Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: January 14-20, 2016


Nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, Spotlight went home empty handed from the first big show of Hollywood's awards season. But don't count Spotlight out just yet – it's likely to be a major Academy Award nominee and is already a nominee for Baftas, Screen Actors Guild Awards and many more. Spotlight also already won the Film Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award for best ensemble cast.

A newspaper drama in the grand muckraking tradition of All the President's Men, Spotlight is the fact-based account of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe in 2002, who get wind of a massive official cover-up of rampant sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. They blow the lid off the story and win a Pulitzer.

Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup and John Slattery star. It's directed by Tom McCarthy, who debuted to much acclaim with The Station Agent. He's also an actor, having previously played a quote-fabricating Baltimore Sun reporter on TV's The Wire.

Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 15+

Also opening

Cop Car – Two boys find an abandoned sheriff's cruiser in the countryside and, with lights flashing and siren blaring, take the Crown Vic for a joyride. Meanwhile, the absent sheriff – a corrupt and dangerous lawman played by Kevin Bacon – angrily sets out to find his missing car. The debut feature by young indie director Jon Watts, Cop Car picked up solid buzz from its premiere at Sundance last year, helping to propel Watts into the top ranks as he was selected to helm yet another Spider-Man reboot. I have actually seen Cop Car and am here to say it is a terrific little movie. Many critics think so too. Rated 15+

The 5th Wave – Yet another talented young actress is dropped into yet another young-adult science-fiction franchise. Adapted from the 2013 novel by Rick Yancey – the first in a trilogy, of course – The 5th Wave stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, The Equalizer) as a 16-year-old heroine who has survived four apocalyptic waves of an alien invasion. She needs to find her little brother before he becomes a weapon in the fifth wave. Critical reception is just forming. Rated 13+

Ip Man 3 – Donnie Yen tangles with Mike Tyson in this third installment in director Wilson Yip's series of biographical dramas about Ip Man, the 1950s Hong Kong kung-fu grandmaster who, according to legend, taught Bruce Lee. The story has Ip Man keeping a low profile as he quietly teaches martial arts and looks after his family. He returns to the public eye to tangle with a street-brawling property developer (Tyson) who is bullying residents. Yuen Woo-Ping choreographed the action. He's the painterly martial-arts wizard behind such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix and Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster (which was also about Ip Man). Critical reception is mixed. Rated 13+

Sweet Alibis – Mismatched, bumbling police partners investigating the death of a poodle stumble onto a drug case involving gay gangsters in this Taiwanese crime farce. Alex Su is a cowardly, more-seasoned cop with Ariel Lin as a rookie cop trying to prove herself to her father. Matt Wu (Sway) also stars. A nominee for awards at 2014's Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards the and Osaka Asian Film Festival, Sweet Alibis got some decent reviews. It's at Esplanade Ratchada and Major Ratchayothin. Seems it is in Thai only. Rated G

Wazir – An anti-terrorism police officer (Farhan Akhtar) who is grieving over the death of his daughter bonds with the girl's chess master (Amitabh Bachchan) and comes up with a strategy to battle the terrorist threat. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also opening

The Friese-Greene Club – Sayajit Ray's restored epic Apu trilogy wraps up tonight with 1959's last chapter Apur Sansar. Tomorrow, cue the banjo music for a relaxing canoe trip with Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox in Deliverance, part of a month-long tribute to the late cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. This Saturday's Paul Thomas Anderson entry is his "documentary" on the "golden age of porn", Boogie Nights. And Sunday has another great Audrey Hepburn film, 1953's classic Roman Holiday. Next Wednesday is another "U.S. meet World" entry that exposed flyover-state hayseeds to "foreign" films, 1994's Il Postino. 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 – A young computer whiz joins masked hackers who stage increasingly daring raids on corporations and the government in Who Am I – No System Is Safe. Tom Schilling stars and Baran bo Odar directs, tossing in Fight Club references. It was a major nominee at last year's German Film Awards and won for editing, sounding and production design. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 19, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – There are two free French films to report this week. First up at 2pm on Saturday is a children's matinee, the animated Gus - Petit oiseau, grand voyage (Yellowbird). Featured at last year's World Film Festival of Bangkok, it's about an unusual orphaned yellow bird who becomes the unlikely leader of a mass migration to Africa. And then the usual 7pm Wednesday screening is Séraphine, an award-winning 2008 historical biographical drama about painter Séraphine Louis. Yolande Moreau stars.

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