Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening April 27-May 4, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

With Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Studios offers a more brightly lit and quippier counterpoint to the drab darkness of the DC comics films.

Like DC's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Marvel's new Captain America movie pits top comic-book heroes against one another.

Here, the eternal Boy Scout, Steve "Captain America" Rogers, sees a threat in a plan by politicians to make superheroes accountable for all the collateral damage they are causing. It's understandable, I guess, given how Manhattan was ripped apart in the first Avengers movie and then Washington, DC took a big hit in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

The complex military industrialist Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, is on board with the politicians' scheme to keep the Avengers in check, but Rogers isn't so sure. So it's Cap and his team on one side and Iron Man and others on another.

Chris Evans returns as Cap, along with the core team that includes Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Cap's former friend Bucky (now the damaged and brainwashed Winter Soldier), the archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the supernatural-powered Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)

Also back in action is Scarlett Johansson as conflicted anti-heroine Black Widow.

Robert Downey Jr. joins the proceedings this time out as Iron Man, adding his snappy one-liners, and basically making this Captain America movie an Avengers movie or another Iron Man movie. Don Cheadle is in there as well, as Iron Man's sidekick War Machine, along with Paul Bettany, the voice of longtime Stark family servant Jarvis, now the super cyber entity Vision.

And watch for a special appearance by the new Spider-Man, Tom Holland. Spidey was formerly trapped solely in Sony's web of Marvel Comic movies. With yet another new Sony Spider-Man series set to start next year, the webslinging teen hero has been freed up for crossover action in the Disney-owned Marvel Studios cinematic universe.

Many, many other supers will take part as well, introducing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and tossing in Paul Rudd as Ant-Man.

It's directed by the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, frequent TV-comedy hands who won accolades for their work on Winter Soldier. This doesn't come out until May 6 in the U.S., but, in a positive sign, many critics have already been allowed to see it, and are giving it good reviews. It's in converted 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Opens today.  Rated G

Also opening

The Idol – It's pretty rare for a Palestinian film to hit our screens, but I suppose this fact-based musical biopic makes commercial sense in a country where TV talent shows are a primary diversion, and so many of the movie and TV stars and popular musicians are former contestants of reality-TV talent shows. The drama covers the life of Mohammed Assaf, a young Palestinian musician who performed at weddings in refugee camps in Gaza. He went on to win on TV's Arab Idol in 2013, found worldwide fame and put Palestine in the spotlight. Tawfeek Barhom portrays the singer and Hany Abu-Assad directs. It screened at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and has been well-received by critics. Opens Thursday. It's in limited release in a handful of Major Cineplex outlets plus Apex in Siam Square, in the original Arabic with English and Thai subtitles. Rated G

Terra Formars – They are terraformers. On Mars. Get it? Terra Formars is yet another live-action adaptation of yet another popular Japanese comic series, and is much anticipated by fans of manga and Japanese pop culture. The prolific cult-film director Takashi Miike helms this big-budget effort, which was filmed in Iceland. Stars include Rinko Kikuchi and Rila Fukushima along with Kane Kosugi. Bit like Starship Troopers, the story deals with a small unit of soldiers who are fighting mutated cockroaches, giant bugs that were originally installed to help colonize the Red Planet. Opens Friday. It's Thai-dubbed in most places but the Japanese soundtrack with English and Thai subtitles is available in the usual downtown cinemas, including Apex Siam Square, Paragon, Quartier, Esplanade Ratchada, SFW CentralWorld and SFC Terminal 21. Rated G

Baaghi – A lot of Bollywood films, and other films, TV series, commercials, music videos, etc. from India, are made in Thailand. Local production-services company Benetone handles many of those projects, and they worked on Baaghi, which is actually set in Thailand. New-face leading man Tiger Shroff, along with Shradda Kappoor and Sudheer Babu star. It's the story of former college chums who fell in love with the same woman. Years later, she is abducted and is being held in Thailand, bringing the two former friends together again as fierce enemies. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.

Also showing

Alliance Française – Lots of French film activities to report, in line with the Alliance's expansion of its movie programming. As covered in last week's update, tonight's French film with English subtitles is Heat Wave (Coup de chaud), a murder mystery that's set during a hot time in a small African town. Friday's French film with Thai subtitles is School of Babel, a comedy-drama about a special school in Paris for immigrant children. And there's a Saturday matinee "kids' movie", the 2010 animated Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris), about a thieving feline who looks after a little girl. And the May schedule opens next Wednesday with the English-subbed Vincent, about a young man with secret superpowers. Shows are at 7pm (except the Saturday matinee, which starts at 2pm). Admission is 100 baht for the general public.

The Friese-Greene Club – April winds down with one more spy movie tonight, Carol Reed's Our Man in Havana with Alec Guinness. The club has a private event on Thursday, but is back open on Friday for a "quirky eighties" movie, Parents by director and often-seen character actor Bob Balaban. And the month closes out on Saturday with the dystopian drama Children of Men. For May, the club's schedule ponders the question, "Over-rated or Under-appreciated?" and then covers four distinctive auteur directors and one iconic actor. Wednesdays have the American indie director Jim Jarmusch while Thursdays are devoted to the great Orson Welles. Fridays have the artful eroticism of Britain's Peter Greenaway while Saturdays feature the overlapping dialogue and sprawling casts of America's Robert Altman. And Sundays, see, are devoted to Edward G. Robinson, starting with his film-noir classic with Bogie and Bacall, Key Largo. Wednesdays are mostly the early, under-appreciated efforts of Jarmusch, starting with 1984's Stranger Than Paradise, while next Thursday is the 75th anniversary screening of the classic film, Welles' Citizen Kane. 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.

The Special Screening of Three Classic Asean Films – The most-popular tickets at the Bangkok Asean Film Festival were the "Asean Classics", three older films that were screening alongside newer entries from all the Asean bloc countries. Those three films will be screened again on Sunday at the Film Archive in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom. They are the 1972 Cambodian fantasy The Snake Man at 1pm, 1954's After the Curfew from Indonesia at 3pm and 1975's Manila in the Claws of Light at 5pm. I actually saw Manila, and it is well worth making the trip to the Archive if you missed the Bangkok screening. The film recently underwent digital restoration and looks amazing. It's a gripping and gritty drama about the working class in the city. Please note that The Snake Man is Thai-dubbed with no English subtitles, but the others have both English and Thai subtitles. For details, check the Facebook events page.

Take note

I've gone ahead and issued my weekly update here a day early, owing to the big-tentpole opening of Captain America: Civil War, one day earlier than usual. Notably, Captain America doesn't open until next week in the U.S., so movie-goers in Thailand are among the first to feast eyes.

Tomorrow, the usual day movies tend to open here, there is scheduled to be one more new release, the Palestinian entry Idol.

For some reason, the Japanese film Terra Formars is not opening until Friday, which is unusual. And then there's the Bollywood release Baaghi, which opens on Friday, as per usual with the Bollywood films in Bangkok.

There are public holidays next week, including a Monday substitution for Labor Day on May 1, to give the working-class comrades and their elite overseers an extra day of rest. And then next Thursday is Coronation Day. But it appears the movies will shift back to their regular schedule of opening on Thursday.

Coming up, the dates for the third edition of the Silent Film Festival in Thailand are set for June 16 to 22, 2016 at the Lido and Scala cinemas. That's according to the latest newsletter from the Film Archive. Hopefully, more details will emerge soon.

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