Comic-book-obsessed Hollywood turns the page to the X-Men franchise overseen by producer-director Bryan Singer and 20th Century Fox, with X-Men: Apocalypse, in a story that is set in 1983 and deals with the re-emergence of the immortal space-faring entity Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who was worshiped as a god in ancient Egypt. He's back with plans to reshape the world to suit his needs and rallies disaffected mutants to serve as his four horsemen, among them the disillusioned Magneto (Michael Fassbender).
To counteract the threat, the telepathic mind-reader Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) puts together his own team of superpowered mutants, under the leadership of his shape-shifting blue-skinned childhood friend and off-and-on enemy Mystique, now rechristened as Raven (Jennifer Lawrence). Somehow, in the battle, Professor X will lose his hair, taking on the shiny-domed appearance he's best known for.
Actors portraying the rookie supers include Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner (from Game of Thrones), Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McKee and Alexandra Shipp. Hugh Jackman, the only constant in the X-Men movie-verse, is also expected to put in an appearance, which isn't a spoiler because they've been teasing the his character's claws in the trailers for months.
X-Men: Apocalypse is the third film in a rebooted franchise that began with X-Men: First Class in 2011 and then 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past. It is under the banner of 20th Century Fox, and is thus mostly separate from the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though those threads began to become intertwined with the MCU's Deadpool movie earlier this year.
Critical reception is mixed, making this not as good as Captain America: Civil War but perhaps not as bad as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's in 2D as well as actual 3D in some cinemas, including IMAX. Rated G
Bolshoi Babylon – With yet another comic-book movie flooding theaters, the Documentary Club offers counter-programming with the release of an HBO Documentary Films feature from last year. Bolshoi Babylon exposes divisions in Russia's world-famous ballet troupe after its artistic director Sergei Filin was hit by an acid attack in 2013. Critical reception is generally positive. It's at SF World Cinema at Central World, SF Cinema The Crystal Ratchapruek, SFX The Crystal Ekamai Ram-Indra and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. For showtimes, please check the Documentary Club Facebook page or SF Cinemas' bookings website. Rated G
Pandemic – Following the outbreak of a virus and the collapse of society, a doctor (Rachel Nichols) and her team head to Los Angeles with the hope of finding uninfected survivors. Alfie Allen (Reek from Game of Thrones), Missi Pyle and Mekhi Phifer also star. Like the recent Hardcore Henry, this is another film made in the first-person point-of-view style, similar to first-person-shooter video games and other media. Critical reception is mixed. This appears to be at SF cinemas, as well as Major Hollywood and Century but not Major Cineplex; it was earlier listed on the leading chain's website and app but seems to have been removed. Rated 18+
Serd (เทริด) – The title means "crown", and alludes to the ornate headdress of the Manorah or Nora classical dance of southern Thailand. Singer-actor Ekachai Srivichai stars in and co-directs this drama. He portrays the ailing father of a young man named Singh (Paisan Khunnu) who rebels against family tradition and goes off to follow his dreams of being a pop musician. Singh then falls in love with Saithip (second runner-up Miss Universe Thailand 2015 Anchalika Na Phatthalung), a young woman who is a Manorah dancer. He is then inspired to return home and follow in his father's footsteps as a Nora master. Winai Kraibutr and Siwat Chotchaicharin also star, and Pakphum Wonjinda co-directs. Rated 15+
Sarbjit – Injustices and rocky India-Pakistan relations are highlighted in this female-centered tale about an Indian farmer who, as the story goes, had a bit too much to drink one night and strayed across the border into Pakistan, where he was captured, accused of spying and terrorism and sent to a prison's death row, where he languished for 23 years. Bollywood leading lady Aishwarya Rai sheds her usual glamorous looks to portray the man's sister Dalbir, who wages a decades-long campaign to clear her brother's name. Randeep Hooda also stars. It's directed by Omung Kumar, who previously did the biopic of Indian female boxer Mary Kom. It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya. Opens Friday.
The Friese-Greene Club – Orson Welles Thursdays continue tonight with Compulsion, which has Welles in front of the lens as a lawyer defending law students in a murder case. Tomorrow's "Over-rated or Under-appreciated?" entry is Peter Greenaway's A Zed and Two Noughts while Saturday has Robert Altman's Hollywood satire The Player, which opens with one of the best-regarded long tracking shots in cinema history. Sunday, it's adventure on the high seas with Edward G. Robinson in Michael Curtiz' The Sea Wolf. Next Wednesday's Jim Jarmusch offering is the unusual and wryly entertaining Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, which has Forest Whitaker as a mob hitman who adheres to the bushido code. It's one of my favorite movies. 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.
Cinema Diverse: Director's Choice – The Female Perspective – The Bangkok Art and Culture Center's Cinema Diverse begins a new season this Saturday with Soraya Nakasuwan leading off the first in a series of screenings of films chosen by Thai female filmmakers. Soraya made her breakthrough with the 2007 commercially released documentary Final Score, about schoolboys struggling to prepare for the crucial, life-changing university entrance exams. She has chosen The Pearl Button, a nature documentary by Chilean director Patricio Guzmán, on the indigenous people of Chile’s remote Tierra del Fuego archipelago. “The Pearl Button tells the story of the history of Chile and how that history is profoundly intertwined with the ocean. Jemmy Button was a boy from a small island. He was one of the island's original inhabitants and he was sold in an exchange for a pearl button. Later he was unable to reconnect with his former identity upon returning to the island. The Pearl Button is presented like a film essay in narrative form with breath-taking and delicate cinematography,” says Soraya. Registration opens at 4pm with the show at 5pm on Saturday in the BACC's fifth-floor auditorium. Afterward, there will be question-and-answer time with Soraya, in Thai with English translation. Others taking part in the series are Wanweaw and Weawwan Hongvivatana on July 23, Pimpaka Towira on September 24 and Anocha Suwichakornpong on November 19.
Alliance Française – There is no Friday French movie with Thai subtitles this week because of the Visakha Bucha public holiday. Next Wednesday at 7pm, there's a French film with English subtitles, the 2015 romance La belle saison (Summertime), in which a French farmgirl moves to 1970s Paris and falls in love with a woman, a militant feminist schoolteacher. The next French film with Thai subtitles is on Friday, May 27. Admission for the general public is 100 baht.
Details are beginning to emerge about the third edition of the Silent Film Festival in Thailand, which will have a 1922 adaptation of Hamlet as part of its program running from June 16 to 22 at the Lido and Scala cinemas in Siam Square.
Stay tuned also, for news of a local screening or screenings of Santi-Vina, a historic 1954 Thai romantic drama that was "lost" and resurfaced to be shown this year at the Cannes Film Festival.