Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 10-16, 2015


Three dysfunctional relationships rock back and forth between Asians in three cities in Sway, the debut feature by Thai-American writer-director Rooth Tang.

The drama was put together over the course of several years by Rooth, who graduated in film studies from the University of California, Irvine, and has taken part in industry initiatives, such as HBO's Project Greenlight.

For what would become his first feature, Rooth began with Bangkok scenes that were shot in 2010 with Thai stars Ananda Everingham and Sajee Apiwong. He's a well-travelled dreamer who seduces a Bangkok office worker, who then gets pregnant, but she is afraid to say anything.

In Los Angeles, the Caucasian-American second wife (Kris Wood-Bell) of a widowed Japanese-American businessman (Kazuhiko Nishimura) is having insecurity issues, along with problems with her husband's teenage daughter.

And in Paris, a drifter Chinese-American translator (Matt Wu) ponders his next move while renewing a relationship with his girlfriend (Lu Huang), a former Hong Kong TV star who is struggling to make it as a serious journalist. Meanwhile, the young man's parents are on the verge of divorce, giving him doubts about the future of his own relationship.

Sway made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, and has also screened in Taipei's Golden Horse fest, last year's Singapore International and this year's Shanghai fest.

Critical reception has been fair so far, and I've got my own review.

It's in limited release at Esplanade Ratchada, House, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 18+

Also opening

Point Break – Kathryn Bigelow's cult-classic 1991 action drama is remade for the new extreme-sport generation, with Luke Bracy in Keanu Reeves' role as FBI agent Johnny Utah, who goes undercover in a gang of thrill-seeking surfers who are committing a series of high-stakes heists. Edgar Ramirez steps into Patrick Swayze's role as the philosophical Bodhi. Kurt Wimmer (Ultraviolet, Equilibrium) provides the script, which delves more into the spirituality, mythology and motivations of Bodhi and his gang. And Ericson Core, helming his second feature after the fight flick Invincible, pulls double duty in the director's chair and behind the lens. Critical reception is just starting to form. Rated 15+

Veteran – Here's a slickly made police drama from South Korea, in which a lone maverick detective goes after a corrupt young business executive. It's the same cop story that's been told many cop times, but is still "crackerjack entertainment", according to Film Business Asia. It has Thai and English subtitles at select Major Cineplex branches.

The Nightmare – Billed as a "documentary-horror", The Nightmare deals with the supposed phenomenon of "sleep paralysis", a condition in which sufferers are fully conscious and aware of their surroundings but are unable to move. The additionally suffer from disturbing visions of ghosts or demons. Or so the stories say. Critical reception has been generally positive. Rated 15+

The New Adventures of Aladdin – Two friends take jobs as Santas in a bid to rob a department store but then become storytellers for children. They take a page from "One Thousand and One Nights" and then become characters from those stories as they head off on an adventure. Starring comedian Kev Adams, it's a mainstream French comedy and looks quite a bit like mainstream Thai TV comedies. The Hollywood Reporter sums up "make a wish you don't see it".Seems it is Thai-dubbed only.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Another favorite movie of Woody Allen's, François Truffaut's childhood drama The 400 Blows, screens tonight. Tomorrow, there's more youthful drama in Larry Clark's edgy Ken Park. Saturday's restored classic is 1969's The Color of Pomegrantes, which was dusted off in observance of the 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide in Turkey. And on Sunday, Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan spread Christmas cheer in The Shop Around the Corner. Next Wednesday, it's one of my favorite movies, Michael Winterbottom's entertaining and endlessly quotable 24 Hour Party People, covering the rise and fall of music impresario Tony Wilson, Factory Records and the Manchester music scene. Steve Coogan's character explains: "I don't want to say too much, don't want to spoil it. I'll just say one word: 'Icarus'. If you get it, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But you should probably read more." 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 Open Air Cinema – Three struggling Berlin artists decide to collaborate on a project sponsored by a biotech company and they become the next step in human evolution in the science-fiction comedy-drama Art Girls. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, December 15, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – There are two free French movies to list this week. On Saturday, there's a holiday-themed 2pm matinee for families and children, Santa's Apprentice. And then the usual weekday screening is My Sweet Pepper Land, a 2013 drama about a Kurdish war hero police officer who takes a job in a remote, lawless town near the Turkish border. There, he forms a bond with another newcomer to the territory, a female schoolteacher. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, December 16, at the Alliance.

Take note

There is a new-ish film-focused nightlife establishment in Bangkok – Cinema Winehouse on Samsen Road in the Khao San backpacker neighborhood. They screen double features from 7.30 nightly. This month's schedule is devoted to Christmas films. I don't get to that part of the city too frequently, so I haven't been there myself and can't vouch for the place, but others have mentioned it so I thought I would too.

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