Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening February 18-23, 2016

The Look of Silence

Following last week's release of The Act of Killing, here's the essential companion piece, The Look of Silence, which delves further into politically motivated genocide in 1960s Indonesia.

While The Act of Killing kept its focus on the perpetrators of the genocide – politicians and military figures who still hold power and influence – The Look of Silence is all about the victims. They are embodied by a sole survivor, an optician who goes door-to-door, plying his trade in giving eye exams to the elderly.

His job is excellent cover for what he's really doing – tracking down those who were responsible for killing his older brother in 1965. Patiently and methodically, he finds these people, and gets them to confess to truths that have been buried for nearly 50 years. Often, the words are out their mouths before they realize what they are saying.

An Academy Award nominee and almost-universally praised, The Look of Silence a must-see movie, especially for local residents and anyone interested in the history and politics of Southeast Asia. It's at SF cinemas. For further details, check or SF's bookings site. Rated G

Also opening

The Rain Stories (เมื่อฝนหยดลงบนหัว, Meur Fon Yod Long Bon Hua) – Nichaphoom Chaianan, the indie writer-director of last year's gay romance My Bromance, directs this anthology of unconventional high-school love stories. They involve a disabled girl falling for the hottest boy in school, a boy who is about to meet his father for the first time becoming embroiled in a relationship with his best friend, and another boy who is considering entering the gay sex trade in order to repay his gambling debts. Check the trailer. It's at Major Cineplex. Rated G

Joy – Writer-director David O. Russell gets the band back together for his latest effort, which has several of the same cast members as his recent critically acclaimed hits Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. It's the fact-based tale of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the self-wringing Miracle Mop, who became a self-made millionaire selling her products on cable-TV shopping channels. Jennifer Lawrence stars, portraying Joy as a struggling divorcee in a dead-end job who is heavily in debt and is sharing a house with her bickering divorced parents (Robert De Niro and Virginia Madsen), her kindly grandmother (Diane Ladd) and her singer ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez). With help from her father's new girlfriend (Isabella Rosselli), she comes up with the Miracle Mop and gets on TV with the assistance of a visionary QVC network executive (Bradley Cooper). Lawrence won the Golden Globe for best actress in the comedy category and she's also an Oscar nominee. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to favorable. Rated 13+

Concussion – Snubbed for an Oscar nomination, Will Smith portrays the brilliant Nigerian-American physician Dr Bennet Omalu, who discovered links between repeated blows to the head and the premature deaths of professional gridiron football players. He encounters vigorous pushback from the National Football League when he wants to present his findings. Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Albert Brooks also star. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated G

Legend – Tom Hardy is in a dual role in this indie British drama, which covers the rise and fall of identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of the most notorious and violent criminals in British history. It's a story previously covered in The Krays, a 1990 cult film that had the twins portrayed by brother musicians Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet. Hardy, who's had a heck of run this season with such films as Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, was snubbed by the Baftas but he won best actor at the British Independent Film Awards for his work in Legend. Critical reception is mixed, leaning to positive. Rated 18+

Zoolander 2 – Fifteen years later, dimwitted male fashion models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are called back into action to stop a criminal mastermind who is killing the world's most beautiful people. Penelope Cruz joins the cast this time around, playing the Interpol agent handler of Derek and Hansel. Will Ferrell returns, as fashion world arch-villain Mugatu. A comedy that found a cult following after it was released on home video, the first Zoolander was quite funny and holds up to at least a couple of repeated viewings before it gets old. Zoolander 2, which is simply a shameless cash grab, is destined to be forgotten in the same bin that Anchorman 2 went into. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 13+

Little Boy – Upset that his father has volunteered to fight in World War II, a developmentally stunted 7-year-old boy learns many important lessons after he turns to the Christian faith in a bid to bring his father home. Stars include Emily Watson, Kevin James, David Henrie, Tom Wilkinson, Ted Levine and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated G

Bakuman – A young man becomes determined to be a manga and anime artist after he falls in love with a girl who wants to be a voice actress. She’ll marry him only after they achieve their dreams. A live-action adaptation of a popular manga and anime TV series about manga and anime artists, this opened in sneak previews last week and now moves to a wider release. Rated G

Neerja – Sonam Kapoor stars in this fact-based drama about the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi in 1986, in which a 23-year-old flight attendant bravely rose up to defend the hostages. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, Alan Rickman is a Paris wine-shop owner who comes up with a contest that pits "New World" wines against French vintages in the 2008 indie comedy Bottle Shock, which also stars Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Dennis Farina. Tomorrow, a black cop from Philadelphia (Sidney Poitier) works with a Southern white police chief (Rod Steiger) to solve a murder in 1967's In the Heat of the Night, directed by Norman Jewison and featuring cinematography by Haskell Wexler, who is paid tribute this month following his recent passing. Saturday's "kinky" movie is 1982's Cat People starring Nastassja Kinski. It also works as a tribute to the late David Bowie, who performed the film's theme song. Sunday has another Billy Wilder film noir, his 1950 Hollywood portrait, Sunset Boulevard. 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 – A fiftysomething Paris businessman enters into a tryst with a young Ukrainian male prostitute who is involved with a violent street gang in the 2013 drama Eastern Boys. It screens at 7pm on Wednesday, February 24, at the Alliance.

Take note

Until Saturday, you can reserve seats for Wim Wenders: A Retrospective, which is taking place at the Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom on February 27-28 and March 5, screening such films as Paris, Texas and The American Friend as well the 3D movies Pina and Every Thing will be Fine, which will be the first 3D films shown there. The place has 120 seats, and half of them are up for grabs now, with the other half held for walk-ins on the show dates. The retrospective opens next Thursday with Wings of Desire, outdoors, in Lumpini Park. I'll have more about Wendersfest in a couple of days.

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