Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening November 12-18, 2015

13th World Film Festival of Bangkok

The 13th World Film Festival of Bangkok is upon us, opening to the public on Saturday and running until November 22 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld.

The schedule is available for downloading. Here's the advice I generally give to festival newbies: Show up when you have time and see whatever is playing. Whatever you see at the festival will likely be better and/or more interesting than anything else that's ordinarily screening.

The highlights are many. The festival programmers have been especially enthusiastic about the three-part, six-hour Arabian Nights by Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, who will be visiting Bangkok during the fest. Set in contemporary Portugal, it's a fanciful adaptation of the One Thousand and One Nights tales. It premiered during Director's Fortnight at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and was greeted by much critical acclaim.

Other programmer-suggested highlights include the classic French film Contempt, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Brigitte Bardot; this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner, the Sri Lankan immigrant tale Dheepan; the quirky Mexican comedy The Hamsters; the Chinese-German schoolteacher documentary On the Rim of the Sky; the Peruvian mining documentary Daughter of the Lake; and the animated French fantasy The Day of the Crows.

I want to see the Filipino film Ruined Heart, but have scheduling conflicts. Seems all the good films are showing at the same times.

Tickets are 120 baht. And hey! Two WFFBKK ticket stubs entitle you to a free 44-ounce Coke. So enjoy the festival.


The Gift – A married couple are having a swell life until a dimly remembered acquaintance of the husband comes bearing mysterious gifts and secrets from the past. Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton star. Edgerton, the Australian actor from such films as Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby and Exodus: Gods and Kings, also wrote and directed this thriller, which has been met with much positive critical acclaim. Rated 15+

American Ultra – A small-town stoner (Jesse Eisenberg) is actually a sleeper secret agent and assassin. He's forced to get back in touch with his particular set of skills when he and his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) come under attack. Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman and Tony Hale also star. Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) directs this action-comedy written by Max Landis (Chronicle, Victor Frankenstein). Critical reception is mixed. Rated 18+

Life – Friendship develops between a rookie photographer for Life magazine and an up-and-coming actor named James Dean. Robert Pattinson is the lensman Dennis Stock while Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) portrays Dean. Anton Corbijn, the director who's done a mix of music videos and features such as The American and A Most Wanted Man, directs. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 15+

The 33 – The 2010 Chilean mining disaster is recalled in this drama about 33 trapped miners and their efforts to stay alive for more than two months as a globally televised effort to save them becomes a reality. Antonio Banderas stars as "Super Mario" Sepúlveda, the spiritual leader of the trapped men. Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, James Brolin, Gabriel Byrne and Bob Gunton also star. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G

Love Next Door 2 – In this sequel to a hit 2013 gay romantic comedy, a virginal young man (Angkoon Jeenukul) is the object of lust for customers at the restaurant where he works. Ratthapol Pholthabtim, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit and Jenny Panan star. Rated 18+

Father and Son (Phor Lae Lukchai, พ่อและลูกชาย) – Gay dad Ek (Thanapon Prasongsab) raised his surrogate son alone after his partner died. Teased by his friends, the youngster tries to escape from his home situation and starts dating Nut. However, Nut falls for the kid's dad. At SFW CentralWorld and Esplanade Ratchada. Rated 20-

Tiger Women (Phromajan Suay Phan Sayong, พรหมจรรย์ สวยพันธุ์สยอง) – A trip into the jungle leaves a young woman much changed. She's under suspicion when she returns to the city and dead men turn up, appearing to have been killed by a tiger. An erotic thriller, it's released by Thana Entertainment. Atsajun Sattakovit (Soul's Code) directs. Rated 18+

Sang Sudthai Khong E-Hien (แสงสุดท้ายของอีเหี่ยน) – A country comedy in the same vein as Yam Yasothon, Mon Love Sib Muen and Poo Bao Tai Baan E-San Indy, this one involves a country girl who comes to the city to search for her mother but ends up losing all her money and cannot return home. Rated G

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo – It's Diwali, the big Hindu holiday and a key weekend for Bollywood movie releases. This year's tentpole is a Salman Khan film, which has the superstar pairing up with leading lady Sonam Kapoor. He's a happy-go-lucky hero who performs traditional "Ram-Leelas" plays and donates all the money he earns to a charity run by a princess, whom he sets out to meet. And oh, he looks just like the realm's evil ruler. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles, it opens today Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III, Pattaya and Paragon and adds more venues tomorrow, Major Cineplex Chiang Mai Airport Plaza, Hat Yai and EGV Mae Sot.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Apart from the club's November schedule of Al Pacino on Wednesdays, Takashi Miike on Thursdays, Christopher Guest on Fridays, contemporary China on Saturdays and existential crises on Sundays, there's a special screening next Tuesday – On Your Mark, Get Set, Mow! Making its official Thai premiere, the documentary by Mike Ratel is a look at an annual lawn-tractor race put on by a Michigan family to benefit research into Huntington's disease, the debilitating illness suffered by Woody Guthrie, among others. Tonight, a wrapped-up corpse will suddenly sit up and scare the daylights out of you in Audition. Tomorrow, colorful inhabitants of a small town await the arrival of a Broadway producer in Waiting for Guffman. On Saturday, it's Blind Shaft, a 2003 film that is such an accurate depiction of corruption that it is still banned in China. On Sunday, Kevin Spacey and Chris Cooper are in the midst of mid-life crises in American Beauty. And next Wednesday has Pacino and his Godfather brother John Cazale in Dog Day Afternoon. Attica! Attica! 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 – November's movies at the Alliance are all about climate change, including this month's "kids' movie", La prophétie des grenouilles (Raining Cats and Frogs), a 2002 animated feature about a modern-day Noah. It screens at 2pm on Saturday. There's a special Tuesday screening next week, Human, the latest documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the photographer who uses dramatic aerial-photography images to show our devastating impact on the planet. It shows at 7pm next Tuesday. And the usual Wednesday screening has back-to-back episodes of a TV documentary series, Planete Glace: Himalaya and Planete Glace: Alpes. They screen at 7pm on Wednesday, November 18, at the Alliance.

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