Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening March 3-9, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

With Hail, Caesar!, the Coen Bros. return to the Hollywood Golden Age at Capitol Pictures, which they first mined for screwball-comedy hijinks in Barton Fink, which was set in the 1940s.

Now in the 1950s, Capitol has a brash new executive “fixer”, played by Josh Brolin, who has his work cut out for him when the studio's biggest star, matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing during the production of a swords-and-sandals epic. Turns out he's been kidnapped by a shadowy group known as "the Future".

Aside from Coen veterans like Clooney and Brolin, there's also Frances McDormand as a film editor and Tilda Swinton in dual roles as rival twin sister gossip columnists. Channing Tatum and Alden Ehrenreich are a couple other young leading men at the studio. Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill also star.

The Coens have stated that this is the third entry in their Numbskull Trilogy of films with their favorite numbskull Clooney, following O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Intolerable Cruelty (2003), though 2008's Burn After Reading might also fit in there too.

Critical reception is mostly positive, putting Hail, Caesar! somewhere in the Coens' middle realm, below A Serious Man and above The Man Who Wasn't There. Rated 13+

Also opening

London Has Fallen – Remember 2013, when there were two back-to-back "Die Hard in the White House movies"? One was Roland Emmerich's stupidly fun White House Down, with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, and the other was the straight-faced, grimmer-toned and much-less-fun Olympus Has Fallen, which was directed by Antoine Fuqua and starred Gerard Butler as a disgraced Secret Service agent who redeems himself when the White House comes under attack. He's back in London Has Fallen, protecting president Aaron Eckhart as he attends a British prime minister's funeral, which becomes a target for a Pakistani arms dealer who wants to wipe out all the world leaders. Charlotte Riley joins the cast, playing a British agent. Returnees include Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster and Melissa Leo. Babak Najafi, an Iranian-born Swedish filmmaker, takes over as director, making his English-language debut. Rated 18+

Love Say Hey .. Yaak Say Wa Rak Ther (เลิฟเซเฮ.. อยากเซว่ารักเธอ) – High-school seniors have to figure out how to balance love, friendship and their studies as they work to make a film together for their graduation project. Napat Jaitientum directs. He previously directed the gay romances, last year's Love Love You and 2014's Love's Coming. Rated G

Office – An office supervisor (Bae Sung-woo) snaps after a long day at work, kills his family and disappears. A police detective (Park Sung-woong) is on the case, but co-workers are tight-lipped about the man, until, one by one, they start getting killed off too. It's directed by Hong Won-chan, who makes his debut as helmer following screenplays on such acclaimed South Korean thrillers as The Chaser, The Yellow Sea and Confession of Murder. In Korean with English and Thai subtitles at SFW CentralWorld and Esplanade Ratchada. Rated 18+

Mojin: The Lost Legend – An infamous tomb robber (Chen Kun) has settled down to retire with his new fiancee when an old girlfriend (Angelababy) who he thought died 20 years ago resurfaces and lures him back to China and the tomb of a Mongolian princess, which holds an artifact that has the power to raise the dead. Thai-dubbed it seems. Rated 13+

Jai Gangaajal – Priyanka Chopra portrays the first female police superintendent in Bankipur, Bihar. She decides to take on a corrupt local politician and his henchmen. Manav Kaul, Rahul Bhat and Queen Harish also star. In Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya.

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – Danish films, David Lynch, "controversy!", a tribute to cinematographer Donald Slocum and Donald Trump: What's the Deal? are featured this month. The abstract movies of David Lynch are featured on Thursdays, beginning with The Elephant Man. Friday's "controversial" film is A Clockwork Orange. This Saturday is a one-off special event, the fourth edition of the 9 Film Fest, which will screen the winning entries in this year's online contest. To compete, filmmakers have to come up original nine-minute films that contain a "signature item" that is unique from year to year. This year's "9SI" was "flower". Sunday has the films shot by Slocum, beginning with the screwball British comedy The Lavender Hill Mob. Later in the month, the club has scheduled Saturday screenings of Trump: What's the Deal?, a 1999 documentary that is reportedly "the movie Trump doesn't want you to see". It's set for March 12, March 19 and March 26, for Bt150 per person. 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.

Signes de Nuit in Bangkok – The Reading Room, Filmvirus, the Goethe-Institut and the International Festival Signet de Nuit present an extensive selection of experimental short films and documentaries from this year's International Festival Signet de Nuit in Paris. Screenings are on Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the Reading Room on Silom Soi 19. For the full schedule, please check the Facebook events page.

Wim Wenders: A Retrospective – The Thai Film Archive lets light filter through its state-of-the-art 3D projector for the first time, with back-to-back Saturday screenings of two 3D films by influential German director Wim Wenders. First up at 1pm is Pina, Wenders' tribute to the late German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. That's followed by the drama Every Thing will be Fine, which has James Franco as writer who kills a child in a car wreck. These are two films in which the filmmaker seeks to use 3D to "immerse" the audience in sights, sounds, experiences and storytelling, rather than just titillate with gimmicks and flashy special effects as most mainstream commercial 3D films do. It's an approach that contemporaries of Wenders have taken, such as Werner Herzog with his 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams or Martin Scorsese, with his epic childhood drama Hugo., and Jean-Luc Godard with Goodbye to Language. For more details, check the special post, the Archive's website or the Goethe website.

German Film Week – Following the recently concluded Open Air Cinema season, the ongoing Wim Wenders: A Retrospective and the monthly German Film Series, German cinema remains in focus with German Film Week from March 7 to 13 at Paragon Cineplex. It will screen seven contemporary German films from 2013-14. Here's the line-up:

  • Monday, March 7: Who am I – No System is safe – Baran bo Odar directs this thriller about a hacker who uses the virtual reality to become "somebody". An opening reception precedes this screening, beginning at 6pm.
  • Tuesday, March 8: Schönefeld Boulevard – A plus-size teenage girl gets her first taste of the wide open world when construction of a new Berlin airport comes to her neighborhood.
  • Wednesday, March 9: The Age of Cannibals (Zeit der Kannibalen) – Two longtime business consultants who make their living travelling to far-flung countries advising companies, are both in for disappointment when they are passed over for a big promotion.
  • Thursday, March 10: Inbetween Worlds (Zwischen Welten) – In Afghanistan, a German soldier becomes conflicted between duty and his conscience as he works in a Taliban-controlled area with a young Afghani interpreter.
  • Friday, March 11: A God send (Ein Geschenk der Götter) – An unemployed actress takes a job teaching a theater class to chronically jobless folks. They will try to put on the play Antigone.
  • Saturday, March 12: Jack – A 10-year-old boy goes looking for his mother after she fails to turn up to collect him after school. A nominee for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, the drama is directed by Edward Berger, who co-wrote the screenplay with Nele Mueller-Stöfen.
  • Sunday, March 13: Patong Girl – There's conflict for a German family on vacation in Phuket, when the teenage son falls for a local lass and runs off. Mum runs off too, to search for the boy, but instead goes on a journey to find herself. Susanna Salonen directs this Thai-German comedy-drama, filmed in Phuket with a Thai and German cast.

Shows are at 7pm. All films will have English subtitles. Tickets cost 120 baht and 150 baht at the Paragon box office.

Sneak preview

Kung Fu Panda 3 – The Dreamworks Animation franchise returns with Jack Black's rotund martial artist Po and his friends getting up to more adventures. Po, the orphaned panda, finds his homeland and bonds with his father and other panda family members. Meanwhile, an evil new adversary arises in the former of master Kai, voiced by J.K. Simmons. Along with Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan in returning roles, newcomers to the franchise include Bryan Cranston and Kate Hudson. It's in sneak previews from Saturday until Wednesday, with kid-friendly screenings starting between 2pm and 5pm . Rated G

Take note

There's no free film screening next Wednesday at the Alliance Française, which instead will have a one-off concert Duo Brunetti-Pachioli. The free French films return on March 16.

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