Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening December 17-23, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Just let it in."

The continuing saga of faith continues with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the much-anticipated reboot of George Lucas' science-fiction phenomenon.

Even the grizzled scoundrel Han Solo, a once-cocky pilot and disbeliever in the Force, has changed his tune. "It's true. All of it," he tells the youngsters. "The Dark Side. The Jedi. They are real."

Rebooted by Disney, which bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.06 billion, the Star Wars universe is reimagined by writer-director J.J. Abrams along with Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Hunger Games).

No spoilers here.

The story, as far as I can make out, is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and introduces new characters, including a loner young scavenger woman (Daisy Ridley) and an ex-stormtrooper (John Boyega) who cross paths with figures from the original 1970s and '80s trilogy. They include Harrison Ford as Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Leia. They'll clash with a new host of villains, including the fearsome Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Thailand is one of the first places in the universe to get this new film, but it's worth noting, as the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee did, that it took years for the original Star Wars trilogy to finally screen in local cinemas.

Early reviews are positive. More reviews to come. Rated G

Also opening

The Guitar King – Thai rock and blues musician Lam Morrison is profiled in this TrueVisions-produced documentary by director Passakorn Pramunwong. Lam, 72, is followed as he performs at his Hot Tuna Pub in Pattaya and revisits Norway and Germany, where he performed in his rock 'n' roll heydays. Passakorn, a founder of A Day magazine, previously collaborated with filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang on the documentaries Total Bangkok and Paradoxocracy. There's more about the movie in a Bangkok Post article. It's at Eastville, Esplanade Ratchada, Major Ratchayothin, Mega, Paragon and Quartier CineArt. Rated 18+

Irrational Man – A womanizing alcoholic philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) is coaxed through an existential crisis with help from a much-younger woman (Emma Stone), who is one of his students. Woody Allen writes and directs. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to negative. Rated 18+

Fathers and Daughters – Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried star in this tear-jerking melodrama about an award-winning author who suffers a mental breakdown while coping with being a widowed single dad raising a little girl. Years later, as an adult, the girl has issues. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to negative. Rated 13+

Dilwale – Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are star-crossed lovers trying to overcome a violent conflict between their familes in this action-comedy. Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon are also featured. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Paragon and Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, in honor of Kirk Douglas' 99th birthday last Wednesday, it's another one of Woody Allen's favorite films, the World War I drama Paths of Glory by Stanley Kubrick. Tomorrow, it's the restored classic Tras El Cristal (The Glass Cage), about a pedophile Nazi mad scientist who is confined to an iron lung and is looked after by one of his former victims. The club's Christmas Party is on Saturday, and though there's no film that night, there is plenty of Christmas cheer in Sunday's Miracle on 34th Street. And next Wednesday has 1982's Made in Britain, featuring Tim Roth in his debut performance as a teen racist thug. 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 – John Malkovich is the Duke of Wellington, scheming to lure French troops into a trap in the historical drama Les Linhas de Wellington at 7pm on Wednesday, December 23, at the Alliance.

Take note

There's no German Open Air Cinema for the next couple of weeks, owing to the Christmas and New Year's holidays. The outdoor movies resume on January 5 at the Goethe.

On hiatus for the past year or so, the 9FilmFest has returned and is seeking entries for an online contest set for next year. The idea is to make original short films of nine minutes in length and include a unique "signature item". In this case, the "9SI" is "flower". For more details, check the festival website or Facebook page.

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