Despite expressing his weariness of the role, "blond Bond" Daniel Craig is back for a fourth outing as Agent 007 in Spectre, the 24th entry in the action-packed James Bond film franchise.
He's on the trail of the shadowy organization Spectre. Meanwhile, Bond's boss M (Ralph Fiennes) is in a power struggle for control of his spy agency and the future of the lethal "00" program.
Directed by Sam Mendes, Spectre marks the return of the Spectre name to the Bond franchise. Originally an acronym standing for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, the use of Spectre as a plot point in Bond films had been caught in a rights dispute stretching back to the "unofficial" Bond movie Thunderball. With those legal issues sorted, Bond can now officially battle Spectre as well as his perennial nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
The criminal mastermind Blofeld is portrayed in the new film by Christoph Waltz, the Austrian character actor who owes his career to Quentin Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds.
Joining the proceedings are actresses Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) and Monica Bellucci (Shoot 'Em Up) as the newest "Bond girls", and wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) as an assassin. Returnees from previous Bond outings include Naomi Harris as Ms. Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as gadget guru Q.
Already released in the U.K., where it broke box-office records, critical reception is mostly praiseworthy. Rated 13+
Hand in the Glove – Thai and Japanese talents combine both in front of and behind the lens for this quirky indie romantic comedy. Thai actor-musician Chanon Rikulsurakan stars as a glove-clad prince from a fictional country, who is visiting Kumamoto, Japan. Desperate to escape the pressures and protocols of being the heir to the throne, he sneaks out of his hotel and meets a local woman, who accompanies him on sightseeing trips. Directed by Japanese actor-director Yusuke Inaba, it was shot in Kumamoto by Thai cinematographer Pairach Khumwan, who is noted for his work on Thai director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s 36 and Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy. Hand in Glove first screened in Bangkok in January during the Japanese Film Festival, so here's a chance for more folks to see it. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at House on RCA.
Tag – The bloodsoaked spirit of director Kinji Fukasaku and his Battle Royale appear alive and well in Tag, which is directed by prolific Japanese helmer Sion Sono. An adaptation of a novel by Yusuke Yamada, the story, such as it is, has skirt-clad Japanese schoolgirls being mowed down in various gory ways by mysterious malevolent forces. Reina Triendl, Mariko Shinoda and Erina Mano star. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex and House. It's also showing at select Major Cineplex branches. Rated 18+
The Taking of Tiger Mountain – Hong Kong martial-arts veteran Tsui Hark returns to the scene with this Chinese historical epic, set after World War II, with Liberation Army forces trying to unseat an outlaw warlord and his gang, who have taken over a former Japanese stronghold. Tony Leung Ka-fai, Lin Gengxin and Zhang Hanyu star. Critical reception is leaning to positive. Seems it is Thai-dubbed only. Rated 15+
The Vatican Tapes – A Roman Catholic priest and exorcists from the Vatican encounter a young woman who has been possessed by an ancient satanic force. Michael Peña, Djimon Hounsou, Peter Andersson, Dougray Scott, Kathleen Richardson and Olivia Taylor Dudley star. It's directed by Mark Neveldine in his first solo outing from the Neveldine/Taylor duo, who are best known for their innovative Crank action comedies. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
Baahubali – A prince who was raised as an orphan fights his estranged evil sibling for control of an ancient kingdom in this epic of all epics. It's rumored to be the most expensive movie ever made in India, and features state-of-the-art visual effects, sumptuous costumes and stunning locations. Immensely popular Telugu actor Prabhas stars. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
Alliance Française – There are two other movies this week in addition to the Alliance's usual Wednesday screening. Tonight and tomorrow, there are Southeast Asian films as part of the Produire au Sud Bangkok film-funding workshop, which is organized by the World Film Festival of Bangkok and the Three Continents Film Festival in Nantes, France. The workshops give up-and-coming independent filmmakers experience in pitching their projects and finding backers to fund their films. Tonight's screening, at 7pm, is the Filipino coming-of-age drama Anita's Last Cha Cha, which was supported by the Produire au Sud Nantes in 2010. And tomorrow at 6.30pm is the Malaysian social satire Men Who Save the World by Liew Seng Tat. It was pitched at Produire au Sud Bangkok in 2008 and screened in the recent Bangkok Asean Film Festival. Both films will also screen in the World Film Festival of Bangkok, which opens on November 13. Next Wednesday, the Alliance has another climate change movie, Tara, voyage au coeur de la machine climatique, a made-for-TV documentary on an Arctic adventure aboard the schooner Tara. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, November 11, at the Alliance.
Spanish Film Week – Presented by the Embassy of Spain in collaboration with SF Cinemas, the mini-fest has four films screening from tonight until Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld:
- El Niño – In Gibraltar, a hard-nosed Spanish detective and his female partner track a dangerous criminal known as "the Englishman" (Ian McShane). Meanwhile, a trio of youngsters enter the marijuana trade in hopes of raising the cash they need to open a bar. Directed by Daniel Monzon, El Niño was nominated for more than a dozen Goya Awards (the "Spanish Oscars"), including best director, original screenplay and supporting actor and actress for Eduard Fernandez and Barbara Lennie. It won prizes for production supervision, sound, special effects and song. Screens at 7 tonight.
- Magical Girl – The father of a terminally ill girl wants to make true his daughter's last wish - to have a dress inspired by the main character from "Magical Girl Yukiko", a Japanese animated TV series. As the dad is pushed to the brink in his quest for the expensive dress, he meets various quirky characters, among them a vomit-spewing femme fatale (portrayed by Goya-winning Barbara Lennie) and an unstable ex-con. Screens at 7pm tomorrow.
- 10,000 Km – Alex and Sergi are a young Barcelona couple who are planning to have a baby. Their plans hit a snag when Alex is offered a once-in-a-lifetime job offer to work as a photographer in Los Angeles. It'll take more than modern technology to keep them together. The romantic comedy had many festival appearances, including South by Southwest and Palm Springs, and won several awards, including the Goya for Best New Director for Carlos Marques-Marcet. Screens at 7pm on Saturday.
- Loreak (Flowers) – This Basque-language romantic drama centers on an unfulfilled married woman who begins receiving weekly deliveries of flowers. Her story slowly intertwines with that of a toll-booth attendant and that woman's crane-operator husband. The sophomore feature from the In 80 Days duo of Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garano, Loreak won prizes at festivals in San Sebastian and Palm Springs, and was a nominee for best film at the Goyas. Screens at 5pm on Sunday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Al Pacino, Takashi Miike, Christopher Guest, contemporary Chinese cinema and the utter pointlessness of it all are the focus of this month's schedule at the Club. Just a handful of the many many films by prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike screen on Thursdays, starting tonight with the gore-filled introduction to his bizarre oeuvre, Ichi the Killer. Fridays are devoted to Christopher Guest and his highly entertaining string of documentary-style comedies, starting tomorrow with the classic rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, in which Guest co-starred and co-directed with Rob Reiner. Surely, the sound system will be cranked to "11". The club has private events listed this Saturday and Sunday, which pre-empts the regular program of Chinese films (Blind Shift opens the series on November 14) and existential crises movies (opening last Sunday with Magnolia). Next Wednesday is Serpico, with Pacino portraying the corruption-fighting New York cop who became an icon for Thai truckers. More on Serpico in Thailand is at the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project. 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.
German Film Series – The Goethe-Insitut in Bangkok holds monthly film screenings at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and the Thai Film Archive. This month's offering is the adventure yarn Measuring the World, about German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and geographer Alexander von Humboldt and their surveys of the world in the 1800s. Detlev Buck (Same Same But Different) directs. It screens at 1pm on Sunday at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, and at 6pm on Tuesday in the little FA Cinematheque on the second floor of the BACC. For more details, visit www.Goethe.de/bangkok.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – The Club's Contemporary World Film Series closes out another year with a Thai film, the award-winning 2014 romantic drama The Teacher's Diary (คิดถึงวิทยา, Kid Tueng Wittaya). It's the sweetly sentimental tale of two teachers who are posted to an isolated floating schoolhouse a year apart. Despite never having met, they fall in love with one another through a diary they share at the school. Directed by Nithiwat Tharatorn and starring "Ploy" Chermarn Boonyasak and "Bie" Sukrit Wisetkaew, it won many awards for its screenplay, art direction and music. It was also Thailand's submisssion to this year's Oscars. Nithiwat will attend the screening, which is at 7pm on Monday, is supported by the GTH film studio and a wine brand. Admission is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht for the wine.
The 13th World Film Festival of Bangkok is nearly upon us, running from November 13 to 22 at SF World. Highlights include the six-hour-long, three-part arthouse drama Arabian Nights, and two classics by Taiwanese New Cinema stalwart Hou Hsiao-hsien, Dust in the Wind and A Time to Live, A Time to Die. An article in The Nation has more details. Hopefully the festival organizers will update their website soon with a schedule of the screenings.