailand – Monday is a special evening for the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series, which welcomes award-winning Filipino director Brillante Mendoza and his acclaimed 2007 drama Foster Child. The screening is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, with Netpac founder and president Dr Aruna Vasudev also present. Winner of the Netpac jury prize at the Brisbane film fest and dozens of other awards, Foster Child centers on a poor woman (Cherry Pie Picache) who works as a foster mother for an adoption agency. Here, the foster parent Thelma achingly forms a bond with the toddler John-John, and follows her on her last day with him before she hands him off to a wealthy American family. Netpac, which is a grouping of Asian filmmakers, academics and critics, organizes special juries that present awards at top film festivals. The evening, set for Monday, October 12, starts at 6pm with a cocktail reception. Vice Minister for Tourism and Sports, Associate Professor Chavanee Tongroach is scheduled to be on hand to introduce Mendoza and Vasudev before the screening at 7.30. There will then be a talk session with the director and the Netpac head. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht for the Bombay Gin cocktails and snacks. Another film is set at the FCCT on October 19, the Swiss father-son drama Sam.

Alliance Française – A tax inspector (Benoît Poelvoorde), his new bride and her sister become entwined in a love triangle in 2014's 3 coeurs (3 Hearts). Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve also star. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, October 14, at the Alliance.

Sneak preview

The Walk – Filmed in actual 3D, everything about The Walk is calculated to make you queasy, and there are reports of viewers actually getting sick while watching it. "We worked really hard to induce vertigo," director Robert Zemeckis has said about his latest film, which is a dramatization of the life of high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 walked on a cable he illegally strung up between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. It's a story previously covered in the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays the thrill-seeking French daredevil Petit. Oscar buzz is really heating up for this one and critical reception is very positive. Now, I don't generally recommend you plunk down the several hundred baht to see movies in 3D, but every once in awhile, a film comes along that is a true 3D event worth a gander. To get the full effect, you'll want to see The Walk in IMAX. And while there are now several of the newer smaller IMAX screens in Thailand, the only authentic full-size IMAX screen is the Krungsri IMAX Paragon Cineplex. Accept no substitutes. The Walk is in sneak previews from around 8 nightly before a wider general release next week.

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