Since last December, an initiative branded Doc Holiday has been bringing popular recent documentaries to Bangkok multiplexes. It's given movie-goers a chance to see such acclaimed titles as the found-photos treasure trove of Finding Vivian Maier, and Life Itself, about influential film critic Roger Ebert. And of note recently, there was the Oscar-winning public-surveillance exposé Citizenfour.
The latest release is another film that has us watching who is watching us, 1971, a critically acclaimed feature by debuting director Johanna Hamilton. It recalls when a group calling itself the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into a bureau office. The burglars, who are interviewed, brought to light files related to Cointelpro, a secret, illegal domestic-spy program that targeted civil-rights leaders, journalists, politicians and other leftist figures who were deemed enemies of the state by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
The film is part of the ongoing Doc Holiday series at SF cinemas, which is organized by the Documentary Club, a personal project started by Bioscope magazine editor Thida Plitpholkarnpim. It's different, experimental and grass-roots, and it taps into the welcome recent trend of documentaries – both foreign and Thai, and independent – being eaten up by local audiences.
The deal works like this: Documentary Club's limited screenings are first set up on weekends at SF World at CentralWorld. Then, driven by the viral power of social-media networking, and maybe even good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth, the frequencies may be extended to more days and other SF branches, depending on the films' popularity.
For example, after its initial weekend run at SF World, Citizenfour was expanded to daily screenings at other SF cinemas, such as SFX Lad Phrao. Documentary Club has also been doing opening-weekend screenings in Chiang Mai, at the SFX Maya.
Anyway, to find out the actual showtimes, you've got to check the Documentary Club's Facebook page. Only there will you find the updates on the latest times and venues. And, it'll be from there, where I'll attempt to track the films' progress each Thursday, if possible.
According to the latest Facebook post, 1971 screens at 7.30 tonight at SFW CentralWorld, and not at 7 as SF's poster seems to indicate. The film is then scheduled to move to a slightly wider limited release next weekend, May 8 to 10 at CentralWorld and at SFX Maya Chiang Mai. And then, who knows? It's all up to you.
Advance bookings through SF Cinema City's website are encouraged.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
If it's not the FBI or National Security Agency trying to control our lives, it's that forever-meddling superhero Tony Stark. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the egotistical billionaire weapons developer thinks it would be a swell idea to restart a long-dormant peacekeeping system. It turns out to be an artificial-intelligence entity that attains consciousness and decides that the only way to save the world is to destroy it. Nice going Tony.
To clean up his mess and stop the scary robot Ultron, Stark needs the help of eye-patched maestro Nick Fury and the Avengers – Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and a few other super folk. Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and many, many more all return for this sequel to 2012's first Avengers movie, which also ties in with the Iron Man movies and the Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. James Spader is the menacing voice of Ultron. Also joining the cast are Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as the Maximoff twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who you may have glimpsed at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Cult-TV-series director Joss Whedon (Firefly, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) again directs, marking what he says will be his last Avengers movie. As with the other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there will be tie-in scenes with upcoming Marvel films during the ending credits; so keep your seat and pay your respects to all the grips, gaffers, best boys and visual-effects artists.
Critical reception is generally positive, though maybe not as strong as the first Avengers. It's in converted 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G
Gabbar is Back – And I didn't know he left. Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar takes a page out of Tony Stark's book. He's a vigilante who thinks it would be a swell idea to form a military strike team to systematically eliminate society's most-corrupt individuals. A pair of lawmen are on his case. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Woody Allen's Manhattan closes out the month tonight. Keep an eye on the club's Facebook page for May's schedule. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the under-renovation Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22.
Doc Weekend – Documentaries, documentaries, documentaries. We love documentaries. In addition to the Documentary Club initiative detailed above, this weekend there are 10 recent Thai documentaries on screen at TK Park at CentralWorld. It’s a chance to see some noteworthy films that played in local cinemas but maybe you missed, including Somboon, Mother and Wish Us Luck. It’s also an opportunity to catch up, with such examples as Siam Park City, a 2011 effort by Chonlasit Upanigkit, the film student who earned plaudits last year for his debut feature, W., a drama that was his graduation project and premiered in the Busan International Film Festival, and also had a limited local cinema run. The event is curated by local filmmaker Supakit Seksuwan, who put together last year's Thai Aurora the Horizon. Admission is Bt20. TK Park is on the eighth floor of CentralWorld, above the Central Foodhall. Shows start at 11am on Saturday and Sunday. For full line-up, you can check that other blog, the fest's Exteen blog or the Facebook events page.
Alliance Française – "French films with children" is the theme for May, beginning with Tirez la langue, mademoiselle (Miss and the Doctors), about a pair of brothers who are both doctors. They start looking after a diabetic child and fall for the kid's mother. It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, May 6.
Next Thursday, May 7, is the opening of the photo exhibition “40 Years Later: the Commemoration of the Fall of Phnom Penh” by Roland Neveu at the Alliance Française Bangkok. The opening will have the one-off screening of the emotion-filled documentary Cambodge, après l’adieu (Cambodia After Farewell), in which co-director Iv Charbonneau-Ching follows his family's return to Cambodia after their escape from the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975. Tickets are 100 baht. You can reserve your movie ticket online. For more details, check the Facebook events page. Neveu's photos will be up through May 24.
Bangkok Comic-Con is happening this weekend at Bitec. It'll have booths and all kinds of things in addition to costumed superheroes wandering around. There's more about it in an article in The Nation today.