Weird movies are part and parcel of film festivals, but, thanks to the ever-so-gradually maturing tastes of Thai distributors and film-goers, more and more of these oddball pictures are finding their way off the reservation and into general release in local cinemas.
Case in point this week is The Lobster, a satirically absurdist romantic drama starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman and Ben Whishaw. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek helmer making his English-language debut, it's set in a near-future dystopian society where singles are ordered to live in the restrictive "Hotel" and are required by law to find a love match. Failure to do so results in being killed or transformed into animals.
The Lobster made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was in main Palme d'Or competition. It's likely to also be something of a fixture during the awards season, having already scored nominations for the British Independent Film Awards. Critical reception is crazily good, but the consensus warns that it's "definitely an acquired taste". If you've seen Lanthimos' Dogtooth (screened at a festival in Bangkok a few years back) or Alps, you know what kind wackiness to expect. Rated 15+
Z for Zachariah – Two men and one woman – Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine and Margot Robbie – are in a love triangle after they are left as the apparent only survivors of a global disaster. Craig Zobel (Compliance and HBO's The Leftovers) directs. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 13+
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Watch the drama unfold as Jennifer Lawrence frees herself from the clutches of a young-adult science-fiction novel franchise. Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Josh Hutcherson also star. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated 15+
World Film Festival of Bangkok – Still lots to see as the 13th edition of the WFFBKK rolls into its closing weekend at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Among today's highlights is The Hamsters, a Mexican comedy about a highly dysfunctional family. There's also an encore screening of Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One, an oddball movie by Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, who uses the One Thousand and One Nights tales as a template for absurdist stories from the frontlines in austerity-measures-wracked Portugal. Volume 2: The Desolate One screens on Friday and Volume 3: The Enchanted One shows on Saturday. These have been a hot ticket at the festival, with serious film-loving Thais packing the screenings. I liked Volume 1 the best, but the other two are rewarding in their own ways. Tomorrow is another chance to see Cronopios and Famas, a tuneful Argentine stop-motion-animated adaptation of various stories by Julio Cortázar, which focused on the struggles of the proletariat. The fest wraps up on Sunday with the invite-only Thai premiere of Suffragette, an acclaimed British historical drama that is going to get a general release in Thai cinemas.
The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Takashi Miike seeks to shock you with Visitor Q, while tomorrow fussy dog owners and trainers are profiled in the documentary-style comedy Best in Show by Christopher Guest. The sale of women for marriage in China is examined in Li Yang's Blind Mountain on Saturday while on Sunday artist-filmmaker Miranda July gets up to her usual tricks in the quirky romantic comedy Me and You and Everyone We Know. And next Wednesday has Al Pacino as a "60 Minutes" producer whose segment exposes secrets of the tobacco industry in Michael Mann's The Insider. Russell Crowe also stars, playing the cigarette-company whistleblower. 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 – Next in the continuing series of climate-change films this month is Il était une forêt (Once Upon a Time in the Forest), a documentary by Luc Jacquet, who previously did the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins. For his 2012 film, Jacquet went deep into a rainforest with help from botanist and ecologist Francis Hallé. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, November 25, at the Alliance.
There's a free film festival next week – the Bangkok edition of the International Film Festival on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, which will screen nine dramas and documentaries from November 26 to 29 at SF World. Find out more at the EVAGWG film festival website or the Facebook event page.