Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening May 26-June 1, 2016

Money Monster

Fresh from the Cannes Film Festival, Money Monster is former child star Jodie Foster's fourth effort in the director's chair.

The loaded cast boasts George Clooney and Julia Roberts, with Clooney as a brash TV financial guru and Roberts the producer who is always in his ear. They are held hostage during a live broadcast by a disgruntled man (Jack O'Connell from Unbreakable) who lost his life savings after he followed the guru's advice. The captor then forces the pair to get to the bottom of a deeper financial conspiracy. Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito and Caitriona Balfe also star.

This is the biggest and first major studio-backed effort for Foster as a director. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and Foster did the rounds of all the talk shows, promoting the film and offering her recollections on working on such films as Taxi Driver and Silence of the Lambs.

Critical reception is mixed, with the consensus being it doesn't go quite deep enough. Rated 15+

Also opening

Demolition – Jake Gyllenhaal is a Wall Street investment banker who goes off the deep end after his wife is killed in a car wreck, and he copes by dismantling everything in his life. An encounter with a problematic vending machine prompts him to send a complaint letter, which begins a series of confessional correspondence with a sympathetic customer-service rep (Naomi Watts). Chris Cooper also stars. It's directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who previously earned accolades for his work on Dallas Buyers Club and WildCritical reception is mixed. It's in most multiplexes, including Apex, Century, Major Hollywood and SF, but not Major Cineplex, a development I'm told is because of a conflict between the country's biggest cinema chain and a small distributor. Rated 13+

Bastille Day – Idris Elba from TV's The Wire and Luther has had a busy season so far, lending his voice to Disney for The Jungle Book and Zootopia. Now the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom star is back in front of the camera, offering his try-out to be the next James Bond in the gritty action thriller Bastille Day, which has the imposing British actor as a CIA agent in Paris. He's on the trail of a conspiracy that ropes in an American pickpocket (Richard Madden, the erstwhile King of the North from Game of Thrones). It's written and directed by James Watkins, who previously directed The Woman in Black and wrote The Descent: Part 2. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+

Warcraft: The Beginning – The World of Warcraft fantasy online video game is adapted for the screen, with the human realm of Azeroth coming under attack from the Horde of Orcs. Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, directs, moving into big-budget special-effects-laden fare following his well-received low-budget indie sci-fi debut Moon and the bit-bigger sci-fi thriller Source Code. His involvement alone is reason enough for me not to dismiss it outright. Following the pattern of other big Hollywood releases this summer, Warcraft is opening here a couple of weeks before it comes out in the U.S., giving the movie some breathing room in foreign territories. Nonetheless, early critical reception is not so good. Rated 13+

If Cats Disappeared from the World – Cute-cat movies are a sub-genre of Japanese cinema. The latest is about a young man having an existential crisis after he learns he is terminally ill. He is visited by a devil, who dangles the chance to keep living if he'll pick one thing to eliminate from the world. The drama is adapted from a novel that was first published in Japan on the Line social-messaging app. Takeru Sato (Rurouni Kenshin) and Aoi Miyazaki (The Chart of Love) star. It's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at Apex Siam Square, Esplanade Ratchadaphisek, House RCA, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin and SFW CentralWorld. Outside of the city, venues are EGV Khon Kaen, Major Cineplex Central Festival Chiang Mai, MVP Buri Ram and SFX Maya Chiang Mai. Rated G

Fathers (ฟาเธอร์) – Gay couple Foon (Uttsada Panichkul) and Yuk (Nat Sakdatorn) face challenges when they adopt a little boy and the kid becomes teased at school for having two dads. They then come to the attention of a social worker (Sinjai Plengpanich), who advises the fathers to track down the child's birth mother. Rated 15+

The Promise (คิดถึงครึ่งชีวิต, Kidthueng Khrueng Cheewit) – A young man returns to his home in rural Chiang Mai after he fails his university entrance exams. He helps out around his mother's food shop while studying for a do-over of the exam, and then meets a young Japanese woman (Akiko Ozeki), in Chiang Mai as a magazine writer, and memories of the past come flooding back. Rated G

Also showing

The Friese-Greene Club – The month starts winding down tomorrow night with Peter Greenaway's best-known film, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, which really encapsulates everything that is Greenaway, with sudden violence, nudity and stylish eroticism. Saturday is classic Robert Altman, who has a sprawling cast in Short Cuts, an ambitious, interweaving adaptation of several short stories of Raymond Carver. And Sunday has one more Edward G. Robinson film, his final role, co-starring with Charlton Heston in the dystopian sci-fi Soylent Green. 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 – Tomorrow night's French film with Thai subtitles is Je fais le mort (Playing Dead), in which a struggling actor takes a job playing victims in crime re-enactments. And June's schedule kicks off with next Wednesday's French film with English subtitles, L'affaire SK1, a fact-based crime drama about a young police inspector who makes connections that put him on the trail of a serial killer. The shows are at 7pm. Admission for the general public is 100 baht.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – Filipino director Brillante Ma Mendoza is a favorite of film festivals, winning many, many awards around the world. His latest triumph came at Cannes, with actress Jaclyn Jose from his Ma' Rosa winning best-actress, the first Filipina to win that honor. Mendoza is also a favorite of the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series, which has its next entry at 7pm on Monday with Mendoza's award-winning 2012 drama Thy Womb, about a midwife who can't have children who wants her husband to remarry so he can become a father. Nora Aunor stars. Entry is 150 baht for non-members and 100 baht to partake in the gourmet popcorn and San Miguel laid on by the Embassy of the Philippines. June will have three more films in the series, with the U.S. Embassy offering up Spielberg's Lincoln on June 6, a pair of Pakistani short films on June 13 and the Swiss film Le Meraviglie on June 20.

Sneak preview

Me Before You – The Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke, ditches her blonde wig for Bjork buns and colorful leggings to take on the role of the manic pixie dream girl in Me Before You, portraying a quirky young woman who takes a job as a caretaker to a withdrawn wealthy young man (Sam Claflin) who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. It is based on a novel by British writer JoJo Moyes, who also adapted the screenplay. The film is possibly better known for its poster being used in the "Starring Jon Cho" campaign, criticizing Hollywood's lack of diversity and imagining what it would be like if big Hollywood films had an Asian-American leading man. Critical reception is just starting to form. This is in nightly sneak previews from Saturday until Wednesday at most multiplexes, ahead of a general release next week.

Take note

House cinema on RCA will be closed from June 1 to 15 while some renovation and repair work is undertaken.

June and July are shaping up to be a very busy time for film enthusiasts, with the unveiling of more movie events.

Already mentioned is the Silent Film Festival from June 16 to 22 at the Lido and Scala.

Dovetailing with that will be the second edition of the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival from June 10 to 19 at the Quartier CineArt.

And as if that isn't enough, CentralWorld's SF World Cinema piles on with the third edition of the freebie Singapore Film Festival in Bangkok from June 16 to 19, which will screen five award-winning Singaporean features.

Heading into July, the Thai Film Archive is formulating plans to start a series of screenings of films that were viewed in cinemas by His Majesty the King, starting with Santi-Vina, a 1954 feature that was misplaced for 60 years. It was rediscovered and restored and shown at the Cannes Film FestivalSanti-Vina will open the series of classic films in celebration of the 70th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne, with one film a month being shown until December. The venue for this film series is yet to be announced. It is a similar idea to the Seen by H.M.K. series the Archive put on in 2012.

Also in early July, there will be another edition of the Thailand Film Office's bizarre and unique Thailand International Film Destination Festival at Paragon Cineplex, which will screen another oddball crop of little-seen foreign movies that were made in Thailand in recent years. That's in combination with the Amazing Thailand Film Challenge, a competition that jets in indie filmmakers to shoot short films in certain locations in just a few days with just a few baht.

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