Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening January 21-27, 2016

45 Years

Tensions surface between an elderly childless couple as they prepare to celebrate their 45th anniversary in 45 Years, which stars Tom Courtenay and features an Oscar-nominated turn by Charlotte Rampling.

Geoff (Courtenay) and Kate (Rampling) are a comfortably well-off liberal couple who are planning a small celebration when Geoff receives news that the body of his girlfriend has been found in the Swiss Alps, where she fell and died while hiking with him 50 years before. While bittersweet memories come flooding back for Geoff, Kate begins to wonder if their entire marriage was based on a lie.

It's the first release of the year from HAL Film, the film school that entered the movie distribution business last year with the release of the offbeat foreign indie titles White God and The Tribe

Directed by Andrew Haigh, 45 Years debuted in competition at Berlin last year, where it won the Silver Bears for best actor and actress for Courtenay and Rampling. Other wins included the European Film Awards, festivals in London, Edinburgh and Valladolid and more accolades from critics' societies worldwide. Critical reception is overwhelmingly positive. Rated G

Also opening

Tangerine – And now, oddly, the Documentary Club has a dramatic feature, Tangerine. It's the indie comedy-drama that's known in the biz as "that iPhone movie". So I guess it is intended by the Doc Club to show the possibilities of that gadget you're carrying. The story centers on transgender prostitute Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), who goes off on a tear through Hollywood with her friend and fellow hooker Alexandra (Mya Taylor) after she hears her pimp-boyfriend Chester (James Ransone) has cheated on her. Directed by Sean S. Baker, the entire low-budget feature was shot with the iPhone 5S and created a sensation at Sundance last year. Critical reception is generally positive. It's in limited release at SF World Cinema, SFX Central Rama 9, SFX Central Lat Phrao and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Rated 18+

Steve Jobs – In addition an iPhone movie, here's a movie about the man who brought us the iPhone. Oscar-winning Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin teams with Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle for yet another movie about the mercurial Apple Computer co-founder who died in 2011. The movie is based on Walter Issacson's best-selling biography and on interviews Sorkin conducted with various figures. Michael Fassbender portrays Jobs in the biopic, which tracks him as he prepares for the launch of three key products – the Macintosh, the NeXT and iMac G3 – and also deals with his strained relationships with family and colleagues. Nominated for four Golden Globes, including best actor and screenplay, it won the supporting-actress Globe for Kate Winslet, who plays Jobs' co-worker and confidante. It's also an Oscar nominee for actor and supporting actress. Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels also star. Critical reception is generally positive. Rated G

Awasarn Loke Suay (อวสานโลกสวย) – The year in Thai cinema commences with this teen psychological drama from Kantana Motion Pictures, in which a faded Internet idol (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) becomes upset at being unseated by a new schoolgirl star (Napasasi Surawan). She decides to teach the naive upstart a lesson in cruelty. Pun Homcheun and Onusa Donsawai direct, adapting a short film of the same name. In a gimmick to gin up publicity, there are two versions – rated 18+ and the “uncut” 20-

Krasue Kreung Khon (กระสือครึ่งคน) – And there's another Thai film to start 2016 – veteran actor-director Bin Banluerit's horror-comedy, which has a jungle tribe of dwarfs being terrorized by the notorious krasue, the female ghost of Southeast Asian folklore that’a floating vampiric head and entrails. Rated 15+

Airlift – Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar revisits the 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait after the invasion by Iraqi forces during the First Gulf War. Over 59 days, Air India flew nearly 500 planes into the war zone to airlift some 177,000 Indians, a feat that holds a Guinness Record for the most people airlifted by a civilian airline. Nimrat Kaur (The Lunchbox) also stars. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhuvmit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight (not last Thursday as I erroneously stated here last week), Sayajit Ray's restored epic Apu trilogy wraps up with 1959's last chapter Apur Sansar. Tomorrow, it's the director's cut of Michael Cimino's epic western Heaven's Gate, which was a legendary flop on release and brought down the United Artists studio. Part of a monthlong tribute to the late cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, it's now hailed as a modern masterpiece. Saturday's Paul Thomas Anderson film is Punch-Drunk Love, which is possibly the best film Adam Sandler will ever be part of. Sunday has Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized in her apartment by intruders. And next Wednesday is another "U.S. Meet World" entry of films that were popular with the meth-heads and trailer-park trash in the good old U.S. of A. It's Like Water for Chocolate, which became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film there. 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 – The Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots of 1992 are recalled in We Are Young. We Are Strong (Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark.), a historical drama that tracks the lives of various characters throughout the night in which unemployed youths violently vented their boredom and anger on a public housing development that was home to Vietnamese, Romanian Roma and other foreign migrants. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 26, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1.

Alliance Française – A 15-year-old girl is desperately in love with her 19-year-old boyfriend when he decides to leave her and explore the world in Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse). Hard feelings emerge eight years later when the two lovers are reunited. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, January 27, at the Alliance.

Take note

I've already mentioned the upcoming Japanese Film Festival, which is set for February 11 to 14 at SF World Cinema.

Another event to mention is the Bangkok Art and Culture Center's Cinema Diverse: Directors' Choice series, which wraps up on February 6 with a screening of the Chilean drama No hosted by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand's most-celebrated filmmaker. He and film critic Kong Rithdee will talk about the movie afterward, with translation in English. Registration opens at 4.30pm with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other upcoming events this year include the Goethe-Institut and Thai Film Archive's Wim Wenders Retrospective, which will include Wings of Desire outdoors at Lumpini Park in February and a 3D screening of Pina at the Archive in March. There's also the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival in March, the Archive's travelling Memories fest in April, the Silent Film Festival of Thailand in June and the Thai Short Film and Video Festival in August. I'll have more details on some of those events in the coming weeks.

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