13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Michael Bay takes a break from transforming robots and mutant turtles to direct the fact-based military thriller 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which recounts the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Embassy compound in Libya, and the defense of the place and its people by a small team of private security contractors, all former military special-ops veterans.
James Badge Dale and John Krasinski head the ensemble cast, which also features Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, Toby Stephens and David Costabile. Chuck Hogan (The Strain, Prince of Thieves) wrote the screenplay, adapted from the book by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
The Boy – Just as Thailand's own creepy doll trend has made headlines, here's a horror film about a haunted toy that's uncannily similar to Thailand's so-called "child angels". The story has a young American woman taking a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that her 8-year-old charge is a life-sized doll, and that her employers' real son died some 20 years before. After breaking some of the rules concerning the "child's" care, and various disturbing and inexplicable events, she comes to believe that the doll is actually alive. Critical reception is generally negative. Rated 15+
The Finest Hours – In 1952, two oil tankers are sinking off the coast of New England during a severe winter storm. While senior rescuers are sent to fetch the crew of one of the wrecked ships, younger, less-experienced Coast Guardsmen are sent out in tiny lifeboats to the other. Meanwhile, the crew of the ship tries to survive, while on land, there's drama with the wives of the rescuers. The fact-based drama stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G.
Burnt – Bradley Cooper is a troubled two-star Michelin chef who loses his job in Paris. He sobers up while shucking oysters in New Orleans and seeks a fresh start and a third Michelin star with his own eatery in London. He assembles the best chefs he can find and clashes with a strong-willed sous chef (Sienna Miller). John Wells (August: Osage County and TV's Shameless) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
Exposed – Whoa. Poor Keanu. He's a police detective who uncovers evidence of corruption while trying to solve the mystery of his partner’s death. Meanwhile, a Latina girl (Ana De Armas) is experiencing strange things after witnessing what she believes to be a miracle. The film was originally called Daughter of God, and focused on the girl and her supernatural religious experience, but studio execs wanted the focus on a big-name star, so Lionsgate Premier changed it so it mostly dealt with Reeves' brooding detective. Critics are trashing it. Rated 15+
Finding Calico – A retired school headmaster (Issei Ogata) is left alone after the death of his wife, except for the stray tri-colored cat that his wife used to feed. The widower at first doesn’t care for the feline, but when the cat stops coming around, he rallies the community to find her. Also known as Sensei to Mayoi Neko, a.k.a. Teacher and Stray Cat, it's adapted from a fact-based novel by Chiaki Kizuki. Rated 13+
Khon Muay Kab Rak Thee Taektaang (ฅนมวยกับรักที่แตกต่าง, a.k.a. Boxing in Love) – Former childhood sweethearts – traditional dancer Roong and boxer Yord – are reacquainted years later in Bangkok, where Yord gets mixed up with mobsters. Roengsak Misiri and Kriangsak Phinthutrasi direct. Rated G
The Friese-Greene Club – There's a private screening tonight but the club is open tomorrow for one more film lensed by the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. It's Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Saturday, there's one more Paul Thomas Anderson movie for the month, 2012's The Master, which features Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a Scientology-like cult, and Joaquin Phoenix as the drifter alcoholic war veteran who falls under the cult leader's spell. Sunday has Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. 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 – Queer history comes into focus in The Circle (Der Kreis), in which homosexual schoolteacher Ernst Ostertag (Matthias Hungerbühler) gets involved with a gay-activist publication in Zurich in the 1950s, and falls in love with transgender performer Robi Rapp (Sven Schelker). It won several prizes, including the Teddy Award at the Berlin film fest in 2014. The show is at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 2, outdoors at the Goethe-Institut on Sathorn Soi 1. It's the second-to-last screening of the series, which wraps up on February 9.
Alliance Française – A small-town woman tries to make it in the big city in Le Beau monde (High Society). Arriving in Paris, she crosses paths with a fashion designer who sponsors her enrollment in a top fashion school. Meanwhile, she dumps her hometown boyfriend and takes up with her sponsor's hi-so son. The show is at 7pm on Wednesday, February 3, at the Alliance.
The Danish Girl – One of the first patients to undergo sexual reassignment surgery is covered in this highly fictionalized historical drama. Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne star as Dutch painter couple Gerda and Einar Wegener, whose relationship evolves after Gerda asks her husband to pose as a woman for a portrait. Thereafter, Einar decides he wants to be Lili. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables), the film has been a major nominee, with Golden Globe, Academy Award and Bafta nods for both Vikander and Redmayne (a big winner last year for his turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything). Critical reception is generally positive. It's in sneak previews from around 8 nightly in most multiplexes and opens wider next Thursday. Rated 18+
Tonight is the opening of Future's Ruins: The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project Installation at H Project Space. The work of researcher Philip Jablon, it's an exhibition of photos of the old stand-alone movie theaters that used to be common landmarks in cities across the region, but are fast disappearing. The show runs until May 29.
Ahead of the Japanese Film Festival from February 11 to 14 at SF World, there is a sidebar program, Sayonara Setsuko: A Tribute to Setsuko Hara, on Sunday, February 7 at the Reading Room. Put on by Filmvirus, with support from the Japan Foundation, the event will screen three classic films starring actress Setsuko Hara, who died last September at age 95. The films feature her work with three masters of Japanese cinema, 1946's No Regret for Our Youth by Akira Kurosawa, 1949's Late Spring by Yasujiro Ozu and 1951's Repast by Mikio Naruse. The show starts at 1pm. I'll have a complete look at the Japanese Film Fest in the next few days.
The Documentary Club supported the local release of "the iPhone movie" Tangerine. I incorrectly stated last week that HAL Film was behind both Tangerine and 45 Years. Apologies to both the Doc Club and HAL Film for the mix-up.