Natalie Portman is a young frontierswoman in Jane Got a Gun. Although she's got plenty of sand, she has to get help from her gunslinger ex-boyfriend when her farm and her husband (Noah Emmerich) come under attack from a land-grabbing villain.
Amazing that this movie got made. The gritty, female-focused western was initiated as a project for British director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk about Kevin). But things apparently weren't to Ramsay's liking, and she departed the production on the first day of shooting. A game of musical chairs then took place as cast members departed and were replaced and others changed roles.
Australian actor Joel Edgerton was originally to play the villain, with Michael Fassbender as Jane's gunslinger ex. But Fassbender left and Edgerton moved into the hero role.
Edgerton brought in Gavin O'Connor, who he'd worked with on the fight picture Warrior, to direct.
Meanwhile, Jude Law, who was to be the new villain, left because he only wanted to work with Ramsay. Bradley Cooper was then cast, but didn't stick around. So Ewan McGregor ended up in the villain role.
Critical reception has been mixed, but it should do the trick if you are a fan of westerns like Unforgiven, True Grit or The Homesman. Rated 15+
Triple 9 – Corrupt cops who are under the thumb of the Russian mob are forced into pulling off the perfect heist. To do so, they come up with a plan that involves setting up a rookie cop to be killed. A very violent police thriller, Triple 9 is directed by John Hillcoat, an Australian whose previous uncompromising, unrelenting and bleak efforts have included The Proposition, The Road and Lawless. The ensemble cast is toplined by Casey Affleck, with support from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Michael K. Williams and Clifton Collins Jr. Kate Winslet is the Russian mob boss. Critical reception is mixed, but if you're a fan of Hillcoat's previous efforts and aren't squeamish about violence, this is one to see. Rated 20-
Bangkok 13 (บางกอก 13 เมือง-ฅน-ตาย) – Veteran producer-director Dulyasit Niyomkul helms this horror thriller about a young woman (Tarntara Rungruang) who has a supernatural sixth sense. Haunted by a childhood secret, she hopes to find answers when she joins the cast of a reality TV series that sends contestants into 13 spooky places in Bangkok. Rated 13+
Ride Along 2 – Diminutive motor-mouth Kevin Hart reteams with hip-hop tough-guy Ice Cube in the second entry in director Tim Story's buddy-cop franchise. The original set up had Hart's wannabe cop trying too hard to impress his brother-in-law, a streetwise veteran lawman. So it's just more that sort of thing. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 13+
Friend Request – Social-media dangers are depicted in this German-produced thriller, in which was popular college student "unfriends" an acquaintance, which causes her to be cursed by a demonic presence that is killing her closest pals. Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley and Connor Paolo star. Simon Verhoeven (no relation to Dutch director Paul Verhoeven) directs. Rated 15+
Jeruzalem – American tourists visiting religious sites in Jerusalem have to fight for their survival when the Holy City becomes the epicenter of the apocalypse. An Israeli-produced thriller, it's directed by the Paz brothers. Rated 15+
Retribution – And here's a Spanish-made thriller, in which a bank executive receives an anonymous phone call informing him he has just a few hours to obtain a large sum of money or a bomb under his seat will explode. Rated 13+
Hana's Miso Soup – Just as she is ready to start her life, a young woman is hit with a cancer diagnosis, but, miraculously, she becomes pregnant. And when the baby is born, the young cancer-stricken mother becomes determined to teach her daughter everything she knows, including how to make tasty, healthful miso soup. In Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square, House on RCA and SFW CentralWorld. Rated 13+
Kapoor and Sons – Summoned by their 90-year-old grandfather (Rishi Kapoor), estranged bickering brothers Rahul Kapoor (Fawad Khan) and Arjun Kapoor (Sidharth Malhotra) return to their childhood home. There, they fall in love with the same woman (Alia Bhatt). It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
Thailand-China Film Culture Week – Forty years of diplomatic ties and increasingly cozier relations are celebrated in Thailand-China Film Culture week, organized by the Guangxi Film Group Company Limited, SF cinemas and the Thai-Chinese Culture Union. Running from tomorrow until Sunday at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, the event will have five contemporary Chinese films playing alongside two critically acclaimed indie Thai films. Here is the line-up:
- The Nightingale – An eight-year-old girl and her grandfather walk from Beijing to his rural hometown in Guilin in order to fulfill promise to his dead wife, to deliver a caged nightingale bird. From 2013, The Nightingale made the rounds of film festivals in 2014 and last year, and won a few awards.
- Liu San Jie – From 1978, here's a classic from the Guangxi library. Touted as China’s first musical movie, it's the story of a travelling folksinger, Third Sister Liu, who inspires villagers wherever she goes.
- The Dancing Young – High-school students who are crazy about dancing look for their big break as they try to balance the activity with their studies and social lives.
- Monkey King: Hero Is Back – The hero of Chinese literature and legend gets another outing in animated form in a story of a special child who unknowingly releases the Monkey King from a 500-year curse. He pays back the kid by fighting the evil monster who have taken over his village.
- Saving Mr. Wu – Andy Lau toplines this taut, fact-based thriller about a Hong Kong actor who is kidnapped in China by four criminals posing as police. The real cops have 24 hours to come up with a ransom to save the guy. Sheng Deng (Police Story: Lockdown and Little Big Soldier) directs. It was nominated for two awards at last year's Golden Horse Film Festival and has scored positive reviews.
- Eternity (ที่รัก, Tee Rak) – Award-winning Thai indie writer-director Sivaroj Kongsakul recounts a rural Thai-Chinese upbringing in this haunting, heartfelt drama that was inspired by the death of his father and the romance of his parents. It won the Tiger Award at the 2010 International Film Festival Rotterdam and also took prizes in Deauville and Hong Kong.
- W. – Chonlasit Upanigkit, a young filmmaker who sought out for talent in the film-editing suite, made his directorial debut with the enigmatic W., which was his student film. Originally three hours long, it was trimmed down to its two-hour bare essence and won critical acclaim in 2014. It's the story of a disoriented young woman who is thrown into the deep end of college life.
The Friese-Greene Club – Heineken? Don't even think about it ordering one if you see Blue Velvet at the Club tonight. It's part of monthlong tribute to cult director David Lynch. Tomorrow's "controversial" film is 2005's Hard Candy, about a teenage girl seeking revenge against a pedophile. And Saturday has the second of three screenings this month of Trump: What's the Deal?, a revealing 1999 documentary that is reportedly "the movie Trump doesn't want you to see." It costs 150 baht. Sunday has another of the films shot by the late British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, the ahead-of-its-time dystopian sci-fi sports drama Rollerball, from 1975. And next Wednesday is another entry from Denmark's Dogme 95 school, Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, starring Bjork. 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 – There are two movies to list this week – a "kids' movie" on Saturday and the usual Wednesday night screening. First up at 2pm on Saturday is The Painting (Le tableau), which has characters in an unfinished painting coming into conflict. Three of them team up for an adventure in which they leave the painting in search of the artist. And then the next usual Wednesday night screening will be Party Girl, a 2014 comedy-drama about an ageing nightclub hostess who decides to settle down and get married.
Way too many movies to deal with this week, as distributors and cinema chains work to get a few titles off their books and clear the decks ahead of next week, when the main focus will be on Warner Bros' big superhero tentpole, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Meanwhile, the Salaya International Documentary Film Festival is continuing to offer updates on on its sixth edition, which runs from March 26 to April 3 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and the Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom. Watch the Facebook page as details emerge.