Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 30-July 6, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

NASA's 1969 moon landing was in fact a secret mission to inspect the wreckage of a crashed alien spacecraft, which it turns out was from the machine planet of Cybertron – a fact the US military kept secret from the benevolent Autobots.

Now the race is one between the Autobots and their evil counterparts, the Decepticons, to recover that wreckage.

Part of the action takes place in Chicago, where Decepticon weapons snake around a skyscraper, strangle it and make it topple to the ground, creating much destruction.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third movie in the franchise, aims to be even more epic than the previous two.

For this one, director Michael Bay turns to 3D, joining the film industry's revolution after first resisting it. However, Avatar director James Cameron convinced Bay that 3D was the way to go.

Back for Transformers 3 is the everyman hero Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LaBeouf.

Others returning include Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as American soldiers and airmen who are allied with the Autobots. John Turturro also returns as a former member of a shadowy government agency.

New to the series is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, a Victoria's Secret model. She plays Carly, the new love interest for Sam. She replaces sultry actress Megan Fox, whose mouth got her fired from the franchise when she compared Bay to Hitler, a joke that executive producer Steven Spielberg did not find funny.

Others new to the Transformers franchise include Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies, Patrick Dempsey, the racecar-driver boss of Carly, Frances McDormand, playing the secretary of defense, and John Malkovich, Sam's boss.

Critical reception mixed, though perhaps a bit more positive than the previous entries in the series. It's in 3D, including Imax.

Also showing

The Star (Zvezda) – During World War II, a team of Russian scouts is sent behind enemy lines to find the location of the German armor. Directed by Nikolai Lebedev, this 2002 Russian war drama is based on a short story of the same name by Emmanuil Kazakevich and is a remake of a 1949 Soviet film. It screens at 8 tonight (Thursday, June 30) at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. Entry for non-members is 150 baht and 150 baht for anyone wanting to sample the vodka, wine and snacks being laid on by Russian Ambassador Alexander G Mariyasov.

Double Dhamaal – Four good-for-nothing jokers, Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jaafery, Arshad Warsi and Ashish Chowdhry, are dreaming of the high life, where they have everything by doing nothing. A chance encounter with their old archenemy, a corrupt ex-cop (Sanjay Dutt), gives them the idea to hatch a blackmail plot. Kangna Ranaut also stars, as does Mallika Sherawat, who had a bikini scene that was chopped. This is a sequel to Dhamaal, a hit 2007 comedy. Indra Kumar directs. It's at SFW CentralWorld on Sunday at 4. Call 0894882620 or 022257500 or visit

Take note

Only one movie is opening in Bangkok cinemas this week, with the multiplexes and distributors clearing the decks to make way for the behemoth that is Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

If you want to watch something else, head over to the Lido cinemas in Siam Square or House on RCA.

Cinephiles can look forward to July 7's scheduled release of the much-acclaimed new movie from auteur Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life, which will be at Apex Siam Square, SF World and Paragon. There's also Bioscope magazine's Indy Spirit Project, which will screen the pan-Asian indie female-directors short-film compilation Breakfast Lunch Dinner and the Thai boxing documentary Lumpinee at CentralWorld.

The week after that, July 14, it will be another summer blockbuster, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, which marks the final chapter of that franchise.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 23-29, 2011


Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli adapts Mary Norton's 1950s fantasy novel The Borrowers for Arrietty (Kari-gurashi no Arietti, a.k.a. Arietty the Borrower).

It's the tale of a teenage girl who lives with her family of “tiny people” under the floorboards of a house. Her life changes when she’s discovered by a human boy.

Hiromasa Yonebayashi directs, with the screenplay by the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki.

Named Animation of the Year by the Japan Academy last year, critical reception, so far, is mostly positive. More opinions will emerge when the film is released in the U.S. and U.K., in August and next February respectively. That version will feature the likes of Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett as voice talent.

Here, it's in Japanese with English and Thai subtitles at the Lido in Siam Square.

Also opening

The Conspirator – Robin Wright portrays Mary Surratt, the owner of the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and others hatched the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. She was charged as a co-conspirator in the crime, and, with the whole country calling for her blood, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer (James McAvoy) to uncover the truth and save her life. Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney and Toby Kebbel also star. Robert Redford directs. Critical reception is mixed. At the Scala in Siam Square.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night – A detective who deals with the paranormal takes a case that puts him in the middle of a battle among vampires, werewolves, zombies and a guardian of Hell. This monster-movie fantasy is adapted from a 1980s Italian comic series. Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) stars along with Anita Briem and Sam Huntington. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated 15+

Mai Ka Mum Don Ka Don (หนัง ใหม่กะหม่ำ และ โดนกะโดน) – Actor-director-comedian Petchtai “Mum Jokmok” Wongkumlao teams up with veteran singer-actress Mai Charoenpura for this romantic comedy about a man whose relationship with his best friend upsets his heavyset wife Kapro, who's played by Mum's cross-dressing TV comedy cohort Choosak “Nong” Iamsuk. Things get complicated when Mai gets pregnant and Kapro falls for another man (Pongsak “Teng” Pongsuwan). Rated 15+.

Double Dhamaal – Four good-for-nothing jokers, Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jaafery, Arshad Warsi and Ashish Chowdhry, are dreaming of the high life, where they have everything by doing nothing. A chance encounter with their old archenemy, a corrupt ex-cop (Sanjay Dutt), gives them the idea to hatch a blackmail plot. Kangna Ranaut also stars, as does Mallika Sherawat, who had a bikini scene that was chopped. This is a sequel to Dhamaal, a hit 2007 comedy that was inspired partly by 1963's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Indra Kumar directs. It's at SFX the Emporium on Friday at 8, Major Cineplex Rama III on Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 4 and at Major Sukhumvit on Sunday at 7.30pm. Call 0894882620 or 022257500 or visit

Take note

This blog has resumed weekly operations after a two-week break. Movies that opened in Bangkok over the past couple weeks include:

  • Super 8 – Boys making a monster movie with their home-movie camera capture a train crash and begin noticing strange happenings in their small town. J.J. Abrams directs and Steven Spielberg produces. Also at IMAX Digital. Rated 13+.
  • Killing Bono – A pair of Irish rock musicians (Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan) look on in jealousy as their old school chums become the biggest band in Ireland. At Major Cineplex, EGV, Esplanade, Paragon. Rated 18+.
  • Green Lantern – Ryan Reynolds plays the earthling who is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers and membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. Rated G.
  • Sex and Zen – The ’80s Hong Kong erotic movie franchise is relaunched for the new 3D era, with a story about a pleasure-seeking couple in ancient China. In 3D and Thai-dubbed only at most cinemas; in 2D in Cantonese with English subtitles at House. Rated 20-.
  • Small Ru Ku Naew – A rock band takes over a family’s bakery so they can use it as their practice space. Poj Anon directs. Rated 15+.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Incredible – Husband-and-wife retired superheroes contend with the high cost of living, infertility and other contemporary life issues. Directed by Vincent Kok, it stars Louis Koo, Sandra Ng and Chapman To. Rated 15+.

Update: Screenings of Nader and Simin: A Separation at House RCA have been cancelled because of technical problems.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 2-8, 2011

The Beaver

In a movie that could be seen as an allegory for his career, Mel Gibson stars in The Beaver as a toy-company executive who experiences a mental breakdown and adopts a beaver handpuppet as his sole means of communicating with his family and co-workers.

Jodie Foster directs and co-stars.

The Beaver has had its general theatrical released repeatedly pushed back for the better part of a year because of a controversy over leaked phone messages in which Gibson made violent threats against his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Facing an ongoing investigation for domestic violence, the troubled star had previously tarnished his image in 2006 after he made anti-Semitic remarks during an arrest for drunken driving.

However, The Beaver was recently shown in Cannes, where it got a standing ovation. Foster has also been quite vocal in her support of Gibson.

Critical reception is mixed. It's at Paragon, Esplanade Ratchada, Major Ratchayothin and House RCA. Rated 15+.

Also opening

X-Men: First Class – Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise gets a reboot with this origin tale that goes back to the early years of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr to a time when they were the closest of friends and before they took the names of Professor X and Magneto. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender star. The action is set during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, with Xavier and Lensherr teaming up to form the first team of mutant superheroes and seeking a way to end the nuclear threat and prove that mutants can be beneficial to society. Characters making appearances include the telepathic diamond-skinned White Queen (Mad Men's January Jones), Dr. Hank McCoy as the Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and the shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence from Winter's Bone). Kevin Bacon also stars as Sebastian Shaw, the leader of the Hellfire Club, a secret society that aims to take over the world. Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass) directs. He had earlier been tapped to direct 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, but dropped out over family considerations. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated G.

InsidiousSaw franchise directors James Wan and Leigh Whannell team with Paranormal Activity writer-director Oren Peli to offer this haunted-house tale. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as parents who move into an old house and when their son falls into a coma they have to fight evil spirits from taking the kid's soul. Barbara Hershey and Lin Shaye also star. Critical reception is leaning to positive. "Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride," says the consensus. Rated 18+.

Sabaidee Wan Wiwa (สะบายดี วันวิวาห์, a.k.a. Lao Wedding) – Director Sakchai Deenan completes his Sabaidee trilogy of cross-border romantic comedies with this story of a Thai magazine writer ("Boy" Pakorn Chatborrirak) who visits Laos and falls for local lass Kam (Khamly Philavong). The series started in 2008 with Sabaidee Luang Prabang, which starred Ananda Everingham and Khamly. Ananda was also executive producer. The film was co-directed by Sakchai and Laotian director Anousone Sirisackda. Then came last year's Sabaidee 2: From Paxse With Love, which starred Ray MacDonald as a down-and-out filmmaker hired to take wedding photos who becames smitten with Khamly. This third episode was filmed back-to-back with Sabaidee 2.

Ready – BollywoodThai is back in action after a few months' break with this romantic comedy starring Salman Khan as a young guy who aids lovers in distress. He falls for a girl (Asin) who he helps escape from a marriage. Parts of this film were shot in Thailand, where Asin was dared by Salman to eat a popular local delicacy. It's showing at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit (Ekamai) at 8 on Friday, 7.30 on Sunday and 8 on Monday and at Major Rama III at 8 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday. Visit or call (089) 488 2620.

Take note

This blog is taking a vacation-time hiatus. Look for the next update on the week of June 23-29, 2011.